“Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” -John Muir
It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. We get distracted with work and technology that we forget what it’s like to be still. Going to the mountains and the high alpine is such an escape. It’s an escape from the crazy pace of life and the constant noise that surrounds us. It’s where peace can be found, and where you can challenge yourself both mentally and physically.
ROXY Outdoor Fitness ambassador Rachel Moore recently climbed the East Face of Mount Whitney – no easy task! The time, amount of gear and energy exertion was at times overwhelming but totally worth it according to Rachel. Before attempting the climb Rachel always checks the weather and the first thing she packs is a down jacket, and for this particular trip her go-to choice was the Down and Ready Jacket. Priority number one is staying warm in the alpine, especially since temperatures often hit below freezing levels during the climb, on the summit and at night.
To get to the base of the climb it’s a four and a half mile cross country hike with over 4,500ft of elevation gain. It’s a stunning trek from beautiful pine forests all the way up to barren alpine lakes. Once at the base Rachel recommends spending the night to help acclimate your body; The night sky is always a treat up in the mountains. With no light pollution the stars are as clear as day, with dozens of shooting stars and even a satellite or two. As Rachel puts it, “The feeling you get up there is like no other I’ve found in this world.”. The size of the surrounding peaks, clear night sky, the sheer isolation and silence truly changes you.
In the morning it’s time to gear up, refill water bottles from the lake and head out. The climb itself is 2,500 vertical feet. This time it took about 5 hours. Rachel’s group was delayed as they met another climbing party and consequently stuck on a small ledge for over an hour in the wind and hail waiting until a good time to pass the other party. Luckily her Down and Ready Jacket kept warm!
When their group finally reached the summit they could tell a storm was moving in and it was starting to hail harder. They made fast decent and packed up camp, since it’s never smart to stay when a lightning storm is coming through. All in all it was a 14 hour day and one of the most physically challenging days she’s ever experienced.
Here are Rachel’s recommendations for your next (or first) backpacking trip:
- Always do your research ahead of time! Make sure you know where you are headed, and that the trails are open and the weather conditions are good.
- The basic packing list should always include:
- a guide book or map
- a comfortable backpack
- water bottle and water filtration system
- high protein food and snacks
- tent with a rain fly, sleeping pad and a good sleeping bag (I recommend a down 0 degree bag)
- good hiking shoes, an extra pair of socks and lots of layers. (Long underwear, a fleece jacket, down jacket and a rainshell)
- and a camera!
Don’t attempt anything that you are not comfortable with. The mountains are not going anywhere soon but they will always be calling those adventurous at heart!