Staci Borkhuis isn't one for staying inside.
The Minot-based chiropractor has hiked Mount St. Helens, an active volcano in Washington state. In May, she completed the Tough Mudder, a 12-mile obstacle course originally designed for British Special Forces.
That gauntlet included climbing 12-foot walls, running through kerosene-lit straw and crawling through tubes of ice-cold mud.
Staci Borkhuis trains with a weighted pack at the Minot Family YMCA in preparation for the Presidential Traverse, a challenge that includes summiting eight New Hampshire mountains in three days.
This morning, Borkhuis begins a task even more daunting. Borkhuis plans on tackling the Presidential Traverse, a grueling three-day journey that will - if everything goes right - take her to the peaks of eight mountains in New Hampshire's Presidential Range, including Mount Washington, the tallest summit in the Northeast.
If things don't go according to plan, the five-person caravan may have to turn back, or worse.
"Frostbite, hypothermia, the chances of getting lost due to whiteout conditions," Jim Gagne, who will guide the group, said of the potential dangers.
"We gotta make good decisions on when to turn around if anything like that happens. ... People look at it and see it's 6,288 feet and say, 'How dangerous can it be?' "
Mount Washington alone has taken more than 135 lives since 1849. The average year-round temperature is below freezing and, according to Mountwashington.org, today's strongest winds were projected to be up to 70 mph with a wind chill at 25 degrees below zero.
The mountain is also the site of the second-strongest wind gust ever recorded, when a 231 mph gale was measured in 1934.
"I was told to bring ear plugs because the wind is so loud at night you won't be able to sleep," Borkhuis said.
That concerns Borkhuis, but not to the point of aborting the mission. The owner of CornerStone Chiropractic decided at the end of 2011 to live a lifestyle her patients could look up to.
Borkhuis started setting and achieving physical and mental goals so that, at 32 years old, she could enjoy being in the best shape of her life.
"We do different testing in our office that focuses on a person's overall health," Borkhuis said. "We do physical, chemical and emotional tests to make sure people are taking care of themselves in all aspects.
"Most people at any given time aren't living up to their potential. People think that their health has to go down as they get older. That's not the case."
Borkhuis' workouts leading up to today's expedition consisted of one-on-ones with a trainer five days a week. Part of those exercises included CrossFit training, a daily routine of rigorous physical activity (the scheduled regimen for last Sunday included five rounds of seven-repetition 275-pound dead lifts, 30 squats and seven handstand pushups.)
To prepare for the elements, Borkhuis wore boots and a backpack loaded with up to 65 pounds of gym weights while climbing the Minot Family YMCA's StairMaster and walking the treadmill.
Talk about being ready for the task at hand.
"She came in gung ho from the beginning," said Rita Tescher, Borkhuis' trainer. "She just has that mentality that she's going to do very well. It's a tough thing that she's doing, but I don't think that's going to stop her."
Borkhuis is scheduled to take the Airline trail, which would take her to the following peaks, in order: Mounts Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Clay, Washington, Monroe, Franklin and Eisenhower. The huts that line the trail are closed, so the hikers must set up their own camps for two nights.
The items in Borkhuis' pack will be all she has throughout the excursion. This means carrying food light enough to haul but hearty enough to get her through the trek.
Borkhuis will bring Mars bars, protein powder and other energy-rich nutrition that is good frozen and won't weigh her down.
As for communicating with her husband, Bishop Ryan High School football coach Brad Borkhuis, while on the hike - that won't be easy.
"She most certainly can try," said Gagne, who has scaled the tallest summit on each of the seven continents.
But spotty cell phone coverage and the tendency for cell phone batteries to freeze during subzero windchills may make staying in contact impossible.
Brad Borkhuis may have to wait until the end of his wife's jaunt to hear her voice, all the while being unaware of her safety.
"You know, there is that degree of fear," he said. "But one of the things I always tell her is that there's a saying that courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is having something more important than fear."
Of course, there's no guarantee everything goes right. If one of the five can't handle it, the whole caravan will have to go back. Gagne estimates that only half of scheduled winter traverses end in success.
But Staci Borkhuis won't think of failures right now. And she hasn't thought of what's next.
If she gets through this task, though, there's reason to believe another adventure lies ahead.
"I'm the type of person that keeps challenging myself," she said.