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!

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t truly think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or yarn, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

Hiking Pikes Peak: My First Fourteener!

On Saturday, July 16, I hiked my first fourteener! A fourteener is a mountain that is between 14,000 and 15,000 feet in elevation. It was REALLY hard. The trail itself was surprisingly easy but the combination of altitude and sheer length of the trail made this a very difficult hike. This post isn’t going to be part of my Colorado Travel Guide series but I do plan to write a post for that series about the Colorado fourteeners after I have hiked a few more.

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Me and the ladies I hiked with

I hiked Pike’s Peak with three other ladies from my church. The summit is 14,110 feet in elevation and the trail is 12.7 miles long. My group started at the trailhead at 5:00 in the morning in order to reach the summit by early afternoon. Storms, especially lightning storms, are very common at high elevation especially in the afternoon. We hiked for about 3.5 hours and stopped at the halfway point, Barr camp to rest a bit and refill our water bottles. There is no running water on the trail that is safe to drink so bring a filter, or bring a lot of water. I drank two 70 ounces (two liters) on the first half and 118 ounces on the second half. Drinking lots of water is more important the farther up you go because it helps with altitude sickness. There is a stream at Barr camp where you can refill (with a filter or you will get giardia) and according to one member of my group there is a runoff stream a little ways down from A frame camp and off from the trail. It was dry when I was there so I would not count on filling up there. I didn’t start to feel the altitude until we got above treeline. After treeline you climb about 5,000 feet in 3 miles. Once I got to the top the altitude kicked I started feeling a bit nauseous and I was really tired but I never got altitude sickness thankfully. After hiking Pike’s Peak  I feel a bit more serious about hiking more fourteeners because I know how hard it is but I also am excited because I’ve proven to myself that I can do it.

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Me and one of the ladies on the hike

Here are my takeaways from the hike.

  • HYDRATION IS ABSOLUTELY VITAL! I drank twice my normal amount the day before the hike as well as during the hike and I attribute how well I did with the altitude entirely to that.
  • Eat something before. I carb loaded the night before the hike and packed lots of carby and sugary snacks to make sure I had enough energy but I wish that I had remembered to eat something like toast with almond butter before I left for the hike so that I had something in my stomach before I started.
  • Wear light layers. The temperature fluctuates so make sure that you can take things off and put them on easily.
  • Every time I stopped, my body could have kept going but I had to convince my mind that I could finish the hike. Your body can do a lot more than you think you can.
  • Whoever said that the 16 golden stairs were the very end of the hike lied because there are definitely more than 16 switchbacks before you reach the summit.
  • Mt. Bierstadt, here I come!
  • Be prepared to hike all the way back down, or have someone drive to the summit to pick you up. Not all fourteeners have a road to the summit.

~Maizy

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t use all the time and think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

Colorado Travel Guide: Hanging Lake Trail

Hello!

The Hanging Lake Trail is a beautiful hike of a little more than one mile, located just off of eastbound I-70 about 15 minutes east of Glenwood Springs, CO. The hike is strenuous but doable for most abilities. The trail never gets hot, there is a thick cover of trees the length of the canyon, and there are benches spaced fequently throughout the length of the trail for the tired hiker.

The parking lot can only be reached from eastbound I-70 and fills up very quickly. I reccomend arriving before 7:00 if you want to avoid waiting in line. You can also park in Glenwood Springs, or any of three rest areas near the trail take the bike trail that runs along the Colorado River and connects all of those stops and simply lock your bike up before hiking the trail, if you decide to do this, however, you will need to be sure that you won’t be too tired to bike back to your car, and during the spring run off, parts of the trail are closed due to the Colorado River flooding the trail. Once you’ve parked, or bike to the Hanging Lake rest area there is a short walk along the same bike path that I mentioned to get to the trail head. The path is lined with wild rose bushes and other wild flowers and has breath taking views of the river and the Glenwood Canyon.

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The sun rise hits the canyon later than it does the rest of the world so you can leave Glenwood when the sun is up and still see the sun rise in the canyon (It’s stunning).

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trail

As I said before the trail is strenuous. This is what the most difficult parts of the trail look like up until the final strech. The last bit of the trail is in stair steps. The steps can be quite tall but there are not many of them and there are two places to step aside and take a rest, with more beautiful views of the canyon.

glenwoodcanon

Once you get to the top of the stairs follow the walkway to your right and just around the corner you will see the most beautiful crystal clear lake that makes the whole hike all of the hiking and climbing worth it. There is a walkway around half of the lake with benches to rest on and places to take pictures and admire the lake and the waterfall that is its source.

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columbines
Later in the summer there will be yellow columbines growing along the lake!

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You may think that coming down will be easier than going up but while you won’t get as winded the steepness will be jarring to your joints so take it slowly and you’ll see things like this waterfall that you might have missed on the way up. The view is different in every season so the surroundings never get boring.

Be sure to also check out By Quiet Waters’ post about Hanging Lake, to find out about the short walk from the lake to Spouting Rock.

~Maizy

If you would like to read more from my Colorado Travel Guide series, check out my posts one Estes Park, CO pt. 1 and pt. 2, the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory, and Bishop’s Castle.

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t use all the time and think are really great; you know I’m classier than that;). However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.