Meghan Hicks – Nolan’s 14 2016

By on September 8, 2016 | 2 comments

Starting at 5 a.m. MDT on Friday, September 9, iRunFar’s Meghan Hicks will be setting out to take on Nolan’s 14 in Colorado’s Sawatch Range outside the towns of Buena Vista and Leadville. Traditionally, the goal of this project has been to summit 14 14,000-foot mountains starting and finishing at a pair of designated trailheads with the direction of travel and, indeed, the entire route being self-determined. Here’s a brief story of how Nolan’s 14 came to be.

While cell service is intermittent along the route’s crew-accessible locations, I’ll update this page as I can. I’ll do so in reverse chronological order. You can also jump down to her Spot tracker map.

– Bryon

Fish Hatchery Trailhead – 4:36 (59:36 elapsed)

At 4:36 p.m. on Sunday, September 11th, 2016, Meghan Hicks became the first woman to travel trailhead-to-trailhead (in her case South-to-North from Blank’s Cabin Trailhead to the Fish Hatchery Trailhead) along the Nolan’s 14 line in under 60 hours.

Meghan Hicks - 2016 Nolans 14 - Fish Hatchery Trailhead - Finish

Meghan after arriving at the Fish Hatchery Trailhead.

Summit Mount Massive (Peak #14) – 2:20 pm (57:19 elapsed)

Meghan Hicks made it to the summit of Mount Massive in 57:19:19 elapsed in her go at Nolan’s 14. The quickest a woman has ever reached her 14th peak in a Nolan’s 14 attempt.

Now, she’ll race back to the Fish Hatchery Trailhead to try and break 60 total hours.

2016 Nolans 14 - Meghan Hicks - Approaching Massive Summit

Meghan Hicks approaching the summit on Mount Massive, her final summit.

Mount Elbert (Peak #13) – 9:03 am Sunday (53:03 elapsed)

Meghan arrived at Winfield at 9:35 pm Saturday night. Summited La Plata at 1:41 am Sunday morning. Entered crew point between La Plata and Elbert at 4:00 am Sunday. Meghan summited Mount Elbert at 9:03 am on Sunday. She’s making good progress. She will make it to Fish Hatchery.

Sorry for the lack of updates… been pacing her all night. Time to chase her some more.

2016 Nolans 14 - Meghan Hicks - Mount Elbert Summit

Meghan atop Mount Elbert, her 13th summit.

Cholesy Lake Between Mount Missouri (Peak #9) and Mount Huron (Peak #10) – 4:45 p.m. Sat (35:45 elapsed)

Meghan came into our crew point at Cholesy Lake at 4:45 this afternoon after descending Mount Missouri with pacer Vince Heyd. She was eating well up top, but didn’t manage to each much at the crew point as she was battling some heat-of-the-day nausea. She says she’s having difficulty climbing, but that she’ll finish.

At the crew point, she mention that she got lost between Mounts Columbia and Harvard in the dark this morning and that was frustrating.

Overall, she’s not in great spirits, but still determined as ever.

Oh, and Spot is showing that she summited Huron at 7:35, so she picked up some steam on that climb.

I’m headed over La Plata with her, so I don’t know when the next update will be.

Meghan entering her Cholesy Lake crew point.

Meghan entering her Cholesy Lake crew point.

Meghan laying and eating at Cholesy Lake.

Meghan laying and eating at Cholesy Lake.

Meghan heading out from Cholesy Lake toward Mount Huron.

Meghan heading out from Cholesy Lake toward Mount Huron.

Mount Belford (Peak #9) – 1:37 p.m. Sat (32:37 elapsed)

Still no in-person news, but Meghan’s Spot had her over Mount Belford at about 1:37. That’s 50-ish minutes ahead of her schedule.

Mount Oxford (Peak #8) – 12:35 p.m. Sat (31:35 elapsed)

I’ve got no new in-person info, but Spot tracking shows Meghan summited Mount Oxford between 12:35 and 12:40. She’s about 50-55 minutes up on her conservative estimated pace.

On Up Mount Oxford (Peak #8) Update – 11:30 a.m. Sat (30:30 elapsed)

This morning’s update is a bit delayed as I’ve been scrambling for the past few hours. It turns out that Meghan’s still eating well enough that she’d run out of food on the five peak unaided stretch from Columbia (Peak #6) through Missouri (Peak #10). Vince Heyd is now climbing up Mount Missouri to bring her food atop that mountain or somewhere on the ridge to the east that connects Missouri, Belford, and Oxford.

Jumping backwards, Meghan navigated flawlessly up Mount Yale (Peak #5) after night fell last night. She arrived dead on at her crew’s location on the other side on a chilly, breezy night w incredible stars and a reddish half moon. A marten/weasel, owls, elk bugles, and a heart-attack-inducing ptarmigan kept things interesting. Meghan’s pacer for the section, Kristin Zosel reports that her own nausea and difficulty on the terrain likely slowed Meghan by 45 minutes on the section. Still, Meghan arrived at to North Cottonwood Creek about an hour ahead of plan. Throughout the section her mind was very clear, her energy strong, and her trail skills intact.

It looks like Meghan’s Spot failed up high on Mount Harvard. I’d speculate because of cold. It seems to be working again.

No more updates are likely until this evening. I hike into Clohesy Lake after Missouri but will be in cell service before heading over to Winfield after she cross Mount Huron (Peak #11).

Between Mount Princeton (#4) and Mount Yale (Peak #5) – 7:15 p.m. (14:15 elapsed)

I met up with Meghan after she came off Mount Princeton and onto the Colorado Trail. She was 2.8 miles from where the CT runs into County Rd 344. She was making strong progress, in great spirits, and enjoying the beauty around her. She said she did suffer in the heat of the afternoon climbing a steep gully up Princeton. It was tough for her to climb the steepest terrain. Somewhere high on the mountain, she said she lost about 15 minutes by turning too late to head for the Princeton summit.

She did have one scary moment when a boulder slid and trapped her foot. She said she tweaked her back a bit moving the boulder off her foot, but that both her back and foot are fine at the moment.

Overall on that last section, she was about 10 minutes quicker than her segment estimate climbing Princeton, but made up a stout 40 minutes on the technical descent before the easy cruise on the CT. She arrived at this, her second crew point about 1 hour and 15 minutes ahead of her conservative schedule. She spent a purposeful 10 minutes at the crew point before heading off into the night with pacer Kristin Zosel. She’ll be crewed again at roughly 2 a.m., six-and-a-half hours from now.

It’s unlikely that I’ll publish any updates until mid-morning local time on Saturday, as I attempt to catch up on a month of sleep deficit ahead of a long night of crewing tomorrow.

Meghan Hick - 2016 Nolan's 14 - Mt Princeton Surprise

I surprised Meghan on the Colorado Trail after her descent of Mount Princeton.

Meghan Hick - 2016 Nolan's 14 - Mount Princeton aspens

Per Meghan, it wasn’t pretty at all. ;-)

Meghan Hick - 2016 Nolan's 14 - Colorado Trail - Jus Running

Meghan coming down the Colorado Trail.

Meghan Hick - 2016 Nolan's 14 - Smile

Can’t beat a happy trail runner!

Meghan Hick - 2016 Nolan's 14 - Crew two

Meghan’s well looked after at her second crew point.

Meghan Hick - 2016 Nolan's 14 - cheeseburger

I can has cheezburger #1.

Meghan Hick - 2016 Nolan's 14 - cheeseburger 2

I can has cheezburger #2.

Mount Princeton (Peak #4) – 4:15 p.m. (11:45 elapsed)

Just got a text from Meghan that she’s coming off the summit of Princeton.

Between Mount Antero (Peak #3) and Mount Princeton (Peak #4) – 12:35 p.m.

Meghan came down from Mount Antero to a resupply point at Chalk Creek about 55 minutes ahead of schedule such that she arrived before her crew (that’d be me). (Doh!) She received some support from Nick Pedatella’s crew and, then, received her planned resupply from me. She’s moving well and in great spirits. Taking everything in stride.


Meghan getting resupplied at Chalk Creek. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell


Meghan heading our from Chalk Creek. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell


Meghan about to head up Mount Princeton. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Mount Shavano (Peak #1) – 7:20 a.m.

Meghan headed out from the Blanks trailhead precisely at 5 a.m. MDT this morning. She climbed well and easy, chatting along the way. Shortly before sunrise, Nick Pedatella caught up after starting his Nolan’s 14 attempt 3 minutes after Meghan. Nick, Meghan, and I went along together for 20 or 30 minutes before Nick gradually pulled away. Meghan summited peak #1, Mount Shavano, at 7:20–a few minutes ahead of schedule–and quickly moved off toward Mount Tabeguache via the ridge. (My run with her climb up Shavano.) (You can follow Nick Pedatella’s attempt here.)

Nick Pedatella - Meghan Hicks with mountain goats and bighorn sheep - 2016 Nolans 14

Nick Pedatella and Meghan run into mountain goats and bighorn sheep–together!–on their first climb of Nolan’s 14. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Meghan Hicks climbing Mount Shavano - Nolan's 14 2016

Meghan Hicks climbing Mount Shavano. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Meghan Hicks atop Mount Shavano - 2016 Nolan's 14

Meghan Hicks atop Mount Shavano. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

[SPOT only saves track data for a limited time and that time has passed, we’ve removed the map.]

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.