Backpacking comes with tons of benefits to it, both mentally and physically. You’ll recharge your batteries, become relaxed, and you’ll regret not going for an outdoor adventure sooner. But, later is better than never, and you need to know a few basics beforehand. Going into the wild without any previous knowledge can easily turn into a disaster, but lucky for you, we’ll walk you through the basics of wilderness backpacking.
“Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.” — Antonio Machado
There are two generally distinct kinds of backpacking:
Wilderness backpacking — hiking in areas away from civilization, sleeping in tents or cabins
Urban backpacking — traveling from city to city, sleeping in hostels or other lodgings
In the rest of the blog, we’ll cover wilderness backpacking tips as a form of self-reliant travel that affords opportunities to see off-road sights available no other way.
Wilderness Backpacking Tips
We’ll remain beginner-friendly, tell you all about the equipment you’ll need and what and how to pack, and share some of the best backpacking meals and ideas with you to have enough energy to enjoy a great adventure!
The importance of having the right equipment
Once you decide to pursue your outdoor adventures, you need to be prepared to invest in some high-quality gear that will have multiple purposes and will also last you for at least several years. It’s no joke; gear can be pretty expensive. You’ll need a tent, sleeping bag, and comfy backpack if you’re looking for adventure.
Your backpack should be big enough to fit all of your things inside. It would be best if you purchase one with foamy cushions on the shoulders and the back. That way, there will be fewer pressure points, and you’ll carry it around with ease.
Ideally, the backpack should have multiple compartments for better organization. You don’t want to look for the matches at the bottom of your backpack, right?
If you plan to share your tent with people, you should definitely look for a bigger one, but if privacy is your priority, then a small tent will serve its purpose. You also get to pick your favorite color!
The sleeping bag also comes in different shapes and sizes, but what matters most is the filling product. There are sleeping bags with synthetic fill and ones with natural filling. Thanks to advanced tech, the later ones can be safely purchased by people with allergies!
Do not underestimate the trail
Sometimes, the trail can be closer to your home, and you’ll think that it’s going to be a quick journey. You’ll pack lightly, grab a water bottle and one sweater, and be on your way. Well, that’s the biggest mistake you can make.
No matter how small the trail is, and no matter how close to civilization you are, you should always prepare beforehand. That’s the golden rule of all backpackers out there- never underestimate the trail.
Look for online testimonies, read about the trail, and ask people who’ve been there already. That is the best way you can learn all about it. Also, make sure to check if the trail is marked if there is a drinkable water source, and preferably, sleeping huts in case it gets cold during the night.
It would be best if you could take a quick look at it by driving around the area, especially if there is a road nearby.
Pack and dress accordingly
Depending on the season, and the kind of trail you choose, you need to pack accordingly. If it’s summer, you’ll have no need for an extra warm sweater, but you can forget all about that tank top you planned on wearing if it’s winter.
Depending on the terrain, you can opt for comfortable walking shoes or boots with thick soles that will protect your feet and ankles. Either way, you can ditch those oxfords that you find super cute.
When you’re packing, put the tent, the sleeping bag, and the extra clothes at the very bottom or on top of the backpack. Secure them if necessary. In the smaller compartments of your backpack, you can store a power bank, flashlight, matches, or lighter, and a basic first aid kit.
Put your pocket knife in the smallest compartment; you never know when you might need it.
Food and water
It is one of the most important things to bring with you on your hike. Your backpack should have enough space to store water bottles and snacks. If you’re a whole group, you can split your stashes amongst each other to relieve some of the weight on your shoulders. You can even bring meat with you, set up a campfire, and have a friendly night filled with chat and laughter.
But if not, premade food is your friend here. Always look for food that is high in calories and full of nutrients. Forget all about the calorie count. You’ll be moving a lot, carrying a lot of weight, so you’ll be burning those calories in no time. You might even drop a pound or two in a matter of days.
The food that you’ll bring should contain carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fibers. Also, just when you think that you have enough water, put one extra bottle inside your backpack; you never know when you might need it.
The fastest record of completing all 50 US States Highpoints is a little over 44 days. Yes, I agree, that’s insane AND expensive AND definitely not for everyone. So, you may ask, what is the most practical way to do highpointing? Well, there is a smart way to tackle all fifty state highpoints.
First, if you are not a rock climber, then I would suggest following a progressive order where you do easier highpoints (hikes) before attempting the harder ones. Second, if you also happen to have limited vacation days, then you also should try to attempt multiple highpoints in a single trip. You can make a loop of neighboring state highpoints and do them together.
State Highpoints By Difficulty
1. Alabama (Cheaha Mountain, 2407) – Drive up 2. Delaware (Ebright Azimuth, 448) – Drive up 3. West Virginia (Spruce Knob, 4863) – Drive up 4. Florida (Britton Hill, 345) – Drive up 5. Kansas (Mt. Sunflower, 4039) – Drive up 6. Kentucky (Black Mountain, 4145) – Drive up 7. Massachusetts (Mt. Greylock, 3491) – Drive up 8. Michigan (Mt. Arvon, 1979) – Drive up (4 Wheel Drive) 9. Mississippi (Woodall Mountain, 806) – Drive up 10. Nebraska (Panorama Point, 5424) – Drive up 11. New Hampshire (Mt.Washinton, 6288) – Drive up 12. New Jersey (High Point, 1803) – Drive up 13. Ohio (Campbell Hill, 1550) – Drive up 14. Pennsylvania (Mt. Davis, 3213) – Drive up
15. Louisiana (Driskill Mountain, 535) – Class 1 – Easy 16. Rhode Island (Jerimoth Hill, 812) – Class 1 – Easy (Private property) 17. Illinois (Charles Mound, 1235) – Class 1 – Easy (Private property) 18. Wisconsin (Timms Hill, 1951) – Class 1 – Easy 19. Indiana (Hoosier High Point, 1257) – Class 1 – Easy 20. Iowa (Hawkeye Point, 1670) – Class 1 – Easy 21. Missouri (Taum Sauk Mountain, 1772) – Class 1- Easy 22. Arkansas (Mount Magazine, 2753) – Class 1 – Easy 23. Maryland (Backbone Mountain, 3360) – Class 1 – Easy 24. Georgia (Brasstown Bald, 4784) – Class 1 – Easy 25. North Dakota (White Butte, 3506) – Class 1 – Easy (Private Property) 26. South Carolina (Sassafras Mountain, 3560) – Class 1 – Easy 27. North Carolina (Mt. Mitchell, 6684) – Class 1 – Easy 28. Tennessee (Clingmans Dome, 6643) – Class 1 – Easy 29. Vermont (Mt. Mansfield, 4393) – Class 1 – Easy 30. Hawaii (Mauna Kea, 13,796) – Class 1 – Easy (4 Wheel Drive)
31. Minnesota (Eagle Mountain, 2301) – Class 1 – Moderate 32. Oklahoma (Black Mesa, 4973) – Class 1 – Moderate 33. South Dakota (Black Elk Peak, 7242) – Class 1 – Moderate 34. Virginia (Mt. Rogers, 5729) – Class 1 – Moderate 35. Connecticut (Mt. Frissell, South Slope, 2380) – Class 2 – Moderate
36. New York (Mt. Marcy, 5344) – Class 1 – Strenuous 37. Maine (Mt. Katahdin, 5268) – Class 2 – Strenuous 38. Texas (Guadalupe Peak, 8749) – Class 1 – Strenuous 39. New Mexico (Wheeler Peak, 13,161) – Class 1 – Strenuous 40. Arizona (Humphreys Peak, 12,633) – Class 1 – Strenuous 41. Colorado (Mt. Elbert, 14,433) – Class 2 – Strenuous – higher elevation (lightning risk) 42. California (Mt. Whitney, 14,494) – Class 1 – Strenuous – higher elevation (camping) 43. Utah (Kings Peak, 13,528) – Class 2 – Strenuous 44. Nevada (Boundary Peak, 13,140) – Class 2 – Strenuous
45. Idaho (Borah Peak, 12,662) – Class 3 – Strenuous – Technical 46. Montana (Granite Peak, 12,799) – Class 4 – Strenuous – Technical 47. Oregon (Mt. Hood, 11,239) – Class 4 – Strenuous – Technical 48. Washington (Mt. Rainier, 14,411) – Class 4 – Strenuous – Technical 49. Wyoming (Gannett Peak, 13,804) – Class 4 – Strenuous – Too long & Technical 50. Alaska (Mount Denali, 20,320) – Class 4 – Strenuous – Too long & Technical
Here is the climbing schedule for our first 29 high points that we have finished as of November 2017. As you can notice, most of our hikes are clustered around long weekends such as Thanksgiving, Labor Day, July 4th, and summertime in general.
October is our birthday month so we take some time off and travel. You can make your own custom schedule which fits your need. But keep in mind, weather conditions matters (especially for the taller highpoints). Some highpoints such as Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Denali has snow year round.
Also, you do not want to be hiking at a higher altitude during rainy months of June and July when thunderstorms and lightning are more common. You do not want to climb in the middle of winter as well. So, find your own balance as per your preference and risk tolerance level.
Indiana – Class 1 – Drive up and walk (Private Property)
Ohio – Class 1 – Drive up and walk (Private property)
Summer (Jul – Aug) Loop from Minneapolis, MN Minnesota – Class 1 – Moderate Michigan – Class 1 – Drive up Wisconsin – Class 1 – Easy Iowa – Class 1 – Easy Illinois – Class 1 – Drive up and walk (Private property)
You can choose to hike the below 11 highpoints instead of driving up to the summit or taking the cog rail to Mount Washinton (New Hampshire). Something to consider if you want to up your game or you are a 50 finisher and need something fun to keep climbing and highpointing.
1. Mississippi (Woodall Mountain) – Easy 0.1 mile walk 2. Kansas (Mt. Sunflower) – Easy 0.5 mile hike 3. West Virginia (Spruce Knob) – Easy 0.7 mile hike
4. Nebraska (Panorama Point) – Easy 2.5 miles hike 5. Kentucky (Black Mountain) – Easy 4.6 miles hike 6. Pennsylvania (Mt. Davis) – Easy 5.4 miles hike 7. Alabama (Cheaha Mountain) – Easy 7.6 miles hike
8. New Jersey (High Point) – Moderate 3.6 miles hike on the AT 9. Massachusetts (Mt. Greylock) – Difficult 10.4 miles long hike 10. Michigan (Mt. Arvon) – Difficult 12.4 miles long hike 11. New Hampshire (Mt. Washington) – Difficult 8 miles long hike
US Territories HighPoints
There are 6 more highpoints that you can consider to be the Ultimate United States Highpoint finisher. Five of these are US territories and D.C. is a federal district.
Some say Mount Fuji in Japan is every hiker’s dream, a must-visit for travelers. This behemoth of a landscape stands tall and scared, touching the skies to the southwest of Tokyo, with its summit at 3,776 meters above sea level.
It is not surprising, therefore, that many people want to make a trip to Mt. Fuji and locals worship the sacred mountain out of the belief that it is connected to God. Locals believe that whosoever climbs and visits the Murayama Sengen Jinja becomes blessed.
Hikers, climbers, and adventurers challenge the peak during the climbing season. According to official figures, more than 300,000 people from across the world climb Mt. Fuji every summer, either for the achievement of setting a record for their lifetime or for the sheer fulfillment of the physical and spiritual self.
Visit Spiritual Shrines
In the past, trekking in the mountain meant a spiritual fulfillment. That is why many shrines were built in Mount Fuji to indicate the spiritual importance of walking through the different trails.
At the summit alone, there are two shrines:
Located beside these shrines at the end of the trails are snowmelt springs of water passing through volcanic lava.
Murayama Sengen Jinja Temple
It is also recommended that tourists visit the Murayama Sengen Jinja temple, where people in the past were believed to pay homage in order to live a good life.
The old temple was constructed a thousand years ago. Another recommended drop-by point for visitors is the Fuji Gen temple situated at the foothill of Mt Fuji. These temples serve as jump-off points to the 5th level of Mt. Fuji.
Hiking & Trekking Trails
Before trekking in Mt. Fuji, one needs to gather information about the trails, hotels, towns and tour schedules of the place, and the Internet provides pieces of relevant information.
When booking hotel rooms around Mt. Fuji, check an establishment’s terms for the use of toilets and bathrooms. Cheap rates mean you will have to share water closets with other guests.
Seek information about climbing the mountain – fitness level requirement, training, clothing, sickness, weather forecasts, etc.
Mt. Fuji sits in the middle of Japan, with the official designation as the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park. Beyond the 5th station, where hikers begin the 10-hour climb to the summit, and the Aokigahara forest, the area is protected, meaning hikers are not allowed the pilfer the rocks and plants.
On any point, almost everybody considers it a privilege already to be standing at the foot of the mountain. But for hikers who can’t resist the temptation to reach the peak of Mt. Fuji, there are many odds that could keep them from trekking on the mountain such as the cost of the trip including airfare, accommodation, transportation, food and clothing and one’s fitness to make the trip.
The Kawaguchiko trail is the traditional route and takes 6- 8 hours to complete (walking pace). On your climb you might see the dormant crater, it is a sign that a meteorological station is 30 minutes away from you.
Another route is the Gotembaguchi route, which is tougher than Kawaguchiko trail route. It takes about 10 hours to hike the mountain using this route. There are cozy huts to help you on the mountain, selling postcards, gloves, food, raincoats.
Aokigahara, also known as the sea of trees as it spreads across the foothills of Mt. Fuji, is covered with lava mud over which trees of various kinds grow with their roots jutting out above the ground. Many tales led to the other name of the forest – suicide forest. According to stories, trekkers found body remains and suicide notes in the forest.
Fuji Five Lakes
Take extra pleasure in what Mt. Fuji has to offer. Visit the Fuji Five Lakes at the northern foot of the mountain, where you can view the beautiful landscape of the lake.
The Fifth Station
Going to the Fifth Station is made easy through a bus ride along a road that ends at the station’s intersection of pavement and soil. Before kicking off the Fifth Station trail, you will find a helpful map at the entrance of the Ochudo Trail, which will guide you through the journey.
Although it surrounds the circumference of Mt. Fuji, tourists can never get lost on this trail because it is well-maintained. Finally, when at the Fifth Station, you can find many souvenir shops and toilets.
Once you reach Tokyo, there is no trouble taking a bus from Shinjuku. The bus ride takes you to the Fifth Station (as mentioned above), which is the base point of hiking in Mount Fuji. NOte, it takes at least two hours to reach Kawaguchiko – the fifth station.
There is also another way to reach Mt Fuji- train. Take JR Tokaido line from Tokyo, then from Kozu change train for Gotemba. Then there are direct buses from Gotemba to the fifth station. And the Gotemba Route is relatively cheaper.
Best Time To Visit
The hiking season in Mt. Fuji is strict for two months – July and August. At this time of the year, Tokyo is burning in the heat, but the slopes of Mt Fuji are still mildly cold. Pack your bags wisely to cope with the nightly drop in temperature.
All the facilities and routes get closed off during offseason. It is not advisable for even professionals to dare the Mountain after August. Climb the mountain during the late morning, so you catch the sunrise as well as ditch the crowds. And what more? You get to stay at an overnight camp and witness the sunrise too.
As of 2017, there were less than 300 recorded completers of all 50 state highpoints. There are 10 or so couples who have done it together. If we successfully complete it, we’ll be the first international couple to successfully climb and summit to all 50 state highpoints.
Moreover, Neha, my wife will be the first Nepali-American to do so and I’ll be the first Indian-American to achieve this feat. So, that’s our goal.
This post is part 1 of the overview and the list of highpoints to conquer.
We are dividing the 50 state highpoints based on the geographical regions. This way, we will be able to plan our road trips better (with, little to no flying during most of our trips). We have also covered whether a highpoint is a hike or a climb and it’s difficulty level.
MOUNT DENALI, ALASKA
Mount Denali (formerly Mount McKinley) in Alaska is the highest summit of the United States and North American Continent.
This Alaskan peak, one of the seven summits, is considered one of the steepest and an extremely challenging climb for anyone. Severe weather conditions make this mountain dangerous for all climbers.
Mount Denali is 20,320 feet tall. You start the ascent around 7,500 ft. Most climbers fly in from Talkeetna, a small town almost completely centered around the climbing of Denali. The standard route up the mountain is the West Buttress, and from May until July the route is a crowded series of camps from 7,800 feet until the high camp at just over 17,000 feet.The 14,000 foot camp on Denali is the largest on the mountain. Over 100 tents are typically set up here including the National Park Service.
CLIMBING MOUNT DENALI
Denali involves a high level of preparation: carrying 3 weeks of food, equipment, clothing, and shelter. These sleds can easily weigh in between 40-80 lbs plus the backpack.
We are going to keep our backpack and sleds as light as possible. We believe in“light is right”. To achieve this, we will be packing completely dried food, lightweight tents, sleep with our clothes inside the tent, and high-quality lightweight hardware.
Well, this will cost money but we have to pay the price for the safety and increasing our chances to reach the summit and return safely and successfully.For up to 14,000 feet, Mount Denali requires nothing more than glacier travel.
The real test of our strength would be climbing to 17,000 ft from 14,000 camp and climbing to the summit from the 17,000 ft high camp. High winds and extreme cold can pin down parties between 17,000 ft and the summit for days on end.
The challenges on Mount Denali are numerous, for example, rigging of sleds, the use of crampons and ice ax, the proficiency in a rope rescue system, the use of a mechanical ascender, the unexpected weather conditions, the effects of altitude on the body and brain, and cooperation among the teammates and between the guides and the team.
MT. WHITNEY, CALIFORNIA
Mount Whitney in California is the highest summit of the Sierra Nevada and the contiguous United States. It is 14,505 ft. The most popular route up the high point of California is the 22-mile round trip Whitney Trail. We’ll be doing the hike within a day during the summer month.
MT. ELBERT, COLORADO
The 2nd highest peak in the lower 48 states, Mount Elbert in Colorado is the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains.
Its 9.2-mile round trip hike to the summit is an attainable goal for a single day hike. We’ll be hiking Mt. Elbert during the summer months.
MT. RAINIER, WASHINGTON
Mount Rainier in Washington is the highest summit of the Cascade Range and the most prominent summit of the contiguous United States. With collapsing snow bridges, avalanches, route finding problem, and sudden severe weather during peak climbing season, Mt. Rainier is a serious mountain that has deaths, injuries, and rescues each year.
Rainier is a huge mountain with 20 plus routes and sees a large number of climbers each year. It is considered by many to be the best training ground in the lower 48 for Mt. Denali and other larger mountains with glacier travel and steep snow. We’ll be taking the Disappointment Clever Route, a common route.
Winter time conditions (snowy storms and sub-freezing weather) is expected year round. For perspective, In 2010, 10,643 people attempted to climb Mount Rainier and only 4,920 of them actually reached the summit. This is the second hardest climb in the 50 state highpoints.
GANNETT PEAK, WYOMING
Mount Gannett in Wyoming is the highest summit of the Central Rocky Mountains and the highest peak of the Rocky Mountains outside of Colorado. The most remote state high point requires a long (40-50 miles) round-trip hike and climb to reach its summit. The entire trip is beautiful, if not more so than the summit.
The standard route from the Pole Creek Trailhead involves a potential camp at the north end of the glacially carved Titcomb Basin and a snow climb up and over Dinwoody Pass (Bonney Pass) at 13,000 feet before the true summit is climbed up via the Gooseneck Ridge. On the descent, a 1,200-foot climb back up and over Bonney Pass is required.
Along with good conditioning, Gannett typically requires proficient usage of ice-axe, crampons, and a rope. It’s the hardest state high point, probably No. #3 after Denali and Rainier.
MAUNA KEA, HAWAII
Mauna Kea means “white mountain” in Hawaiian. The name white mountain is due to the fact that snow falls on the top of this 33,000 ft giant volcano. From the depths of the ocean floor to the summit, Mt. Kea is 33,000 feet, making Mt. Kea the highest summit in the Pacific Ocean and the tallest mountain on Earth as measured from base to summit.
From sea surface level to the summit, Mt Kea is 13,796 ft tall, making it the 6th tallest peak in the USA. A road leads to the top, and the summit is filled with large, white domed observatories: the largest collection of astronomical telescopes on the planet.
Sunset over four telescopes of the Mauna Kea Observatories. From left to right: the Subaru Telescope, the twin Keck I and II telescopes, and the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility.
The Mauna Kea trail starts at the visitor center, climbs 4,576 feet in 6 miles, and provides a good way to the summit. We’ll be using a mountain bike for a portion of the hike to make our time more fun.
KINGS PEAK, UTAH
The 7th highest State High Point is situated in the High Uinta Wilderness Area of north-central Utah. Moose are often seen along the approach and altitude sickness is a common complaint.
The Henry’s Fork approach is the standard route. We’ll be doing this in two days.
WHEELER PEAK, NEW MEXICO
The highest peak in New Mexico lies in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range of New Mexico and Colorado. The most common hiking options include the Bull-of-the-Woods Trail which goes 16 miles round trip and is quite scenic or the Williams Lake Trail which is just 6 miles round trip but less scenic.
Wheeler Peak is a good candidate for a Fall ascent, as the days are often warm and clear with the nights cold.
BOUNDARY PEAK, NEVADA
At the northern end of the White Mountains, lies Boundary Peak, the highest point in Nevada at 13,140 feet. Within this range, which spans Nevada and California, are some higher peaks.
White Mountain is the highest in this range and the third highest in California. Nearby Montgomery Peak (13,441 ft) is taller and craggier than Boundary peak. We plan to do Boundary peak and some of these other peaks in one outing.
The nature of the climb up the Trail Canyon Route is scree with some minor scrambling near the top. Solitude can be easily found here as the general climbing season is long with year-round climbing being possible. Like most other taller peaks, Boundary peak receives snow and frequent high winds.
GRANITE PEAK, MONTANA
Granite peak has the distinction of being the only U.S. State Highpoint that requires climbing the vertical rock to reach the summit.
Granite is known for a little of everything: rock climbing, long hiking, scrambling, snow climbing, route finding, exposed camping, sudden severe thunderstorms, deep August snow, and most often a truly rewarding summit.
Granite is typically done in two days. It involves hiking on a rolling, very rocky plateau, with no defined trail. The best navigational method involves following large, easily sighted cairns, across the terrain. Camp spots are typically in rock built shelters and water sources could be hit and miss. Summit day involves mostly class 2-3 scrambling, crossing a snow bridge and 4th class to easy 5th Class climbing.
BORAH PEAK, IDAHO
Idaho’s tallest peak at 12,662 feet is situated at the northern part of the Lost River Range. The range is host to 7 of the 9 tallest peaks in the state of Idaho. The Lost River Range is known for its large, hulking, non-technical summits. This sparsely populated valley is a paradise for those seeking solitude.
Borah’s Chicken-Out-Ridge Route gains 5,260 feet of elevation in just 3.6 miles. At about 7,200 feet, the route starts out as an old Jeep road, then becomes a faint climber’s trail, then crosses an exposed ridge of rock, followed by a seasonal snow bridge crossing, until the summit is finally reached.
The route is typically done in 6-10 hours, round trip.
HUMPHREYS PEAK, ARIZONA
At 12,633 feet, Humphreys Peak defies the typical Arizona stereotype that the state is mostly a warm desert region.
From the depths of the nearby Grand Canyon to the often snowy and windy summit ridge, this region is one of the most diverse in the nation. The lower west slopes of Humphreys contain some beautiful Aspen groves, while the east side of the peak is in a rain shadow and contains Sunset Crater.
The standard route heads up the Humphreys Peak Trail from the Snow Bowl ski area. Nearby Agassiz Peak appears as the tallest peak from the Flagstaff area.
MOUNT HOOD, OREGON
The sulphuric and steamy vents near the Devils Kitchen is a reminder that Mount Hood is a dormant volcano. Like most of the Cascade Volcanoes, this peak strikes up and away from its surrounding terrain with much prominence.
The mountain is well used, given its proximity to the Willamette Valley, the ski area, and the resort lodge.The popular south side approach starts at Timberline Lodge and climbs Class 2 terrain to the summit. Conditions may vary and crampons, ice ax, and helmet are often times required.
At just 8 miles round-trip and 5,300 feet of vertical gain, this approach provides a straightforward route to the summit. It is best climbed early morning, given the chance of collapsing snow bridges on the glacier and the hazard of rockfall.
Of the 50 high points, probably only 32 of them could be considered actual mountains. Nine of these highpoints are actually hills and another 9 of them are essential flat plateaus with a noticeable gradual slope or no rise at all.
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If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I would love to read it. If you have already climbed some of these mountains, please share about your experiences. If you want to climb some of these peaks with us, shoot me a message. We are game.
As a fellow highpointing couple, we want to speak to other highpoint and adventuring couples.
“My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing.” – Aldous Huxley
The first thing in the sports of State Highpointing is considering “SAFETY” from all angles and all perspectives. Hiking and mountain climbing involves a great deal of risk and prioritizing safety means being prepared for any situation.
Below is our 4 safety rules of Highpointing that we are following and we will be following throughout this entire endeavor.
“Knowledge is power on the trail. Know how to keep yourself and your group safe every time you go out.”
KNOWLEDGE & PROPER GEAR
We’re watching YouTube videos, reading blogs, reading books, learning about proper gear use and everything that is in our power to make ourselves educated with mountaineering gears and mountaineering in general.
Most of our hikes will be just two of us together, but we will also be doing some group hikes. The plan is to:
A.) Stay with the crowd when hiking as a solo couple.
B.) Stay with the group at all times during the group hike.
If one of us are feeling not well, sick or if we are overly exhausted or tired, our motto is to turn back and come back later. Money and time are secondary to life. You cannot put a price tag or time tag on the value of human life. For us, staying safe, staying alive and staying together is more important than finishing our goal.
Now, having said that, we also know that we are hardcore, and no matter how many times we may have to “turn back”, we will come again and we will keep coming until we reach to the summit and hike back to the camp. In other words, we are not afraid to screw our plans or change our plans.
Emergencies happen. Situations happen. Bad things can happen. Unplanned events do come up. Therefore everyone needs a “Plan B” or an “exit strategy”.When we are hiking solo, we will be sharing our trip information with our close friends and family and we will be requesting that they contact us every 12-24 hours by phone. We will be calling back and informing our emergency contact before and after each hike.
When we hike solo, we share our trip information with our close friends and family and we request them that they contact us every 12-24 hours by phone. We call back too. Inform a few close people and share your emergency contact numbers during each hike.
“Most falls and injuries occur when hikers are descending a trail.”
BACKPACK PACKING LIST
This is our listing of the clothing and equipment that we bring to almost all of our hikes. (If you are new to mountain climbing and hiking, it’s important to remember that you must know how to use these. Just carrying them with you won’t help much in times of need).
First Aid Kit (with personal medication, if any)
Swiss Pocket Knife
Warm Clothing (layer jackets, long pants, woolen hat, full-body long underwears)
Travel kit (Toothbrush, etc), Small Towel, Extra Underwear & Socks
FYI Fact: “The Alpine zone is the area above treeline.”
ALPINE ZONE, AVALANCHE TERRAIN
Small Snow Shovel
Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to The Art of Travel Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of wanderlusters, travel lovers, and adventures. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!
If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I would love to read it. If you have already climbed or have been to some of the state highpoints, please share about your experiences.
For me, the standards for goal picking & setting is simple.
“If a goal is not crazy enough, it is not worthy enough to be a goal. It better be just a task.”
“A goal must fit into the grand vision of your life. A goal must be a pillar or a brick in the architect of your vision.”
As a couple, our Goal #1 is to attempt to successfully climb all 14 peaks of Massachusetts (for 14 counties) by Dec 2018. County highpoints are generally called CoHP.
Our Goal #2 is to attempt to climb all 50 tallest peaks of all 50 US states by Dec 2020.
And, this is the most fun part. I won’t be doing this alone. This is something, my girlfriend and I started together and we are now married and we are going to attempt to climb all 50 US highpoints as a couple. If we successfully do this, we will be the first international couple to successfully climb all 50 State highpoints in America.
We will be the first international couple to officially do it. And, it will be a good warm-up exercise for us for later, when we take on higher-elevation and more dangerous climbs.
Most of these places are easy to access (since we live in Boston and the east coast states are smaller).
Therefore, this feat will not cost us a fortune. That would be different if we were thinking of flying to every continent or the Poles. Or if we were to travel from Asia or Europe.
BEING OFFICIAL ABOUT IT
To make sure what we are attempting is doable and in some way officially verifiable, I reached out to Greg, an experienced climber and the creator & webmaster of Peakbagger.com. I wanted to ask his advice on this. (PS: I highly encourage you all to check out peakbagging.com and peakbagger.com. These websites will inspire you to your core.)
The following is my email communications with Greg.
Hi Greg,My girlfriend and I are into mountaineering and hiking. We have been doing it for years.I recently discovered your website and I was wondering, how do you verify the climbs?As a couple, we want to do 50 peaks of US and would like to do it as part of a book project that I have. My plan is to find out how much and money it would cost for a person or couple to perform such a feat.I was curious; how do I make sure that my climbs are recorded which can later be officially verified.Suggestions, thoughts?Best regards,Sal
Greg’s quick reply to my email:
Hi, Salil,The vast majority of accomplishments reported by mountain climbers worldwide are on an honor system. Most people don’t make any real attempt to conclusively document their ascents, nor question the climbs of others. For virtually all hiking clubs in the USA, including the State Highpointers, it’s all about fun and friendship, and if you say you climbed all the peaks, they will give you the benefit of the doubt.In mountaineering history there have been some charlatans claiming ascents they never made, usually first ascents of well-known peaks. And I know of some elderly people with a form of mental illness who started logging all sorts of imaginary climbs, claiming they were real. But this is a very small minority.There are also variations of the understanding of what getting to a summit means. For some, they have to touch the highest rock with their boot. For others, getting 95% the way up counts, for example, the many guided clients who reach the crater rim of Mount Rainier, do not cross to the highest summit, and call it good.I personally like to take pictures of myself when I have climbed a major peak solo, to prove I was there, but no one has ever asked me for proof. The whole thing is kind of silly, really. So I would not worry at all about doing anything formal for verification—just take some photos and sign the register.I have completed the 50 state highpoints. Outside of Denali, it’s not super hard or super expensive.
The main obstacle is getting enough time off, and doing a lot of driving. If you need a guide for Rainier, Hood, Granite, or Gannett, that can be a little expensive, otherwise your only real costs are gas, food, lodging, etc.
Denali is another story. It’s about $10,000 to climb that peak, for the guide service, buying special cold weather gear, airfare, park fees, etc. Cheaper without a guide but still probably $5000.
Best of luck on your quest,
– Greg, Webmaster, Peakbagger.com
My gratitude reply to Greg:
Hi Greg,Good morning! Yours is the first email I have read this morning and I can’t tell how happy I am. (Honestly, I was not sure, if you would reply or reply quick enough). Whenever someone is willing to be approachable and helpful, it just lights up the whole universe. (Ok, maybe not the whole universe but someone’s world for sure).So, thank you!
Ok – so pictures and registration/entrance log (if any) is sufficient. This makes this whole undertaking more fun.I have registered on Peakbagger.com and would love to meet and make new adventurer friends.Thank you again! Please keep doing what you love to do!
– Sal,Boston, MA
MASSACHUSETTS COUNTY HIGHPOINTS
Berkshire, Mount Greylock, 3487 ft
Franklin, Mount Crum Hill, 2835 ft
Hampshire, West Mountain, 2106 ft
Worcester, Wachusett Mountain, 1998 ft
Hampden, Round Top Hill, 1781
Middlesex, Nutting Hill (Northeast Slope), 1585 ft
Norfolk, Great Blue Hill, 640 ft
Essex, Holt Hill, 423 ft
Plymouth, Manomet Hill, 395 ft
Bristol, Sunrise Hill, 394 ft
Suffolk, Bellevue Hill, 325 ft
Dukes, Marthas Vineyard High Point, 311 ft
Barnstable, Pine Hill, 306 ft
Nantucket, Sankaty Head, 111 ft
The reason I am posting this publicly on my blog is so we remain accountable to our goals. The goal completion date is to finish all climbs by or before 12/31/2016. Here are the United States 51 tallest peaks (including DC). We will do the 48 states + DC first and then attempt Denali and Hawaii in the end.
We have already been to Alaska and it is expensive to go there. Besides, you can see in Greg’s reply to me that there are other expensive costs associated with Mount Denali.Some say that climbers attempting less commercialized peaks, like Denali, are often expected to carry backpacks that weigh over 30 kilograms (66 lbs) and, occasionally, to tow a sled with 35 kilograms (77 lbs) of gear and food. Now that’s a real adventure. That’s challenging, crazy, and fun.
50 STATES HIGHPOINTS (US)
Alaska, Denali, 20,310 ft
California, Mount Whitney, 14,495 ft
Colorado, Mount Elbert, 14,433 ft
Washington, Mount Rainier, 14,411 ft
Wyoming, Gannett Peak, 13,804 ft
Hawaii, Mauna Kea, 13,796 ft
Utah, Kings Peak, 13,528 ft
New Mexico, Wheeler Peak, 13,161 ft
Nevada, Boundary Peak, 13,140 ft
Montana, Granite Peak, 12,799 ft
Idaho, Borah Peak, 12,662 ft
Arizona, Humphreys Peak, 12,633 ft
Oregon, Mount Hood, 11,239 ft
Texas, Guadalupe Peak, 8749 ft
South Dakota, Harney Peak 7242 ft
North Carolina, Mount Mitchell, 6684 ft
Tennessee, Clingmans Dome, 6643 ft
New Hampshire, Mount Washington, 6288 ft
Virginia, Mount Rogers, 5729 ft
Nebraska, Panorama Point, 5426 ft
New York, Mount Marcy, 5344 ft
Maine, Katahdin, 5268 ft
Oklahoma, Black Mesa, 4973 ft
West Virginia, Spruce Knob, 4861 ft
Georgia, Brasstown Bald, 4784 ft
Vermont, Mount Mansfield, 4393 ft
Kentucky, Black Mountain, 4139 ft
Kansas, Mount Sunflower, 4039 ft
South Carolina, Sassafras Mountain, 3554 ft
North Dakota, White Butte, 3506 ft
Massachusetts, Mount Greylock, 3487 ft
Maryland, Backbone Mountain, 3360 ft
Pennsylvania, Mount Davis, 3213 ft
Arkansas, Magazine Mountain, 2753 ft
Alabama, Cheaha Mountain, 2405 ft
Connecticut, Mount Frissell (South Slope), 2372 ft
Minnesota, Eagle Mountain, 2301 ft
Michigan, Mount Arvon, 1978 ft
Wisconsin, Timms Hill, 1951 ft
New Jersey, High Point, 1803 ft
Missouri, Taum Sauk Mountain, 1772 ft
Iowa, Hawkeye Point 1670 ft
Ohio, Campbell Hill 1549 ft
Indiana, Hoosier Hill, 1257 ft
Illinois, Charles Mound, 1235 ft
Rhode Island, Jerimoth Hill, 812 ft
Mississippi, Woodall Mountain, 806 ft
Louisiana, Driskill Mountain, 535 ft
Delaware, Ebright Azimuth, 442 ft
Florida, Britton Hill, 345 ft
Bonus: District of Columbia (D.C.), Reno Reservoir, 415 ft
WHAT ELSE ARE WE DOING?
While doing the US 50 States Highpoints (mountains), we will simultaneously also cover two of our ancillary goals.
A road trip and covering all 50 states of USA
Having the best moments from all 50 states and turning it into a picture-book
Next, we will start with The Seven Summit and with Mount Denali (tallest peak in the North American continent) already covered, we will only have 6 more to do.
Well, this is only a dream for now.
First thing first. The secret to success is one baby step at a time and being consistent.
Please join us in our quest to conquer all 50 States High Points in the USA. We need your support, love, and prayers.
If you are a climber and would love to join us, please feel free to message me. We have a long way to go. So, it’s time to shut down the computer and go to the rocks.
Talk to you soon, my friends!
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If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I would love to read it. If you have already climbed some of these mountains, please share about your experiences.