EXT. MT WHITNEY TRAIL, SOMEWHERE ON THE MILLIONTH SWITCHBACK – DAY
Nausea flows over the pair like the high tide pulsing into the San Francisco bay. Heavy limbs drag in the thin air as they push past 13,000 feet, the highest either one has been on foot. Traction on the shattered granite rocks is shaky at best, forcing the reliance on trekking poles. The poles make the arms weak, forcing the reliance on good traction. A vicious cycle…rinse, and repeat.
With every step, a question arises. STEP. Why? STEP. How? STEP. When? STEP. How much further? STEP, SLIP, CURSE. &#%@!
The dull headache is a companion now, a symbiotic relationship. Existential crises occur on the order of minutes, not decades. Hope is almost lost, swallowed by the summit of the mountain they dare not stare in the eye. Who would do such a thing to them, they wonder. What could have possibly led them to this moment of suffering and agony?
INT. HOUSE IN BAY AREA – DAY (SPRING 2015)
Wooooooo! Who got Mt Whitney permits?? This guy!! It’s gonna be awesomeeee.
Auburn Quarry — the first place I led outdoors back in August of 2014. It was hot, small, and I didn’t climb much. The rock isn’t exceptional and it’s a fairly small area. But don’t let that stop you! I had a blast, and I think you would too.
At only 2.5 hours, it’s a quick jaunt from the Bay and the location (near Sacramento) makes this a viable spot year-round. Winters can get pretty wet depending on the year, but summers can be a scorcher. A dry winter (like this one, yikes!) gives way to some nice 80 degree heat in late March. It can get fairly crowded for how small it is, so a Friday or Sunday is your best bet for uninhibited climbing.
Ahh, Pinnacles. The nation’s newest national park, signed in 2013. Gee, thanks Obama! Honestly, very few people outside of climbers and hikers have ever even heard of it, and it’s the closest national park to the Bay Area.
The park itself has a fairly interesting geographic history, well worth a read. There’s a plethora of volcanic formations to scramble over, but mind the rattlesnakes. There’s also a concoction of eagles, raptors, condors, and bats to keep you busy. Oh, and caves. Don’t forget the caves!
The entire Valley Loop Trail runs, quite obviously, around the entire Yosemite Valley. It’s an easy hike, one packed with views of the valley and surrounding walls of granite. You’ll find it’s easy to get distracted along this route, whether it’s gawking at the (barely flowing in November) Yosemite falls, or sipping on a few irish coffee’s at the Mountain Room Lounge.
OK, I’ll admit it…I have problems. And if you’re anything like me, you have problems, too.
- We suck at planning. More specifically, we suck at planning in advance. I finalized this trip the day before I left, and it all seems to boil down to one reason…
- We try to pick the perfect trail. No lie, I’ll spend hours and hours pouring over the options trying to find that one special hike — as if the destination would cease to exist next week! Sure, some trails are easy to plan (Half Dome, Lost Coast, etc.). But an entirely new wilderness to choose from? Game over. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.