Four friends — including three from Cambria — climbed Mount Whitney late last month. The four were Alex Poulos, Adrian and Jayne Crabtree, and their San Diego friend Dan Leeper. Jayne Crabtree wrote about the friends’ hike:
It was too dark to see without our headlamps, but the stars were shining bright and a sliver of moon glowed in the crisp night sky. After driving to the trailhead, we grabbed our packs and started up the trail around 1 a.m. Friday, Sept. 18.
For the first few miles it felt as though we were hiking into the stars. We had a steady pace, and I felt filled with joy that we were finally on our way! There were a few river crossings that included balancing on rocks and a fun lineup of sturdy logs. We could hear water rushing alongside the trail and knew from our map we were also passing lakes, but in the dark our sight was limited.
As we climbed higher in elevation, doubt started to creep into my mind. It was getting harder to breathe, harder to eat and increasingly cold — too cold to want to stop for snack breaks.
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After about six miles, and upon reaching an elevation of 12,093 feet, we began our ascent of the “99 Switchbacks.” Halfway up, a red glow began to slowly rise above the black silhouettes of the eastern mountains. Watching Whitney’s face change from pale white to a warm rose hue was one of the best treats of the hike itself.
By the time we arrived at Trail Crest, 1.9 miles away from the summit of Whitney, the sun was shining bright and melting our frozen bodies.
By 9:30 a.m. our team of four was united on the summit of Whitney at 14,508 feet. We soaked in the 360-degree view from the tallest peak in the lower 48 states while trying to refuel and hydrate before it was time to begin the 11-mile descent back to camp.
It was an epic trek we’ll never forget.