If you want to hike, Colorado is definitely the place to go. This state boasts up to 58 14er (peaks exceeding 14,000 ft) hiking trails for the true enthusiast-the most of any other state. There are trails for all skill levels from easy to very difficult. There are also many, many places to go for a simple hike/walk where you get to enjoy nature, fresh air, and get some exercise.
For those who haven’t done a lot of hiking there a few things to know in order to stay safe and enjoy yourself. This is also a good reminder for avid hikers. Sometimes we become complacent and forget basic knowledge that keeps us safe .
I have complied a list of tips, which hikers agree are a must-do.
1. Warm-up. Stretching increases the heart rate, temperature, and blood circulation to your muscles. Moreover, stretching increases the body’s flexibility and decreases chance of injury.
2. Start the hike off slowly. Gradually increase your pace as your body begins to heat up.
3. Allow the slowest person in the group to establish the pace. Let the slowest person lead the group. Injuries and exhaustion can frequently be avoided by letting young children and folks who are out of shape head down the trail first.
4. Plan the hike ahead of time. Make an itinerary and stick to it.
5. Stay on the trail. Don’t stray from the trail unless you possess excellent navigation skills and the area will not be negatively impacted by off-trail travel.
6. Travel in a group. This principle holds especially true during the winter and in hazardous terrain. Never leave a member behind.
7. Give your trip itinerary to a third party. Make sure someone knows where you’re going. Leave your trip information with someone a friend or family member, and contact them when you get back home from the hike, so they know you’re back safely.
8. Learn first-aid and basic gear repair methods. Always bring duct tape with you wherever you go. Duct tape can mend just about any piece of gear that you might happen to break while out on the trail. Don’t forget to bring a first aid kit! Finally, know what to do in case you and your group runs into an emergency situation. It is best to discuss your “emergency plan” before beginning a hike.
9. Layer up. Avoid wearing cotton because it loses its insulation properties when it get wet. It is best to wear polypropylene next to the skin because the material wicks moisture away from the skin and retains heat when wet.
10. Sun protection. Wear sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen anytime you go hiking.
11. Be aware of lightning storms. Most people don’t know this but lightning storms in Colorado can be quite serious. Colorado is 3rd in the nation for deaths from lightning strikes. If you see lightning while hiking use the “30/30 rule” count the seconds that pass until you hear thunder. If the number of seconds is 30 or less, seek shelter immediately. Stay put for 30 minutes after the last lightning flash or rumble of thunder.
12. Rest. Don’t overdue it! Allow your body time to recover.
13. Stay Hydrated. Drink sufficient amounts of water. Make sure you carry enough water to make it between destinations without running out of a safe supply.
14. Pack plenty of food/snacks. Energy and candy bars are some of the best foods to bring on the trail because they are packed with carbohydrates, which will give you the boost you’ll need on the trail.
15. Adhere to rules and regulations. Take some time to read over the rules and regulations of the area that you’ll be hiking through. Some areas might be off-limits to pets, camping, or open-pit fires.