For the 9 months leading up to the hike, I worked hard to prepare physically for the hike. Not knowing how to train for high elevation hiked, I went with what I knew: weight training, weighted vest walks, and a stair master. I scrupulously avoided reading about the hike up to Mt. Whitney - perhaps an oversight, but like The Grand Canyon, I wanted to keep my mind open about what it was going to be like (while I still should have read more about the hike, I do not know this was a bad philosophy, specifically about Mt. Whitney. Likely I would have talked myself out of going at all). I added in training hikes with The Outdoorsman to get some hiking practice as well (This was actually one of the most valuable decisions I made).
And then, of course, the world just happened.
TB The Elder passed away. Work exploded, as I seemed to be buried under a mountain of work that only seemed to escalate as the day got closer, to the point that I was working 12 hours days, sitting at the computer typing and talking, grabbing meals and bringing them back to the desk, My world was becoming a long tunnel between the bedroom, the kitchen, and the desk. It seemed there was no reason that I could leave.
And yet the day came, and I left.
I only realized (after the hike) that I had baggage that I was carrying, baggage that was as heavy as the full backpack you see above. It had become the combination of a lot of things: deciding what to do about The Ranch and when to go, a work where I still feel I am neither fully engaged nor fully functional yet always busy, and the ever nagging sense that I am simply not really "doing" the thing I am called to do.
Packs are heavy things for 8 days; heavier only are the packs which our minds bind to us.