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Monday, July 1, 2013

Heaven and Hell - In Under 48 Hours

Beautiful reflection in Mirror Lake...
that peak isn't even the summit!
Over the course of one day and a half, I elevated myself to the closest point to heaven and then descended to the closest point to hell in the continental 48 states.  I’m talking physically… because emotionally I do that pretty much every day as a mom of two young children.

Probably one of the best sunrises I've ever experienced.
The sky just glowed brighter and brighter until daybreak.
Mt. Whitney, which – at 14, 508 vertical feet - is the highest mountain peak in the contiguous United States, just happens to be a couple of hours away from Death Valley which has the lowest point – at 282 feet below sea level – in the entire western hemisphere.

Is that not an adventure just screaming to be taken on, or what?!
Our first glimpse of the summit after hiking for several hours.
It's the small, scraggly peaks to the right of the big, illuminated hill that we had to go around to get to the top!

We got a one-day permit allowing us only 24 hours to summit Mt. Whitney so we knew we were gonna have to bust our tails to get up and down that monster.  It required us to climb just about 7000 vertical feet. So, bust our tails we did (and our feet and our knees and our hips and our backs…did I mention our feet?) and cranked that hike out in about 16.5 hours.
Officially above the tree line.
With a bottle full of purified mountain lake water!

We started at about 2:30 a.m. and finished just before 7 p.m. that night.  This hike is not for the weak of heart, whiney of attitude nor wimpy of mentality.

Climbing the stairway to heaven.
It is also not for anyone who likes their feet…or an abundance of oxygen.  But it is for anyone who wants to have a pretty unforgettable experience.

K summed it up the best when he said it was the most miserably awesome thing he’d ever done.  Agreed. We have two amazing friends – R and S - with whom we accomplished this feat and I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather endure those conditions with than them!  During a pre-hike planning dinner, I told our comrades that I could see this excursion either further reinforcing our friendship or being the catalyst of its tragic demise.  S said she was actually more worried about how their marriage would fare under such undue burden.  I'm pretty sure they're still married.  I don't know... we're not speaking any more. 

On the way down.
It was harder to get back on our feet after each break.
I can’t tell you how many times we drew parallels between the experience of that epic trek and the grand journey of life.  We compared the highs, the lows and everything in between… all while fantasizing about the giant burger and fries we were going to devour in celebration of our stupendous conquest!  Trail mix gets old fast.

We sang every applicable song ever written… I have climbed highest mountains… Ain’t about how fast I get there, Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side, It’s the cliiiiiiiimb… Pioneer children sang as they walked and walk and walked and walked… And we even made up a few of our own… This is the trail that never ends… Avalanche-anch-anch-anch, you ought-a kill us now…

Under the sea... Under the sea... 282 feet under it!
Anyways, no matter how well I exhaust, I still will not come up with the adequate words to depict this experience.  Simply put, it’s just one of those life-defining events that transcends description so, after nearly 500 words, I’ll finally stop trying.
Mmmmm... salty.
Well, after one more song reference... I can't believe we did it, we did it, we did it.  I can't believe we did it, but indeed we did!


1 comment:

  1. Miserably awesome! Best wife and friends ever!