Thursday, October 11, 2007

Summer Vacation and the Climb

Well, I left you last about to climb Mt. Whitney but got so busy upon my return that I never got back to how I did. I had a fabulous trip - I spent the first night and day in Mt. Lassen National Park. I climbed to the top of Mt. Lassen on the peak trail in a driving wind and rainstorm. When I got to the top at 10,000 plus feet, I couldn't see a thing - I was in the clouds, but I made it. After I hiked back down, a total of five miles, I headed directly for the store in the parking area and ordered a bowl of chili, I was so cold. I drove a couple miles down the road and hiked the Bumpass Hell trail to the most amazing collection of mudpots, hot springs and fumaroles. There was a boardwalk through the area so you could see everything upclose and personnel. It was amazing. I left the park and spent the night in Carson, Nevada and left early the next day for Mt. Whitney. I stopped in Mono Lake on the way and was so happy to see that now that Los Angeles only takes a third of the water they used to take, that the islands are back and the alkali flats are gone and the birds get to nest again without being eaten by the coyotes. Proof that a grass roots campaign can succeed.

When I arrived in Lone Pine, California, I picked up my permit at the ranger station and drove up the Whitney Portal Road to the campground. I drove through the Alabama Hills, where so many westerns have been filmed. The valley was full of haze from the nearby fires. I found my campsite easily enough and it was right on the creek. After putting my food in the bear box, I took a short hike up to the store and found the trailhead where I would begin my hike the next day. I went to sleep early and woke at 3 AM to begin the hike. I thought I would be spooked by the darkness, but it was not scary at all. I watched the sun rise while on the trail and the colors were beautiful. Initially, the going was pretty easy, but as the day wore on, the trail became rockier and oxygen more scarce, especially since I come from sea level. I stopped to feed a blue jay and admired the creeks and lakes as I went, stopping to talk to folks on the way.

After several hours, I reached Trail Camp at 12,033 feet and stopped. I could have continued, but it was hot, there was no shade and I would have had to come back for several hours in the dark. So I made a decision to return, having accomplished my goal of doing something I could not have done a year ago when I was fat and out of shape. I hope to return next year with a two day permit that will allow me to reach the top as I will camp one night at Trail Camp rather than trying the climb in 24 hours.

I climbed down the mountain and ate dinner at the Whitney Portal Store and went back to the campsite where I was asleep in minutes. Left the next day and drove through Yosemite National Park on my way to Sacramento. Still beautiful, but so crowded that I did not stop to enjoy the sites. You could not take photos for all the people there. I spent the night in Sacramento and got up early the next day and drove out in the Sacramento River Delta to buy gourds at Leiser Farm for my Art and Soul class. What a wonderful lady and so willing to share her knowledge about gourds and her fantastic gourd collection.

From Sacramento, I crossed to the coast from Redding, CA to Eureka, CA and visited a couple of bead stores in Eureka, still picking up class supplies. I spent that night in Gold Beach, Oregon after driving through the Redwoods National Park and found a wonderful two story book store there full of art and old used books - a treasure I will remember to go back to. The next day, I visited a delightful older lady who sold pine needle baskets from her home on the side of the highway, before finally heading for home. A great trip with many lasting good memories


Paula McNamee said...

What a wonderful vacation full of adventure and accomplishments! That's my type of trip. Thanks for sharing, Paula

Delorse said...

Soooo totally inspiring - fantastic accomplishments culminating in climbing up that mountain, so symbolic. Thanks for sharing & inspiring. I dream of backpacking the Grand Canyon again & have a lot of getting in shape to do (at 59).
Also, love your sketches & went over & joined the Everyday Matters group you mentioned. Thank you!
And, lastly, I'm kicking myself I didn't take your gourd class at A&S, I almost did.... maybe next time.