Sunday, August 15, 2010

The duality of man

"What I admire is a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity and the appetite for adventure over the love of ease."
-Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy

Some people look upon Mt. Whitney and see:

sleep deprivation, altitude sickness, a 50% failure rate, nausea, defecating in a bag and carrying it out with you, 22 trail miles of an aching back and sore knees, three miles of brutal switchbacks, gasping for breath, a massive headache, bone-chilling wind, and a day full of pain and boredom.

Other people look upon Mt. Whitney and see:

Boundless beauty, a test of will, sweeping vistas, an adventure, "a day they will never forget," abundant wildlife, roaring rivers, peaceful meadows, crystal blue lakes, God's country, lush streams, 50% success rate, camaraderie, a fun all day hike, a chance to eat gummy snakes, blue skies, pride in standing on top the highest peak in the lower 48.

On August 3, I stood with five other people who decided to look at things from the second point of view. This was my third trip up Mt. Whitney and I enjoyed myself in experiencing all that the mountain has to offer. This time our group had perfect weather, not a cloud in the sky, and temperatures that allowed me to nap on top of the mountain in my boardshorts. We spent a few days getting acclimated in Mammoth and took a nice day hike down in Red's meadow to look at Devils post pile and Rainbow Falls. The following is a brief recap of my fellow hikers.

1) Tasha aka "sweaty" aka "jabbermouth"
This trail veteran was the only one who seemed immune to the lack of oxygen and just kept on climbing. I would stop to take a breather and Tasha would just calmly wait as Mark and I caught our breath and took a rest. Once again Tasha brought the candy, never complained, always had a smile, and just serenely moved along and seemed to be in her element at all times. A trusted companion on the trail and always up to buy me a sandwich but not down to buy me a McFlurry. (also can throw a wicked snowball at you when you least expect it)

2) Tina aka "blackbear"
I was able to get to know Tina a lot better on this trip as we had more time to spend together in Mammoth and on the trail. She dedicated this hike to her Grandmother and carried a picture of her up to the top of Whitney. Tina is a very strong hiker who showed true grit and determination to reach the summit.

3) Mark aka "lucky bear"
Mark did a fantastic job on this hike and was a constant source of positive energy. He would stop frequently to take pictures, marvel at the scenery and was in awe at the beauty of the hike. I really hope that lucky bear comes with us next year because he brought the perfect weather and sunshine with him.

4) Laurent aka Frenchy
We did not see much of Laurent on this trip as he went ahead and hiked with his faster buddy up the trail. We would see him at trail camp and the summit and he experienced some altitude sickness but was overall in good spirits and was a great addition to the group.

Another summer, another summit in the books and I look forward to next year with the Nespors and the crazed red billy goat joining us in 2011!