Its 4:20 on Sunday afternoon. I'm home from the mountains, I've showered and cleaned up, even started laundry. And now my bed and a nap are calling me. But the weekends' events are still fresh in my mind. So, although I'm silly with tiredness and achy all over, I want to get this down while its still somewhat fresh. Here is the short version, at least.
I've never had trouble with altitude sickness before. Yes, the climbs are tough, but I'm usually able to focus on just putting one foot in front of the other and slowly but surely making my way to the top. However, this time I also had to battle faint waves of nausea rolling over me and a headache I'm sure even others could see pounding inside my hat. Every step above 13,000 feet was a chore, and there were moments, as I waited for the nausea to pass, I didn't think I'd make it.
White Mountain is the third tallest mountain in California at 14,246 feet tall. I just HAD to reach the top, even if it killed me. And I did! My dad and I, together, slogged our way to the top, one step at a time. We met up with Caleb and Dennis, who'd been hanging around at the top about 45 minutes by the time we reached them. But the point is we reached them! I had to choke back a sob of relief as I laid down my pack and sat down. It was several minutes before I could even take in the scenery around me, as I waited for my stomach to settle once more. We ate and we rested, which helped a bit, and then we had no choice but to head back down the mountain. That was a chore once again, but the downhill is taken care of more by gravity than willpower. And so, though painful, we began our slow descent. With every foot we dropped in elevation, the nausea and headache slowly abated, which along with gravity, made the going a little bit easier.
This was certainly a different trip than I'd ever experienced. Maybe the fact that this is often referred to as the "easiest fourteener" in California threw me off a bit ... just because its the easiest doesn't mean its easy. Just because its a day hike, doesn't mean it won't be a long and painful day. Just because you've never been affected by the altitude before doesn't mean it can't happen today.
Bottom line though ... I made it ... as did Caleb, Dennis and my dad. Here are a few pictures ... click on any one to see the rest of them.
Dennis and Caleb (in the orange hat) on the trail.
Dennis, Caleb, me, Dad. We made it! Those are the Eastern Sierras behind us. It was a beautiful sight.
Dennis, Dad and Caleb. This was our last rest stop on our way back to the car, just 2 1/2 miles to go! Our round trip total was 15.4 miles.
Dad, the morning after, enjoying his breakfast at our campsite.