Thinking of taking a hiking trip in the Colorado mountains? If you are a seasoned hiker, then there probably isn’t much that anyone can tell you about being prepared for emergency situations, bringing the right gear and making sure you have a backup plan. However, people who are just beginning to brave the adventures of the great outdoors could use a few pointers on the appropriate behavior and actions to take during a hike.
The mountains aren’t always sunny, but they aren’t always engulfed in snowstorms or avalanches, either. Needless to say they are not what you’ll find looking out your vacation condo’s window. The most important thing to remember about hiking in the mountains is to be prepared. Nature is not as predictable as urban life. It can change temperatures, climates and weather patterns in a matter of minutes. Sometimes it’s how somebody reacts to these changes that saves him from injury. This is especially true in the high mountains. A snowstorm can hit suddenly and bring freezing temperatures, high winds and so forth. So how do you prepare for any and every scenario? The answer is, keep it simple. You should only bring the basics – but remember, the basics can meant everything if you run into trouble. Here are a few things that are absolute must-haves out in the woods:
• Light and heavy clothing, such as jackets, tank tops, shorts and long pants.
• Good shoes. Too many beginning hikers make the mistake of wearing cute sneakers or stylish shoes into the woods. Don’t do this. Bring good hiking boots or tennis shoes that will keep your feet comfortable and protected.
• Food. You should always bring emergency goods. It doesn’t matter if you’re headed on a hike for 3 hours or 3 weeks – always be prepared for a scenario in which you can’t find food. Items like beef jerky, freeze dried meals, apples and sealed goods are ideal because they don’t weigh much but they’ll provide enough sustenance to keep you going.
• Bug spray. Think it sounds silly? It’s not. There are a lot more mosquitoes in the woods than in the middle of Denver. You’d be surprised how much annoyance and pain they’ll cause. It’s a good idea to come armed with plenty of bug repellant.
The Buddy System
There are plenty of basic items that you can find in your local hiking good stores. Basically, just think ahead and picture yourself in a situation in which you were lost. What items would you want to have with you then? Apply that type of thinking to your planning strategy. However, regardless of whether you are a beginner or a seasoned hiker, there are always several safety measures that both should use:
• The Buddy System. Even if you’re a loner, it’s usually a good idea to bring along somebody with you on your hiking adventure. Friends can help friends. If you get hurt, they can get help. If you’re lost, you’ll have support.
• Tell Somebody Where You’re Going. Let someone outside of you and your hiking partner know exactly where you are going and when you will be coming back. This precaution has saved many hikers’ lives. In Vail, Colorado alone, you’ll read about hikers being found just for this reason.
Chances are that your cell phone won’t work when you hit higher elevation. On the other hand, if you’re lucky enough to employ technology when you hike, bring these handy gadgets:
• Handheld GPS. This device will guide you through the mountain trails and lead you back home if you get lost.
• Electric Compass. Turn it on and you’ll be able to see exactly which direction you need to head in to reach your destination.
This mountaineering lessons are from Josey Wales, who can be found on a mountain-top in Colorado when he’s not remodeling one of his Vail rentals.