(In the continuing spirit of reflections on friendship and our Mount Whitney climb, I’ve also asked my mother to write a guest post detailing my parents’ experience of joining us as Team Whitney Support Squad, and of observing the Women of Winesday in action. So: Mums)
We never doubt our daughter Meredith’s determination to achieve the goals that she sets for herself, and are rarely surprised that she can instill the same eager enthusiasm in others to join her in those pursuits; the Mt. Whitney climb being no exception.
When we sat and read ALL the literature and inspirational materials that Mere forwarded to us, we became a bit concerned that a cross country flight, little sleep, a four hour drive, and a 22 mile round trip climb up and down the 14,500 foot mountain might do well with a little assistance from the folks.
We gathered up the girls, Meredith, Kat, and Strand, at the airport at 12:45 a.m. and got them home for a very short night’s sleep.
We were up at 6:30 for the 7:00 a.m. drive to Lone Pine. We had offered to do the driving because I fretted that the jet lag, the long drive, and the stress of the hike would be too much. And, of course, this gave us the opportunity to drive Meredith crazy in the car, because Tom and I have a tendency to chatter away like magpies to keep the driver awake and make the trip more interesting.
After obtaining the permit, we drove up to the trail head. A good friend, and Mt. Whitney veteran, had given the girls great advice on how to get acclimated to the altitude and get ready for the hike. The scenery on the way up was beautiful, the Mountain both majestic and daunting.
As it turned out, it was a good idea to drive up in the daylight. After lunch and some quick shopping, we dropped the girls at the hostel in town and checked ourselves into the Best Western for an afternoon nap. We were hopeful that the girls were getting some sleep.
At 12:30 a.m. (we were developing a pattern here) we picked up the girls and took them back up to the trail head. I am always so amazed at how dark it is once you get away from the lights of the city. Any city. As we drove, nothing could be seen beyond the headlights. I felt as if all that existed was within the bubble of light and beyond that the darkness was just an expanse of empty space. I couldn’t see the rocks, the trees, the mountain. If we veered from the road, we might just free-fall. But, if you looked up…what a sight! The stars. So many of them. All the ones that are blocked out by city lights; a breathtakingly beautiful sight. Mother Nature’s diamonds!
We wished the girls good luck after the obligatory pictures at the trailhead sign. They looked like three coal miners with their headlamps, their trekking poles, and their packs. I was a little worried watching them walk away.
While they were most likely thinking of the climb and anticipating the sunrise, I was thinking bears, badgers, bats, oh my! I’m so glad I didn’t see any pictures until after the hike, because I would also have been thinking: falling rocks, ice, snow, and assorted injuries. But, to my credit, I kept my mouth shut. Plus, I was probably just a little jealous that they had the guts to do this and I did not.
Tom and I went back to our room, back to sleep. We had a lovely day driving to Bishop, eating, shopping, and even taking in an art gallery. All day long, we tried to imagine where the girls were and what they were seeing at any given moment. The only worry we had was on the drive back to the mountain. The sky turned dark, we could see rain in the distance; the rumble of the thunder was menacing. Our three adventurers were on the side of the tallest thing around in the middle of a thunderstorm! Uh, oh, forget the bears, the bats, and the badgers; they could be struck by lightning!
But all’s well that ends well.
The sight of the smiles on their faces as they came down the trail was worth a million bucks.
We got caught up in their excitement before the trip and were sucked right back in at the end.
I never had a doubt that Meredith would make it up and back, and figured that Kat, being an athlete, would do fine. I admit I had my doubts about lovely Strand, but she proved me totally wrong. She was probably the most tired, but also the most excited. And I think, by the evening, the most sore. She was out like a light after we stopped for dinner.
It’s always nice to have a party to celebrate something special. These three certainly deserved a party. Good food, good friends, and a good time are always the right thing to do and I never need an excuse to have a party.
We were very proud of all three, and of course, most proud of our baby, the driving force behind the whole experience.