Hiking Into 2021 With the NorCal Six Pack of Peaks Challenge

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Gossamer Gear | Jan 05, 2021

By: Emily Schrick

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If 2020 reinforced anything for me, it’s that you can make plans, but the universe can also laugh in your face. In an effort to be optimistic about the upcoming year, though, I’m revisiting an old goal of mine that, for some reason or another, has never been realized: The NorCal Six Pack of Peaks Challenge

Even with hope on the horizon, staying close to home during the winter and spring months will most likely be necessary, so tackling this Bay Area challenge will be perfect training for a (hopefully) busier summer filled with backpacking objectives!

The Six Pack of Peaks is a regional hiking challenge to get you excited about summiting mountains. Depending on your level of fitness, it is a great challenge to achieve, or a training regimen for more difficult hikes. You can complete these peaks however you want—day hiking, backpacking, trail running, etc.—but the goal is to do all six in one calendar year. It is completely optional to pay to join the official challenge, but if you need a little more help with accountability and want to donate to Big City Mountaineers, you can register online.

The six peaks in this challenge are very close to the San Francisco Bay Area, visiting almost every region of the community. Due to closures from wildfires, the 2021 peak lineup is slightly altered. Mission Peak in the East Bay and Black Mountain on the Peninsula were newly added for this year, replacing Rose Peak and Mount Sizer. The other peaks include: Mount Umunhum in the south, Mount Tamalpais in the northwest, Mount Saint Helena in the north, and Mount Diablo in the northeast. 

My goal for 2021 will be to complete all of the peaks by day hiking. The hikes range from 8 to 20 miles round trip, and up to 6,000 feet of elevation gain. Since I haven’t completed miles like that since my PCT thru-hike, I anticipate it being a worthy challenge! And, to make it a little harder, I’m planning to summit all of the peaks by June 2021, just in time for the summer season in the mountains.

COVID-19 has impacted all of our lives, some more than others. I am lucky and thankful to still have my health going into 2021. If you also feel thankful to have your health, I encourage you to set a goal like this for yourself. In my opinion, there is no better way to celebrate the “light at the end of the tunnel” than enjoying Mother Nature and reminding ourselves that our bodies are strong, capable, and resilient. 

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Emily "Squishy" Schrick is a Gossamer Gear Ambassador, thru-hiker, and lover of the Sierra Nevada. Read about her hiking adventures at https://backcountryemily.com and follow her on Instagram.