Tips for Hiking Your First 14er

Tips for Hiking Your First 14er

ID-10029473Colorado has over 50 mountains that reach over 14,000 feet. Climbing these peaks, otherwise known as “fourteeners” (14ers) has become a goal for many outdoor enthusiasts in the area. If you are only a casual hiker, going that high can be daunting. Here are some tips and tricks to help you reach the peak.

Wear layers and the right clothing

Colorado weather is unpredictable as it is. Add in an increasing altitude, and you could run into all kinds of weather in the span of a couple hours.  Dress comfortably, and make sure to wear several layers that you can take on/off. Also wear clothing that won’t absorb moisture so that you stay dry and insulated.

Bring a backpack. Fill it with a lot of important gear

It takes a while to climb a 14er, and you’ll need supplies. Carry a backpack and include all of the essentials. This should include a water bottle, food, hat, sunglasses, rain jacket, extra socks, toilet paper and hand sanitizer (because there certainly won’t be bathrooms) and a first aid kit. All of these items are pretty light, and it’s always better to be over-prepared.

Wear the right shoes

Along with wearing the right clothes, wearing the right shoes is also important. Wear shoes that will stand up to dealing with different types of terrain. Hiking boots are idea, although a solid pair of sneakers will do the trick. If you need help getting the right shoes, go to an outdoor store like REI and ask for help.

Bring a map and compass

Again, this is the overpreparedness kicking in. Sure, you can follow the trail, or other hikers, or you might even get enough cell reception to use your map app. But it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Start early—cooler and less chance of thunderstorms

ID-100108173Hiking a 14er isn’t like going on a casual picnic. It takes times to climb up and then get back down. It can vary based on the accessibility and ease of the trails, but in general, you’ll need about half a day. Getting an early start is important in the summer. First, it’s a lot cooler. You can get your hike done before the thermometer hits a balmy 90 at 1 p.m. Second, CO is prone to afternoon thunderstorms in July and August, and the last thing you want is to be at the top of a mountain when it starts pouring.

Go with friends that are at a similar level of fitness and expertise

Hiking should be fun and going with a group of people who are at the same level as you can make your excursion more enjoyable. If you’re a pro, it might get frustrating waiting for a first-timer to catch up. On the flip side, a first-timer might feel extra pressure to overexert themselves if they go with someone who’s been hiking for years. Use to look for people at common skills levels and plan your trip.

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