For various reasons, my family has dubbed this the Summer of Adventure. Certainly our Anniversary trip to Alaska and the family vacation to Yellowstone contributed to this particular moniker, but my foray into hiking epitomizes the phrase.
Prior to this summer, I had hiked in Yosemite (the Mist Trail, the Panorama Trail, etc.) and Hawaii (Napali Coast), but had never even considered climbing to the peak of an actual mountain. Well that all changed in the most unusual of circumstances.
A friend of mine was invited to participate in a group hike of Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the Continental United States. He began getting into shape and hiking several nights per week to prepare for the climb. I mentioned to him that I’d love to climb Mount Whitney sometime, not thinking the opportunity was there. He offered to check with the person organizing the trip and to see if there were additional spots available on the permit. Sure enough there were and I was whisked onto the adventure quite unexpectedly.
There were six training hikes as part of the preparation for Whitney. In order to make the cut, two were required. Unfortunately, by the time I signed on, I had already missed the first climb and would be unable to make three of the others because of other vacations and time commitments. That left me with exactly two opportunities for training hikes: Mount Baldy and San Gorgonio.
On the positive side, I knew I was in pretty good physical shape. I had been running about 3 or 4 days per week and felt like if I was ever going to be able to do it, now was the time.
I began to collect hiking gear with a nervous excitement regarding what I may be doing. I say may, because I wasn’t completely confident that I was going to climb anything. I had a conversation with Mimi just days before the Baldy hike. She, in essence, told me to fish or cut bait. I made the decision to at least give it a shot. . . but even then I gave myself a way out if Baldy proved to be more than I could handle.
Committing was difficult for me, because I didn’t want to put it out there and then not be able to do it. If I tell people I’m going to hike Whitney or post on it on social media, then there is an expectation that I may or may not be able to fulfill. I really didn’t want to say anything to people until I was sure that I could actually do it. Unfortunately as with a lot of things in life, sometimes you have to just say you’re going to do it in order to have enough gumption to do it. Little by little, I told a few people here and there. People were excited for me and encouraged me along the way. That encouragement fueled my pursuit of the first peak. . . Mt. San Antonio at 10,069′ above sea level.