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September 10, 2019

Hiking Mt. Whitney with Lily

Headlamps on, backpack packed, and the dark misty sight of Mt. Whitney rising high up into the sky before me. It’s 2:30 in the morning and hikers are already filing up the mountain one by one in a steady stream. I take a deep breath, gaze up at the mountain, and take a step — here I go.

Hiking Mt. Whitney has been my mom’s long-term goal for several years. When she turned 50, she made a goal to hike every high point in the U.S, Mt. Whitney being one of the tallest. When she got her hikers permit, it became real. I knew this experience was something I didn’t want to miss! The trail is 22 miles total, summits at around 15,000 feet of altitude, and our permit only allowed one day to complete the hike ⁠— we knew we had a grueling journey ahead.

Training for the hike looked like running stairs and taking long jogs. Looking back, I honestly should’ve trained more! I found that more than anything, making the climb was a mental challenge. There was a moment when I seriously considered giving up. I had told myself that when we turned an upcoming corner, we would be close to the peak. I came to find out we still had some difficult ground to cover. This killed me! I lost all desire to finish the climb and sat down in defeat. But once I finally got my butt off that rock and recommitted to finish the climb, I had a burst of energy. In hindsight, I’m thankful I was able to pull it together (with the help of my mom) and overcome that last stretch.

Strangely enough, after returning to my home in Long Beach, CA I could really tell that something about me had changed. That hike gave me a lot of time to think and process (20 hours to be exact). I had to continually force myself to enjoy the climb instead of rushing to the peak. It’s so easy in life to feel rushed to the next thing. Whether it’s one day or one year, I find myself tempted to look so far ahead that I’m missing what’s right in front of me. No matter what way you slice it, the journey of life is pretty long. I’m learning to take it slow, enjoy my time, love the people around me and not to get too caught up in the peaks that lay ahead.

Maybe it was the wide-open space that allowed me to think clearly, or maybe it was just some altitude sickness delirium, but my experience hiking Mt. Whitney has helped me live life at a slower pace and be more content.