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Bruce Binder, Dave Cowan, Debora Curless, Erik Kenas, and Bill Peckham left San Diego at about 11am Saturday heading for Lone Pine. We were in Bruce's short utility vehicle and Bill's (normal height) utility vehicle. We stopped at the In-N-Out in Hesperia, where some of us (vegetarians and not) learned what an "Animal Style" was.
Elevation 282 feet below sea level. Bruce, Deborah, and Erik got on their bikes and rode off in the moonlight at about 9:30pm Saturday night. Dave and Bill walked around the salt flat for a few minutes while a steady, hot, dry breeze blew over us. Unfortunately we didn't see any Salt Duckcicles.
Somewhere between -282 feet and 2000 feet, Bruce and Bill traded support and rider duties. Somewhere along the route, Bill's car wouldn't start. Dave and Bruce enlisted the help of some passers-by to push the disabled vehicle. After Dave tried to start the car again by standing outside and reaching through the driver's window to turn the key, Bruce mentioned that you must push the clutch to the floor, all the way to the floor, to get the vehicle to start. [I got a good chuckle out of this story, but given the recent electrical problems my car's been having, I imagine that Bruce and Dave were quite worried.]
We saw a few coyotes run across the road. One rider (we won't tell you her name) saw a prancing Meerkat--we think she might have been a little delusional. Riding through the desert at 1am in near-full moonlight is an interesting experience.
Elevation ~2000 feet. We arrived at our sleep spot about 55 miles outside of Badwater at about 3am. Bruce had set up our sleeping bags and pads, and we quickly fell asleep. Erik rode past the sleep spot up the hill a bit. Dave had to go fetch him. Otherwise, Erik probably wouldn't have stopped until the Whitney Portal. We woke up around 6:30am Sunday morning.
Elevation ~1000 feet. In Panamint Springs (Motto: Our water price will break your heart--$4/gallon) a very chipper old waiter served us breakfast at the restaurant. After breakfast Deborah, Erik, and Bill climbed on the bikes at 11:15am to head up and over the next pass near Darwin. Dave and Bruce drove support.
Elevation 3700 feet. The group had dinner at Mt Whitney restaurant and starts the ride to Whitney Portal at about 6:30pm.
Elevation ~8800 feet. Erik and Bill arrive at the Portal between 9:00pm (Erik) and 10:00pm (Bill) Sunday night.
Bruce had prepared the best spaghetti dinner I'd ever had (not the Dudley's Principle). Then I promply passed out.
At 6:30ish on Monday, the group woke up, ate some breakfast, and started the hike up the trail around 8:30. Bruce and Deborah turned back in the morning, Dave and Bill turned back around 12500 feet, but Erik went all the way to the summit, completing the trip from the lowest point to the highest point in the lower 48 states. Dave and Bill were back to camp by 6:30pm. Erik returned to the trailhead by 10:00pm.
Tuesday morning, we went back down the hill and home. Bill's car's electrical system acted up again, so Dave and Bill didn't have AC for about half of the ride home. It felt really good to reach the San Diego coast and roll the windows down. We celebrated with happy hour beers at the Bahia Don Bravo in La Jolla.