How To

In the weeks leading up to your big day, you’ll be physically preparing for hiking a fourteener. And in the days leading up to the hike, having a mental checklist can ensure you’re ready to go on the morning of. This personal agenda will help you stay anxiety-free and organized in the days and hours leading up to the hike.


The Week Of:

  • Remember the “why”: As you train and prepare, keep those personal motivations in mind. Calling on those reasons will help sustain your momentum from training and remind you why you decided to take on your objective.
  • Taper training: Make sure that you taper the week leading up to your hike. You don’t want to injure yourself, so cutting back on mileage, cardio, and strength training will help prevent that and conserve energy for the hike. But that doesn’t mean you should stop altogether; instead, do low-impact activities with a sprinkling of cardio or strength training.
  • Prepare for Type 1 and Type 2 Fun: You will experience both on your hike. Some of it will be enjoyable—Type 1 Fun—while other parts of the hike will be challenging in the moment but you’ll be glad you did it—Type 2 Fun. Remembering your “why” will be key to enduring the latter.
  • Double-check the gear list: You don’t want to head into a big hike missing an important piece of gear, so double-check the gear list and see if you forgot to pack an extra pair of socks or your sunscreen.
  • Read recent trail reports: To start, visit and read under the reviews section what other hikers have said about a trail’s current conditions. Each mountain range or route might have other online resources with trail reports, so do a quick search online to find local trail reports. Or call up a local ranger office if your destination is located in a national or state park. All sources will provide you with up-to-date information about trail conditions, weather, and terrain.

Pro Tip: Use multiple resources and use them thoroughly. “I’ve…been using the new Google Earth a lot, which pans over certain areas of trails that aren’t necessarily popular or well known. I’m also big with checking with a ranger or even a local, but a ranger more so because they know the conditions.” Nicole Brown on trail resources


The Night Of:

  • Touch base with your partners: This is straightforward. If you’re not in the same place, double-check that they’re good to hike and plan to meet you at a specific time and place.
  • Make food: Specifically your breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Put them in an obvious place in the fridge, and place reminder notes wherever you can see them. You don’t want to forget your fuel—otherwise you’ll have to rely on gas station snacks and those don’t always pair well with strenuous activity.
  • Pack your bag: Again, you don’t want to forget an important piece of equipment because you decided to pack your bag in a sleepy haze. In addition to the basic necessities listed in the Gear for Hiking a Fourteener blog [LINK], these are items that should also be in your bag:
    • Toilet paper
    • Hand sanitizer (or wipes)
    • Chapstick
    • Extra pair of socks
    • Water
    • Food
    • Map
    • Compass
  • Lay your clothes out: Pants, socks, underwear, shirts, hat, and all. This might seem like a menial task, but it’ll make your alpine start move more smoothly.
  • Prep the caffeine: If you drink coffee or tea, get it ready to brew the night before. You’ll thank yourself at 2 a.m.
  • Read the weather report: Both for the current time and next day’s weather schedule. It will help you assess the potential for storms or any other weather-related challenges.
  • Ease your nerves: Reread the route, enjoy a hot cup of tea, or watch a movie. Whatever you need to do—do it! Just make sure it won’t impact your quality of rest.
  • Go to bed early: Get to sleep as early as you can, and don’t forget to set your alarm.

The Day Of:

  • Wake up and leave early: You need to get that alpine start!
  • Tell someone where you’re going: Before you leave cell service, inform someone of your plan—where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone, who you’ll be with, and what time to expect you back. This is important in the event of an emergency situation.
  • Grab your lunch: Don’t forget your fuel!
  • Get to your destination in one piece: It’s easy to feel excited on the drive, but stay calm and drive safely.
  • Stay hydrated: Even though you might not feel thirsty, you need to drink water periodically (and a lot) throughout the hike.
  • Pace yourself and listen to your body: Enjoy the scenery, hike at a moderate pace, and take breaks as you need them.
  • Keep an eye on the weather: Storms can happen fast and with intensity on a fourteener, so keep an eye on the sky. To stay safe, be sure to turn back if a thunderhead, or other menacing storm, starts rolling in; the mountain isn’t going anywhere.
  • Enjoy the process: There will be highs and lows of equal intensity, so remember to be kind to yourself and your partner, laugh when you can, and embrace the Type 2 Fun.

Pro Tip: Keep your personal end goal in mind “Know your why. Your why power is your willpower. Why do you want to do it? Are you doing it to have fun? Do you want to make a change in your life? Is it something that is going to change your perception of you?” Julie Angel on knowing your end goal.

Download our 12 week fourteener training plan.

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