The first time I hiked a 14’er, I was an unconditioned flat lander suffering from poor hydration, supported only by a few cliff bars and my old salt encrusted CamelBak. That day, we reached not one but three summits, all with the aforementioned lack of resources and training. Needless to say…It was a painful experience.
A year later, I can officially say I am a resident of Colorado, far more respectful of the mountains and their impact on the human body, and much more conscious of the gear I choose to use.
By making a few changes, many of the goals I had as a mid-westerner became much more real and attainable. I was able to train more efficiently and ultimately give myself the opportunity to run (or at least try to run) some of the easier 14er’s; a goal I’ve had since becoming a Coloradan. My first objective was Quandary Peak.
My first change would need to be an improvement in hydration and nutrition, and access to each while moving in the mountains. I chose to upgrade to the Nathan VaporCloud, a 2 liter bladder hydration vest with nearly 11 additional liters of storage. This allowed me to carry all of the water, stinger waffles, energy chews, and electrolyte drink I needed to stay fueled, as well as room for an extra layer, gloves, and well…just about anything else you would want to bring. Staying hydrated at high elevation is critical to performance and the VaporCloud allowed me to achieve this almost effortlessly.
A second change I made that I had previously made with snowboard socks, was to use a merino wool (run/hike) sock. I have come to love the icebreaker Hike+ Lite Mini. It is tall enough to keep dirt, snow, and perhaps small insects from getting inside your sock. It has a supple amount of cushion which is appreciated on longer runs and during the constant pounding of mountain descents. The “+” designation implies that each sock is anatomically cut to fit each foot specifically, a nice touch that adds to the comfort of the sock. Your socks won’t stink due to the antimicrobial nature of the wool, but most importantly, the merino wool wicks incredibly well keeping your feet dry. And dry feet equal blister free feet…a requirement when running for hours through all of the terrain the Rocky Mountains have to offer.
The last change I made was adding an extremely lightweight, water and wind resistant jacket to the mix. The Arc’teryx Incendo Hoody is a piece that is only appreciated when used as intended. What I mean by this is sometimes we are guilty of owning a technical piece of clothing more for it’s look than it
’s function. I myself have often wondered why a hood is cut a certain way or what the benefit of that random arm pocket is, on a ski coat that already contains 17 other pockets. Often times I’ll never find the answer. But the day I tried to run up Quandary, subconsciously reaching for the hood on my Incendo as 30 mph winds ripped across the ridge, (making me question why I was wearing shorts) I appreciated everything about how the piece was built. The hood, wind resistant and close fitting to the head, kept my ears warm and face protected from what I can only imagine was a -10 degree wind chill. The vents under the arms dump just enough heat, gained from the uphill slog, to keep your body temperature perfectly regulated. And the thoughtful addition of a DWR kept me dry as snow/hail/sleet attacked from above at the summit. Now I had my answers.
But of course, we don’t seek out these adventures just to wear a jacket or boast about the benefits of merino wool…
We do them to see beautiful things and beautiful places. Like this mountain goat. Who we named Carl.
Get out there and find Carl. You won’t regret it.
Bentgate sales floor staff