Mt Whitney-Summit Night and the day after

The last 2 miles down from Lone Pine Lake were brutal. We were just ready to be done.  We had mentally transitioned to planning for the next few hours. We needed to break down camp because we had booked motel rooms for the night in Lone Pine at the Dow Villa Motel. A warm shower and sleeping in a bed were sounding pretty darn good. We developed our plan to pass the time, stop at the Whitney Portal store for patches and shirts, break down camp, drive to town, shower, eat, sleep.

We went into the Portal store and picked up a few souvenirs. Drove back to camp and in a very efficient manner broke down camp, loaded the car, and on to Lone Pine we drove.

Lone Pine is an interesting place. It is the site where many of the old westerns were filmed, so there is a great deal of memorabilia all over town, including a western film museum. The downtown stretches about 7 blocks and it is a clean Americana town. All the businesses are locally owned on the main street, with no chains visible. It just is the kind of town that feels good when you walk down the street.

We arrived at the Dow Villa Motel which sits right in the heart of town. You drive in and it immediately feels like the kind of place we both remember staying at as kids when we were on driving trips with our parents. A true motel with the kidney shaped pool in the center of the parking lot. The inside of the lobby is filled with pictures of John Wayne, Roy Rogers and other notable western era stars. The historic hotel was built in 1920s and the motel was added in 1959.  

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The Dow Villa Motel

After a quick refresh, next on the list was dinner. Our friend Joe had been through Lone Pine on the way to Mammoth and knew exactly where we were going for dinner–Mount Whitney Restaurant. However, as we walked to dinner we stopped at the Mount Whitney Hostel and store. The store was filled with hiking stuff, Mt. Whitney t-shirts, books….. What caught our eye was a book on Mt Whitney, author–Doug Thompson (Portal Store Operator). Doug has summited over 100 times and he has written “the book” on the Whitney Zone. Of course we picked up the book because Doug had been a key part to our overall experience. He provided us with great knowledge, lore, and will forever be part of our adventure. We plan on reading the book and sharing it with others.

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Mt. Whitney Restaurant

Dinner was outstanding. How could it be anything but!  We all ordered burgers and fries, and Joe (our friend) and Ginny had sundaes for dessert. It just seemed like the perfect celebration to complete our adventure. Needless to say we crashed by 8:30.   The next morning, feeling refreshed and not too sore, we walked through town, had a nice breakfast and started our drive back to Joe and Mary’s.

Reflecting on the experience we want to acknowledge a few things.

  • We are grateful to Joe for securing the permits, having all the camping equipment and sharing it with us.   This was a lifetime adventure and we always will have Joe to thank for the day.  
  • We also will always have a sadness that we didn’t summit together. We so appreciate the selflessness Joe demonstrated by putting his own needs aside and giving us the permission to fulfill our dream. He is truly a special human being, a dear friend and the kind of person we know is a gift to have in our lives. We will never forget these few days.
  • Mary started the whole idea last winter while we were hiking up to ski the Highlands Bowl. We missed Mary on this trip, but she was with us every step of the way. She kept our bodies nourished, which was no small task. She did this all with joy. She, like Joe, is amazing. A true giver, happy to support.

We are lucky to have both Joe and Mary as part of our lives. We always look forward to sharing time together and we know there will be adventures in our future for the four of us. For now we can only say –THANK YOU to two incredible human beings. Our life is richer because of them.

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Ginny, Joe, and Joe

As we close this post Joe and I are remarkably proud of our accomplishment.  We feel pretty darn good physically and this was a wonderful reminder of how being in nature gives us both great joy. We met some people during this journey who had hiked the John Muir Trail, which has gotten us thinking about what might be next for us…

Until our next adventure, thank you for joining us on this journey.

Joe and Ginny on the trail the day before the summit

Joe and Ginny on the trail the day before the summit

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