Like any great goal, the decision to climb Mt. Whitney started with some dirt in the crevasses of my elbows. Okay, so maybe it’s not exactly like every other goal, but the journey has been similar. My family has been keen on hiking for a few years now. It’s an exercise that brings together a number of my favorite things: adrenaline, great views, and celebratory Mexican food.
At the start of this year, my dad sent out an email asking which mountain we wanted to climb.
“Mt. Whitney or Mt. Langley” was the subject line, and “Neither, I want tacos” was my internal response.
I’ve always considered myself as a low caliber athlete. I can be active and fit when I want to be, but I’ve never wanted anything bad enough to push myself to my deepest of limits. Every January, like millions of others I’m sure, I tell myself that I want to work out more, to get in better shape, to win awards for the best body in the universe, to evoke tears of jealousy from millions, the usual. Come summer time however, I never find myself reaching those goals. You could call it laziness, lack of time, or discouragement, but I think the biggest thing holding me back would be desire. Somewhere between January 1st and the first pool party invitation I lose my desire to reach those goals. And that’s not because I couldn’t reach them, it’s because I didn’t want them for the right reasons.
Did I want to be healthy and fit and have a tear inducing body? Sure. Did I want it solely to bring myself more happiness and self-confidence? No. I wanted it to impress others and to fit in with the tanned swimsuit generation that keeps me indoors.
That’s where Mt. Whitney comes in.
While I may lack the motivation to clone the stomach of Gisele Bundchen and the legs of Blake Lively, I pride myself on the stamina and determination I have to achieve other goals I set for myself. When I fully commit to a goal, I will finish it, no matter what. That’s why the decision to summit the highest peak in the lower 48 was so complicated for me. I don’t handle failure well, and I’m not a quitter, so I didn’t want to commit to something I wouldn’t or couldn’t complete. But in the end I decided that I would benefit more from trying than I would watching.
To give you some background on Mt. Whitney, it’s located in Sequoia National park and like I stated earlier, it’s the highest summit in the contiguous U.S.
Also, it’s shaped like this: Δ
In order to climb Mt. Whitney, one must first obtain a permit. I for one, enjoy this requirement. If you don’t have a permit, you don’t hike. Conversely, if you have a permit, they know you are hiking, and they can come retrieve you when your legs forfeit life and leave you lying in a pile of rocks and red ants. Them (obviously) being a group of buff men, one of which will carry me to their helicopter, only to realize that I fit so perfectly in his arms that he never wants to put me down.
The down side of needing a permit is, due to Whitney’s continuously growing popularity, and the fact that permits are drawn by random from the pile of applications, obtaining one is slightly difficult.
Thus my dad’s pending question: Mt. Whitney or Mt Langley?
It wasn’t really a question though. Mt. Langley was a backup plan.
The goal was Mt. Whitney, and the first step was the application for permits. All he needed to know was who was in.
After some consideration (maybe too much on my part), the responses to my dad’s email put me, my dad, my dad’s friend Tom, my sister Natalee, my brother Troy, and our two friends Geri and Kristine, as possible photo bombers in the selfies taken at the 14,000 feet.
4 months later, we successfully drew 7 permits.
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