Next weekend 10/18 we will be hiking Mt. Whitney! To prepare ourselves we decided we needed to try and see how our bodies would react to such a high elevation. While searching the internet for the highest/ longest hike within reasonable driving distance I came across Alta Peak, at an elevation of 11,207 we decided this would be the perfect training hike!
The trail starts at Wolverton parking lot which was conveniently located 10 minutes from our campground. We started out about 9:00 am, we later decided 9:00 was way too late 7:00am or earlier would have been nice.
The wildlife is so active here! We saw two bears, tons of deer, and cows roaming around. Such a neat thing to experience.
The first 3 miles or so were almost completely shaded and a very gradual incline so it was a good slow start. The elevation starts at Wolverton is 7,250 so it was nice to have some time to acclimate before the crazy climbing started. We found a perfect spot about halfway up to set up our hammock and eat some lunch. This spot was called Panther Gap. I would have been content just hanging out in this spot all day but we had Whitney training to do!
We are really fast hikers, if the trail is normally done in 6 hours we'll try and do it in 4 hours. We've never had a problem with hiking fast but its a whole different game when your in high elevation so we knew we had to slow down and try to take breaks every so often. We brought 3 liters of water with us, performance energy chews, pb&j and granola bars.
After awhile all of those beautiful trees that were protecting us from the sun started to disappear and we were completely exposed to the heat. We were taking a lot of breaks at this point, just about any tree we could find we would stop for a minute or two to enjoy the shade.
We had around a 1.5 miles left to go when we passed another hiker. He told us we had at least another hour and a half left to go. I was so shocked I almost stumbled off the side of the mountain. I've never been so sad before ha! I was so certain we only had about a half hour or so. After passing him we slowly trekked along. At this point it was mostly gravel switchbacks with extremely steep drop offs. I was too exhausted to even be scared of falling. The summit seemed so close but we weren't making any progress. I was stopping every 10 steps or so to catch my breath. Dragging my walking stick through the dirt the whole way with Allen making fun of me :)
Then we finally we made it to the top at 2:00 pm! Or.... What I thought was the top. There was a cluster of huge boulders that we had to scramble up to get the very very tip top of the peak. After a few minutes of me balling my eyes out and having a panic attack from being so scared I finally made it up! I've never been so proud of myself. Without Allen there I never would have made it. Being at the top of Alta Peak makes you feel so small, it really takes your breath away. I've never experienced anything like it.
We enjoyed the amazing views from the top, took some pictures, Allen signed our names and put them in the summit book and then headed back. Its incredible the burst of energy you get after you summit. We quickly made it down the mountain around 5:00pm. For a total of 8 hours of hiking, 5 hours to get to the top, 3 hours to the bottom.