This is a work in progress
In 1989 I did a day-hike with Dale to the top of Mt. Whitney and back. I remember getting to the crest where the trail starts down the other side. It was still two more brutal miles to go along the crest to the Peak. I was surprised to see a row of backpacks there. I asked a young woman who was just dropping her pack why they were there. She explained that she had just come up from the other side! She was leaving he pack there while she made a side trip to the peak. I was dumbfounded. You mean people actually climb up from that side with a heavy pack?! I was struggling with just water and sandwiches in my pack. These must be athletes on a par with Hercules and Achilles. I never thought I could do something as strenuous and bold and magnificent.
Time passed. I took a solo car-camping trip to Lodgepole in 2000. It was a beautiful trip. I rode my bike through the glorious Giant Forest. The sun made the red Sequoia trunks pop out against the green needles and deep blue sky. In Crescent Meadows I saw the sign marking the beginning of the High Sierra Trail. It listed mileage to features along the trail; and there at the bottom was Mt. Whitney at 71 miles (since modified to 60 miles). Again, I was amazed: people actually walk all that way with all their food-shelter-clothing stuffed in a backpack! The sign seemed to be set up for mere mortals, so, perhaps I too could accomplish something comparable. At that point I decided to try it myself. Dale volunteered to go with me. So, in September 2001 I set off with him on my first backpacking trip in the Sierras. We included a good portion of off-trail hiking. It was such fun that I have been going back every year since.