Regarding my “The Mount Whitney Journals” workflow, I’m in the process of transcribing Book IV (2007) and writing the rough draft of Book V (2009). I’m hoping to start Book VI (2010) by May 1st. Generally, the way I work is to handwrite each book in a spiral bound notebook in a rough draft. Once I’m finished, I use the draft to write what I hope is a more polished, edited version on the computer. It’s a long process, and I’m not sure how other writers work on their craft. And I’m not sure how other writers go through this process without pulling their hair out. Sometimes I liken my own writing output to trying to squeeze glue out of a frozen tube.
For today’s excerpt, I’m back to Book IV (’07). My friend, Richard, my brother, Phil and I have just arrived at the Whitney Portal Campground where we’ll camp for two days and nights to acclimate to the altitude. We’ve just driven from Las Vegas. This is going to be my fourth attempt at climbing Mt. Whitney. For both Rich & Phil, it’s their first attempt and their first time up here at the Whitney Portal. Each year, one of the moments I most look forward to is the arrival at the campsite and feeling the waters of Lone Pine Creek. Happy Trails.
THE MOUNT WHITNEY JOURNALS – Book IV – 2007
Before I can even think of unpacking and setting up camp, the creek beckons. As I walk across the campsite, I see an old fallen pine tree that roughly divides the camp. It’s as if the site is a split-level and the tree is the divider. As the three of us walk towards the creek, I see a prime spot for my tent on the lower side of the dead tree and claim it for myself.
Even living in Florida, I’m well aware that California’s been suffering through several dry winters and I fear that the creek level is going to be low. As I near the creek bed, my ears tell me that my fears are unfounded. We cross the footpath that follows the creek and descend the small embankment until we are standing inches from the water. I reach down to feel the cold water with my hands and then hold my wet hands to my face and neck to refresh myself. I look upcreek at the water cascading over the boulders, rocks and fallen trees. The cooling mist and breeze that the force of the water generates feels wonderful and it fills me with the same joy and lightness that I’ve felt on my previous three trips. In fact, I seem to have a greater appreciation each time.
I count this as one of my ‘finally’ moments. There are dozens of these moments in the course of each trip, but there are three major ‘finally’ moments, the first of which is when the day of the trip ‘finally’ arrives and I lock the front door behind me ready to start a new adventure. The second moment is the one I’m experiencing right now, having arrived at the Whitney Portal and I am finally able to see Lone Pine Creek. The third is the one I’ll experience in two days when I take my first steps up the trail. A fourth major ‘finally’ moment has proven elusive, with previous trips having ended without achieving the ultimate goal of standing proudly, arms raised in triumph atop the summit. This year, I’m determined to change that.