Derek Loranger

This Twitterview was conducted between Tim Miner (@TrailSherpa) and Derek Loranger (@100peaks) via Twitter on Wednesday, July 30, 2010 and is part of the Trail Sherpa Blog Series #hike2020.

Derek Loranger is the voice (or should I say “hiker”) behind www.100peaks.com and a great story teller.  I discovered Derek on Twitter (@100peaks) and read his blog regularly.  He recently posted a trip report recounting his trek to summit Mt. Whitney for the second time.  His account of the trip makes you feel like you’re there.  That’s a skill that many bloggers struggle to master.  But for Derek it comes easily.

Derek’s quest is to catalog 100 peaks around San Diego and turn it into a guide book.  If all of the trip reports mirror the quality of the Mt Whitney report, then it will likely make its way to the bookshelves of hikers everywhere.  I had a blast interviewing Derek for our #hike2020 series and the full transcript is below.

trailsherpa: Welcome Derek – you blog about your hiking adventures at http://www.100peaks.com – when did you start your blog?

100peaks: I started my blog in June 2009. I had a personal blog, but then I had an idea of doing a hiking-only one…

100peaks: I was reading hiking blogs, so why not make one?

trailsherpa: Well, your site is definitely one of my favorites. How long have you been hiking and how did you get started?

100peaks: It all started with my family. When I was a kid, we owned a trailer, and went hiking everywhere we went, mostly SoCal…

100peaks: We started a tradition of going to Sequoia every year w/ another family and we hiked all over that place. I was 5-11 years old…

100peaks: The most important factor was joining Boy Scout and having a great scoutmaster who organized some amazing backpacking trips.

trailsherpa: So where is your “neck of the woods” now?

100peaks: I am currently in mid-Northern San Diego, which is a great jumping off point for many of the hikes that I do…

100peaks: San Diego is great, because you have rolling grassland, desert, forests, seasonal snow, beautiful coastlines, and great weather…

100peaks: I grew up in Orange County to the north, but San Diego has a remarkable topography and is just so expansive. Plenty to explore.

trailsherpa: I agree. I lived in OC for a few years and made it south a few times. How often do you hit the trail?

100peaks: For 10 years, I had been a consultant and a small business owner, so my schedule was flexible. I’d sometimes hike 4x a week…

100peaks: I have recently accepted a position at a company for the regular 40 hours/week schedule while still wrapping up outside work…

100peaks: So my time hiking has been limited to weekends, which tend to be pretty busy. My ultimate goal with the new job is once a week.

trailsherpa: Well, congrats on the new job! What types of hikes do you typically do? Length, topography, difficulty…

100peaks: Hikes in San Diego can vary dramatically. Black Mountain in Rancho Penasquitos, near my house, can be a short, 3-4 mile hike…

100peaks: Whereas treks in the Anza-Borrego Desert SP, such as the hike to Villager Peak, are very demanding…

100peaks: Also, some of the peaks I’ve visited have less than a mile to the summit. The distance and terrain varies from hike to hike…

100peaks: Which is why I find hiking in San Diego so enjoyable and why I encourage people to get outside and enjoy it…

100peaks: As I drive around the county, I am continually telling myself, “I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”

trailsherpa: You certainly do! What is your favorite trail and how many times have you done that one?

100peaks: That’s a tough one! Especially since many of the peaks I climb are accessed via bushwhacking, rather than trails…

100peaks: In San Diego, one of my favorite hikes was pretty short and likely has a different flavor this time of year…

100peaks: It was an unnamed peak south of Julian that I still am not sure is on public land or not (there are many ranches there…)

trailsherpa: #hike2020 is about epic adventures. You recently posted about your second summit of Mt Whitney. When did you summit the 1st time?

100peaks: To finish the last question, (had a job-related discussion here), the hike to the peak, which I call Peak 4159, was gorgeous…

100peaks: And produced one of my favorite pictures in San Diego.  I still think about this hike, though I’ve done it 1x. #hike2020

100peaks: I summited Mount Whitney in August of 1984. It was a 9 day backpack from Cedar Grove to Whitney Portal. I was 12 years old…

100peaks: It was supposed to be a 50-mile trip, but was prob longer. I weighed about 130 lbs and my pack was 70lbs. I weighed it…

100peaks: The gear back then was heavy, the large propane cannisters and pots and pans, even my poncho was a pound or two…

100peaks: But it introduced me to the incredible scenery that the Sierra Nevada offers. That trip spawned a lifetime of love of that area…

100peaks: Making to the top of Mount Whitney at 12 was an achievement I will never forget.

trailsherpa: It certainly was epic for a 12 year old! What was your motivation for tackling Mt Whitney again recently?

100peaks: Ever since I came home from my first trip, I’ve had a desire to return. Over the last 26 years, I slowly drifted out of shape…

100peaks: Like most of us, I told myself that I’d get in shape next week. I had a wake up call on a San Jacinto hike…

100peaks: In January of 2009, I joined a Boot Camp here and got back into shape again. I felt like I could do more…

100peaks: I started eying the peaks in San Diego and then thought about Mount Whitney again. It was just a matter of doing it.

trailsherpa: How did you prepare physically for this attempt? Anything special? You’re not 12 years old anymore!

100peaks: Hiking 44 peaks in San Diego this past year, along with the boot camp really helped. But the last few hikes were longer…

100peaks: I did several multiple peak days that had longer distances at 9 and 14+ miles. I had intended to hike San Jacinto again..

100peaks: But life got too busy. What one should do is SoCal Hiker’s Six Pack of Peaks: http://bit.ly/9EpflY, which is really smart.

trailsherpa: Jeff (@SoCalHiker) writes a great blog too! He is my next interview for #hike2020 when he finishes the JMT.

trailsherpa: How did you plan your route for Mt Whitney this time?

100peaks: I didn’t want to chance the lottery and I actually wanted a back-country experience, rather than the crowds of the main trail…

100peaks: I considered the Mountaineers Route, but that last little bit could be tricky, depending on the time of year…

100peaks: But while reading a guide book to Mount Whitney, I saw another route from the south…

100peaks: It was easier to get permits and the description sounded fairly easy since his 10yo daughter did it while summiting some peaks…

100peaks: It was way more difficult than the book described. Some due to snow, but some was just incomplete info in the book…

100peaks: Regardless, the trip through Cottonwood Lakes, New Army Pass and Miter Basin was highly memorable…

100peaks: My favorite picture from the Mount Whitney Trip.  It was truly one of the best *and* challenging trips.

trailsherpa: What online resources did you reference to plan the trip?

100peaks: Mostly blog trip reports, and Google Earth with Topo overlays. I read many blog and looked at photos to get a sense of it all…

100peaks: The Google Earth Topo overlays have been extremely helpful in hiking in San Diego and to Mount Whitney.

trailsherpa: Did you take any special gear, food, or tools for this trip that you don’t usually take on other hikes?

100peaks: The bear canister, rented from REI was something new. Everything else was standard backpacking gear, as light as possible…

100peaks: For longer hikes, I take an external battery for my iPhone 3G, so that I can track my hikes without a complete drain…

100peaks: But it still ran out as I was going up Whitney. You can see from the maps on my Mount Whitney trip report.

trailsherpa: So what other equipment did you use to document the hike? Camera, video, gps…

100peaks: I use a flip video HD camera for the video and a Canon G11 for pics. I have been super happy with both…

100peaks: For GPS, I used Trimble’s AllSport GPS iPhone app.  It’s been working well for me…

100peaks: I only use it to track, not to navigate. For that, a trusty topo map and a compass will do.

trailsherpa: Did you face any unexpected challenges on this Whitney trek? How did you respond?

100peaks: We had to change our days at the last minute as we went over our route. We realized we needed to be home earlier before work…

100peaks: We moved it up one day, even though our permits were for a specific day, and we didn’t get to camp overnight the trailhead…

100peaks: This resulted in more elevation issues as we climbed New Army Pass. Our heads were pounding and had shortness of breath…

100peaks: We also encountered a lot of snow, especially in the north area of Miter Basin, that forced us to alter the route from the book…

100peaks: …and added miles as we scrambled over an intense ridgeline. We still could have used more days before and after the trip.

100peaks: We responded by just taking the trek one step at a time and hiking until dusk every night.

trailsherpa: Were there any tools or gear that you are glad you had with you on this trip?

100peaks: My compass really came in handy. Once we climbed the pass out of Lower Soldier lake, I was sure we needed to turn left…

100peaks: But I double-checked with my compass and I was completely off. We needed to turn right to head to Miter Basin…

100peaks: I was also glad that I brought a light fleece jacket with doubled as my pillow and kept me warm when it got colder than expected.

trailsherpa: I’ve had the exact same experience before. I also use clothing as a pillow – I use a stuff sack. Good trick to lighten the load.

trailsherpa: Anything in your pack that wish you hadn’t brought along?

100peaks: Nope. Based on my last several backpacking trips, I used EVERYTHING in my pack, with the exception of some nylon line…

100peaks: But I was glad to have the nylon line, just in case.

trailsherpa: Any ah-ha moments from your second summit of Mt Whitney?

100peaks: Just an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia as I ascended the last bit to the summit. The hut materialized out of the clouds…

100peaks: and I just felt a feeling of, “I did it.” I was pretty drained after three days of intense mountaineering…

100peaks: and I felt like I could do anything if I just put my mind to it.

trailsherpa: Do you plan to tackle Whitney again in the future?

100peaks: Yes, but it’s not a high priority. There are many other peaks, and many other places that you can get solitude…

100peaks: I am considering re-hiking the same hike that I did when I was 12, since it was more leisurely and was fewer days above the trees.

trailsherpa: Well, I have to say that your trip report was one of my all-time favorites. Tell everyone where they can read it for themselves.

100peaks: Thank you! It was my favorite trip, too. So much to experience in a short time. Mount Whitney trip report

trailsherpa: And where can people connect to you online?

100peaks: Always at 100peaks.com. From there you can connect to Flickr, Facebook, and a bunch of others, or simply read my blog…

100peaks: I write about a lot of local San Diego outdoors news, as well as gear reviews, too. I try to promote stewardship of our land here.

trailsherpa: I’m certainly a fan Derek! Thanks for the awesome report of your latest Mt Whitney trip and for taking time to share it here on #hike2020

100peaks: Thank you very much for the interview. I hope I was able to share some useful information.

This Twitterview was conducted between Tim Miner (@TrailSherpa) and Derek Loranger (@100peaks) via Twitter on Wednesday, July 30, 2010 and is part of the Trail Sherpa Blog Series #hike2020.

trailsherpa: Welcome Derek – you blog about your hiking adventures at http://www.100peaks.com – when did you start your blog? #hike2020
4:17 pm 100peaks: I started my blog in June 2009. I had a personal blog, but then I had an idea of doing a hiking-only one… #hike2020
4:18 pm 100peaks: I was reading hiking blogs, so why not make one? #hike2020
4:19 pm trailsherpa: Well, your site is definitely one of my favorites. How long have you been hiking and how did you get started? #hike2020
4:29 pm 100peaks: We started a tradition of going to Sequoia every year w/ another family and we hiked all over that place. I was 5-11 years old… #hike2020
4:29 pm trailsherpa: Interviewing Derek from www.100peaks.com right now on #hike2020 – just follow the hashtag on Twitter to see it live. http://fb.me/Du640LdA
4:30 pm 100peaks: The most important factor was joining Boy Scout and having a great scoutmaster who organized some amazing backpacking trips. #hike2020
4:32 pm trailsherpa: So where is your “neck of the woods” now? #hike2020
4:34 pm 100peaks: I am currently in mid-Northern San Diego, which is a great jumping off point for many of the hikes that I do… #hike2020
4:36 pm 100peaks: San Diego is great, because you have rolling grassland, desert, forests, seasonal snow, beautiful coastlines, and great weather… #hike2020
4:37 pm 100peaks: I grew up in Orange County to the north, but San Diego has a remarkable topography and is just so expansive. Plenty to explore. #hike2020
4:41 pm trailsherpa: I agree. I lived in OC for a few years and made it south a few times. How often do you hit the trail? #hike2020
4:43 pm 100peaks: For 10 years, I had been a consultant and a small business owner, so my schedule was flexible. I’d sometimes hike 4x a week… #hike2020
4:43 pm 100peaks: I have recently accepted a position at a company for the regular 40 hours/week schedule while still wrapping up outside work… #hike2020
4:44 pm 100peaks: So my time hiking has been limited to weekends, which tend to be pretty busy. My ultimate goal with the new job is once a week. #hike2020
4:46 pm trailsherpa: Well, congrats on the new job! What types of hikes do you typically do? Length, topography, difficulty… #hike2020
4:50 pm 100peaks: Hikes in San Diego can vary dramatically. Black Mountain in Rancho Penasquitos, near my house, can be a short, 3-4 mile hike… #hike2020
4:53 pm 100peaks: Whereas treks in the Anza-Borrego Desert SP, such as the hike to Villager Peak (http://bit.ly/cCRdTz), are very demanding… #hike2020
4:54 pm 100peaks: Also, some of the peaks I’ve visited have less than a mile to the summit. The distance and terrain varies from hike to hike… #hike2020
4:56 pm 100peaks: As I drive around the county, I am continually telling myself, “I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.” #hike2020
4:57 pm trailsherpa: You certainly do! What is your favorite trail and how many times have you done that one? #hike2020
5:00 pm 100peaks: That’s a tough one! Especially since many of the peaks I climb are accessed via bushwhacking, rather than trails… #hike2020
5:01 pm 100peaks: In San Diego, one of my favorite hikes was pretty short and likely has a different flavor this time of year… #hike2020
5:02 pm 100peaks: It was an unnamed peak south of Julian that I still am not sure is on public land or not (there are many ranches there…) #hike2020
5:07 pm trailsherpa: #hike2020 is about epic adventures. You recently posted about your second summit of Mt Whitney. When did you summit the 1st time? #hike2020
5:30 pm 100peaks: To finish the last question, (had a job-related discussion here), the hike to the peak, which I call Peak 4159, was gorgeous… #hike2020
5:31 pm 100peaks: And produced one of my favorite pictures in San Diego: http://bit.ly/96HSEN I still think about this hike, though I’ve done it 1x. #hike2020
5:33 pm 100peaks: I summited Mount Whitney in August of 1984. It was a 9 day backpack from Cedar Grove to Whitney Portal. I was 12 years old… #hike2020
5:35 pm 100peaks: It was supposed to be a 50-mile trip, but was prob longer. I weighed about 130 lbs and my pack was 70lbs. I weighed it… #hike2020
5:37 pm 100peaks: The gear back then was heavy, the large propane cannisters and pots and pans, even my poncho was a pound or two… #hike2020
5:39 pm 100peaks: But it introduced me to the incredible scenery that the Sierra Nevada offers. That trip spawned a lifetime of love of that area… #hike2020
5:39 pm 100peaks: Making to the top of Mount Whitney at 12 was an achievement I will never forget. #hike2020
5:40 pm trailsherpa: It certainly was epic for a 12 year old! What was your motivation for tackling Mt Whitney again recently? #hike2020
5:41 pm 100peaks: Ever since I came home from my first trip, I’ve had a desire to return. Over the last 26 years, I slowly drifted out of shape… #hike2020
5:44 pm 100peaks: Like most of us, I told myself that I’d get in shape next week. I had a wake up call on a San Jacinto hike… http://bit.ly/c1GWtS #hike2020
5:45 pm 100peaks: In January of 2009, I joined a Boot Camp here: http://bit.ly/dytCiC and got back into shape again. I felt like I could do more… #hike2020
5:46 pm 100peaks: I started eying the peaks in San Diego and then thought about Mount Whitney again. It was just a matter of doing it. #hike2020
5:47 pm trailsherpa: How did you prepare physically for this attempt? Anything special? You’re not 12 years old anymore! #hike2020
5:52 pm 100peaks: Hiking 44 peaks in San Diego this past year, along with the boot camp really helped. But the last few hikes were longer… #hike2020
6:04 pm trailsherpa: Jeff (@SoCalHiker) writes a great blog too! He is my next interview for #hike2020 when he finishes the JMT. #hike2020
6:05 pm trailsherpa: How did you plan your route for Mt Whitney this time? #hike2020
6:07 pm 100peaks: I didn’t want to chance the lottery and I actually wanted a back-country experience, rather than the crowds of the main trail… #hike2020
6:08 pm 100peaks: I considered the Mountaineers Route, but that last little bit could be tricky, depending on the time of year… #hike2020
6:10 pm 100peaks: But while reading a guide book to Mount Whitney: http://amzn.to/co865p, I saw another route from the south… #hike2020
6:11 pm 100peaks: It was easier to get permits and the description sounded fairly easy since his 10yo daughter did it while summiting some peaks… #hike2020
6:12 pm 100peaks: It was way more difficult than the book described. Some due to snow, but some was just incomplete info in the book… #hike2020
6:12 pm 100peaks: Regardless, the trip through Cottonwood Lakes, New Army Pass and Miter Basin was highly memorable… #hike2020
6:14 pm 100peaks: My favorite picture from the Mount Whitney Trip: http://twitpic.com/254ph4 It was truly one of the best *and* challenging trips. #hike2020
6:17 pm trailsherpa: What online resources did you reference to plan the trip? #hike2020
6:19 pm 100peaks: Mostly blog trip reports, and Google Earth with Topo overlays. I read many blog and looked at photos to get a sense of it all… #hike2020
6:21 pm 100peaks: The Google Earth Topo overlays http://bit.ly/cucO9T have been extremely helpful in hiking in San Diego and to Mount Whitney. #hike2020
6:21 pm ridgeley: RT @100peaks: My favorite picture from the Mount Whitney Trip: http://twitpic.com/254ph4 It was truly one of the best *and* challenging trips. #hike2020
6:23 pm trailsherpa: Did you take any special gear, food, or tools for this trip that you don’t usually take on other hikes? #hike2020
6:26 pm 100peaks: The bear canister, rented from REI was something new. Everything else was standard backpacking gear, as light as possible… #hike2020
6:27 pm 100peaks: For longer hikes, I take an external battery for my iPhone 3G, so that I can track my hikes without a complete drain… #hike2020
6:28 pm 100peaks: But it still ran out as I was going up Whitney. You can see from the maps on my Mount Whitney trip report. http://bit.ly/a67Bvo #hike2020
6:30 pm trailsherpa: So what other equipment did you use to document the hike? Camera, video, gps… #hike2020
6:33 pm 100peaks: I use a flip video HD camera for the video and a Canon G11 for pics. I have been super happy with both… #hike2020
6:34 pm 100peaks: For GPS, I used Trimble’s AllSport GPS iPhone app. http://bit.ly/cfvjCl It’s been working well for me… #hike2020
6:34 pm 100peaks: I only use it to track, not to navigate. For that, a trusty topo map and a compass will do. #hike2020
8:09 pm 8thousand: RT @trailsherpa: Great #hike2020 interview with Pamela Wilton (@8thousand) of 8 Thousand km Challenge if you missed it: http://bit.ly/cp4ySl
8:19 pm trailsherpa: Did you face any unexpected challenges on this Whitney trek? How did you respond? #hike2020
8:22 pm 100peaks: We had to change our days at the last minute as we went over our route. We realized we needed to be home earlier before work… #hike2020
8:22 pm 100peaks: We moved it up one day, even though our permits were for a specific day, and we didn’t get to camp overnight the trailhead… #hike2020
8:23 pm 100peaks: This resulted in more elevation issues as we climbed New Army Pass. Our heads were pounding and had shortness of breath… #hike2020
8:24 pm 100peaks: We also encountered a lot of snow, especially in the north area of Miter Basin, that forced us to alter the route from the book… #hike2020
8:25 pm 100peaks: …and added miles as we scrambled over an intense ridgeline. We still could have used more days before and after the trip. #hike2020
8:26 pm 100peaks: We responded by just taking the trek one step at a time and hiking until dusk every night. #hike2020
8:29 pm 100peaks: My compass really came in handy. Once we climbed the pass out of Lower Soldier lake, I was sure we needed to turn left… #hike2020
8:30 pm 100peaks: But I double-checked with my compass and I was completely off. We needed to turn right to head to Miter Basin… #hike2020
8:30 pm 100peaks: I was also glad that I brought a light fleece jacket with doubled as my pillow and kept me warm when it got colder than expected. #hike2020
8:32 pm trailsherpa: I’ve had the exact same experience before. I also use clothing as a pillow – I use a stuff sack. Good trick to lighten the load. #hike2020
8:43 pm 100peaks: Nope. Based on my last several backpacking trips, I used EVERYTHING in my pack, with the exception of some nylon line… #hike2020
8:44 pm 100peaks: But I was glad to have the nylon line, just in case. #hike2020
8:44 pm trailsherpa: Any ah-ha moments from your second summit of Mt Whitney? #hike2020
8:49 pm 100peaks: and I just felt a feeling of, “I did it.” I was pretty drained after three days of intense mountaineering… #hike2020
8:49 pm 100peaks: and I felt like I could do anything if I just put my mind to it. #hike2020
8:55 pm trailsherpa: Do you plan to tackle Whitney again in the future? #hike2020
8:57 pm gwjones00: Issue isn’t my mind. It’s my body! RT @100peaks: and I felt like I could do anything if I just put my mind to it. #hike2020
8:58 pm 100peaks: Yes, but it’s not a high priority. There are many other peaks, and many other places that you can get solitude… #hike2020
8:59 pm 100peaks: I am considering re-hiking the same hike that I did when I was 12, since it was more leisurely and was fewer days above the trees. #hike2020
9:01 pm trailsherpa: Well, I have to say that your trip report was one of my all-time favorites. Tell everyone where they can read it for themselves. #hike2020
9:04 pm 100peaks: Thank you! It was my favorite trip, too. So much to experience in a short time. Mount Whitney trip report: http://bit.ly/a67Bvo #hike2020
9:05 pm trailsherpa: And where can people connect to you online? #hike2020
9:06 pm 100peaks: Always at 100peaks.com. From there you can connect to Flickr, Facebook, and a bunch of others, or simply read my blog… #hike2020
9:08 pm 100peaks: I write about a lot of local San Diego outdoors news, as well as gear reviews, too. I try to promote stewardship of our land here. #hike2020
9:22 pm trailsherpa: I’m certainly a fan Derek! Thanks for the awesome report of your latest Mt Whitney trip and for taking time to share it here on #hike2020
9:25 pm 100peaks: Thank you very much for the interview. I hope I was able to share some useful information. #hike2020
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I'm the founder of Vestor Logic, the digital strategy and web design firm that created Trail Sherpa, ParksFolio, and Modern Steader. I'm a day hiker, top chef in camp, doting husband, and father to two headlamp wearing boys. My work in digital media brings those experiences to life.