I am not much of a hiker, not because I don’t like to hike but because I live in Kansas (Kansas isn’t exactly known for its super awesome hiking trails).  I like to consider myself to be in decent shape as I work out six days a week but even in great shape I have my reservations about climbing a “fourteener”.  In preparation for climbing Pikes Peak I have done a lot of research.  Most routes up Pikes Peak appear to be approximately 26 miles of hiking round trip.  It takes approximately 6-8 hours each way (most likely less on the descent) and we will tackle the ascent and descent all in one day.  That means we will wake up early (4am or 5am) to begin hiking so that we can summit before noon.  We will then descend below the tree line in order to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms on the top of the mountain.

I have mostly researched the dangers of hiking and under preparedness.  Among my list of top concerns are improper attire, bears, lightning strikes and acute mountain sickness.  Let’s define right off the bat that by improper attire I do not mean accidentally hiking up the mountain dressed like a working girl on a Saturday night.  Well, I take that back… *Special note*- Sara, do not hike up the mountain dressed like you are going out on Saturday night (there, I feel better now).  Back to what it means to the rest of us… to everyone else it means not having layers of moisture wicking clothing since it will most likely be cold when we hike up, just above freezing at the top (at this moment right now mid-day the current temperature is 34.8 degrees) and warm on the hike down.  If there is one thing I do not like to be, it is cold.  Once your feet get cold… you are cold forever.  In light of this, I may be rendering myself a little “over prepared” but at the same time I am keeping in mind that what we bring- we carry the full 26 mile hike.  That being said, I have compiled a list of my over preparedness (or under preparedness depending on how much crazier you are than me).

List of what I am taking:

Geigerrig 1600 Hydration Pack- holds 3 liters of water.  My husband (who is jealous of this trip and living vicariously through me) went out and got me this hydration pack so I could use it to haul my other gear as well, the 1600 means it has 1600 cu in of dry capacity. I have read that you want to take .5 liters for every hour of hiking, so this should fit the bill.  The thought did cross my mind of filling it with alcohol of some sort but then I realized we wouldn’t be able to discern my acute mountain sickness from plain old drunkenness if I did that.  Idea nixed.

Food/Snacks for a Day-   High carbs and some fats.  Take more than you think you will need.  I asked what this meant and our fellow hiker Kory told us that when she hiked Longs Peak she burned approximately 4000 calories according to her Fitbit. 4,000 calories?!?!  Best workout ever!  Unfortunately those calories should probably be replaced.  If ever I have looked for an excuse to eat a chocolate bar it would be when I have 4000 calories to burn.  You better believe I will be packing some sort of awesome “off my regular diet” snack that would make a nutritionist cringe if they saw me eat it.  Bacon Chocolate Bar?  Maybe.

Camera- For pictures of us falling down the mountain, bear attacks and to prove to all of you guys we did what we said we were going to do I will be bringing my trusty Nikon.

Sunscreen and Lip Balm- I am usually a Chapstik fan, but recently found Nivea lip balm and it is awesome.  It is definitely making the trip with me.

Utility Knife- Another item purchased by my husband for fun, splinters and nail filing.

First Aid Kit- Expertly put together by my husband… did I mention he was living vicariously through me on this hike?

Layers of Clothing - Wearing: my favorite running crops or shorts, tank top and a long sleeve running top.  Bringing:  an extra pair of pants and a jacket.

Hat, Gloves, Extra Pair of Socks- Back to that business about once your feet get cold… I prefer not to risk it.

Headlamp- Leaving before the sun rises, I want the bears to know where we are at so they can come say hi.  Plus, what is more fun than a headlamp you can turn around and blind someone on a moment’s notice with?

Rain Jacket- Because carrying a large metal spoke umbrella up the mountain just seems impractical and unsafe for thunderstorms above the tree line.  Well, that is unless it is sharpened at the tip and could double over as a tool to shiv bears and such.  I am looking at rain not as a matter of “if” but a matter of “when”.  The Northface jacket I looked at had great reviews… I ordered it and when it arrived the size small was definitely like a size medium.  I was trying to justify to myself that I *could* keep it and wear it when I am pregnant and then realized that was a horrible and slightly depressing reason to keep a jacket one size too big. I returned it and I am hoping the XS comes in today and fits.

Hiking Shoes- No sense in tearing up my running shoes, plus these will give me some extra support.  I have also been advised to take cottonballs… for my feet.  Or, if we get stranded I will eat them like Will Ferrell did in Elf.  Genius.

The Stick- I have ITBS… not to be confused with IBS.  ITBS stands for IT Band Syndrome.  My IT Bands usually start hurting around four miles when I run, so hiking 26 concerns me a little bit.  To counter this I am planning on picking up a massage stick, more commonly referred to as “The Stick” to roll out my IT Band as needed.  In addition, I will be taking Advil and a topical cream that my doctor gave me (one of those things that I don’t think really works but I use anyways).  This may be an accessory item that I don’t need… I will let you know after the hike if it was a good or bad idea.

Canned Oxygen- Every time I think of this I think of those silly kids in high school that did Whip-Its.  If you don’t know what a Whip-It is, then look it up on Urban Dictionary.  Oh, and congratulations… you didn’t have fun in high school but probably are responsible and have a career now.  Someone recommended I take this… I am still debating.  Not sure it is necessary.

Our Fearless Leader Ken-  Our fantastic guide who has done this before (you can’t get these just anywhere and when you do find them they usually aren’t as awesome and hospitable as Ken is).

In addition to my list my fellow hikers are bringing some compression sleeves for their legs, a much larger knife and pepper spray to save us from bears and random sketch balls hiding in the woods.

Prepared enough?  I hope.  Over-prepared?  Maybe.  I figure Ken will tell us what is overkill and we will make adjustments as needed.  On the bright side, all that all being said… I have read that if you have to be rescued off the mountain it only costs $500.  Yes, $500 is enough to deter me from a rescue due to a tummy ache from eating too much bacon chocolate, but not so much that I would not exercise that option if I really needed to.

In conclusion, Here’s to not being eaten by bears, struck by lightning or dying from acute mountain sickness. Cheers!

- Maggie