Summit Mt. Whitney: Permit Acquired

The first hurdle I faced when planning for my 2015 challenge was getting access to attempt the hike of Mt. Whitney.

Like many popular hikes, there is now a permit system in place to limit the daily travelers. This is done for the safety and enjoyment of those on the trail as well as to allow for the preservation of the location.

My goal was to get a permit that let me camp overnight and hike the mountain over two days – rather than attempting it in a single long day. That allows for a more leisurely pace and more enjoyable trip. The trade off is you have to carry sleeping gear.

I’ve had a good bit of experience getting permits from the U.S. Parks department and learned a few tricks. They key is to make sure you are flexible, and shoot for off-peak days when possible. Early or late season hikes are easier to secure as are mid-week hikes. Finally, if you don’t get a permit, always check for last minute cancelations. I’ve secured a few great hikes by calling every morning of a trip and adjusting my plans when a permit opened up.

This time, I didn’t need the above tips though – I just got lucky. I secured a group permit for 5 people on my first choice, a weekend in the peak season.

I’m not planning on training for the hike outside of a normal exercise routine. A few runs and bike rides a week and the occasional hike with my son on my back should be enough to ensure I can complete the hike.

Maybe I need to make things more difficult…

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