This has been our tallest hiking achievement thus far…
4th of July weekend was our long planned Mt. Whitney trip. It was full of firsts – first backpacking trip, first Fourteener, freeze dried food, wag-bag, ice axe and crampon. Mt.Whitney, its the tallest mountain in Continental USA. (The tallest mountain is Mt.McKinley in Alaska)
Some facts, its 14,495ft high.This is a 22 mile (~35km) round trip hike, done over two days, with a 6500 ft elevation gain. To give perspective, Kedarnath is located at ~12,000 ft elevation. Vaishno devi is only ~5200 ft high.
Before you guys give up my memoir :), I must say it was a great trip. Hrishi was the organizer (no, seriously!), and it went really smoothly.
We were 6 of us – Hrishi, Deepu, Manev, Chhota Kopi, MP and me. We left at around 7:00 am from the trail head. I had a 25lb (11 kg) backpack. All others had heavier packs. Manev was towing 40 lbs if not more. Its a beautiful hike – glacial streams, green meadows and in general had great scenery. It was 6.3 mile(~10km) hike to the campsite.
We camped at a place called “Trail Camp”. Had freeze dried food for dinner. This is great concept. They cook the food, then suck out all the moisture, package it in nitrogen and its ready to be stored for centuries. Its ultralight to carry, tastes OK, even has some spice dishes like Spicy Thai Chicken. Add hot water and its ready to be eaten.
Once we were full, other necessities like toilets (or the lack of them) became more obvious. Enters a wag-bag. Its a plastic bag in which you discard unwanted “stuff”, while trying to find a spot where no one spots you. The irony though is, you never discard it since its supposed to be carried down with the hikers. And yes, we did it too…
Next day we left at 5:30 am in the morning. Freeze dried cereals for breakfast this time. Some of took a difficult route, through snow.Hrishi, Deepu and I took the easier but longer route, through the “switchbacks”. I didn’t like the route too much, since the scenery does not change. One keeps climbing and the peak does not feel any closer..
All of us except me, made it to the summit. These five are really good. Deepu could really kick any guys’ ass man! Unfortunately I ran out of time, as the weather became really bad, so I returned without doing the last 200 ft elevation.
The return trip became a bit too adventurous. It started to hail and there was lightning closeby. People started to hike down really fast. Its dangerous to remain exposed on the top of a mountain in bad weather. Hrishi and I were probably the last ones to make it down to the camp.
The rest of the downhill, is like any return trip- quiet, never ending and loveless.
Check out the photo album: here
## The album also has some pics from another campnight during the same trip – Mosquito Flat camping ground. Enjoy the scenery.