Kilimanjaro 2013: Lewis Peak Part 1

Lewis Peak overlook

Lengthening our distance from the first hike of five miles last week, Sam and I talked about hiking Ben Lomond, but decided we weren’t quite ready for 15 miles. We decided to make the hike to Lewis Peak instead, which from the North Ogden Divide and back is somewhere between 10 and 11 miles. I’m a bit unsure, as I didn’t take a GPS unit, and the trail marker signs seem to differ in opinion slightly.

The object was to continue our preparations for the Kilimanjaro trip, so we were looking at a number of different purposes. More elevation, breaking in boots further, assessing equipment needs and loads, and one of the most important things was to get some long distance experience monitoring Sam’s blood sugar levels as he is diabetic. We probably gained more experience in that aspect than anything else on the hike. 

Our preparation seemed pretty good, until (of course) we were actually on the mountain. We ate a large lunch beforehand, it’s always a good idea for diabetics to have a good level of protein buildup as it helps keep blood sugar levels more even, as opposed to spiking up and down. It’s even more important before long term and strenuous exercise. For my part, I packed a Camelbak with three liters of water, minimal first aid equipment, a knife, LED flashlight, a fleece pullover, light rain shell, bandanna/rag, Pearson’s salted nut roll, and a bar of Bit ‘o Honey, along with a few other miscellaneous items. This all weighed between eight and nine pounds, a very comfortable load. We also stopped at the Maverik for some sugary stuff to eat on the trail. Sam’s choice was Rolo’s (yum, great choice Sam!) and some HiChew’s, this strange Asian candy that has a consistency somewhere between gum and taffy. Anyway, it wouldn’t melt, and Sam and I had a topic of conversation to debate while we were on the trail. The Rolo’s we figured would be gone before the sun would melt them. Sam of course also has to pack insulin, he uses the Novolog pens, which are very convenient, no extra syringes, and don’t have to be refrigerated, although still needing to be cool. This was accomplished by keeping the pen next to his water bladder, which seemed to work fine. We topped this all off with a pair of Krispy Kreme doughnuts to celebrate the start of the hike.

The day was beautiful, and also a great temperature, important because we didn’t get started until about 12:45pm. We would be walking in the hottest part of the day. Starting from the North Ogden Divide, the first mile or so is the most strenuous. Steep switchbacks with lots of loose rock and tree roots make the trail challenging, but relatively short. It’s also shady for long stretches, and being fresh, doesn’t seem so bad. There were lots of young families with small children out enjoying the day, and they were getting distances up the trail that surprised me, especially coming back down when we were good and tired.

There’s a great reward at the end of this climb, a beautiful outlook over Ogden valley and a nice spot at the turn in the trail to enjoy the view. Sam and I took 10 minutes and ate some Rolo’s while we took in the scenery. This was just the beginning. As soon as you take the next bend, the panorama opens up on the ridgeline trail that ribbons off across green fields and wildflowers, with views into valleys left and right. Into the distance you can see the challenge ahead, as the trail lifts across the next hill and continues on across the Skyline Trail.