I started hiking a few years ago because it is a bit of a mix of sports and outdoors, both of which I enjoy.
At the beginning of 2016, I set a goal to hike Mt.Whitney, the highest summit in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada with an elevation of 14,505 ft (4421 meters), 22 miles (36km) round-trip, 6,100 ft (1859 meters) elevation gain. In order to prepare for this challenge, I hiked many of the Southern California mountains including San Gorgonio, the highest peak in Southern California with 11,503 ft (3506 meters).
After few months of training, on Sunday, July 3, 2016, at 2:00AM, I started the journey to conquering the world famous Whitney trail with three of my team members. The weather was pleasant, except for some temperature fluctuation in the early hours. The recent warm temperature has melted most of the Winter snow on the trail. There was some snow towards the summit, which required me to have my micro-spikes. The trail starts at 8,360 ft (2548 meters) with quick elevation gain. I saw few people struggle with elevation, but I have found myself to acclimate relatively well so the quick elevation gain did not bother me.
After 7 hours and 11 miles (18km) of continuous ascent, I was able to reach the summit to be rewarded with such a magnificent view that Mt. Whitney can only offer. I stayed at the summit for about 40 minutes enjoying the views and taking plenty of pictures. I was also able to sign the Mt. Whitney registry as part of Mt. Whitney legacy, which was so special.
Hiking Whitney was a difficult physical and mental challenge, but it has also been very rewarding. I felt greater sense of accomplishment and a sense of assurance that anything is possible if we put our mind and effort into it. I always encourage people to go out and experience what nature has to offer. There is so much beauty not to enjoy.
*Selam Mesfin is an Ethiopian-American adventurer. She lives in California and has traveled to 67 countries and 42 US States.