Tuesday, July 14, 2020
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Review: C2 Performance Tights…Oh so SOFT!



I took C2’s Performance Tights for a spin on a backpacking trip to CO, where I climbed Pikes Peak in snow with 11F cold temperatures, and again on the famous and windy Presidential Traverse in New Hampshire.

These tights tights are amazingly comfortable, soft and warm. They are ideal for cold weather insulation. Wear them on their own, as a base layer or put them on at night to soothe your tired legs.

Snap Shot

  • Textile: Polartec® Power Stretch single velour
  • 49% Poly, 38% Nylon & 13% Spandex
  • Made in Massachusetts, USA
  • Price: $99

Field Functionality and Design Features

C2 - Barr CampUnder water-proof pants, I wore C2’s Performance Tights on the snowshoe ascent from Barr Camp to summit Pikes Peak, 6.5-miles and an almost 4,000 foot climb. It was 28F, but the wind chill dropped temperatures down 11F.  Thanks to the flexible Polartec® power stretch construction, I stayed warm, dry and retained the agility needed to climb up and over steep snow banks.

When I didn’t wear them hiking, climbing mountains or snowshoeing, they were my ‘go-to,’ post-activity tights for camping. I looked forward to putting them on after a long cold day. They are one of the most comfortable, soft and soothing tights I’ve ever worn. They keep muscles warm and helped my legs rejuvenate over night.


  • Incredibly soft
  • Flexible
  • Warm

Cons:C2- PP

  • Wicking not as effective in warmer temperatures


Created by Jane Hayes and headquartered in Somerville, MA.

Review: Thule Backpacks – The Stir 35L & Versant 60L



If you haven’t tried a Thule backpack, get one!

My partner and I backpacked over 100 miles and climbed a couple Colorado 14’ers, in winter conditions, to test out Thule’s Stir 35 and Versant 60L packs. They are the most comfortable, durable, easy to access packs we’ve ever worn.

Gregory and Osprey Packs have been our ‘go to’ backpacks for years and until recently, we didn’t know the Swedish brand, Thule, made backpacks. You can’t find their backpacks in REI or EMS yet, but smaller outfitters are starting to carry them…and of course, you can always order them on Amazon!

Snap Shot

These packs come in both men and women’s versions.

ROAStir 35L 

This an all-seasons pack, ideal for one to two day adventures. If you keep your pack light and are going hut-too-hut, sleeping in a hammock or cowboy camping under the stars, the Stir 35L is great. If you need to carry a tent, go up a size.

  • Trip Length: 1-2 days
  • Material: Elastin coated 210D Robic/70 D Nylon
  • Volume: 35L / 2135 cu in.
  • Measurements: MENS = Height 24 in., Width 11 in. & Depth 11.4 in.
  • Measurements: WOMENS = Height 22.4 in., Width 11 in. & Depth 11.4 in.
  • Weight: MENS: 2.2 lb / WOMENS 2.09 lbs.
  • Adjustability: 10 cm (4 in) of torso hip belt tractability
  • Removable: hip belt (velcro) and sternum strap
  • Weather & Waterproof: StormGuard system includes a protective storm flap, partial rain cover combined with waterproof bottom liner
  • Easy access lid with protective storm flap and side zipper.
  • Pockets: A front ‘shove-it’ pocket for quick access, a smaller one on the shoulder strap for a phone or other small items, 2 on sides for water bottles, 2 little pockets on hip belt and an interior mesh pocket with zipper.
  • Attachment Loops: 2 for hiking poles or ice axes with point with reflective material
  • Price: $140

TLEV60MMI.jpgVersant 60L 

This is an all-seasons pack, ideal for three to five day adventures, overnight winter trips and individuals who just like to back a lot of extra stuff.

  • Trip Length: 3-5 days
  • Material: 420D Cordura/100D Nylon
  • Volume: 60L / 3660 cu in
  • Measurements: MENS = Height 28 in., Width 15 in. & Depth 13.4 in.
  • Measurements: WOMENS = Height 25.6in., Width 16.9 in. & Depth 13.4 in.
  • Weight: MENS 4.14 lb / WOMENS 3.88 lb
  • Adjustability: 12cm/4.75in of torso hip belt tractability
  • Removable: VersaClick waterproof roll-top pocket, converts to a sling pack for summit hikes and interchangeable VersaClick accessories (sold separately)
  • Weather & Waterproof: StormGuard system combines a protective storm flap, partial rain cover with waterproof bottom liner
  • Access: Large U-zip panel for easy access
  • Pockets: two on sides for water bottles, internal and external pocks on roll-top and a front ‘shove-it’ pocket for quick access
  • Attachment Loops: 2 for hiking poles or ice axes with point with reflective material
  • Price: $260

Field Functionality and Design Features Stir35L

On a two day climb of Pikes Peak (14,110 ft.) via the Barr Trail in Colorado, spending one night at Barr Camp and a very long day hike climbing Mt. Humboldt (14,064 ft.), my partner and I tried different Thule packs.

Size matters on adventures and varies with personal styles, activities, number of days, weather conditions and gear.

I’m a minimalist and loved the Stir 35L. My partner, quite the opposite, packs like a sorority sister going on spring-break and requires the Versant 60L. We each carried our own clothes, sleeping bags, pads, food, water, necessities with snowshoes strapped on each pack.

The Stir 35L was ideal for my needs and never weighed more than 18 lb. total, including snowshoes. The snowshoes were easy to attach by using one of the straps on the pack and a locking carabiner (for extra security).

You’d think the 60L would be overkill for our one and two day adventures, but it wasn’t. Given winter conditions and the extra clothing my partner likes to pack, it was perfect. At its heaviest, the Versant weighed about 23 lb. and had plenty of room to spare. Had he gone with a smaller pack, he would’ve gotten frustrated trying to organize his things.

Both packs are incredibly comfortable. As someone with back problems, I really appreciate Thule’s suspension system. It combines lumbar, hips and shoulder cushioning with adjustable straps. I am not a fan of  the uncomfortable, tension mesh back panels you see on packs like Osprey’s Exos series.

I’m still debating if I like Stir’s 35L removable hip belt feature. It’s a nice option to lighten pack weight, but if you’re like me, you might lose or leave it somewhere. In addition, it could rip off when you don’t want it to.

This happened to me in an unfortunate mountain climbing accident ( read here) when my partner tried to stop my out of control slide down an ice covered mountain. The hip belt is now somewhere at the bottom of Mt. Humboldt’s Southeast Flank, among the snow and rocks. The good news is, I’m alive and can always get another hip belt.

That being said, the material on these packs is really durable. When I slid on ice, almost 300 ft, down Mt. Humboldt, my Stir 35L did not rip or tear. At all! Meanwhile, ice shredded through 3-layers of pants. Thank goodness I had on a forth!


Super Comfortable

Internal & external pockets

Versant’s detachable roll-back pocket becomes a convenient satchel


No shoulder strap pockets on Versant 60L

The Stir 35L shoulder strap is not wide enough to carry larger phones enclosed in protective casings.


  • Add wider pockets on shoulder straps for larger phones
  • Make phone pockets water proof.


Thule Group was founded in Sweden in 1942. Its collection of brands create transportation solutions for active, outdoor enthusiast. They are the market leader in cargo carriers for automobiles, roof racks and are a rising leader in multi-functional bags. Thule Group is headquartered in Malmö, Sweden.

In 2010, they were fully acquired by Nordic Capital and began trading on the Stockholm Stock Exchange in 2014.

Review: Treksta’s Mega Wave – A Great Cross-Over Running Shoe!



Treksta’s Mega Wave is the cross-over, trail running shoe you’ve been waiting to wear.  Designed to support an active lifestyle, from running on trails, roads, sand and going to the gym, this comfortable, supportive, light-weight, durable shoe is a must have for on the go athletes.

Snap Shot

  • Speed-Lacing System with lace garage.
  • NestFit construction – contours to your foot’s natural position. Reduces muscle fatigue.
  • Hyperfoam dual density – EVA midsole gives you a plush, cushioned ride
  • Stitch-less forefoot upper eliminates abrasion areas and provide a streamlined look.
  • Treksta’s Heel Control provides complete cupping of the heel, thereby containing the foot to reduce heel movement and blisters
  • Hypergrip HGL 2-part outsole with IST for maximum grip and stability on a variety of terrain.
  • IST SOLE Technology – independently moving outsole lug components, adapts to uneven surfaces, creating perfect balance on any type of terrain.
  • Weight : 10.5 oz / 300g
  • 6mm drop
  • Price: $125.00

Field Functionality and Design Features IMG_20160614_120554_resized

I ran over two-hundred miles on different terrains to test Treksta’s Mega Wave high-cushioned, light-weight running shoe. I also cross-trained in them at the gym, performing squats, lunges and leg presses to see if they had universal functionality. They do!

I am not a minimalist running shoe kind of girl. I like high-cushioned shoes for distance running. Unlike other high-cushioned shoes that tend to wear uneven and the wearer has to over-correct foot imbalances, Treksta’s Mega Wave keeps the foot even.

The sculpted midsoles and heel control kept my feet and weight balanced on the trails and at the gym. This is a key feature if you want a shoe that will help protect your ankles, knees, hips and back.

While Treksta classifies the MegaWave as a ‘high-cushioned’ shoe, compared to other brands, I’d say it is more of a ‘mid-cushion’ shoe. The shoe was comfortable and supported my feet at the gym and on 10K runs. Anything over 10K, I tended to feel pressure and a hot-spot developing on the balls of my feet. This could just be with me though, as I am forever working on optimizing my running mechanics. TrekstaGym

The Hypergrip HGL 2-part outsole is great for gripping at dirt trails, grass, sand and road.

Treksta’s NestFit construction is very different then other running shoes. Its asymmetrical shape makes for a wider toe-box with a ‘high-point’ on the big toe area. The brand states that this design reduces pressure on the feet by 23% and the level of muscle fatigue by 31%.

I like the feel of the NestFit construction and the ability to move my toes a bit more. As for reducing pressure and fatigue, this is subjective and open to many variables.

Overall, I loved the universality of Treksta’s MegaWave as a cross-training, running shoe.


Super Comfortable

Keeps the foot balanced

Hypergrip traction is great on dirt trails, grass, sand and road


Laces are too long

Hypergrip traction is not conducive for steep mountain scree or rocks.


  • Reduce length of shoe-lace
  • Add a little pocket on the shoe tongue to tuck in the lace garage.


Treksta’s innovative hiking and running shoes and boots are distributed in the USA and Canada by Recreation Outfitters Inc. Visit Trekstausa.com to see the entire line up.  Treksta was founded in South Korea in 1988 under the name of Sungho Corporation Co., Ltd. It changed its name to Treksta Inc. in 1994 and is based in Busan, South Korea.

Lucky to be Alive! – Mountain Climbing Gone Wrong


MHPGRGStartOn Wednesday, May 25, 2016, RG, my hiking partner, and I fell half way down an icy mountain and almost died. We want to thank Custer County Search and Rescue, EMS and Pueblo Park View Hospital for taking care of us.


In the Colorado Rocky Mountains, there are 58 mountains with peaks over 14,000 feet. They are commonly referred to as ‘14’ers.’ RG and I went to Colorado to climb several of them as part of our training for Canada’s 100K Ultra Trail du Mont Albert ultra-marathon in June.

I’ve climbed mountains and backpacked all over the world; the Andes, Himalaya, Alps and summited Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,340 ft.) in Africa. While Humboldt Peak in Colorado would be my 14th, 14’er, it would only be RG’s 2nd. His first, achieved only two days earlier, Pikes Peak (14,110 ft.).

Accidents happen, but this one could have been avoided had I not broken one of the cardinal rules of mountain climbing. I knew better and that bad decision led to a terrifying chain of events that almost got us killed.

Humboldt Peak MH-Map

It was a beautiful, clear morning in the 40’s F, when we started hiking the South Colony Trail to climb Colorado 14’er, Humboldt Peak (14,064). In the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, the mountain is located a little more than 3 hours southwest of Denver, near the small town of Westcliffe, CO.

Our objective was to take the South Colony Trail approach, starting at 9,950 feet, to the West Ridge and hike to the summit of Humboldt Peak. A simple, 11-miles round trip, Class 2 hike, with 4,200 feet in elevation gains, estimated to take between 6-8 hours. Even in snowshoes.


I read maps, multiple summit reports, checked the weather, talked with a ranger and a group of guys who had summited the day before. They confirmed, that given the approach was mostly covered in deep snow, it would take between 6-8 hours round trip, snowshoes were needed, extra layers, and it was probably best to follow footprints as snow had covered most trail markers.

Equipment/ Backpacks MHPGSign

We each used Leki trekking poles and carried day backpacks (his a CamelBak Fourteener and mine, a Thule Stir 35) with water, snacks including TME Bars and Honey Stinger Gels, Yaktrax (removable spikes/traction for shoes), MSR snowshoes, extra layers and a few emergency supplies like a knife, Bic lighter and for me, a headlamp, signal mirror, a few hand warmers, hexamine fuels cells and Chapstick (lip protection and a fire accelerant). I also had my cell phone and a spare battery charger for it. RG’s cell phone couldn’t get a signal in the wilderness so we left it in the SUV (he has Sprint, I have Verizon).

This was only a day hike so I left a few emergency/survival items behind that I would normally carry on a multi-day trip.

What Went Wrong…a Few Things

#1. We started late. We camped by the South Colony Trailhead and by the time we crawled out of our sleeping bags, eat breakfast and hit the trail, it was 10am. I wasn’t overly concerned because the forecast was excellent and it was only a 6-8 hour hike. We’d make it back in plenty of time before sunset, around 8pm.

A rule of thumb with 14’ers advises climbers to be up and off the summit by noon. Colorado tends to have scattered afternoon thunderstorms. However, we had blue skies and no thunderstorms were in the forecast.


#2. We put on snowshoes within a mile of the start. Two miles in, we saw the last trail sign and had to follow footprints in the snow. Unfortunately, these prints took us on an indirect, winding, ‘scenic route,’ that skirted around the mountain and through the San Isabel Forest. It cost us an hour or more of time and we still had not made it to the West Ridge. But we could see it.

#3. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. To make up time, I decided we’d start climbing the mountain from where we were and intersect with the West Ridge route on the ascent. This would make it a more difficult Class 3 climb, steeper, requiring scrambling or un-roped climbing over large rocks. I love this type of climbing and RG said he liked scrambling and was up for it. We strapped the snowshoes back onto our packs and began our ascent. MHRGClimb

I worked my way up the mountain keeping RG in sight. He did fine, at first, but the higher and steeper we went, the slower he moved. He was not sure footed on this terrain and incline. He didn’t have the experience. The altitude and 60 mph wind gusts didn’t help either. I was a little concerned, but the only way he was ever going to learn to climb mountains was from experience. I wanted to give him it.

#4. I pushed the turnaround time to 3:00pm. Something I’d never done before. I had anticipated being up and off the summit by then, and would have, but not with RG. He really wanted to summit, and I wanted to summit with him, so I made the exception.

I rationalized that once we made it to the top, we’d traverse and descend a different way, down the Southeast Flank Gully. Thus, skipping most of the forest and putting us back on the South Colony Trail within a mile or two of the trailhead.

Plus, this route was mostly snow covered, we could glissade (a controlled slide on your butt in the snow) most of it and save a lot of time down climbing. MHRGSummit

#5. Unfortunately, we didn’t summit until 6pm. STUPID! CRAZY LATE. I know.

I had broken the cardinal rule of mountain climbing, ‘sticking to a turnaround time.’ Now it was going to bite us on the ass. And it would. Literally.

Ready to get down, we traversed to the Southeast Flank route and prepared to glissade. We put on waterproof pants (on top of the other three layers of pants we wore, including compression tights ) sat on our butts and pushed off. Using our trekking poles and shoes we controlled the slide in the snow.

Falling off a Mountain

We took turns glissading, one after the other, making our way down in short slides. It was quick and fun…for the first thousand or so feet.

Then, it wasn’t.

Taking his next turn, RG pushed off before me. Ten feet into his glissade, I watched his slide turn into a terrifying, uncontrollable head over feet tumble. The snow had turned to ice. Wearing a blue coat and black pants, he flipped over and over, careening down the mountain. Water bottles and snowshoes flew off his pack and his trekking pole went flying. RG slammed into a rock ledge, bounced off and onto another before sliding to a stop. A crumpled heap of black and blue. Unmoving.

I looked down the mountain searching for movement. Was he breathing? Could he move? ‘Oh my God, oh my God,’ I thought. I yelled, “RG!! RG!!”

And, slowly, but surely, he sat up. ‘Thank you, Jesus!’

He was in a daze. I told him to stay put. ‘Don’t move!’ I shouted. ‘I’m going to come down very carefully.’

At least, that was the plan.

I dug my hiking shoes’ heels into the snow and scooted down. Slowly. Things were steady and then I hit ice, slipped and started sliding.


I couldn’t stop. I desperately kicked my feet and dug the trekking poles into the ice to gain purchase. Nothing. I bounced off the first rock ledge and then the second. I lost the trekking poles and water bottles, flipped onto my stomach and kept sliding. In vain, I scratched and clawed into the frozen snow with gloved fingers. I was cascading towards a deadly rock cliff and couldn’t stop. As I slid past RG, in an effort to stop me, he grabbed ahold of my backpack’s hip-belt. It ripped off in his hands. The force flipped me onto my back, and slowed me down, just enough, to slam my right foot through the icy crust and onto a large rock. I came to a halt.

Breathing heavily, ice crystals clinging to my face, I gazed over my toes at the rock that stopped the out of control slide. It was two feet from the cliff’s edge.

Heart pounding, adrenaline pumping, my mind screamed, ‘Holy Shit! Payge you are an IDIOT!’

I gingerly sat up, keeping that right foot firm on the rock. After a quick body assessment, I was surprised to find that nothing really hurt, except for the right shoulder. It hurt bad.

We had fallen, slid, tumbled, careened, whatever you want to call it, several hundred feet down the mountain.

We still had a couple thousand, steep, feet to descend and I knew we couldn’t do it on this ice. We didn’t have the right equipment (ice axe, crampons). I surveyed the immediate area, desperate to get away from the cliff’s edge and get us down the rest of the mountain. Five feet to my left was a rocky, boulder outcrop, untouched by snow.

Looking back, RG, twenty feet above me, I shouted and pointed, “We have to get off this ice. Scoot to the rocks, meet me around this boulder and we’ll down-climb the rest of the way.” He nodded.

Gingerly, I pulled off my backpack, clamped on the snowshoes, and put the pack back on. I hoped the spikes and teeth would hold me on the ice while I inched towards the rocks on my butt. If I slipped, I was dead.

The snowshoes did the job.

With the wind hallowing, I watched RG make it to the rocks and disappear behind a large boulder, the size of a house. He was supposed to go to the other side and come down to me. I waited. And waited. I yelled up to him, but there was no way he’d hear anything over the wind. Where was he? Was he hurt? Did he slip and fall and was now unconscious?

With my right shoulder damaged, I couldn’t climb up to help him. I looked at my watch, it was 7:20pm and the sun was dropping behind the mountains.


My fingers, frozen and numb from clawing at the ice, managed to unzip my waterproof jacket, reached into the pocket of my second coat, a down jacket, and grabbed my cell phone. Thank God I had put it there. It was undamaged. I called 911.

Never in a million years did I think I’d have to make a call like the one I did that night.

The 911 operator was calm and listened. I described what happened and where I was located. She put me in touch with the Custer County Search and Rescue, Captain, Cindy Howard.

Cindy asked me detailed questions. What were we wearing? What was in our packs? Gear? Climbing experience? She said it was too late for a helicopter and they would have to try to find us on foot. I told her my plan was to down-climb and make a fire at the edge of the forest and gully boulder field. It would be dark soon. RG, if he was ok, would know where to go. She agreed, said she’d get her team assembled and to keep in touch.

This mountain was steep. It took more than an hour to descend over rocks, fallen trees and snow. It was almost dark by the time I reached the boulder field. I thanked my lucky stars that I had packed that headlamp.

In the distance, near the gully and on the boulders, I saw a shadow. Then I heard,

“HELP! HELP! Please don’t go away!!” It was RG. He had somehow descended and was staggering over rocks towards the only light around, my headlamp. I called to him. We stumbled towards each other and collapsed into each other’s arms. He was shaking and in a lot of pain. Everything hurt. He had hit his head and it was hard for him to breathe.

I asked him what happened up on the mountain, after he reached the outcropping of rocks. RG said they were slick with ice and it took him awhile to find a better route. He had to carefully up-climb before descending.

I called Cindy and told her I had found RG.

Normally, when someone is lost it is advised they stay in one place. It makes it easier for Search and Rescue to find them.

However, Cindy said if we could walk, we needed to get off the boulder field and make our way down the trail. Due to the snow and dense forest, their Artic Cat could only go so far. If her people were going to find us that night, it would be on foot. In the meantime, they’d try to ping my cell phone.


We were hurt, cold, tired and thirsty, but over the next couple hours, RG and I post holed through deep snow, sometimes sinking up to our thighs. We followed tracks, hoping they led to the main trail.

By midnight, we had descended to 10,200 feet. The wind had stopped and the temperature, above freezing. Near the main trail and exhausted, we decided to take a break by a stream and hydrate. I used a Bic lighter and a hexamine fuel cell to start a small fire with twigs and branches.

Given our layers of clothing, I felt we’d survive the night if they did not find us. It would be miserably cold, but we’d survive. I had some hand warmers, another pair of warm pants, a long-sleeve shirt in my backpack and a sarong we could use as a blanket or tarp. I was kicking myself for not having an emergency blanket or bivy and several other items I regularly keep in my pack for multi-day trips. Including a whistle. Ugh!! Another lesson learned.

Search and Rescue MHSARS

No more then 15 minutes after finding the stream, I heard a faint whistle. “Shhhhh,” I said to RG, “I hear something.” It came again. “HELLO!!!” I yelled. “OVER HERE!! OVER HERE!” We screamed, waved the beam of the headlamp and tried to make our little fire bigger. Brighter.

Wearing huge backpacks and boots, two rugged, mountain angels appeared through the pine trees. With a warm smile, they said, “How you guys doing?”

Over the next hour and a half, they administered first aid to RG. They gave him warm socks, wrapped his feet in an emergency blanket and put a sleeping bag over him. They built a bigger fire and gave us Gatorade and snacks. We waited for two other Search and Rescuers to join us. They brought snowshoes, for RG to wear, so we could better hike the last mile out to reach the Arctic Cat. MHSARSwalk

I apologized profusely for getting us into this predicament. RG said it was his fault, he had moved too slowly. It didn’t matter. I was the more experienced hiker and climber and should have turned us around. It was embarrassing and I knew better. SARs said not to worry. These things happen and that more experienced climbers have been hurt or died in these mountains for a number of reasons. They were kind and understanding.


It was 4am when we made it out of the wilderness and onto an ambulance. The nearest hospital was an hour a way in Pueblo, CO.

When I knew we were safe, the adrenaline wore off and my whole body began to ache. My shoulder screamed in pain.  All I wanted to do was go to sleep.


The fall had literally bit us on the ass. Ice shredded through three layers of pants. Our forth layer, compression pants, were blessedly untouched. We had some nice bruises though.

The doctors and nurses examined, x-rayed and cleaned us up. RG suffered a mild concussion and bruised ribs. We both had lacerations and abrasions on our legs and arms. I also had them on my back, stomach, face, lip and black eye. As for my right shoulder, I had completely torn my rotator cuff, fracturing and tearing off part of the humerus (the long bone in the upper arm). Surgery and months of rehab were in my future.

Lessons Learned

We are lucky to be alive. Accidents happen but this one could have been avoided. I (we) have learned some valuable lessons.

  1. Keep the turnaround time. NO exceptions. – Do what you know is right.
  2. Even on day hikes, each person carries a fully supplied emergency kit in their pack
  3. Carry a stainless steel water bottle in your pack
  4. Have a GPS or download compass app on your phone.
  5. Never glissade without an ice axe.

Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Instruct them to find you if they do not hear from you by a certain time.

Leave a note in your vehicle with the same information and an emergency contact.

Emergency Kit

Below are the top 12 items I will be sure to keep in my day and multi-day packs.

  1. Knife
  2. Fire (both a Bic lighter and Ferro rod)
  3. Survival blanket or bivy
  4. Whistle
  5. Headlamp w/ extra batteries
  6. Cell phone w/ spare battery charger
  7. Extra layers, Sarong
  8. Paracord
  9. GPS/Compass
  10. Stainless Steel Water Bottle
  11. Duct Tape
  12. Cargo Needle

There are many items you could add to this list. Much depends on the environment, your comfort level and how much you want to carry.

Survival expert, Dave Canterbury, has a list everyone should review, called the 10’s C’s of Survival.

If you want a great pre-made kit to get you going, check out, Adventure Medial Kits.dfe24bc4a385ed184e07dcfe40d2f22c2e532531



Climbing Pikes Peak via The Barr Trail


PPBTTrip Report

My partner and I climbed Pikes Peak (14,110 ft.), via the Barr Trail (7,800 ft)l, a week before Memorial Day. 26 miles RT. Temps ranged from 78F to 27F (felt like 13F w/ 21 MPH wind chill) at summit. This was RG’s 1st 14er, my 13th.

Backpack Contents: Each of our packs ( mine, a Thule Stir 35 and RG’s a Thule Versant 60) carried 2L of bottled water, extra layers, socks, gloves, hats, MSR snowshoes, Yaktraks, sleeping bags and liners, bandanas, flip flops for camp, necessities like toothbrushes, toothpaste, sunscreen, lip balm, an emergency kit including space blanket, Bic lighter, knife, Ferro rod, hexamine fuel cells, para-cord, Mountain House dehydrated dinners, stainless steal cup for cooking, tortillas, Pop Tarts, Honey Stinger chews, gels and Taos Mountain Energy Bars.

Day 1: Barr Trailhead to Barr Camp – 6.8 Miles PPBCPG

The Barr Trailhead parking lot ($10 a day) was full. We opted for free parking, a mile away, down by the Manitou Springs courthouse. The free shuttle bus (comes every 15 minutes) and took us to the trailhead. It was easy and I highly recommend it!

It was in the 70’s when we started. The first 2.5 miles are a little steep with lots of switchbacks and people, most coming down the Barr Trail after climbing the Manitou Incline which parallels it. It was much nicer after passing the intersecting Incline trail as we rarely saw anyone else.

PPRGSnowshoesIt is an easy trail to follow and beautiful. We started seeing patches of snow a half-mile before Barr Camp (10,200 feet).

The 6.8 miles from the trailhead to to Barr Camp (10,200 ft.) usually takes people between 4-6 hours. We took our time and enjoyed several breaks. For us, it took 4.5 hours.  We started seeing snow a half-mile before camp.

We spent the night in the bunkhouse ($33/night per person and includes breakfast). No electricity or heat. If we wanted the spaghetti dinner with garlic bread, it was $10 a person. We brought our own dinner.  There are other options for staying at Barr Camp, you could stay in a Lean-to, which has waterproof mattresses for $20/night and looked really cozy, or camp at the site for $12/night. PPBCBunk

PPBCBreakfastWe met other hikers in the lounge, dining area. Two brothers hiking together, an Aunt and her nephew, two buddies and a married couple. Ages ranged from 18 – 60 you could try this out. It was nice to hear other peoples stories and we even played one of the many games on hand at Barr Camp, Bananagrams. Some stayed in the bunkhouse, others in the Lean-to and some camped.

Day 2: Barr Camp to Summit to Barr Trailhead – 19 Miles
We slept well in the bunkhouse. The mattresses were comfortable and our sleeping bags were warm. Temperatures dropped into the 30’s that night. At breakfast the next morning everyone said they slept well. Barr Camp served pancakes with a choice of coffee or hot chocolate.

We started the last 6.5 mils to the summit, from Barr camp, around 8am. We left our sleeping bags and a few other items at Barr Camp to lighten our packs. We would get them on the way back. PPXTRLaSportiva

A mile past camp, snow patches increased until the route was completely snow covered climbing up to A-Frame (4 miles up from Barr Camp). We had to follow tracks as trail markers were covered by deep snow. We put on our Yaktrak XTR spikes, but if you didn’t have any, and your shoes had good treads, you’d make it to A-Frame (2 miles below summit).
A 100 yards past A-Frame, we put on snowshoes as our feet began sinking into 4 feet of snow. Still wearing shorts, I knew it was also time to put on waterproof pants. The last mile was a steep, slow climb to summit. The wind kicked in and it got much colder. We layered up. Even a week before Memorial Day, I do not recommend attempting the summit without aggressive snowshoes and extra layers. The temperature dropped to 27F (13F with wind-chill), with 21 mph wind-gusts.

At the summit we devoured a hot bowl of chicken soup from the cafeteria and then made our way back down.

If you didn’t want to hike down the Barr Trail, there are other options. Some hitchhike back to Manitou Springs with one of the many tourist who drive to the summit. You can take the Cog railway all the way down or part way, to Mountain View stop and hike the 1.5 back to the Barr Trail (it intersects a half mile below Barr Camp) and then hike the rest of the way to the trailhead. PPSUMMIT