Training For Half Dome

16 Miles, 4800 Feet Gain, and “The Cables”

We can pretty much cut to the chase on this one and say 5 out of the 6 of us were nowhere near ready to tackle Half Dome when this journey started. Could we make it to the top, sure probably, but what would the next day be like? Would we be able to continue trekking along with a full pack on our back mile after mile, doubtful. Now the 1 person in the 6Pack that was most ready, Doc, lives in Colorado. She regularly runs and hikes in high elevation, not to mention she has age on her side being the second youngest in the group. The rest of us however are all valley dwellers, we live at 1300 feet and without heading north for a few hours the highest we will get is roughly 5000 feet. To be realistic we wont be spending much time at that altitude so dealing with an 8,800 feet summit could prove to be exhausting.

So how will we prepare for this? We started with a commitment to hike 2 times a week, with work schedules, kids, and other commitments this of course is not an easy thing to juggle, but none of us want to be miserable by day 3 with 2 days to go. We decided to break the hikes into 4 categories to keep things from getting boring and routine.

Fall Gal & Slimms going up "The Wall" at Camelback

First is the mid week, quick, high impact, high elevation gain hike. We are using Echo Canyon Trail at Camelback Mountain in Phoenix AZ. This thing is brutal, gaining 1200 feet in just 1.2 miles, but because of the short 2.4 mile round trip its a perfect spot for fitting it in after the daily grind of sitting in the office. Check back to our “Adventures” pages for a trail review of Echo Canyon soon.

Flat Iron - Superstition Mountains, AZ

The second stage is more of the long, high impact, endurance style hikes. These happen every other weekend and generally involve a full day of hiking where we can also test some of our gear. Putting 6-8 miles under our feet, preparing meals, summiting peaks, these are our more favorite hikes. This is alternated with the third category, we essentially take the weekend hikes and tone them down to make them kid friendly and get the little ones involved, they love hitting the trails!

The final part is the overnights. The only real way we are gonna know that we are buying and packing the right gear is to use it. This one takes some time, because we are so new to backpacking most of us have to purchase a few things here and there until we acquire everything we need. That being said, we have our first “group” overnight planned for 2 weeks from now and I think we are all really excited! Be sure to check back for updates on how it went.

Being 3 months in and 2 months out I am happy to say that I am for sure ready for Half Dome, BRING IT ON! And even more exciting, I am pretty sure everyone else is ready as well. We have 75 more days to go and I know for sure we will all make it to the top! Now all we need is some luck that we get picked in the lottery for the cable permit.

Do you have a big hike coming up, how are you preparing?


3 thoughts on “Training For Half Dome

  1. Years ago when I had not done any backpacking whatsoever, I was planning to hike the Chilcout Trail in Alaska. Big hike for a first timer. At home tho for training, I had available to me a set of stairs… 87 steps… so 3 to 4 times a week I walked up and down those stairs 6x. After 4 weeks I would walk them twice, run them twice, walk them twice. When I was comfortable doing that (4 weeks) I started loading my backpack. I put a big bag of flour in my pack and then walked the stairs again. 6x up, 6x down. Was able to adjust my pack ever so slightly, straps, etc over time and when I eventually did get up to the Chilcout Trail with my loaded pack 55 lbs (I’m 140 lbs) I had a good back and strong legs. Never had any trouble. That’s how I prepared.

    • Awesome! I have done some similar things while stationed on a ship during my time in the Navy. There is always a way to achieve your goals if you really want to!

      Thank you for sharing your story.

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