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      Training for a Big Hike? REI Outdoor School Can Help

      Are you fairly new to hiking but with a big hiking goal in your future?

      In Southern California, lots of hikers dream of summiting Mount Whitney (14,496'), the highest point in the lower 48 states. So many, in fact, that the REI Outdoor School created a popular series of "Whitney Training Hikes" to help hikers improve their odds of success.

      REI Outdoor School group at trailheadI tagged along on last Saturday's REI Outdoor School hike of San Gorgonio Peak (11,502'), the highest peak in Southern California. The summit trail along Vivian Creek is a long grunt of roughly 17 miles round-trip and 5,600' of elevation gain.

      Our savvy guides, Gene and Ed, dispensed lots of time-tested hiking advice along the way.

      Good nutrition was one key topic. To avoid bonking, participants learned how best to keep hydrated (hint: hydration packs encourage regular sipping) and how to replace your lost salts and calories. Other tips included rest-break strategies along the trail, the importance of being aware of your surroundings and the basics of the Leave No Trace philosophy.

      My fellow participants shared a variety of hiking dreams: from Kilimanjaro and Whitney to just getting back into an outdoor lifestyle for fitness.

      All in all, it was a great day. Though not everyone in the group summited, the physical exertion and lessons learned are certain to get any hiker closer to his or her goals.

      Below: Our guide, Gene, offers some navigation tips to the group.
      Gene offers navigation tips
      Below: Our co-guide, Ed (left), filters water along the trail at High Creek.
      Ed filters water at High Creek
      Below: The rockpile summit of San Gorgonio Peak, Southern California's highest.
      Summit of San Gorgonio Peak
      Below: Mike and Ed give a thumb's up as they near the summit.

      Posted on at 7:25 PM

      Tagged: Hiking, Mount Whitney, REI Outdoor School and San Gorgonio Peak

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      Although I am not training for a "big hike" I am trying to get back to the outdoors and recently summited Mt San Jacinto. Isn't Vivian Creek the steepest of the trails up San G? I would love to do this, it is a summer goal, but the price seems as steep as the trail. Also your blog says "fairly new to hiking" but the description for the August trip calls for experience. Seems a bit confusing.

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