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Tips to hiking in Colorado (beginner)

By Matt Payne, Examiner.com

In my travels, I’ve noticed that many people are unprepared for the rigors and particulars of hiking in Colorado. Having led many backpacking trips at Colvig Silver Camps, I taught the importance of what I call “the big three.”

1. Water!

Make sure you bring enough water for your hike. People often take far too little water on their hikes. I typically bring about 10 oz / mile of hiking. So if you are hiking 10 miles total, 100 oz. should be good. My preference is to bring a 100 oz. Camelbak and keep another 32 oz. Nalgene of Gatorade. If you are planning on hiking for longer distances or over multiple days, it is essential to bring a high-quality water filter. I used to rely on the emergency iodine water tablets, but I’ve learned that they do not properly kill Cryptosporidium, a parasite that can live in the intestine of humans and animals which is passed in the stool of an infected person or animal. Both the disease and the parasite are commonly known as “Crytpo.” It is also possible to drink too much water, known as water intoxication. As a general rule of thumb, the human body can typically only process about 8 oz. of water every 15 minutes. Additionally, if you are hiking at high altitudes and are not acclimated to that altitude, you will want to drink even more water than normal in order to prevent Acute Mountain Sickness or “AMS.”

2. Sunscreen!

Even in the winter months, the sun’s UV rays are extremely damaging to your skin. These UV rays can result in severe sunburns and possibly skin cancer, otherwise known as melanoma. It is therefore very important to ensure that you are properly applying a high quality sunscreen (SPF 30) at regular intervals during your hike.

3. Raincoat!

It is vitally important to make sure you bring a very nice nylon “shell.” A nice lightweight shell can stop the wind, keep you dry, and keep you warm, or even be used as a shelter during an emergency. Staying dry is one of the most important components to survival in the wilderness. My personal brand preference is North Face, Marmot, or Columbia. I also like to wear a shell that allows for a fleece lining to be zipped into it.

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