Parting the Veil
The tallest mountain in the lower 48 states.
In my years of hiking, I’ve always repeated the mantra, “Sometimes you beat the mountain, sometimes the mountain beats you.” Whitney, that unassuming monolith at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the eastern edge of Sequoia National Park, is the one mountain that has truly beaten me.
In 2015, while descending the switchbacks on the western side of the mountain, after being turned back from a thunderstorm that swept in during my ascent, I picked up a stress fracture that ended my dreams of thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail that year. It was a tough injury, more for the emotional and mental distress than for the physical hardships it caused. I left Sequoia and the PCT that June defeated but determined to return, to beat the mountain that beat me so resoundingly.
“When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.” – Napoleon Hill
When most people think of Sequoia National Park, they think of the big trees, with the mountains almost an afterthought, but so much staggering beauty is out there in the backcountry of the High Sierra, waiting to be explored. Though daunting, these mountains are some of the most dramatic, beautiful examples of wilderness we have in the U.S. I encourage everyone to get out and explore them some time, to find their own mountain they need to beat, I know I intend to.