Five Things to Know Before You Go Hiking

Hello!

Living in Colorado, I’ve grown up hiking but I only started doing it seriously last summer. I’ve learned a lot about how to do it safely. In this post I’m sharing my top five things to know before you go hiking if you’ve never been in a place with mountains before or if you just haven’t had much experience with hiking.

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      While hiking in the bluffs behind my house I found a couch that someone had hauled up on top of a cliff.

      The first thing you’ll need when you go hiking is a good pair of shoes. You’ll need something sturdy, with good arch support and deep tread so that you won’t slip around on the trail. I love my Saucony trail running shoes and my Merrell hiking shoes. If the trail is not too rough I sometimes hike in Tevas and Chaco sandals have an almost cult following here in Colorado. If you are doing multi-day hikes (also known as backpacking) you will eventually want to invest in a pair of hiking boots to support your ankles.

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      On the beach after hiking through Redwoods Natl. Park

      Once you have your shoes you’re going to need some clothes to hike in. Weather is extremely unpredictable in the mountains so you are going to need layers. I recommend a pair of leggings or shorts, a tshirt or tank top, a warm jacket or sweatshirt and a rain jacket or emergency rain poncho. Having the proper clothing to stay warm and dry will make your hike so much more enjoyable and is extremely important for staying safe because hypothermia can occur during any season in the mountains.

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      Hiking in Rocky Mountain Natl. Park

      Hiking can be very strenuous exercise and you are going to need to stay maintain hydration and nutrition. This may seem obvious but you’d be surprised the number of people who think a bottle of soda is all they need to take on a hike. For hikes two miles or less one way you shouldn’t need to pack much with you. As long as you are properly hydrated and have eaten well beforehand all you should need to bring is a water bottle and maybe a granola bar. For longer hikes or hikes farther away from civilization you will need a combination of protein, complex carbs, and simple carbs/sugar. I like to combine almonds, coconut flakes, and dried cranberries and a few m&ms never hurt either haha. If you are sweating and working hard water is super important but not enough to keep you hydrated gatorade works but I recommend throwing something salty in with your snacks and I like to use Gu gels that I get from REI. They have 100 calories in carbs and lots of salt and potassium. For longer hikes I like to use a 2 liter resevoir in my backpack to make it easy to keep drinking.

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      Mt. Quandary

      The higher in elevation you get, the stronger the radiation from the sun so pick a sunscreen with a high SPF and reapply often.

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Grand Tetons Natl. Park

If you go to any place with mountains from any place without them you are probably going to be making a decent jump in elevation. Altitude sickness is caused by lower air pressure and the resulting lower concentration of oxygen. The most common type of altitude sickness is acute mild altitude sickness which is serious but there are much more serious types that happen at very high altitudes that can be fatal. Symptoms of altitude sickness are a throbbing headache, lack of appetite, nausea, feeling weak and tired, not sleeping well, and feeling dizzy. Staying hydrated is super important for preventing altitude sickness and if you are at high altitude and feel any of the symptoms I listed or feel like you can’t catch your breath go to lower altitude, and drink water, you can also take aspirin or ibuprofen or something similar to help with any headache you might have. If the symptoms don’t go away after you’ve rested at a lower altitude see a doctor. If you come to Colorado from a lower elevation and want to do some hiking in the mountains spend a couple of days in a place like Colorado Springs or Denver and get acclimated to that altitude before you set off into the high country.

Do you like to hike? Where are your favorite places to go hiking? Tell me in the comments!

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