it's been a month since jg and i hiked up mt whitney. now that i've had some time to process the experience, i'd like to try and share some of it. i'll do it in short installations over the next few days.
let's start with how we decided to hike mt whitney.
this year, chris planned a similar backpacking-peakbagging trip for the weekend of september 24-26. on september 13, i got an email with the following picture attached:
his email read:
This trip is now pretty questionable. I am in the hospital with a broken
collarbone, broken ankle (that requires surgery) multiple bruises and
abrasions, and a couple of stapled-together lacerations.
Even made the news! [article now inaccessible]
More later when it hurts less to type. :)
he failed to add that, before the helicopter lifted him to the hospital, he spent a night in the wilderness covered in blood and drinking muddy water from a hole he dug with his one good arm.
jg and i were set on taking the week off for our anniversary so i scrambled to make last minute plans. the trip chris planned for us had nothing to do with mt whitney. i got the idea while doing research on a different fourteener called mt russell. when i learned that hiking mt russell would require the same permit as it would for going up to the highest point in the contiguous united states, i decided to go for the latter.
the process of getting permits for the mt whitney trail was a bit like stabbing myself in the leg. permits are handled by the inyo national forest service, whose website must be powered by alpine marmots lost at sea; it loads ever so slowly and about one in every four links fails to load altogether.
when the links worked, they didn't always go directly to the useful information. for instance, on the whitney zone page, there's an address and phone number listed under where to obtain permits. i called the number and got a recorded message pointing me back to the website. this little exercise taught me that obtain means to pick-up. before one can "obtain" a permit, one must first make a reservation.
el capitan, yosemite valley
this next paragraph is very important because the information is not shown anywhere on the inyo national forest website:
there are a few ways to reserve whiney zone permits, two of which are by fax and by phone. if by fax, one needs to download an application from the website, fill out, and fax to a number printed on page two of the application. if by phone, one needs to download that same application. because the phone number for reservations in printed on page two of the pdf, not on the website.
banana over half dome
thankfully, not all the information was convoluted to find. what i found most easily and useful were the two calendars of availability for whitney zone permits, one for day use and one for overnight. both appeared to be updated on a daily basis.
pine burl seen on the way to clouds rest
(is there an apostrophe missing in that name?)
originally i aimed to get overnight use permits but, according to the snazzy calendar, there was none left for september 30. for day use, there were 15 still available. so i called to reserve two for day use.
by the way, permits are free, but reservation costs $15 for each permit. the nice lady on the phone was very knowledgeable and helpful. she said to expect reservation papers along with a pamphlet on trail use in the mail in about a week. that was on september 14. we received the envelope on october 4, two days after we got back from our trip.
night sky over toulomne meadows camp site c52
i just checked the inyo national forest website to verify the links. looks like they added a lovely foresty background since i last used the website. check out the last updated overnight use calendar:
for comparison, here's the september version of the same calendar:
jg and i met up with team bushel in big sur over the weekend. last time we saw these two was at their wedding back in april. this is our second attempt at camping in big sur. we failed last year when we tried the spontaneous method.
the weather was less than ideal but we enjoyed every moment of it. probably because it's so darn difficult to reserve a campsite. april organized the trip back in june when the earliest available spot she could get was in november.
jg and i arrived at camp by 3:30 on friday. immediately after setting up camp, we went for a hike. it was neat to climb above the fog layer.
wild columbine in full sun
ocean of fog
it was interesting how the breeze uphill was alternately warm and cool. it changed every couple of steps as we hiked down.
back at camp the fog had gotten so dense that everything was covered with dew drops. it also got pretty chilly.
jg making dinner
(my most favorite shot from the entire weekend)
(pork tenderloin, brussel sprouts, and red quinoa)
after dinner we sat around the fire for over an hour before turning in. the fog went away and the sky was completely clear. we could see the milky way without effort.
pancake (and bacon) breakfast
arrival of team bushel
max and april were stuck in sacramento friday night. they arrived at camp bright and early saturday morning. after an extended meet and greet, we hit vincente flat trail.
some of us studied geology
april swooned by trees
oak hollowed out by fire
married for 6+ months
married 12+ years
that's the view where we had lunch before turning around, about 3 miles into the trail.
jg on moon rock
april with baby jesus
back at camp we had a small feast while sitting around shooting the breeze and watching the sunset. a lot to catch up since we only got to chat for about two minutes at team bushel's wedding.
preferred method of carcinogen intake
perfect photo op for my handknit hats. i've made almost two dozens to give away for the holidays. thanks to jg and team bushel for humoring me with the modeling.
thuy: okay everyone, look at each other for this next shot.
after breakfast we took the kirk creek trail down to the beach. the tide was pretty low so jg could easily make his way up the rock arch. we hung around and did a bit of rock hunting until the storm clouds moved in.
hard earned spot
it's always great fun to hang with team bushel. april suggested that we make this an annual routine. i couldn't agree more, although i sure hope that we get to see the sacramentoans again before next november.
that's jg with a load of hats i've been knitting since i got back from slumming week long in the sierras. they're improved replicas of the green one seen here.
so far i have given away three. my niece picked a purple one but i failed to get a shot of her in it. april went with iridescent brown, pictured above. max did not get one as none of the hats fits his giant noggin.
that's bree sporting the leaf green version while camping at nira. so far bree is the only one who did not get to choose the color of her choice.
i am aiming to give away the following hats. please pardon the unceremonious layout.
the colors (left to right, top to bottom):
orange (modeled by max), green (similar to bree's), magenta,
acid yellow, buddhist monk yellow, variegated brown-orange-beige-olive,
hot pink, mud yellow, original green*
blue with hints of green, dark turquoise, storm gray,
iridescent brown (similar to april's), bright purple, dim purple,
salmon, burgundy, original green*
*included only to show what the hat looks like with wear.
the pictures aren't entirely accurate with the colors as i'd like for them to be. the hats are all wool. i made up the pattern as i went along but they're more or less the same. i hope the recipients will find them good enough to wear.