Packing for a trip to the San Juan mountains

A few weeks from now, I’ll be taking a trip to the southwestern corner of Colorado to do some mountain climbing in the San Juan mountain range.  I’ve visited Colorado many times and lived there briefly, but this will be my very first time seeing this part of the state.  I’m super excited!

This vacation will be quite different from my usual ones since the primary objective will be to climb anywhere from one to three Fourteeners.  How many peaks I ascend will depend on weather conditions, my ability to acclimate to the altitude, and my gradually aging body’s recovery time after each physical pounding.  And I am expecting a physical pounding.  So far I’ve climbed 18 out of the around 50 some-odd peaks (the exact number is controversial), and a handful of these hikes have been some of most grueling physical feats I’m proud to have accomplished.

I’m staying in Lake City, Colorado the entire time so I can maximize my opportunities to summit at least one mountain during my stay.  Beautiful as these mountains are, getting stuck at the top when a rain storm hits can result in death, so I’m intentionally leaving myself plenty of wiggle room so I don’t feel pressured to hike when conditions are subpar.

My pack list for this trip has a few adjustments.  The most important item I’ll be taking along that I don’t typically pack are my trail running shoes (Brooks Cascadias) and a few pairs of quick dry socks.  Other than the clothes I’ll be wearing on the plane, I’m going super minimalist with only one extra set of clothing.  I figure I’ll have plenty of time to wash and dry my clothes each day, so this approach should be sufficient.

Here’s the complete list of what will be in my bag:

  • 1 T-shirt
  • 1 boxer shorts
  • 1 shorts
  • 1 jeans (the evenings will be cold) I removed this and will substitute a Merino Wool t-shirt as an extra layer for the cold early morning part of the hike. Weather report shows the evenings should be quite pleasant.
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 hoodie sweatshirt
  • Handkerchief
  • Hat
  • Tissue packet
  • Pair of cheapo flip flops for the hotel room
  • Small bag of toiletries
  • Bottle of Woolite
  • Sunscreen
  • Roll of medical tape for my feet
  • Phone & charger
  • Ricoh GR camera
  • Travel tripod
  • Printed trail maps.  (Halfway up the side of an unfamiliar 14,000 foot mountain is a bad place for your electronics to fail.  Old fashioned paper all the way for this one.)
  • Black marker and piece of cardboard
  • A book for the plane
My bag contents for this trip

In addition to the above, I’ll be wearing a t-shirt, boxers, shorts, socks, and my trail shoes.

Once my flight arrives in Colorado and I get my rental car, I’ll need to stop somewhere along the way to buy some bottles of water and food.  My preferred hiking consumables are Clif Bars and nuts; foods with high calorie content that are light and don’t take up much space.

I think this may be the first time I will have traveled for more than a quick overnight stay with only one extra change of clothes.  Typically 3 total sets is what I’m comfortable with, so this will be a new experience.  It should be fine as long as I’m careful not to drop a dollop of mustard on myself 🙂


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