Training to hike Mt Rainier from Mt Mitchell

On week 12 of our training to hike Mt Rainier, we did a 9 hr hike so that pretty much sums up the week!

We were getting too comfortable hiking Crowders Mountain and Umstead Park so we needed to change our location. We decided to climb Mt Mitchell. For our Mt Rainier hike we will gain almost 10,000 feet in 2 days so we needed to train in a similar environment.  Mt Mitchell doesn’t elevate that high but is the highest peak east of the Mississippi and the only peak close to us.

Training to hike Mt Rainier from Mt Mitchell
Mt Mitchell summit

Mt Mitchell is located 127 miles northwest of Charlotte, NC and about 32 miles northeast of Asheville, NC. It’s the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains at 6,684 ft. and it’s beautiful up there! Driving through the Blue Ridge Parkway is awesome!  I really wanted to drive a bit more while we were in the area but we needed to get hiking.

Mt Mitchell State Park has a couple of trails each with different difficulty levels, but our goal was to climb to the summit. The Mt Mitchell Trail was the one we chose  and with a difficulty level of “Very Rough” we were in for a treat.This trail starts in the Black Mountain Campground at the Toe River and it gains 3600 feet over 5.6 miles ending at the summit! You can also start the hike from the top, at the Mt Mitchell State Park summit parking area, but we wanted to mimic climbing Mt Rainier as much as we could so we started at the bottom  and went up and back.

We arrived Saturday morning and we wanted to check out the trail before our long hike on Sunday, so we did a 3.5 hr prep hike out and back on the Mt Mitchell Trail carrying 39 lbs. For this hike we took pizza (Against the Grain) for lunch, beef jerky, 2 GU Energy gels each , 1 Honey Stinger Waffles and two 32 ounce bottles of water each.

This hike was very painful but it was a blessing in disguise because I learned I was doing something totally wrong. Immediately after starting the hike my shoulders started to bother me like never before. I adjusted my pack multiple times because the pain was unbearable. We were just going for a 3 hr hike but due to all my “adjustment stops” it took us a bit more. On our way down the trail Catie noticed that the shoulder straps on my pack were resting on my shoulders so I was carrying the majority of the weight on my shoulders causing some unnecessary pain.

The majority of the pack weight (80%+) should rest on your hips. When I was putting on the pack I wasn’t adjusting the hip belt properly (not tight enough) so I was carrying a lot of the weight on my shoulders….this was not good. The majority of the weight needs to rest on the hips, not the shoulders.The hip belt needs to cover the hip bones and the shoulder straps need to contour around the shoulders without bearing the weight.

I made the adjustment for the 9 hr hike and it made a huge difference! This hike was the longest & most challenging we’ve done but its the one that I’ve enjoyed the most… just by making a small adjustment it made an enormous difference on the comfort level during the hike.

For the 9 hr hike we went a bit overboard with the food! Before the hike we had 2 Gluten Free Almond Scones for breakfast & coffee. For lunch we took pizza (Against the Grain) 4 slices each, for snacks we took beef jerky —one 3 once bag each, 5 GU Energy gels each, 1 bag of WOW Chocolate Chip Gluten Free Cookies & 1 bag of WOW Peanut Butter Gluten Free Cookies, 4 Honey Stinger Waffles ,one 32 once Gatorade and three 32 once bottles of water each.

Catie & I eating
Catie & I stuffing our face with pizza and beef jerky!

We pretty much ate it all…..we had some water left, 3 GU Energy gels, a couple of cookies, 2 Honey Stinger Waffles and 3 pieces of beef jerky! And for dinner we had a big ass burger! (no bun….supporting the GF on her GF lifestyle!)

Earlier in the week I continued to do core work outs, ran one day, took a day off and swam on Friday to relax my body before the long hikes of the weekend.

On week 13 I had to reduce my workout load. On week 11, after the 5 hr hike my left knee started to bother me a little bit. I iced almost everyday the following week and hiked through the pain on the 2 hikes on week 12; but when Monday arrived my knee was a little bit angry at me! so I took it easy this week.

Did a couple core workouts ,swam one day, rode the stationary bike, and did 2 short hikes on the weekend, but my knee was still bothering me. I made an appointment with my Physical Therapist….I’ll let you guys know on my next post how that went.

For the 4 hr hike on Saturday I took pizza (Against the Grain) for lunch, beef jerky, 2 GU Energy gels , 2 Honey Stinger Waffles one 32 once Gatorade and two 32 once bottles with water.

Week 12
  • Monday>Daily Dozen 2.0
  • Tuesday>Run 2 miles (12min/mile) & Crossfit workout
  • Wednesday> Crossfit workout
  • Thursday>Day off
  • Friday>Swam 1000 yds – 200 yds warm up, 6 100 yards, 200 yrds cool down
  • Saturday>3.5 hr hike at Mt Mitchell (39 lbs)
  • Sunday>9 hr hike at Mt Mitchell (43 lbs)
Week 13
  • Monday>Daily Dozen 2.0
  • Tuesday>Swam 1000 yds – 200 yds warm up, 6 100 yards, 200 yrds
  • Wednesday>Stationary bike 30 min
  • Thursday>Day off
  • Friday>1.5 hr hike (no weight)
  • Saturday>4.5 hr hike (30 lbs)
  • Sunday>Day off


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