by Fletcher McDonald

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

 

I like the outdoors. I like walking. I like walking long distances, particularly in comfortable hiking boots.

This may have been how distance hiking got started. Or at least how I got started distance hiking.

Since the distance is longer, be prepared. Below is a good, scenic distance hike that I think you will enjoy. Below that is a short write-up on calculating the distance and supplies needed.

Conundrum Hot Springs

Location: Conundrum Hot Springs in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado
Hike Distance: 17.0 mi., 8.5 to the springs.
Brings: Bring hiking boots, water, food, all in an ergonomic pack.

Conundrum Hot Springs was all the rage, still is; the high traffic has led the Park Service to require overnight camping permits to combat the heavy summer traffic, with a three day limit during summer, June 1st – September 1st, and a seven day limit otherwise.

You’ll move through aspen groves, across rivers and small bodies of water on wooden log bridges, and even ford one.

You’ll pass a pair of cabins, no longer in use.

The name gives away the amazing treat at the end, the highest all-natural hot springs in North America at 11,200 ft. Be wary; this hike involves 3,000 ft. of elevation gain and fording a river.

THE MATH: Be Prepared

A short hike takes much of the same prep that a longer hike does. Longer hikes are going to take more time, covering more distance; correspondingly, they’ll require more supplies and a little more preparation. I usually use a little bit of math to estimate hiking time and distance.

Assuming that I’m moving 2 miles per hour hiking on average, because of rough terrain and breaks, it will take me 5 hours to hike 10 miles. This is going to vary from person to person, but again, its better to have a generous estimate.

So for a 10-mile hike, it’ll take me five hours. If it’s ten miles one way, twenty miles total (say, a long fourteener), the return trip will take less – but since I’ll be hiking for so long, I’ll be taking rest and lunch and maybe even a dinner break. So I keep that 2 mile per hour average, and guesstimate 10 hours for a 20 mile round trip. You’ll need lunch, breakfast, maybe dinner, snacks, and plenty of water or a water filter.

A ten hour day is a long, long day; but you’ll have a hot spring to relax in, halfway through.

All of this was a lot of math. I’d rather just say, “Be prepared.”

Author’s note:

This is a destination hike, and one of the better in Colorado. Prepare so you don’t have to worry about anything else besides enjoying the sights and experience. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime hike. There isn’t much better, but even better; get a camping permit 😉

Happy Trails,
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:

“Conundrum Hot Springs – Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, CO.” Recreation.gov – Explore Your America, http://www.recreation.gov/permits/Conundrum_Hot_Springs_Maroon_Bells_Snowmass_Wilderness/r/wildernessAreaDetails.do?page=detail&contractCode=NRSO&parkId=156790.
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