Hiking Mt. Whitney with friends

Hiking has been a long time passion of mine. Ever since I have been sober I have developed a strong bond with nature and the outdoors. It is in nature where I have some of the deepest and most inspiring moments in my sobriety. The picture below is an example of one of the awe inspiring scenes that I was privileged to witness while hiking Mt. Whitney.

guitar_lake

My trip up Mt. Whitney was something which required much planning and careful consideration as it is, after all, a hike up the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. The hike was about 15 miles (counting the long walk in the parking lot, and the various detours that were required during the hike) and rises to a peak elevation of 14,505 feet above sea level.

This hike was a surreal experience. I had always talked about climbing Mt. Whitney with my friends but had never come close to actually following through. The Opportunity arose when a fellow Last House Graduate forced me to enter the lottery which grants Whitney climbing passes. It was by sheer luck that we managed to reserve three spots for the hike in early august- an ideal time to do the hike.

It was even more fortuitous that we were able to make it up to base camp the night before our hiking date because the road leading up to it had been shut down due to a fire. My two friends and I were one of the 20 cars which were escorted through the still smoldering embers during a low point in the fire before it picked up again.

The hike itself began at 10:45pm and ended at around 2:30pm the next day. The hike was grueling and tested my endurance and commitment on several occasions. The most difficult portion of the hike occurred at the summit where my head started to throb as a result of the altitude and I started to feel the onset of altitude sickness. It was through my throbbing eyes that I was able to witness the sunrise from the top of the U.S, one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever witnessed. The view was far greater than anything I had imagined. To my left I could see straight over Death Valley and to my right a stunning view of the high sierras presented itself. The breaking dawn shattered the small lakes and ponds sprinkled throughout the sierras, piercing the calm still waters with streaks of vibrant orange and yellow. I summited before my friends and spent 15 minutes in complete solitude observing the sunrise before snapping a few pictures and hurrying to check on my buddies who were resting below.

My Mt. Whitney experience was made possible through my stay in The Last House and my commitment to being sober. If it were not for my fellow housemate I would not have entered the lottery which got us passes to hike, I would have missed out on an experience I cherish dearly today.

–David S.