By Fletcher McDonald

trail·head
ˈtrālˌhed
noun
  1. the place where a trail begins.
    “we camped amid the pines at the trailhead”
                                             – From Google

The Trailhead is a multipart series on hiking from beginner to intermediate and focuses on preparation, sharing experiences, and enjoying the outdoors. 

See the other articles below:
#1: Starting Somehow, Somewhere
#2: Beginning to Intermediate
#3: Buying Hiking Boots
#4: Going the Distance
#5: 14,000 Feet Above the Sea

Hi there,

Hiking is an old pastime of mine, and I started hiking, camping, and generally wandering around the outdoors at a young age.

I started somehow, somewhere, probably in my backyard in Montana as a child. Odds are, if you’re reading this, then you’ll start hiking, too.

If you want to spend more time outdoors, lose yourself in the wilderness without getting lost, or think you may enjoy long walks on rocky mountain beaches, I wrote this article for you.

Your first hike can be intimidating. There’s where to go (Destination), what the weather will be like and how to dress appropriately (Conditions & Clothing), and other considerations (Other); hiking, like most activities, starts somewhere and that is always with the first step.

Destination
Hiking is a lot of effort, honestly. If you’re like me, then when you go hiking, you’re a little short on sleep. You might spend a lot of time traversing rough, rocky terrain. Most of the hikes I do are at least half uphill.

The other half is also uphill.

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I always want a hike to be worth it and an easy source of inspiration is Instagram or social media; when you get a chance, look at #naturephotography or #outdoors. There are truly a number of amazing destinations available; for Colorado, this is what I suggest for a first hike.

  1. Something local – an hour or two away. Let’s say, Rocky Mountain National Park.
  2. Something easy and most definitely picturesque; I live for those 10+ likes on the ‘gram, so let’s say, the Emerald Lake hike, starting at the Bear Lake Trailhead.

 

Whenever I pick a hike, I think about the length, elevation gain, conditions, and numerous other factors like wildlife. Emerald Lake isn’t too long, only a 3.1 mile round trip. It isn’t steep, gaining 708 feet. Right now, July 3rd, the weather is great. As for wildlife…

There aren’t any bears at Bear lake, and don’t feed the squirrels. 😉

Conditions & Clothing
If the forecast is good, you can wear workout clothes. Just to be safe, bring a long-sleeve shirt, hoodie, or additional layer in case the weather turns. This isn’t a long hike, so don’t worry about packing more than that. You can wear sneakers for most hikes, but if you think you’ll be doing more hiking in the future, I’d invest in good socks and a pair of hiking boots.

Bring sunscreen and apply it in the parking lot and every two hours or so to make sure you don’t burn. High altitude means less atmosphere and harsher sunlight. Don’t worry about altitude sickness. It has a long onset (8-96 hours).

Other Considerations
There are restrooms at the trailhead. Be sure to take advantage of this.

Always bring water and food. The dry air at high altitude will dehydrate you, so bring roughly 16 fluid ounces per person. For food, I prefer Cliff Bars. The Crunchy Peanut Butter is my favorite. You won’t enjoy yourself if you are hangry.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope it is helpful. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below! I’d love to hear from you.

Best,
Fletch

The Trailhead is a multipart series on hiking from beginner to intermediate and focuses on preparation, sharing experiences, and enjoying the outdoors. 

See the other articles below:
#1: Starting Somehow, Somewhere
#2: Beginning to Intermediate
#3: Buying Hiking Boots
#4: Going the Distance
#5: 14,000 Feet Above the Sea

References

“Rocky Mountain National Park (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, http://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm.
“Emerald Lake Trail.” AllTrails.com, 7 Aug. 2018, http://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/emerald-lake-trail.
“Altitude Sickness.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 7 Aug. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altitude_sickness.
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