Ask me about hiking to California’s Mt. Whitney’s 14,505 feet summit, the highest peak in the United States (outside of Alaska).
“So, Larry, how was it tackling ole Whitney?”
“Rugged. Miles of uphill and the oxygen thinner with each step. Went with a group and we did the trip in two days. On the first day we reached 12,000 feet and camped in a stark, treeless meadow with granite spires looming above like skyscrapers in a stone city. And there, as we set our tents for the long alpine night, in the merry month of August, snow started fall–”
Stop me before I exaggerate too much.
That backpack adventure with a church group long ago was a grand time. I retain vivid memories, and I’ll happily boast about the mountain beauty and my hardy companions. But I’ve told the story in the past to folks who were sometimes interested and sometimes bored, and almost always I casually (but emphatically) mention the August snowfall. I don’t dwell on the white stuff—I might even add that a late summer snow wasn’t unusual in the high country—and I’ll quickly move on to the other adventures.
But was there really snow? Was there cold, white danger in the high country? Continue reading →