Having turned 70, I was curious if I could do the Mt Whitney day hike again. Along with shorter hikes, the only “training” had been running. I just finished my 13th in a row San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon on June 1, so this seemed the right time to try another summit.
o Hiking Shoes: Preferring the lightest shoe possible, I bought a New Balance trail running shoe. And again, swapped the stock shoe liner with the Spenco polysorb liner which I have been using for hiking and running for 20 years. No blisters, no pain, good traction, soles good enough for the rocky surfaces.
o Trekking Poles: In the never ending pursuit to go light, I purchased some new trekking (or hiking) poles that were amazing: Black Diamond Z- pole (carbon). Folds to a short length, light, strong, easy to connect/disconnect and store while walking. No twisting adjustments just pull apart into a “snap” locking position. Very clever.
o Water: No change, it is still H2O. But after all these years of doing Mt Whitney and hauling up many pounds of water I finally got over the fear factor of drinking water without filtering/purifying. There are three spots that oldtimers (guess that include me now) have suggested as places to drink unfiltered or unpurifed water on Mt Whitney.
Switchback #28 of 97-switchback fame (or lower numbers, but switchback 28 is the best flow.) Water comes out of the granite rocks/gravel surface most of the year.
Stream running (from Consultation Lake) adjacent to Trailside Meadow
Stream crossing at entrance to Outpost Camp
Carried minimal water to the Switchback 28, loaded up with 2 liters for summit and back. It was a cool day. A hot day would need more. Drink without filtering/purifying water at your own risk. Worked for me and others that day. Try this at your own risk.
70 is the new 48: Years ago my best round trip time was 12hrs. This time I left the trailhead at midnight, reached the top at 10am, and down 8hrs later. The eighteen-hour round trip matched my first Mt Whitney day hike in 1992 at age 48 where my calf muscles were so swollen and sore I couldn’t walk. Felt much better this time and with quicker recovery. I guess muscle memory does work after hiking and running for 22 years. One thing that didn’t change: This is one hard hike!
Signing the Log Book
Doug is still at the store giving sage advice to all that will listen. The purchased day hike permits (100 allocated daily) can now be picked up the day of the hike at the Lone Pine visitor/ranger station. The spring lottery snaps up almost all summer days, but many are given back. I got mine 2 weeks before the hike.
I will wait until 80 to try it again so I can forget how tortuously boring and long the descent is. If somebody had offered a helicopter service to go down, I would have paid a $1000 for it.