A Friday Chat About Hiking

Photo credit: Bob Dass, CC BY 2.0.

LAURASMASH: Happy Friday!

NICOLE: Happy Friday! What are your plans for this weekend?

LAURASMASH: I am preparing for an upcoming hiking trip! I’m not doing a “big” vacation this year, we’re doing a 3 day backpacking trip in the eastern Sierra where we will attempt to climb a 14,000 foot peak, so there’s lots that goes into preparing.

NICOLE: Do you mean top-rope climbing, or hiking climbing?


NICOLE: That sounds like so much fun. What all is involved in the preparation?

LAURASMASH: The always popular Billfold topic of meal planning. Finding the perfect balance of enough food but not so much you’re carrying too much weight.

NICOLE: Do people still do GORP, or is it all bars and gels these days?

LAURASMASH: My husband loves bars and gels! I hate them because they’re so expensive and not even that good. I’m all about GORP! We also buy those freeze dried backpacking meals, which are kind of expensive ($5 or $6 per meal) but mean less pre-trip food prep for me. I think I spent about $40 on those during my last trip to the local outdoor store.

The other Billfold-y topic that’s come up for me is fear-based spending!

NICOLE: Ooooooh tell me more! WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

LAURASMASH: EVERYTHING! No but seriously… I bought an ice axe.

NICOLE: …because of Wild or… because I remember that chapter where she really needed the ice axe.

LAURASMASH: I only vaguely remember that. There might still be snow on the trail, we’ll find out more when we pick up our permit at the ranger station. But if I slide down a snow slope, I’ll need the ice axe to stop myself.

I don’t really expect to need it, but better safe than sorry!

NICOLE: So… how long do you think it’ll take for hikers to be able to resupply via drone? Or maybe to use drones like they do in The Hunger Games: “Like, subscribe, and buy me trail food!”

LAURASMASH: OMG that would be amazing but also terrible!

NICOLE: You’d probably need… Wi-Fi? GPS? On the mountain? How does a drone know where to drone? Or would we all have chips implanted in our backpacks?

LAURASMASH: Probably GPS? I already have a GPS device with a Send Help button (more fear-based spending). Maybe it also needs a Send Snacks button!

NICOLE: OH COOL. Not the part where you need help, but the part where you have a Send Help button. How much did that cost?

LAURASMASH: I’ve never used it, thankfully! I bought it several years ago when my husband did a section of the PCT. I think the device was about $100, and then you need to buy a plan for it sort of like a cell phone plan. The plan is now $150 per year, so we’re just going to activate it for our trip for about $10 a day

NICOLE: That is smart. I do have to ask: if there’s one thing I know about mountain movies and TV shows, it’s the part where they go “oh no, we can’t get cell service in this crevasse!” Can you get GPS service in that crevasse?

LAURASMASH: Probably not! But if I get stuck anywhere it would probably be near the peak because we’ll be hiking off trail there, so hopefully there would be good reception. I don’t really think I’ll need it, there will be other people around. There’s a reason I had to reserve a wilderness permit in advance.

NICOLE: Hahaha I remember that part from Gilmore Girls. All I really know about serious hiking comes from movies and TV and books. But I hope you have an amazing time, and if you want to write up a summary of your costs when you get back, I’d love to share it on The Billfold!

Support The Billfold

The Billfold continues to exist thanks to support from our readers. Help us continue to do our work by making a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time-only contribution through PayPal.