If I didn’t have Worldly Responsibilities

If I didn’t have worldly responsibilities, I would possibly be climbing mountains. Because, 2 eyes, 1 lifetime, 1 soul is not enough to enjoy God’s work from mountain peaks.

This shot was taken from my tiny camera at about 14,000 ft in the Inyo National Forest on my way to bagging the Mt. Whitney peak.

On Monday, July 26, 2010 about noon time Kumar and I completed one of our long standing goals of bagging the Mt. Whitney peak.

We ascended the summit from the Whitney Portal trail head at 8,365 feet and completed the round trip 22-mile hike in 19 hours! We managed to hike it without any altitude sickness (which can be dangerous and life-threatening!).

Mt. Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada, with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4421 m).

Here is a few of my writing on climbing/hiking:

Exploring Austin – Hiking Mount Bonnell and 360 Bridge

It has been over 3 months since we moved to Austin. During Thanksgiving weekend, I wanted to go check out the best view in town. So, we headed to Mount Bonnell.

Mount Bonnell, also known as Covert Park, is a prominent point alongside the Lake Austin portion of the Colorado River in Austin, Texas. It is about 750 feet. It is a hill more than a mountain. You have to climb a long staircase. Then, you get rewarded with a beautiful view of Lake Austin and vicinity.

We also climbed up a little hill to get a good view of 360 bridge.

360 Bridge in Austin - Ambal Balakrishnan

Climbing Mt. Clouds Rest in Yosemite National Park

This is what it really takes to climb any mountain (both the real and the metaphorical). Put one foot in front of another. And, repeat.

Flashback to Summer 2010:
I summitted every peak that was on the training list leading up to Mt. Whitney except Mt. Clouds Rest. The snow hadn’t melted in the last 500 ft of Mt. Clouds Rest. Being sane & cautious, I returned back with my hiking buddies Durgi and Manju. As we climbed down, I felt disappointed and kept telling myself “I will be back” (yep, I want you to picture that like Schwarzenegger said it in Terminator).

Fast Forward to Summer 2012:
After a few weeks of training this summer, Kumar and I decided to tackle Mt. Clouds Rest (9,931 ft) this weekend. We drove to Yosemite on Friday….got very, very, very lucky when the Ranger assigned (after going through a long waiting list) us a First-Come-First-Served camping spot in Tuolumne Meadows (just 7 miles away from the Sunrise Trailhead for the Clouds Rest hike – how convenient!!). We couldn’t thank the Ranger enough and the Ranger couldn’t stop telling us how lucky we were. Anyways, we camped at 8,600 ft yesterday night. It was a great acclimatization spot for today’s high-altitude hike.

Yosemite was gorgeous and the hike was just awesome. The blue skies, the white-fast-moving clouds, the gentle breeze that smelled of pine trees, the little multicolored wildflowers, the deers with their fawns, the fluttering butterflies – all of these and more made the hike well worth it.

Kumar and I finished the 14 mile hike under 8 hours. Our beautiful planet is just that – beautiful.

Closing Note:
Thank you to my two dear friends Revathi and Usha who looked out for our safety during today’s high-altitude hike. I know this for sure. If they had not heard back from me by 6.00pm on the hike day, they would have moved heaven and earth and driven every living soul, every helicopter, every Search and Rescue team in the Yosemite Valley and beyond to look for Kumar and me.

I am indeed the luckiest soul on earth to have friends that I can trust my life with.

Photo Essay – Climbing Mt. Clouds Rest in Yosemite National Park

Climbing North Peak in Mt. Diablo State Park

Kumar and I hiked North Peak in Mt. Diablo State Park today.

It was a hot day and the hike was not easy. But, the beautiful views of the valley below kept me going.

I felt on top of the world.

This is what it really takes to climb any mountain (both the real and the metaphorical). Put one foot in front of another. And, repeat.