Still descending the mountain past Mirror Lake, to say that I’m not doing very well would be a gross understatement. Note to makers of energy bars: have you ever thought of a rib-eye steak flavored option?
THE MOUNT WHITNEY JOURNALS — Book IV — 2007
Low on water as I reach Outpost Camp, I refill my bottles alongside the trail where a cascade of creek water pools among the rocks. I want to keep moving, but I’m faltering again and need to stop for a few minutes. I descend a little more and find a flat spot to rest at the base of a Lodgepole pine. My legs continue to shake and twitch the entire time I’m at rest. My body is desperate for real food, but all I have left are Clif bars, for which I’ve developed an intense aversion. As I fish another one out of my fanny pack, I wonder what pine cones and bugs taste like. Even my hands are shaking and I have to use a knife to cut open the Clif bar bag. I’m so tired I could cry. I can only manage two bites of the bar before my saliva is gone and the last bite turns to paste in my mouth. I drink more water to rinse it down.
I psyche myself up for the last climb of the day, a short rise of two to three hundred yards that leads away from Outpost Camp towards Lone Pine Lake. I reach for my poles to help myself off the ground and then I refasten my load. My neck and shoulders are in knots from carrying my daypack and camera. By this time tomorrow, I’ll be back in Las Vegas where the heaviest thing I plan to lift is either a fork with a bloody chunk of medium-rare prime rib-eye at the end of it or a double corona at the Casa Fuente cigar bar at Caesars. I hear footsteps behind me and turn to look, hoping it’s Richard, but instead it’s a young hiker in his twenties. He blazes past me on young, fresh legs. Out of respect, he can at least act like he’s struggling. I resent him instantly.