If you plan to get high in the front range, the “Hiking Essentials” Guide can be your best friend. In less than five minutes, you can learn how to build your body, prepare for hiking, my tested list of gadgets, and recommendations on what to do after the hike. Whether you are a beginner or an avid hiker, you will find a few good tips.
So, let’s go!
How Did a City Kid Wind Up In A Rural Colorado Ski Mountain Town?
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity
I’ve spent most of my life in cities and have never been an outdoor kid. Hiking was not a part of our family or social culture. Tashkent, Uzbekistan, was my birthplace. I lived in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Bukhara, Dushanbe, and New York cities. My folks were cultural people. We often ventured out to museums, restaurants, and Sochi beaches.
When I turned 22, I ventured out on my first hike. Why? Simple, I saw an article about Alicia Silverstone in the fitness magazine. She looked so fit and happy hiking with her dog. I wanted to be her! However, none of my friends were outdoorsy types. Finally, I met one dude who was into hiking. And he took me on my first hiking trip. I was out of shape (about 35 pounds from my current weight). Not to mention, I was still smoking and drinking. And, I didn’t have enough water, I wore tennis shoes. We got lost. In other words, it was love at first sight.
Grand Canyon Adventures
At 26, I met my future husband. He took me on my first camping trip to Grand Canyon. At the same time, my husband introduced me to the beat generation. As I delved into “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac, I wanted to explore America. So, we ventured out on road trips through Hawaii, Arizona, and California. We hiked through the Seira Nevada mountains, camped at Grand Canyon, explored the weird roads of Sedona, hugged Sequoia and Redwood trees, breathed in the big sir air, and ventured out to the hidden shores of Hawaii.
At 32, I attended a therapeutic Yoga Jornal conference at Estes Park in Colorado. Over the next five years, I dreamed of moving away from the hustle and bustle of New York City. Finally, my hubby and I leaped and moved to the Rockies in 2012.
Over the last 5 years, I’ve logged about 2,000 miles or about 900 hikes. Some really short and sweet. With the longest hike at 12 miles so far. I’ve hiked with professional guides and friends. But lately, I’ve been hiking solo or with my dog, Rocky.
So, in the following article, I would like to share a few hacks I’ve learned in my years of hiking.
What is hiking?
Keep close to Nature’s heart and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
To me, a hiking trip is just like life. You prepare, learn, research, take action, overcome your fears and go, go, go.
If you stay present on the journey, you will take in the glamor every step of the way; you will forget about the summit. When you at the peak, you will take in the beauty, give yourself some credit and let it go.
Hiking developed in the 18th-century. It arose because of changing attitudes to the landscape and nature associated with the Romantic movement. Before that, walking generally indicated poverty. In fact, I’ve never heard of hiking until I came to New York.
So, Hiking is an outdoor activity where you walk on hiking trails. Hiking is typically grouped into three categories:
- Day hiking
- Multi-day hikes
- Backpacking or a multi-day hiking expedition
In the following guide, I will talk here about day hikes at higher altitudes (8,000ft+).
-Part I –
Get Fit For Hiking.
Commit to the fitness regime daily. You can build strength, flexibility and get fit for hiking in just 30 minutes per day. Do it the first thing in the morning. Find a place where you won’t be interrupted. Disconnect your phone and put your mind entirely into it. Work on your breathing, build strength and flexibility gradually over the course of months to come [plan on 3 to 6 months for the best results]. Keep it simple. Increase your intensity in training by 4% daily.
- Inner thigh
7. Hiking Essentials Gear
Over the course of the last five years, I’ve invested in excellent gear.
If you are just starting, don’t go crazy with gear. Make sure to invest in good hiking shoes and socks. You can buy cheap poles on eBay. After you put in some mileage, you can upgrade your gear.
Here is My Gadget List:
- KEEN Voyageur Mid Hiking Boots – break them out by wearing them on walks. You must buy good hiking boots! I have funky feet, and I’ve been buying a new pair of the same hiking boots every two years. My shoes last about two years. I would recommend going to the REI store and trying on different boots. Always test your boots before heading out on a longer hike. Never go on a hike with brand new shoes.
- Leki Micro Vario Ti Cor-Tec Trekking Pole– my first pair cost about $15. They were OK. But, I think it is worth investing in good hiking poles.
- Gregory J38 Pack Backpack – I loosen all straps first before putting it on. First, I tighten the hip belt right on my hips (it also helps to engage the core). Secondly, tighten the shoulder straps (beware of boobs). Thirdly, adjust the shoulder lifters (by your shoulders). The sternum strap shouldn’t be super tight.
- Sawyer water filter – the best thing that ever happened to me. I drink a ton on the trail. This water filter is easy to use and very light. Always check your filter before you head out. Make sure to clean it and store it in a place with temperate above freezing. Running out of water (happened to me) is one of the worst things on the trail. Also, have a few water filtration back-up.
- Whistle – I’ve never used it so far. But, just in case if I see a bear.
- Bear Spray – I’ve never used on the trail [yet]. But I tried it by in the backyard. This one is super strong. I hope I never have to use it. However, we have lots of bears here. Typically, they just ran away from me. However, I feel safer carrying it with me just in case.
- I carry Spikes most of the time. I hate slipping and sliding.
- Personal Beacon
- Topographical map and compass. Click here for an online course on how to use the map.
- GPS – click here for the REI guide on how to choose GPS. I am saving up for the GPS with a beacon. The Garmin GPS is about $450.00 plus monthly fees. I might just end up getting a beacon.
- AllTrails App – easy to use with more than 50,000 trails across North America! I look for the trail the day before, read the review, mileage, etc. On the hike, I select the trail, hit the record button, and it tells me how far I am from the top or if I am off-trail.
- First Aid Kit – hiking essentials.
8. What to Wear?
Never wear cotton. If you sweat, cotton doesn’t absorb moisture well. So, you can get sick. Instead, wear breathable synthetic and wool fabrics.
- Sunblock – never go hiking without sunscreen. Reapply every two hours.
- Smartwool Hike Medium Crew Socks – I have about 10 pairs of this kind, wash in the cold, air dry.
- Long Sleeve Shirt – it gets very sunny here. I would hate to have my arms exposed. There is a danger of skin cancer, dark lines, and wrinkles.
- Prana Sage Convertible Pants – I have five pairs of hiking pants, and my favorites are
- Patagonia Barely Sports Bra – I’ve tried so many different bras, but this one is the winner. Why? Firstly, It has medium support with room to breathe. Secondly, [too many details, but] my nipples always get super cold on the trail. So, extra padding is awesome!
- Patagonia Active Mesh Boy Short – I just love them.
- Outdoor Research Spectrum Sun Gloves – I got a pair of sunblocking gloves, hate sun-spots and wrinkly hands:
- Smartwool NTS 250 Zip-T Long Underwear Top – I have 10 pairs of blue and red sweaters. They last forever. Wash in cold, air dry.
- Smartwool Microweight Long Underwear Bottoms – my knees and bum get super cold. Between November and June, I wear underpants.
- Rain jacket – always carry with you.
9. Do Your Research.
Look at the map, plan your hike. Check the weather. Have an exit point.
Treat outdoors with uttermost respect.
You can get lost, and you can get hurt; you can die. Always have an exit plan. For instance, what would you do? If you get lost? Know your physiology. For example, I don’t have the greatest sense of direction. If I get lost, I track back immediately. I always head out early in the morning before the thunderstorms. But, if the wind is blowing at 40 miles per hour, I would not risk it.
As far as timing goes, it typically takes me one hour to hike 2.5 miles. I add one hour for a 1,300 ft elevation climb.
I eat a whole-food plant-based diet. For me, it is better to eat a bit less before I head out and add more food as I progress into the hike. Otherwise, I feel too stuffed, and it is hard to hike and use my core with a full stomach. So, I typically prepare my meals the day before and buy in bulk.
- Breakfast Ideas
- Soul Sprout Nut Bar Variety Pack
- PROBAR Meal Bar, Variety Pack
- Dry Fruit
- Easy Sandwiches (high-quality bread, Avocado, hummus, veggies, nut butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds)
It is always better to bring more food on the hike.
-Part II –
Let’s Go Hiking
Day of the Hike
I’ve been building my skills and endurance in incremental steps. I work out daily to improve my time outdoors. I see hiking as a lifetime fun activity. I am hoping to be able to hike when I am 90 [if I live]. So, little by little, from year to year, from mini-hikes to longer, more challenging hikes.
Also, I like to hike the same trail over and over. To get familiar with it. Not to mention, I am still working on my navigational skills.
Of course, there is nothing like challenging myself to higher altitudes and unknown terrain.
10. Never Push Too Much.
There were quite a few times when I was prepping for a hike for a few days. I would get to the trail but didn’t feel the love. I used to push through until I busted my knee skiing. Always listen to your gut, your intuition. Learn to discern between fear of the unknown and real intuition. Also, if you are hurt or the weather isn’t cooperating, turn around. Do it next time. It is always best to be to wait rather than to push it and die or get hurt. Remember, it is a real possibility!
11. Tell someone where you are going.
I typically send a text to my husband, including my departure time, a picture of the hiking trail, and estimated return time (always add 2 hours to what I think it would be).
12. Stay present on a hike.
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as the sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like falling leaves.”
– John Muir
Sometimes I have to write “present” in ink on my arm. Seriously, focus on the trip, don’t worry about how far the top or down is—breath in the beauty around you. Nature is amazing. A hike will end soon. So, don’t worry about reaching the top.
Notice flowers, trees, the sky above, the ground below. That’s the beauty of hiking the same trails multiple times. Once I know the timing, the route, I can really be one with the world, get lost in the wilderness.
My hike becomes very meditative. Also, one of the reasons why I love going solo. It is a perfect time to reflect and enjoy.
Take it all in!
13. Never feed or take close-up pictures of wildlife.
The moose from this picture actually got too close to our house. During the huge winter storm, our fence got much lower, and this babe just jumped over.
Sounds like common sense. But I am surprised how many people try to take an up-close picture of a moose! Seriously, stay away. They are not friendly. Wildlife is wild.
Of course, human food is not only bad for animals but dangerous. We really don’t want bears to be our pets.
14. Uphill hikers get the right of way.
My rule is if someone is going faster regardless of up or down, I let them go ahead. I get it. We all love taking pictures. But, don’t stand in the middle of the stream on the only available log to pass while people gathering behind you.
15. Don’t Leave a trace.
I carry little compostable or plastic bags to carry all of my trash. Also, use a rubber band to tie it. Otherwise, your trash will be all over your bag.
16. Be Quiet, Please!
Shouting isn’t meant for trails. I don’t ever listen to music, and I don’t recommend it to you either. Instead, watch your breath, listen to nature. Also, you should always pay attention to sounds [bear noise, thunder, etc.].
-Part III –
After The Hike
17. Roll & Strech
I love rolling out after my hike. In fact, this is the first thing I do when I get home. Next, stretch calves, hamstrings, and belly (upward facing dog).
18. Take Epsom Salt Bath
It really helps with tight muscles.
19. Eat Well
I typically like to eat a light meal, including cherries, turmeric, and ginger.
Sleep, read, and allow yourself some time off.
18. Share Pictures and Memories.
Share your photos with us.
What did you find the most helpful?