Unfortunately this had to be a quick trip:
- Leave home (elev 1200) @ 1 PM on Friday.
- Arrive in Mammoth (elev 9000) around 7 PM. Eat dinner, go to bed.
- Arrive @ Mt. Dana trailhead around 5:30 AM Saturday morning, hike
- Reach Mt. Dana’s summit (13,051′) by 10 AM
- Finish hike before forecasted thunderstorms start around noon.
- Arrive @ home around 7 PM Saturday.
With the hectic schedule and no time to acclimate, I was worried about AMS. I also had not recovered well from my leg workouts earlier in the week, so I was a little nervous about the steep ascent.
We got a late start Friday, but timing-wise everything basically went as planned. The weather was perfect for hiking and we were able to finish the hike before the rain started. The temperature was dropping and clouds were rolling in as we were leaving the park. The climb was tough, but the descent was brutal! For the first 4 hours of the hike, I was thinking that Mt. Dana might work as an acclimation hike before Mt. Whitney. By the time I finished, I had changed my mind. 72 hrs after the hike, my legs hurt more than they did for my Whitney trip last month. I will probably need a full week to recover from this hike. Although it may be the easiest 13 ‘er, I feel like I earned it!
- Gear: My pack was a little heavier than planned due to the need to carry rain gear (pack cover, rain jacket & pants). Loaded with 3 liters of water, food and my hiking poles, it was less than 21 lbs.
- Water: I carried 3 liters, which was perfect for this hike.
- Food: I didn’t feel like eating (elevation?) even though I was having hunger pangs for the last hour of the hike.
- AMS: I got an ‘elevation’ headache and some dizziness, but overall the altitude didn’t affect me as much as expected. I feel that using diamox in the days leading up to the hike and Excederin the day of the hike is really helping. Once the headache starts, I use ibuprofen.
- I believe that a full day at elevation prior of the hike would have been helpful.
- An early start is recommended. You are exposed to the sun for the majority of this hike.
*The hike was very strenuous, but too short in distance and duration to warrant a ‘very strenuous’ rating, in my opinion.