Shopping at REI

View south from Whitney Portal Road

An excerpt from Book I.

THE MOUNT WHITNEY JOURNALS – Book I – 1998

Monday morning,  AUG. 3, 1998 – 2 Days before the trip

I’m at REI, the expedition superstore, in San Carlos for my major outfitting excursion. Since I haven’t done much camping before, I don’t own a lot of equipment. I own a tent and some expired aspirin. I’d bought my hiking boots here at REI a month earlier to break them in. I chose an amazing pair of Merrills that felt comfortable and broken in the moment I put them on. As I wander the aisles and look at all the merchandise, every gadget, piece of equipment, and all the apparel start to look like an absolute necessity: global positioning systems, stoves, lanterns, ropes, knives, fur-lined Gore-tex underwear. If they’d had Sherpa rentals, I might have been tempted. Wandering through the store, I envision myself ringing up an enormous tab, all for just a four-day, three-night trip, with two of the three nights spent in a motel in Lone Pine. My objective, when I arrived at the store, was to simply buy a sleeping bag, hiking socks, stock up on energy bars, and maybe get some band-aids. In addition to all these items, I leave with extra water bottles; a sanitation shovel; an $80.00 North Face back pack that would eventually go unused; a compass; a topographic map; a first aid kit that includes everything but a tourniquet, surgical supplies, and home tracheotomy kit; a nifty flashlight/lantern combo; and enough AA batteries for all of us and three generations of ancestors. Showing Herculean restraint, I fight the temptation of a water purifier and opt, instead, for a $4.95 bottle of iodine tablets, which saves me about $85.00. Still, my bill comes to $356.00. During the course of my shopping, I do make one interesting discovery. As I am looking at a map of California, trying to determine which topographic map I need, I discover that Mount Whitney is at almost the precise latitude as Pebble Beach.

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About victorvolta

I am a freelance photographer/writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I grew up in the very suburban city of Santa Clara. Education: San Jose State University (class of '84) BA degree in Journalism with concentrations in Photojournalism and English. Favorite Foods: Ribeye steaks and Stan's Doughnuts (separate plates, usually). Favorite Drinks: Strong gourmet coffee and Trader Joe's Blood Orange Italian Soda (separate cups).
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