Well...the Sunflower and the Stargazers teardrops stayed comfortably in the Lone Pine Campground while my husband, our Stargazers friends and I hiked up Mount Whitney. All summer we've been training to hike to the summit of the tallest peak in the contiguous U.S. and last weekend we made it to the top of the 14,508 foot peak after two days and 22 miles...and some very sore feet and knees.
Mount Whitney is about five hours south of us, near the entrance to Death Valley, California. We'd heard about people attempting the challenging hike in one day, but we all decided to do it in two days—spending a night just below the summit at 11,800 feet at Trail Camp to rest and acclimate to the high altitude. We made a mini vacation out of it and brought our teardrops as a basecamp to the foot of the Sierra Nevada in Lone Pine. Our last night before hitting the Whitney Trail was spent sitting around the fire, eating pasta and really appreciating our teardrop beds.
Once we got to Trail Camp (two hours earlier than we thought we would), we pitched our tents and grabbed some dinner. The Stargazers were in a small two-man tent, my husband brought his bivy and I have a 6x8 tarp. Every one of these various sleeping arrangements were awful—we really missed the teardrop beds! After filtering some water in the tiny lake at the camp, watching the sun go down and the stars light up, we all headed to bed for a fitful night sleep. Sleeping at altitude is considered difficult and I tossed and turned most of the night before finally getting about five hours of sleep.
The Trail Crest (my favorite part of the trail) was steep, rocky and had some incredible views on both sides of the trail. We had to pick our way carefully across this section and it took another three hours to complete. The last portion of the trail to the summit, we were all very quiet and had to just will our feet and legs to keep moving. Once we saw the small, stone hut at the summit, it was a sight for sore eyes.
Getting back to the Lone Pine camp and the teardrops could not come soon enough. After a quick shower and a beer, I curled up in the fleece sheets of the Sunflower and slept for the next 10 hours.
|Hikers and backpackers need permits to hike the tallest point in the Lower 48. These can be obtained from a lottery in February. Toilet business is taken care of in a WAG Bag provided by the permit office. Fun stuff...|
Photos by Christina Nellemann, Harry Thomas and Brancy