Where’s the paper aisle? Why we need a Walmart on Mt. Whitney

Egads! I’ve run out of paper… Possibly the first time I’ve ever used ‘egads’ in my writing. Next time I’ll try ‘Good Grief”. Somewhere, Samuel L. Jackson is covering his ears from my potty mouthed-ness and David Mamet is blushing.

Today, an excerpt from ‘The Mount Whitney Journals – Book V’. It’s the afternoon before my 2-day backpack trip on the mountain and I’ve discovered I’m out of writing paper. This is like a photographer running out of film…when we used film. Luckily, I have The Whitney Portal Store near the trailhead, a mile away. 

Sierra Angelica at sunrise


August 6, 2009. Upon my discovery, I rummaged through my glove compartment for any spare sheets or scraps of paper. I feared I’d be forced to write in the margins of my 4Runner owner’s manual or on the backs of paycheck stubs and old receipts. After a fruitless search, I decided on a trip to the store. If I were I a little more MacGyver-ish, I could make my own paper out of pine needles, dead branches and trout guts; a little more Rambo-ish, and I could carve notes and journal entries into my flesh with a knife.

At the Portal Store, I searched the shelves for anything that might serve as a journal, but only found postcards. This could work if I bought a handful of them. It’s not like I’d be writing Paradise Lost or some such epic saga while on the mountain. In the end, I simply asked the clerk if I could have several sheets of printer paper or something along those lines. Initially, she gave me a look like I was asking for a kidney or speaking Portuguese. But eventually I made her understand that I just needed two or three blank sheets of paper, lined or unlined, and I’d be willing to pay well above market value for them. While she searched the back office, I picked out a couple of souvenir Mt. Whitney fridge magnets to buy so I wouldn’t feel as guilty about panhandling for paper. She returned a minute later with a half dozen sheets of printer paper. I tried to pay for them, but she gave me another ‘look’.


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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3 Responses to Where’s the paper aisle? Why we need a Walmart on Mt. Whitney

  1. ewa says:

    VICTOR!!! I have not read your post but the title!!! Walmart? On top of Whitney? Starbucks I would understand but Walmart?
    OK, now to read your post. 😉

  2. ewa says:

    Heart attack averted.
    Whitney Portal store does not have notebooks? Well, we need to talk to Doug about that! Have you met him? He is the owner, a very cool guy to chat with.
    Have you considered scribbling notes on your arm, leg, torso… ???
    Happy hiking, Victor. Sorry about making fun of you. I am in Tahoe now so I am in a giddy mood.
    I still think Starbucks on top of Whitney… well, maybe not.

  3. victorvolta says:

    Ewa, See! The headline worked. It grabs attention. I wrote that very much with tongue in cheek. No one would be more appalled to see a Starbucks, Walmart, Target anywhere near my beloved mountain than me. Bishop is close enough and there’s fantastic coffee at Espresso Parlor in Lone Pine. Enjoy Tahoe….I’d be giddy too if I were there.

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