Aug 21, 2004

whitney looms

hi everyone. just an evening post before bed.

today the day was spent packing - or so was our intentions. i wanted to run to syms to pick up a suit that i bought last week before the traffic started. due to our usual morning delays, it was almost 11am before we got our butts out the door. and, by the way, since i was headed down into paramus, i thought we would run a few more errands while we were there. making a very long story short, we stopped at verizon wireless, kinkos, ikea, syms, back to kinkos, back to ikea, toys r us, and campmor. when we got home, it was 4:30!! our packing quickly got underway and as of a few hours ago we are pretty much done, thanks to the monster duffel back i got last week at campmor. the damn thing fits everything we need (except our suits which we'll pack seperately for wrinkle prevention) and right now i'd estimate the weight at between 50 and 70 lbs.

monday looks like an exciting day. we're going to need dry ice to keep the frozen breastmilk frozen during the flight. i'm going to attempt to retrieve my wedding ring from the bowels of my cousin's car, into which i accidently dropped it last week. i'll need to drop some stuff off at mikey's work on the way. i'll need to gather about ten hours worth of food for the baby and put it into the carry-on. and, of course, the sandwiches we're getting for the plane-ride cannot be forgotten.

six hours after leaving new york, we'll pile into a car in LA and head straight for the dirty mexican food joint (t-minus 50 hours) where i'll be sure to take lots of pictures. of course, everyone there will be excited to see the baby. i'll be excited to see the carne asada burrito.

there is an itinerary change regarding whitney. we are no longer going to attempt humphrey's peak in arizona. instead, we'll do an acclimization hike at san jacincto peak, which is much closer to my parents house. san jacincto is the summit of the famous "cactus to clouds" climb, which goes from the desert of palm springs 10,000 feet up to the summit - usually done in a day. it is said to be one of the hardest hikes in the country. i will not be doing the cactus to clouds hike. i will spend $21 and take the palm springs tram to about 8000 feet and hike the rest of the way - still respectable at 2500 feet 10 miles round trip - and it will make a really good acclimization hike for whitney. it will keep us out of trouble. this will be on tuesday august 31st. an added bonus to this change is my buddy vince, who lives near palm springs, will be able to join us on this hike! mikey arrives at 11pm the night before, and the first tram is at 10am. so we should have plenty of time. meanwhile, the ladies (alexandria and vince's wife) will spend the day shopping.

from san jacincto, we'll probably end up sleeping in riverside, then leaving early the next morning (september first) to the whitney portal, where we'll spend some more time sleeping at 8000 feet. we'll need to get our rest any way we can, because at the strike of midnight (or earlier) we're going to start up the mt. whitney trail!

milestones of the whitney trail are as follows:
whitney portal, 0.0 miles, 8365'
lone pine lake, 2.5 miles
outpost camp, 3.5 miles, 10364'
mirror lake, 4.0 miles (treeline)
trailside meadow, 5.0 miles
trail camp, 6.0 miles, 12009' (start of switchbacks)
trail crest, 8.2 miles, 13777' (end of switchbacks)
muir junction, 8.6 miles, 13480'
whitney summit, 10.7 miles, 14494'

as i've said, whitney is a test of my mental toughness. i know from my experience that if i take something nice and easy, i can overcome the gradual fatigue. in other words, i may not be able to run a marathon, but i sure as hell can walk one. that said, whitney is going to be the hardest nice, easy walk i've ever done in my life. that's a lot of gain to take in one morning. i figure that i can average 1mph, which is slow as molasses, all the way to the summit. figure two 30-minute breaks and i get there at noon. we'll probably end up walking a little bit faster than that, at least to trail camp, and slow down from there. from trail camp to the summit is less than five miles, but they're a hard five miles. so if we can get to trail camp before dawn, we'll be in pretty good shape. trail crest is a different story - it is likely that altitude is going to really be hitting us hard at trail crest and at the very least we'll be short of breath. on the other hand, i kind of see trail crest as the point of no return - if we've made it that far, we better go for broke. sitting here in suffern, personally, the only thing i would think would turn me back past trail crest is lightning or HAPE/HACE (severe life threatening altitude sickness). I definitely want to see the "windows," which will be my first ever experience of mountain exposure - and those windows are between the crest and the summit. so we'll see. hell, we may not even make trail camp. that would be a bummer. but then again, we may go all the way.. and exceed everyone's expectations.

i can't wait.

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