Hiking Buddy?


It’s becoming an addiction, and I think I’m ok with it. 

I’ve summited Pikes Peak multiple times in the past 3 years.  Is it crazy I just summited Pikes Peak twice this week, I’m doing so again next month, and I’m already looking for a way to summit sooner?  This time without a pack to carry supplies:  I’m thinking just water, a bandana, and a few Tylenol.

I have an addictive personality, and I really love physical fitness, which includes hiking.  This hike is 26 miles.  13 of which are uphill, 6 above the treeline, exposed to the elements.  I don’t know of many people who can accomplish the hike in its entirety.  In fact, most people who attempt it with the best intentions fail. 

I’m at the point where I can look at someone and tell if they can summit or not, and how quickly.   It’s brutal, but for some reason I love it!  It’s a challenge, the views are amazing, and it encompasses new (sometimes demanding) experiences with wildlife, weather and nature each time I go.  I’m constantly being challenged by the mountain, and I love winning.

The first time I summited this year I did so with just a backpack and a few supplies.  I was amazed at how much easier it was than when I’ve done it backpacking!  We practically flew up the mountain!  However, I still had to bring more weight than I’d wanted because I was in charge of a group and I couldn’t let anything happen to them because I’d failed to bring necessary supplies. Yes, I realize how stupid that makes it sounds to go without said supplies.

After the hike I was sore, but continued with my normal gym routine: 10 miles a day of cardio and a 60 minute power yoga class 4 times a week.  Yoga was a challenge but I breathed my way through it.

When I summited this week I led a group and brought a 40lb pack.  It was much more weight than I’d wanted to bring for one night, but once again I was in charge of a group; Novices this time.  I couldn’t risk anything happening to them I could have prevented.

Surprisingly however, it was easier to summit this time and I wasn’t as sore afterwards (maybe because we took so many breaks?).  The only part of me that really “hurt” were my feet, and shoulders and lower back where the pack rested.  I now had blisters on top of blisters of course.    Other than that I was feeling pretty good, and when I went to yoga the next day I practically sailed through the class!   It was one of my best yet!

That’s what really got me thinking:  if I make summiting Pikes Peak a more frequent thing it should just keep getting easier, right?  I wonder how quickly I could do it with less gear?  And how about wearing hiking shoes instead of snow boots?  I hike in Laredo’s this time of year due to the snow at the summit…. With proper hiking shoes I bet I could shave quite a bit off my time!

I posted my musings on Facebook only to have people tell me I’m crazy and not to attempt such a feat by myself.  I understand the concern, but this also makes me a bit upset.  I see a handful of people (in great shape and mostly men of course) running the trail on their own.  I feel the trail is well traveled, and if something were to happen to me there’d be people who would notice.  (In a whiney voice) I want to summit by myself too!!!  I want to wear shorts and a halter top instead of warm weather gear, throw my hair up in a bun and see how fast I can make it.

I guess I just need a hiking buddy. 

But I don’t WANT a hiking buddy!  No one I know can keep up with me, and the whole point of this exercise is to do it for time.  I’d be waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for someone to catch up.  Then I’d get frustrated with them for something they couldn’t control when they were helping me in the first place… a viscous cycle!

Hmmmm…. This one needs more thought. 

Author: Laura M Clark

Laura has summited over 500 peaks above 13,000' solo, including being the first woman to solo summit all of the Colorado 14ers, as well as the centennials. After each hike, she writes trip reports for each one and publishes them on her blog, which is read by fans all over the world. Author of Wild Wanderer: Summiting Colorado’s 200 Highest Peaks, which is available to purchase on Amazon.

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