One concern I had about this section of trial from Kennedy Meadows to Bishop was the altitude. We last lived in Crested Butte Colorado which has an elevation of just over 9,000 feet and this never seemed to bother Buddy when we first moved there. Dion and I experienced some headaches the first few weeks but adjusted and it subsided. We weren’t outside hiking 15+ miles when we lived there though and so the altitude was a bit of a concern for me. But, as always, Buddy was completely fine even on top of Mount Whitney the highest mountain in the lower 48 states.
After one night in the Sierra the desert has become a distant memory of a hot but not unbearable section that we can say we have hiked every mile of. The altitude was bothering Dion and I the first few days so it took us 5 days to get to the side trail for Mount Whitney. We also had an adventure one day down the side trail to Lone Pine to pick up our bear canister. This was a success, the food was there but it took a lot longer than expected and we pretty much lost a day on running this trail errand. We slept in the meadow below the 1.1 mile side trail to get to the 7.5 mile trail up to Whitney. We awoke the morning that we planned to climb Whitney with Dion and I not feeling so great but we decided to press on and go up anyway. We went up the 1.1 side trail to the bottom of the Whitney Trail and set up our tent, took the days food and water in one pack and headed up for the summit at 10:30am. Everyone we knew in the area had headed up in the middle of the night to watch the sunrise, this did not appeal to us who just love to sleep in!
I had expected the hike up to the top of the highest mountain in the lower 48 states to be more difficult. Climbing Mount Katahadin in Maine, that was hard. On Katahadin there are boulders to climb, metal rungs to hang from and strong winds trying to throw you off around every corner. The biggest obstacle on this climb was the altitude which only bothered me. Dion and Buddy were bouncing along the whole trail talking about how enjoyable and easy it was.
The next three an a half miles are an infinite amount of switchbacks that seem to go on forever and then, just like onKatahadin, you reach a sign that says 2 miles to the top. When you get past that sign and finally get a view of the warming hut on top of the mountain you think to yourself, ‘how on earth is the trail going to get up there?’ But as we continued along over the next hour we climbed up higher and higher, walking through a section of snow for the first time and finally reached the top!
He made it to the top and was just so proud of himself! It’s one of the most incredible moments as a parent to look into your child’s eyes and see them beaming with pride over such an amazing feat. This isn’t something we could ever teach himabout that would effect him so profoundly as to get out here and do it for himself. I am so thrilled that we took the day off the trail to do this, it was a real highlight of our Sierra experience so far. We spent about half an hour at the top and thenheaded back down because unfortunately I wasn’t cooping with the altitude as well as the boys. I am really happy we went up when we did because we left the summit around 4:30 and had the golden rays of the sun beginning to set on the incredible land around us. We took more photos than we know what to do with, chased a bunch of marmot around on the trails and returned to our tent just before 8pm.
This was an amazing day we will never forget. It was completely worth the effort and really an enjoyable hike. I would recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to hike to the top to not pass up the experience. Now, back to getting in the miles that go toward Canada!