Reverb 11: April — What is blossoming?
(You may remember the Reverb posts from December. The folks over there are offering monthly prompts throughout the year as well.)
In December, I said that there was one thing that I wanted to do this year, and that was “climb Mount Whitney.”
Before one can make the Mt. Whitney ascent, one must obtain a permit to climb in the “Mt. Whitney Zone.” The Forest Service only issues about 100 such permits for each day during prime climbing season. These are granted by lottery — which takes place between Feb 1 and March 15. Winners are notified by mail. The lottery is transacted by paper forms sent in by prospective climbers, which are thrown in a hopper and selected at random, by hand by Forest Service employees (though they are saying now that they will transition to an electronic system for next year).
(I imagine this to be something like a bingo game…Park Rangers pulling forms out of the hopper and shouting: B-23; I-59…August 26; etc.)
And so, on the 1st of February, I entered the lottery.
I am not much of gambler. I play nickel slots in Las Vegas, on the rare occasion that I am required to visit. I once had to play craps on a dare during a business meeting in Vegas and thought I would die of anxiety. I take chances; carefully calculated bets. I do not, however, enjoy…gambling; I don’t like to throw caution to the wind. And this felt permitting process like a gamble; I wanted to be able to simply pay a fee and GO. I would have paid a premium, even, to just reserve a date and be done with it.
But the only way to climb was to put my fate in someone else’s hands. So I filled out the lottery forms, and I put my credit card number and a quirky name for our expedition at the top of the paperwork. I crossed my fingers; sealed the envelope; sent it off to Bishop, CA.
And I checked my mailbox every day, beginning at the end of March, early April…hoping against hope that I’d win the lottery.
Then, one day, in the end of March, beginning of April I checked my credit card statement to confirm a charge had been removed. To my surprise, there was a new charge on this card that I rarely — if ever — use: USFS INYO NF.
My jaw dropped.
The Forest Service promised that I would not be charged unless I was granted a permit to climb. Lo and behold, the Forest Service had charged me. I had won the lottery. I was going to climb Mt. Whitney.
I danced around my office; I did a little cheer.
So this little seedling of a dream is growing into a reality now, and the team of women with whom I will climb are getting excited about the prospect of what is to come. I cannot begin to imagine who we will be and how we will be after we see the world from above 14,000ft. But I do know that I am already blossoming into some better version of myself simply for having been offered the chance to achieve this dream, and to share it with such a remarkable group of friends.