Yesterday 12:15PM PST, I reached the highest point of the "lower 48 states" at United States. My hiking trip started at 4:24AM. It took me 7 hours 51 minutes to be on the top of Whitney, and 4 hour 49 minutes to hike down. Here are the pictures
It was totally out of my expectation though. The day before my trip, I thought about spending 6 hours to reach the summit. That was based on my experience of hiking up Mission Peak at Fremont, a trail about 4 mile in distance with 2000 feet elevation gain. The main trail to Mountain Whitney is 11 miles with 6000 feet elevation gain. I could reach Mission Peak within one hour. I could never believe climbing Mountain Whitney is that difficult before yesterday.
I guess it must be due to the high altitude sickness (mountain sickness). According to statistics, two out of every three hikers failed to reach the summit. At 14,000 feet, a hiker can only perform 60 percent of his/her normal capability at sea level. As early as I arrived at the Lone Ping camp ground (4,000 - 5,000 feet), I started to feel a bit headache. That is similar to the feeling of holding you breath too long under water. Once climbing up to 11,000 feet level, it became very difficult to lift my legs. I took break more and more frequently, from every 30 minutes to 20, 15, to 10 minutes.
After entering the camp trail, the trail has 97 switchbacks, I had to take rest every 5, even 2 minutes. Interestingly, once I stopped for a few seconds, I felt I had recovered. But right after a few steps, I felt that I needed another break, especially on the stairs part. My heart beat jumbed at above 120 per minute. On the last 2 miles, the crest trail is over 13,700 feel level, I felt I was walking on the surface of the Moon. However, once I slowed down, I didn't need any breaks. I kept moving, maybe you want to call it crawling. I started to have another symptom of mountain sickness, dizziness. I felt I just drunk 2 bottles of beer. My eyelids were fighting each other.
Good to meet some people who successfully reached the summit, every short conversation brought my consciousness back a bit. With their encouragement and my strong desire of conquering the tallest mountain of 48 states, my nearly 8 hour struggling finally ended. I saw the rock wall building and the tablet marking the elevation of Mt. Whitney 14,496.811 ft.