Melanie White, President of Hellwig Products, took three friends and the world famous Rule Breaker truck camper rig to Mount Whitney in California. Up before dawn, they tackled the 22-mile round trip with a very important goal.
Modern work and family schedules don’t leave a lot of time or energy for much of anything beyond school, work, and seemingly endless tasks and responsibilities. When those things are completed for the day, most of us retreat to a sofa, television, and internet device for a little sit down and relax. Glass of wine? Yes, thank you.
As the days and weeks tick by, it’s easy to lose track of life’s larger goals. Maybe you will get to that list after the clothes are folded, the homework is checked, and you schedule a service appointment for the car. And you really need to workout, call your mom, and back up your computer. What’s on Netflix?
If that sounds familiar, Melanie White, President of Hellwig Products, has a fantastic idea to inspire (and push) us from our hectic repeating patterns. It starts with a New Year’s Eve gathering and shared resolutions. What follows is a friendly prompt, nudge, and a poke (or two) to create the necessary plans and make the resolutions happen.
This is the story of Melanie’s 2018 New Year’s Resolution, and a challenging ascent up Mount Whitney. It’s also the story of how friends and family can inspire, support, and (yes) push each other to live life to the fullest. Gather your tribe, take notes, and push.
You recently took a truck camping trip to Mount Whitney in California. Where did the idea for this trip come from?
The idea for the trip came from my friends Michelle and Sydney. Sydney had planned a day trip there the year before. Climbing Mount Whitney sounded so amazing.
It was also a personal goal for Michelle. I thought it was a good idea and added it to my New Year’s resolution list, too. And we convinced Sydney to be our guide.
Each year we bring in New Year’s Eve in the desert. Before midnight I collect my friend’s goals and my family’s goals on my phone. Then, I send out quarterly reminders.
We have three trophies at the end of the year. The Winnerest, the Loserest, and the Wild Card. Michelle is definitely getting Winnerest in the desert because she made it to the top!
That’s a great idea. How was this trip different than others you had been on?
Up until this trip, I had never spent the night in a parking lot. We camped overnight at Whitney Portal so that we could adjust to the elevation before the hike.
It was awesome that we were able to pull right into a parking spot and camp for the night. We were very cozy with four of us in the camper.
The hike the next morning was stunningly beautiful, but brutal. It was very cold and windy that day. I ended up not making it to the top because I got elevation sickness from the elevation gain of 6,100 feet.
I’m so proud that my friends made it to the top. It was quite an accomplishment! And the views were amazing.
We got elevation sickness years ago after a quick ascent to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The headaches can be agonizing. How long did it take you to reach your destination?
We started hiking early in the morning when it was dark and ended the hike when it was dark. It took 14-hours for our group to do the full round trip of 22-miles.
You told us that this was your first time taking a truck camper out on your own. What was it like to drive the rig?
It was my first time taking it out, and I loved it! Driving the truck camper was so easy. I could park in normal parking spots and I had everything I needed on the back of the truck. It felt so empowering! I’m hooked! It was incredibly windy when I was driving and I could hardly feel it.
Do you have any advice or perspectives for women that might be hesitant to drive a truck camper rig?
I’d encourage women to try it. It is very empowering. And it makes a big difference to have the right equipment on the vehicle to handle the extra load. We have great products on the truck that help make it feel incredibly secure and stable.
It also made me feel more connected to what we do as a company. The experience overall was enriching on a lot of elements.
Have you been on any other trips with the Rule Breaker?
Yes. My family and I took the Rule Breaker up to the Sequoias. We headed up after work on a Friday. On our way we grabbed sandwiches from the best sandwich place, Sierra Subs and Salads in Three Rivers.
We stayed in the parking lot at the Lakes Trailhead. It was the perfect way to start our day. We got up early and were able to step right onto the trail. We did not have to drive anywhere.
My son didn’t feel so well so I turned back early with him and we watched a movie while my husband finished the hike. It’s really amazing how secure and comfortable it makes you feel to have a truck camper. I know you guys get it. After experiencing the truck camper, all I want is more time with it. I love it!
Hellwig Products is in a really nice location in California. Where do you recommend that other truck campers go when traveling in your neck of the woods?
The truck camper is perfect for Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. The roads in those parks are tight, so a truck camper is perfect.
You have to see Yosemite National Park! It’s a must! And then there are some really great campgrounds near the beach in some smaller towns. One of my favorites is Morro Bay State Park.
I’m really grateful to Lance for building such a great camper that we’ve had the fortune to enjoy. The partnership has been a true gift.
Above: This rock “monster” is at the entrance into Alabama Hills in Lone Pine, California
Also, I am inspired by what a beautiful state and country we live in. I encourage folks to get out as much as possible and enjoy it. There really is no better way to get around than a truck camper.