Last Updated: August 2008

Hiking Mt. Whitney

Mt. Whitney is the tallest peak in the lower 48 states. It is a long, non-technical hike to get to the top -- 11 miles, 6,000 feet. I've decided to hike it, originally as preparation for the Inca Trail hike in Peru, but now just 'cause it sounds neat!

Unfortunately, I can't find anyone who agrees with me. (Except Jeff, but he & my sister just had a baby in February, and sanity seems to have set in. And Patricia, but she decided to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro instead.) So I'm going solo. I hope, however, I don't have to train by myself.

This page is a way for me to focus my thoughts, as well as a chance to solicit any advice people might have for me, and - perhaps - to find someone to join me for a hike or two.


↓   My planned hikes

I've got my hiking permit for a day hike up (and down) Mt. Whitney for Sunday, July 15th. I've made campground reservations for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The idea is to take two days driving to Lone Pine and the Whitney Portal, arriving mid-day on Friday. Hang out, perhaps go on a short hike on Saturday while I get acclimated to being at 8,300 feet.

On Sunday, I'll get up very, very early, and hike 11 miles to the top. Then, turn around and hike down. I'll fill in more details as I get closer.


Training hikes >
Visiting Whitney >
Hiking Mt. Whitney >

Training Plans

I'm envisioning eight training hikes, increasing the distance and elevation about 10% each time. I'm starting in May, because at the end of April I have another walk planned: 21 miles along Big Sur. I figure that will give me a head start on Whitney.

Local Hike Resources

Whitney Resources

I've got a couple of bike rides and a college reunion in June, so I have to work around that.

It's been suggested that I'm over-doing the training. However, there are two reasons why I want to be in as good of shape as possible for this hike: 1) I can't train at the elevation at which I'll be hiking, and 2) I'm doing this all alone.

Here are my dates and approximate goals of the hike. (I am more concerned with achieving the elevation then the distance). (See my Training page for what I ended up doing.)

Hike #0: April 21 or 22 (done)

Elevation: 2,500 feet
Distance: 8 - 9 miles
Notes, ideas, complications: This is the week before my 21 mile walk along Big Sur. It's supposed to be my "taper" week, but if my training stumbles earlier, it might be my last big walk. However, if I manage a 20 mile walk before this, I can use this weekend to go on a hike. Perhaps to Tiger Mountain.

Hike #1: May 5: (done)

Elevation: 2,870 feet
Distance: 10 miles

Hike #2: May 13 (done)

Elevation: 3,200 feet
Distance: 12 miles

Hike #3: May 19 (done -- sort of)

Elevation: 3,500 feet
Distance: 13 miles

Hike #4: May 26 (done - sort of)

Elevation: 3,900 feet
Distance: 14.6 miles
Notes, ideas, complications: Chuckanut Mountain? (It's 4,000' climb, but 18.5 miles - one of the few hikes that are too long, rather than too short.)

Hike #5: June 3 or 10 or 11 (done!)

Elevation: 4,400 feet
Distance: 16.2 miles
Notes, ideas, complications: June 2nd is my last training bike ride before my big bike rides -- I'm planning to bike up Hurricane Ridge. 10th and 11th is my college reunion, and I'll be in Massachusetts. Plans: Hike Elwha Ranger Station to Hurricane Hill - or as far as I need to to get 4,500 feet. (I still won't get enough mileage, though.)

Hike #6: June 17 (done)

Elevation: 4,800 feet
Distance: 18 miles
Notes, ideas, complications: I'm doing a 100 mile bike ride ("Flying Wheels") on June 16th.

Hike #7: June 30 or July 1 (done!)

Elevation 5,400+ feet
Distance: 20 miles
Notes, ideas, complications: This is my last big hike before Whitney. It would be nice to hike above 8,000 feet, but I don't know where that would be in Washington state. (Possibly hikes: Purple Pass out of Stehekin, if it is repaired from last year's fire. Kachess Ridge to Thorp Mountain (18 miles/6,120')? Denny Creek to Kaleetan Lake (19 miles/6,260')?

Hike #8: July 7 or 8

Elevation: 3,000 feet or so
Distance: 12 miles or so
Notes, ideas, complications: Just taking it easy before I leave.

I ended up taking my sister's dog, Toby, to Mt. Si. I was really, really tired (not sure why) and unmotivated, so I only got halfway up. Now, nothing to do but pack, and keep an eye on the fire report. (See The Hike page for details.)

What to Bring

  • Good day pack - big enough to carry everything, but not bigger. Also, perhaps, appropriate for Peru.
  • Water: 4 quarts?
  • Food: Enough to keep me going for the day, plus extra in case something happens
  • Clothes: I assume I'll start wearing everything, so enough layers to be able to strip down
  • Flashlight - headlight variety.
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellent


Emergency Supplies
  • Emergency blanket
  • Extra clothes (socks, shirt, hat)
  • Raincoat. Rain pants?
  • Filter?
  • Water purifying tablets
  • Another flashlight. Extra batteries for both.
  • Compass
  • Map
  • Altimeter
  • Sun hat (I hate sun hats, but everyone tells me I need to bring one. Fine. But it will be at the very bottom of my pack.)
  • First aid kit (to cover both falls/accidents and medicine for elevation or other sickness.
  • Whistle and/or signaling mirror
  • Water-proof matches & tinder? Fires are illegal, but I guess in an emergency, I won't care.


Extra Stuff
  • Walking poles
  • Camera
  • binoculars?


What to think about

Although I am approaching this with every intention of getting to the top, of course, I also want to think ahead about what would cause me to not reach the top. Since I suspect I will be very tired during this hike, I want to think about these things now.

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