UPDATE, 22 October 2008

David and Chiva are taking a break from the Tour de Dog but are sure to plan another ride in the near future. A sincere thank you to all of you who helped David and Chiva in countless ways. The Tour de Dog would not be possible without your support. THANK YOU!

View a Photo Documentary of Tour de Dog by Jason Houge

Tour de Dog is past states: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, and New York.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Whitney Experience

I was ecstatic when Sarah Macy got in touch to tell me she wanted to climb Mt. Whitney with Chiva and me. Although I was a little apprehensive because of her limited climbing experience, I knew she would be just fine. I made conversation with her on a Santa Cruz sidewalk during the Tour de Dog, and she has been a great friend ever since. I asked her to write this next post so that you could get another perspective of an average day in the Tour de Dog. Thank you Sarah!

From Sarah:

Call me crazy, but David’s adventurous spirit is contagious giving me no choice but to catch the Tour de Dog bug and travel to Mt. Whitney to meet up with him and Chiva. Mt. Whitney is a beautiful beast who is so massive that she makes her own weather with no concern for anyone or anything; you have to be prepared for anything at all times. In retrospect, I wasn’t prepared. In fact, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.

We started off in Lone Pine where I secured us a room at the Mt. Whitney Motel. We prepared for the hike by resting, eating, shopping for last minute gear (check out his new orange hat!), and packing. We slept well, and I was full of energy and excitement. I had the utmost confidence because I was with David.

It had been snowing on Mt. Whitney for the last 6 days but today’s weather report called for only a 20% chance of snow. I think it really meant a 20% chance that it wouldn’t snow because it was already snowing as we walked to the trail head. At the entrance there was a sign reminding hikers to be prepared and to take care of themselves because hiking Mt. Whitney could either be “a wonderful experience or a miserable ordeal.” I had some doubt and fear but felt safe in the fact that although David pushes himself, he also doesn’t risk his or Chiva’s safety. Their health and well being is his number one concern. After walking about 300 feet my chest already hurt and I was out-of-breath! What had I been thinking when I agreed to this? I have never hiked in the snow before and had never been anywhere higher then 10,000 feet—but I quietly persevered.

We made camp 4 miles in at 10,300 feet at the snowy site, Outpost Camp. There were no other campers there which was wonderful but also a clue to me that hiking in this kind of weather was insane. David set up our tent under a tree for protection. It was so cold that all I could do was get into my sleeping bag in the tent where David made hot soup for me. It was fun for me to think about how just ten days ago how he was surviving in 110 degree weather! I lay there in fear of bears ripping off the top of the tent for food (although everything was in a bear canister) or a branch falling down and killing me. If just being in a tent was this scary how was I going to handle the upper slopes of Mt. Whitney?

Finally I fell to sleep and woke up to David asking if I was ready to go. Groggily I asked what time it was to which he answered, 3:15am. What? Okay, I guess I can leave now although I have never hiked at night and frankly I am a little bit afraid of what lurks in the dark, but we had to leave in order to beat the afternoon storms. David quickly made us oatmeal and packed up, and at 3:45am we had started out under the stars for the Whitney summit.

David and Chiva started off at a blazing pace only to have to continually stop to check on me. It was hard, really hard to get up after only a few hours of sleep and to hike up hill in the snow. It was also extremely beautiful. The sunrise drenched the snow covered mountains with orange and pink light and once the sun was up, the sky was a deeper and clearer blue then anything I’ve ever seen making a breathtaking backdrop for the rugged mountains. Amazing!

We continued to hike, and David kept checking in with me and Chiva, making sure we were okay. I didn’t tell him at the time, but I was scared. I have so little experience in the snow that my mind kept going to worst case scenarios, like avalanches or me sliding off the side of the mountain to my death! At 12,850 feet, we stopped in waist high snow no longer able to move forward and noticing that there were some serious clouds quickly forming and moving in. I stopped and waited for David to go a little bit further to determine whether or not it was safe or even possible to continue hiking to the top. He decided that the series of May storms brought too much snow to continue and although disappointed that we didn’t reach the summit, we were proud of the determination we gave the hike.

So here we are again in Lone Pine at the Mt. Whitney Motel where we have a pleasant and safe view of the truly stunning Mt. Whitney. I am getting ready to leave tomorrow while David keeps looking out the window at Mt. Whitney perhaps thinking about taking her on again when I leave. After spending the last few days with David I realize this is something he would do.

I am so happy that I took the time to meet up with David and Chiva. Watching their relationship makes me want to get my own four legged adventure pup. Chiva is so sweet and loving and was such a serious trooper on the Mt. Whitney hike. I encourage anyone who is curious about the Tour de Dog to get in touch with David and plan to spend some time with him and Chiva. After getting to know David, I can really see how comfortable he is with himself and how passionate he is about completing his mission. His attitude, even when things are incredibly rough, is always positive because he feels so grateful and happy to be living the way that he wants. His focus on making this lifestyle sustainable and simply doing good is inspiring especially when we were hiking beautiful Mt. Whitney on a Wednesday morning…a time when I would normally be making my way to the office. Although he wouldn’t want me to say this, David is working his ass off to make his dream happen, and it was an honor to help the Tour de Dog. I plan on following his blog and meeting up with them again. I’ll also be more prepared for hanging out with this fun maniac next time!


Anonymous said...

Nice post. Beautiful pictures. My dog, Sky, and I are very proud of you, Chiva, and Sarah. What courage!

Anonymous said...

So how about a close up of the lady from Santa Cruz who came to join you and Chiva? (Not that it matters what she looks like. Just curious.)

Doug said...

David, your adventure is incredible. We admire your determination, bravery and stamina. You will be able to write a book about this journey when you are done and I am sure the media will soon catch up to the fantastic things you are doing.
Doug and Pam