― John Muir, The Mountains of California
|Mt. Whitney Summit - 1962|
This past weekend marks the fifty-fifth anniversary of my summiting Mt. Whitney, with Loncy, my oldest brother. It was his idea that we should do this to celebrate my sixteenth birthday.
Neither of us had ever backpacked prior to this. Although, he had done a stint in the army, so he had some experience with bivouacking. Also, we were both in good physical condition - he from his job, and me from my participation on high school sports teams - so we gave no thought to training.The whole trip was put together in a couple of weeks.
We obtained most of our equipment from the Army Navy surplus store at the Sunset Junction (which still seems to be there in some iteration, imagine that). The main purchases were knapsacks, Army canteens - which included a cup which could be used for cooking, and a foldable Stereo stove on which to cook. Loncy also bought a sleeping bag. But, I had my Mom make mine out of a wool blanket based on a design from a card found in a box of Nabisco shredded wheat. Our food supplies were just things from the local market.
I have read that, nowadays, each year 19,000 people now attempt to climb Mt. Whitney from the east. We saw only about 10 - 12 (most of whom were very surprised to see us) over the duration of our trip. We spent one night at Whitney Portal.The next day we hit the trail and hiked to Mirror Lake and overnighted in the open. The follow morning, we summited and walked down to the base camp by late afternoon.
It was a great way to spend a birthday, and a trip that I shall always remember.