Sunday, June 6, 2010

3 Months 'Til Whitney aka "And So It Begins"

Hike(s): Batcave/Hollywood Sign/Mt. Wilson/Temescal-Will Rogers-Topanga Loop

The Inspiration: Mt. Whitney prep

Highest Altitude: 5,712'

Trip(s) Mileage: 35.6

Total 2010 Mileage: 86.8

And so it begins. 

In less than three months, Team WWED? and Modern Hiker (joined by Good Ranger Laura) will (hopefully) stand proudly atop the highest point in the continental United States - the grand diva herself, Mt. Whitney (that's Ms. Whitney, if you're nasty).

So we must condition ourselves and prepare our bodies to be the best high-altitude summit-seeking machines they can be. This training entails the following:

1) Miles. Lots of them. In a row. Without the aid of motorized vehicles.

2) Altitude. Lots of it. Progressively higher. Without vomiting.

3) Swedish Fish*. Lots of them. And then more of them.

As a little wake-up call to our legs, Team WWED? + MH began pre-conditioning in mid-May by playing tourist for a warm-up 6.6 mile jaunt, ducking into the Bronson Caves (aka Batmobile Garage), then searing our calves en route to the top of the Hollywood Sign. 

The following weekend, confident in our abilities, we led a full-on masochistic assault on our bodies, a sweaty, energy-sapping, ab-engaging, knee-breaking 15-mile cross-ridge loop from Chantry Flat to Mt. Wilson and back. Not three minutes in to said adventure, MH already had us bushwhacking up a poison oak-laden firebreak that nearly rivals the (lovingly) dreaded Chumash trail (for the record, that's the one that boasts a lovely 845' gain in 0.7 miles, straight off of PCH to the La Jolla Valley). 

After emerging from the second of these lovely scrambles, we caught the last hairpin turn on the San Olene Fire Road and hopped up on the Santa Anita Ridge firebreak - aka NOT A REAL TRAIL. But we knew this going in, and MH assured us he'd done this trail (albeit mistakenly) before - and he's a hiker of his word. 

Now, if you're reading this and thinking, "Well, I'd really like to do something painful to my legs today," I have just the solution for you - hike the Santa Anita Ridge firebreak. This sucker is no joke - up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, for what felt like an eternity. There were a few slips, a few slides, and a few times when I found myself on hands and knees - but you know what? Once it was over and we were back on the real trail, I realized that I must have a slightly masochistic streak, because it was a hell of a lot of fun (at least until I woke up the next day unable to walk properly).

Less than a week later, Rebecca and I decided that since we'd already begun the pre-Whitney physical beatings, why not carry on, but with significantly less firebreak madness, so we headed off to Temescal Canyon to begin a 14-mile loop that quickly led us up and out of Temescal into Will Rogers State Park, then on a very overgrown, bee-and-fly-ridden trail around the bend of a canyon, which took us through Topanga State Park, and then back into Temescal. This time, 14 miles didn't feel so rough.

And so it began. And so it will continue, all summer long, until we've ascended the infamous 99 switchbacks, passed quickly across the dreaded "windows," and find ourselves on top of the (continental) U.S., full of Swedish Fish and enjoying the biggest natural high I've ever imagined.**

*Swedish Fish is the unofficial energy snack unofficially endorsed by Team WWED? We highly recommend the traditional red variety, also good for trail-marking when in a pinch.

**Until the next big adventure...

What Would Ed Do?

Ed would do quadruple the miles at triple the altitude, but then again, Ed has major sponsorships and time at his beck and call; we have finite paychecks and jobs.



  1. Sounds like a great day. Don't worry. Mount Whitney isn't as hard as it sounds. I did it at age 12 and I wasn't in very good shape at all. With acclimation and some training hikes and you'll be good to go. I've been enjoying the blog for a while now. Keep it up!

  2. Whitney is an accomplishment! Sounds like you're going to be doing the right thing -- training. I'm going to be up Whitney around August 17/18th as the finale to a JMT thru-hike, and am also putting in the the miles (and the altitude). I'm hiking what I'm calling the Six-Pack o' Peaks, doing one a week. It's great to have goal (like Whitney) and work towards meeting it.

  3. Christopher DentonJuly 15, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    Good luck with Whitney! I'm training for it as well (our group has a 1 day permit for Sept 4th) with many of the same hikes and am loving/hating it :) But it will all be worth it to summit Whitney. Sounds like you will be just fine!

  4. Thanks, Christopher! It WILL all be worth it - though I don't think I could do the 1-day trip! That's quite a haul - good luck to you!