Training is going to be very important for this trip, especially for those who haven't backpacked much during the months or years prior to this trip. The daily mileages are high for a backpacking trip, and there is quite a bit of elevation gain on several days. If you maintain a good hiking regimen for several months prior to this trip, you shouldn't have any problems keeping up a good pace on this trek.
Six Months Before the Trek
- If you are already an "A" hiker, continue your typical hiking regimen.
- If you are a "B" hiker, try to boost your mileage on an occasional basis. Add an "A" hike into your typical schedule once or twice each month for the next couple of months. Keep in mind that distance is much more important than speed when you're backpacking.
- If you are a "C" hiker, you must become a good "B" hiker over the next couple of months. You must be able to hike at least 10 miles with a typical daypack (10-15 lbs) before you can move to the next level.
Four Months Before the Trek
- If you are an "A" hiker, start adding some weight to your typical daypack. Boost the weight up to 20-25 lbs. while maintaining your current regimen of distance and speed.
- If you are a "B" hiker, you should have no problems doing an "A" hike on a regular basis. Increase that weight in your daypacks, while continuing to push into that "A" hiker category. Trail hikes are more important than bushwhacks, so consider those longer trail hikes first. If there aren't any appropriate hikes in the SAHC Bulletin, consider guiding a couple of hikes yourself. You also need to start adding some weight to your pack. Drop in a gallon of water (about 8 lbs) before you head out on the trail. You can always drain some of that water out of the bottle when it gets too heavy.
- If you started out as a "C" hiker, you should now be able to consider yourself a good "B" hiker. Continue with the longer "B" hikes, especially those going to peaks on trails. Bushwhacks aren't necessarily as effective for training. You need mileage, mileage, mileage. Of course, you'll want to add some weight, too. Even a couple of liters of water adds a lot of weight that can be controlled by dumping some water when it gets too heavy.
Two Months Before the Trek
- Those "A" hikers should now be able to hike at their usual pace and distance levels with a 20-30 lb daypack. That's a lot of weight in a daypack, so you should probably be hiking with your big backpack with a couple gallons of water inside, along with your regular hiking gear.
- The folks who started out as "B" hikers should now consider themselves good "A" hikers. Start adding more weight and continue your long hikes.
- There are no longer any "C" hikers left. Everyone is at least a "B" hiker.
The Last Month Before the Trek
- Everyone should be hiking at an "A" level by this point in time. You should have no problem hiking 10 miles and 2,000 feet of elevation gain with a 40-lb backpack every day for three or four days in a row. Speed is not important, but stamina is vital. If you're still a little shy of this goal, don't worry. You have the rest of this month to reach that level. I'm confident that you can do so!
You've done a lot of training, and now you're ready for this trip. In fact, you're probably more than ready. What do you do now? Get your gear together, pack your backpack, make your hotel reservations, and get ready for the High Sierra!