"Kick in, step, move forward. Kick in, step, move forward..."
These were the words I recited through gritted teeth like a mantra to myself as we tried to make it off Mt. Whitney alive in July 2011 during its 100 Year Storm. I'd promised my daughter I wouldn't die as I set out to hike the High Sierra Trail which culminates on Mt. Whitney. For most of the 60+ miles even the overflowing rivers made it a promise I could keep.... until the hail and lightening started as we neared the crest from the west side. As we raced over the crest and down a trail that was filling fast with freezing hail and snow we needed to chuck our hiking poles, squat, and shelter in place several times as the sky exploded overhead and shots of fuzzy, buzzing electricity filled our sinuses.
After descending below the hail-filled section of trail, we paused long enough to hear what sounded like a jet engine careening down towards us... A landslide now was taking out large sections of trail below us. Still, we scrambled around the newly placed boulders, wash-outs, and scree to ultimately be met by a small group of hikers shining their headlamps down onto our path through yet another overflowing water crossing. The trail from that point on was not passable so we each shared emergency blankets, bag liners, tents, whatever it took to make sure everyone made it through the long, cold, wet night on the side of the mountain that was changing before our eyes.
Summit For Someone
Whitney and I are not done yet. I could simply make the trek to the summit on my own any time, weather willing. But why not make it count... really count?
This April I will join a team of great climbers from around the country, staff from Backpacker magazine, and Seven Summits veteran guides to summit Mt. Whitney via the Mountaineers Route to raise funds and awareness for Big City Mountaineers through their Summit For Someone program.
To do that I need your help. In short, by raising $4K, teens who currently face gang life, drug use, and an avalanche of challenges will be able to go on the adventure of a life time to dig deep within themselves, discover their resiliency and leadership skills, and have a chance to climb as high as they set their goals for in a life of their making.
I've had the good fortune to be able to backpack and hike my entire life with my family, Girl Scouts, church camps, and with friends. I've trekked along the Appalachian Trail with my Dad, white-water rafted and camped along the Snake river in the Grand Tetons with Girl Scouts, met various and sundry fellow trekkers along my journeys on sections of the Pacific Crest and John Muir Trails with friends and alone, and loved many hikes in between with my daughter, Indigo.
This past summer I began a new adventure chapter in solo trekking. My moments of digging deep and climbing high propelled me along a 68-mile solo trek from Tuolomne Meadows in Yosemite National Park to Edison Lake in the Inyo National Forest along the JMT; making my mileage goals daily and meeting the most interesting characters along the way.
I want those soul-searching, life-defining opportunities for our youth. I will train, prepare, climb up and down mountains, through all sorts of weather, and on April 22 I will stand on the summit of Mt. Whitney sending a heart full of love and all of your well wishes to those youth who need just a chance and just one person to walk along side them and show them how to dig deep and climb high.
One more thing.... technically the minimum to embark on this journey is $4K. Wouldn't it send an AMAZING message of belief to our youth if we raised $14,595.00... One dollar for every foot of Mt. Whitney? If it means more young women and men digging deep, climbing high, and finding their resilience... how can we not?
Please visit www.summitforsomeone.org, enter my name, Denise Lanier, to donate to this climb. Not for me, but to send a message of belief, support, and high expectations for our youth who will be shaping our world soon enough.
Thank you and Climb On!