AT Training Hike Carried to an Extreme: How We Kinda Went Over the Top
How it all started
Okay, so the husband comes to me in September with a copy of Sierra Magazine in his hand and the suggestion that I find us a good, warm-climate hiking outing for January.
(a) get us out of the typically overcast Ohio River valley during a depressing time of the year, and
(b) provide some good training hikes for my AT flip-flop hike later in 2017.
Being the dutiful, meek and mild wife that I am, I immediately followed orders and found a GREAT trip. He agreed, we paid up and started our training for this training hike. Perfectly reasonable so far.
First training hike for the Big Training Hike
Because our son’s wedding to his lovely fiancé was going to take place in the San Francisco Bay Area in October, we realized that we’d be just a short three hour drive from Yosemite. Excellent place to train for training! So after seeing this gorgeous couple get married (and shedding a few tears of joy)…
…to Yosemite it was.
What a place to train! The sheer beauty, the challenging trails and the altitude provided two perfect practice days for January’s challenge. You can really see why it’s one of the most favorite U.S. National Parks.
Second training hike for the Big Training Hike
We needed some altitude training for what we’d be dealing in the new year. Where to go? Well, both of our children and their spouses/families had plans with their respective in-laws, so we were free to go anywhere. How about our favorite U.S. mountains for some high elevation workouts?
Off to Colorado, where we enjoyed Turkey Day in cool Ft. Collins with husband’s brother and his family. We then headed up to the highest town we could find. At 10,200 feet, Leadville is surrounded by hiking or snowshoeing possibilities. The small town is also full of character, thanks to its many colorfully painted little houses, including this sweet Victorian cottage we rented.
Not much snow…the first day. We had the opportunity to put in extra effort on Day 2, with several inches of fresh powder on the trail.
Good family time followed by two great days of training in beautiful mountains. Mission accomplished.
Now, on to our BIG Training Hike!
Recognize this mountain? Our trip took us to Tanzania, where we joined 10 other members of Sierra Club on one of the biggest adventures of our life.
Kilimanjaro, at 19,300 feet elevation, was not exactly the warm hiking destination we had in mind. Even though it’s very close to the equator, the eight nights of camping it took to get to the top were pretty darned cold. I ended up sleeping in every bit of clothing that I brought.
Our group of 12 carried our own day packs with rain gear, snacks, water for the day and cameras. Our 40 porters were much further burdened down, with up to 50 pounds on their backs. This included our tents, a duffle bag for each client, their own backpacks, and perhaps food supplies, folding chairs or tables, the cook tent, the dining tent or a toilet tent. The experienced porters could really fly uphill, being accustomed to the trail and the altitude after several treks.
Our local guides got all 12 of us safely to the top and down, always hiking uphill at a very, very slow pace. This helped us adjust to the altitude and not overexert ourselves.
It was a truly amazing experience, which I hope every hiker reading this will strongly consider doing, especially with Sierra Club. Just remember that the faster you try to do it, the more you lessen your chances of getting to the top. Altitude sickness doesn’t respect speed. Its payback isn’t pretty.
Surviving the climb and the cold camping was especially sweet for us. 2015 and 2016 had been especially hard for us, with various injuries and illnesses. This achievement together signaled, “WE’RE BACK IN ACTION!”
So the training now turns local
Oh well. There’s plenty of hiking to be had in Ohio and nearby Kentucky. I’ll make sure I get the job done. It just won’t be as adrenaline-charged.
And back to the dehydrator and sewing machine, getting the gear sewn and the food packaged up. More on that next time. I can’t wait to tell you what I’m sewing!
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