Over the last couple of years I've decided to do some things I never thought I would do. One...run 1000 miles in 365 days. Two...hike Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states. I'm over 500 miles into 1000 mile journey and on September 28th I set out to take on Whitney.
Before I left for the trip I packed my backpack with the usual stuff first aid kit, water, beanie, gloves. My heart pulled at me to pack two more things, a picture of my boys and a picture of the kids from Acres Bridges Forever Home. I nestled them safely in my pack just in case I needed the inspiration later.
Most people don't decide to summit Whitney in a day. Usually people get to a base camp spend the night and summit the next day. Obviously, my group wasn't like most people. We set out at 4am to start our ascent headlamps on and backpacks in tow. When the sun came up our surroundings were nothing short of amazing. 6 hours into our hike we were at Trail Camp elevation 12,000 feet. With only 2,500 feet or 4 miles left to go you would think it would be easy. At home running 4 miles would take less than 40 minutes. On Whitney with the elevation, terrain and 99 switchbacks it would take hours. I didn't realize the importance of those pictures in my pack until I started the last part of the ascent.
Me and my hiking partner Melanie pressed on through the switchbacks. That's where I shed a couple of tears riddled with self doubt. Every time I took a break and grabbed water or a snack from my pack I saw those pictures. When I would start to break down mentally I would think of my kids and the Acres kids. The effects of elevation can be crazy. Every step can be exhausting both mentally and physically. I was determined and inspired not to quit. 10 hours after our journey began we were at the summit, almost 14,500 feet up. The top was completely breathtaking.
Those pictures helped me through the 10 hours up and the 7 hours down. Worlds away and without even knowing it those beautiful children inspired me to get to new heights.