Tags Posts tagged with "Hiking"


By Matt Payne, 

This is the third and final installment of my tips to hiking in Colorado series. You can go back and see my beginner tips and my intermediate tips for a refresher course. These tips are for the advanced hiker, someone that is experienced with hiking and backpacking, and clearly understands the basics outlined in the other two articles.

1. Blister avoidance

If you’ve ever been on a long hike, you have probably had a few blisters in your day. Avoiding blisters is not as hard as it may seem. A lot of hikers swear by putting duct tape over their heels before putting on their boots. Some claim this will prevent blistering. Try it out  – you might be surprised. Secondly, wear liner socks. These help wick moisture away from your feet, making it harder for blisters to form. Lastly, wear good boots and make sure to break them in before you go hiking. This may seem like a beginner lesson but I’m always surprised to see people wearing flip-flops or tennis shoes on long and arduous hikes. Good boots provide ankle support and keep your feet dry. Additionally, Moleskin is a great product to use in the field if a blister should begin.

2. Research your hike before you go. Again, this may seem elementary, but you would be surprised at how many people just go hiking up into the mountains before actually familiarizing themselves with a map of the area. If you’re planning a long hike, take the time to look at the routes and trails and any escape routes you may need to use if the weather gets bad.

3. Avoid hiking in the afternoon above treeline. Lightning does not kill a lot of people in Colorado, but it does have the potential to. Lightning safety is very important and its also really simple. If you can, start your hikes as early as possible, even before sunrise. This will ensure that you are down from treeline before the afternoon thunderstorms. Granted, there is always the possibility for morning storms, so be sure to research the weather report before you begin hiking.

4. Pace yourself. The key to a long and steep hike is to keep an even and slow pace. A lot of difficult hikes are accomplished simply through mental endurance. A slow pace will ensure that your mental attitude is positive.

5. Learn wilderness first aid and bring a first aid kit with you. Wilderness first aid is a different type of first aid class that teaches you first aid techniques for wilderness situations. For example, you might learn how to create a sling out of materials found in the woods. You will also learn about how to recognize the signs of altitude sickness and how to treat and prevent it.

By Cecilia La France, 

Break up the Colorado mountain road time while heading to or from Denver this summer.  The Colorado mountains are breathtaking from the road, but are truly experienced when foot meets the trail and the pine fresh air fills the lungs.  Here are five beautiful hikes easily accessible from I70 between Denver and Grand Junction.  All of them are in-and-out hikes, accommodating to restricted time and energy available at each stop.

Beaver Brook Trail, up to 10 miles one-way, Exit 253 near Genesee

Beaver Brook Trail starts off downhill and is sheltered for the majority of its length by tree cover.  At its start, hikers have the option of following the Braille Nature Center Trail, which is nicely marked with guidelines and interpretive signage.  The Caesar Chavez trail option will connect back with the Beaver Brook main trail, but winds along the brook first.  After about a mile and a half, the route climbs and provides great outcrop areas for scenery.  The Gudy Gaskill loop offers addition mileage and views of Clear Creek.  Those hikers that make it past the 8 mile range will have some boulder stepping and maneuvering before they reach the Windy Saddle at the end of the hike.  Take exit 253, turn north on Genesee Dr. and turn right on Stapleton Rd.  Follow it 1.3 miles ahead as it turns to gravel and leads to parking areas.

Mt. Parnassus/Watrous Gulch, 4 miles one-way, Exit 218

Turn right and pull into the parking lot on the north side of I-70 that serves both Herman Gulch and Watrous Gulch.  When the trail splits early on, take the Watrous Gulch route.  Within a mile, the noise of I-70 fades and a well-maintained trail leads through the wooded cover.  This trail offers great variety because within a couple of miles, the tundra changes to tree line and above.  The trail fades as the creek turns west.  In order to continue to Mt. Parnassus to the east, hikers are off-trail through a grassy climb dotted with wildflowers.  This is the most strenuous part of the hike.  At the rewarding summit, 13,574 ft., several mountain ranges, ski resorts, and some of Colorado’s highest peaks can be seen on a clear day.

Lily Pad Lake, 1.2 miles one-way, Exit 203, Kid-friendly

For a quick lake trail, Lily Pad Lake can be accessed from a side trail of the Meadow Creek Trail.  Take the Frisco Hwy 9 exit and follow the trail sign on the roundabout on the north side of the interstate.  Within half a mile is a parking lot.  The well-maintained trail gains some elevation within the first half mile, but levels out for a short time at the Lily Pad Lake Trail juncture.  Several switchbacks and a stream crossing lead up to an open ridge area with great views of Lake Dillon and the mountains to the south.  Buffalo Mountain serves as the backdrop to the lake and is reflected on its surface on a calm day.  The trail continues another 3 miles through the Eagle’s Nest Wilderness.  See Summit County for information.

Pitkin Lake, 4.4 miles one-way, Exit 180

While passing or visiting Vail, get out of the crowds by heading into the Gore Range just on the north side of town.  The whole route to Pitkin Lake may take several hours and will test a hiker’s endurance, but the trail is rewarding enough without its end destination.  After taking exit 180, take the frontage road on the north side of I-70 to the east. Continue less than .5 mile to the parking lot.  Pitkin Lake trail climbs quickly through aspens and pines for over a mile, but then changes to moderate hiking through meadows and groves of trees.  The trail leads through the valley of two ridges with spectacular scenery on both sides.  Switchbacks and climbs in the last 1.5 miles eventually carry to Pitkin Lake, a clear mountain lake picturesque against the mountain ridge backdrop.

Hanging Lake, 1.2 miles one-way, Hanging Lake Exit (7 miles east of Glenwood Springs—Eastbound Exit Only), Kid-Friendly

This highly popular hike is worth the crowd.  Ample parking is available and a paved trail leads to the gulch.  From here, it’s over 1,000 feet up trail and rocky steps, across bridges, and to a boardwalk around a pristine lake fed from a waterfall backdrop.  The clear water reveals the trout beneath.  A short trip up around the backside of the lake reveals Sprouting Rock, a waterfall with a hefty shower.  Great views of Glenwood Canyon are spotted throughout the hike.  No dogs or off-trail adventures are allowed, though, due to the preservation efforts of the Forest Service.  See trail information and a linked map at the Forest Service Web site.

By Margena Holmes,

Everyone knows that exercise is good for you in many different ways.  It can lower your blood pressure, it can help you lose weight, it helps build stamina, and can help build muscle, and muscle burns more calories than fat.

Walking is an easy way to get exercise.  You don’t need any special equipment except good sturdy shoes.  Walking can be done almost anywhere-the mall, the grocery store, around your neighborhood, or around your office during your break at work.  If you need more of a challenge, or you’re stuck at a weight loss plateau, you can try hiking.

I recently went on a hike at the Ute Valley Park in Colorado Springs.  It was very easy to get to, and the park itself was beautiful.  The hike, on the other hand, was pretty hard for someone who has lived at sea level for her entire life until a year ago!  There are quite a few trails to hike on, and at first it seemed like it would be pretty easy.  The first part of the hike was fairly even and flat, but as we went on, it gradually got steeper and more rocky, but you don’t notice it too much if you’re looking at the beautiful scenery.

When you hike, the terrain plays a big part in how much you burn.  Hiking up hills, on rocky terrain will burn more calories.  Two hours, four miles, a steep uphill grade, and 8000+ steps, the parking lot was back in sight!  According to the American Council on Exercise, hiking burns between 4.5 and 6.7 calories per minute, so that adds up to approximately 1200 calories burned.

You may want to gradually work up to hiking four miles, hike at a slower pace, or hike an easier trail if you’re not accustomed to hiking.  Check with your doctor first before you tackle any trail, and remember to bring a bottle of water with you.

By Deb Stanley, 

If you enjoy lake hikes, make sure you put Maroon and Crater lakes on your “to-do” list. The hike is short, just two miles each way, but the scenery is amazing.

The hike starts at appropriately named Maroon Bells Scenic Area (directions below). Just steps from the parking lot, you’ll be treated to an amazing view of the Maroon Bells, two beautiful peaks in the distance. Both of the “bells” are “14ers,” meaning they are more than 14,000-foot high. Maroon Peak is 14,156 feet and North Maroon Peak is 14,014 feet. Take just a few more steps from the parking lot and you’ll be standing at the shoreline of Maroon Lake. Come on a calm morning with no wind and you’ll be able to capture a great shot with the reflection of the Maroon Bells in the surface of the lake. If you don’t go any further than Maroon Lake, you will be happy you took the time to see this incredible place. Friends will be very jealous of your photos. But if you’re willing to hike, it’s worth taking the trek to Crater Lake.

The path starts out flat along Maroon Lake. At the other end of the lake, the trail splits. Follow the signs for West Maroon Trail/Crater Lake.

Now you’ll get a taste of hiking in Colorado. The trail quickly becomes rockier and begins to climb through the forest. If you don’t live in Colorado, you’re going to think the trail is pretty steep at times. Don’t rush the hike, enjoy it. Look at the trees, listen for the birds and watch the people go by in both directions. When the forest opens up, this hike gets even better. Take a look at how close you’re getting to the Maroon Bells. You’re not climbing them, that’s a tough hike, even for experienced climbers, but your view of the peaks just keeps getting better and better as you hike the path.

About 1.9 miles from the parking lot, you’ll come to a trail split for the Maroon-Snowmass Trail. Don’t stop here. Follow the arrow for the West Maroon Trail, walk just a few more steps and you’ll be at Crater Lake. Crater Lake is amazing because it sits in a basin surrounded by spectacular scenery and tall peaks. The lake is shallow, but very photogenic. Again, if you come on a calm day, you’ll want to take pictures of the nearby peaks reflecting in the water’s surface. If you don’t come on a calm day, you’ll still be able to take pictures of the lake and the amazing views around it.

Crater Lake is a great place for a picnic lunch and people watching. There are two very popular hikes that go by this spot — the trail from Aspen to Crested Butte and a popular backpacking trail nicknamed the four-pass loop. Watch the people going by and try to guess if they’re out for a day, two days or longer. If you eat here, watch your surroundings. Even though this is a busy area, some of my friends saw a bear at the lake around lunchtime on a day in late July.

When you’re done enjoying the views and have taken all the pictures you want, return the way you came.

Details: The hike to Crater Lake and back is about 4 miles roundtrip with 600 feet of elevation gain.

Directions: From Highway 82 in Aspen, take Maroon Creek Road 9 miles to the parking area. Note, the parking lots fill up before 7 a.m. on weekends in the summer. There is a $10 parking fee. From mid-June to September, you can only drive to the trailhead before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. you have to take the shuttle bus.

By Matt Payne, 

I read far too many stories of beginner and experienced hikers alike getting lost or dying in the mountains. Usually the circumstances are all the same: the hiker was not fully prepared. These guides will give you the basic knowledge to prevent this from happening to you. Staying with the same format, this article will highlight three important tips to hiking in Colorado.

1. Wear layers!

Dressing in multiple layers is very important, regardless of the season. Your clothing should be made of a synthetic material, never cotton. If you’re like me and go for very long hikes, you may start hiking very early in the day and finish in the afternoon. Having a nice warm pair of gloves or mittens and a stocking hat becomes even more important if you’re planning on hiking at higher altitudes, irregardless of the season. Even in July and August, the temperatures above 12,000 ft. can be life-threatening due to the wind chill. Wearing layers and coming prepared can prevent and / or mitigate this.

2. Know your location!

Anyone interested in survival (which should be everyone) should make sure that they have the appropriate maps of where they will be hiking, especially if you are hiking in the wilderness, at high elevations, or far away from a large metropolitan area. My personal preference is to carry a GPS with me that has TOPO! maps loaded on it. I also would highly recommend that you learn how to use a compass and how to apply it to a Topo map.

3. Tell people where you are going to hike at!

It may sound simple, but letting your friends and loved ones know where you are going to be hiking and sticking to that plan is very important in the event that you get lost or injured. If people know where you are at and you do not come home on time, they can properly notify search and rescue teams of your general location. A friend of mine even goes so far as to send those people a full page email on his blood-type, allergies, medications, expected date of return, and search and rescue contact information for where he is hiking in case he does not return when he says he will. These steps will hopefully ensure that if you were to become lost or injured that you will be found and rescued in a timely fashion.

By Matt Payne, 

Imagine this scenario:

You get home from work on Friday night and get the urge to climb a 14er. Your friends you usually go with are all busy. You take one last desperate attempt to find a hiking partner by posting on, and to your surprise, 6 people respond wanting to go. You pick the first person that responds, meet them at the trailhead for Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point early Saturday morning and begin your long hike up to Lake Como. After you pass Lake Como and reach treeline, you begin the steep ascent of Blanca Peak. Your hiking partner, just feet in front of you, begins to have an epileptic seizure, causing you to go into panic. How will you respond to their medical crisis on the side of a 14er? Wouldn’t it have been nice to have been alerted of this condition up front so that you could learn how you should respond, or decline the hike altogether?

Unfortunately, scenarios like this are all too common in the high country. In fact, the above scenario happened just last year – the person with the seizure ignored pleas of their hiking partners to head back down and continued on after their seizure, and eventually required a helicopter rescue, but not after needing her newfound hiking partners to spend the night with them through a thunderstorm at 13,000 ft. These sorts of fiascos can be avoided if everyone involved as new hiking partners did some honest questioning up-front.

I am not suggesting that people with medical conditions should be avoided like the plague, rather, that careful selection and questioning of new hiking partners will afford you the time and resources to make important (and potentially critical) decisions on who to hike with or not. I’m going to be honest, I may be overly selective of my hiking partners. I’ve had one too many bad experiences with strangers to know that the best thing for me to do is to ask questions. Think of it like dating. Would you marry someone before dating them? Not me. Nor should you blindly hike in strenuous situations with people you don’t know (at least without some base knowledge beforehand).

Here’s what I’m suggesting – and I hope you’re still with me on this. Find out what kind of experience your potential partner has in the level of activity you are going to be engaging in. Doing some roped climbing? It may be comforting to learn that your partner actually knows how to belay. Climbing a long 14er? Get a feel for how many 14ers they have climbed and which ones. I’m not suggesting you be an elitist, rather, get to know the person’s experience and ability beforehand so you can A) decline the invitation, or B) know that you’ll need to take it slow, or step up your game (if they are a much better hiker than yourself).

Here are some questions I like to ask:

1. Do you have any medical conditions? If they do, this allows you to learn how this may impact your hike and/or your response to that condition if it should present itself during the hike.

2. What mountains have you climbed before (or hikes have you done, etc)? This allows you to gauge the person’s abilities and accomplishments. Someone with far fewer accomplishments than you may turn out to be a superior hiker; however, it may be useful to learn that they are afraid of heights before you attempt to climb Little Bear Peak.

3. What kind of pace you do like to hike at? This allows you to gauge how compatible you are with the other hiker. Perhaps you’ll need to agree up-front on a signal to stop or that you want them to wait up for you, etc. These are important things to learn.

4. What do you do for a living? It’s always nice to get to know the person you’ll be spending the day with!

5. Do you have (x, y, z) piece of equipment that we’ll need? This will allow you to make sure the person is prepared and if they need you to bring anything for them to borrow.

This all may sound a little silly to you, but trust me, you don’t want to find yourself in the situation I described above unwillingly. Your hiking partner’s life (and possibly yours) may well depend on how you select your hiking partner and what kinds of questions you ask before the hike begins.

And just to be clear, one last time: I am not suggesting you become an elitist. Just this past summer I hiked with two different people that I did not know before the hike, neither of which had hiked a 14er before. However, I had no reservations on hiking with them because I was able to learn about them and their abilities, health, etc. As it turned out, they were most excellent hiking partners that often left me in the dust!

Finally, I would also suggest that a simple round of questioning is a great way to break the ice and learn about the person. You never know, they may just turn out to be a friend for life!

By Deb Stanley,

It may just be one of the best problems to have, how do I find a good hiking trail? Colorado is a beautiful state with breathtaking places, but how do you pick a hike that’s not a dud? Here are some of the best places and hikes to consider:

Rocky Mountain National Park. There aren’t many dud hikes in the park. Mills Lake, Calypso Cascades & Ouzel Falls,  Flattop Mountain, Gem Lake, Bridal Veil Falls,  Nymph, Dream & Emerald Lakes,  Fern Falls & Fern Lake,  Finch Lake, Mount Ida,Spectacle Lakes, Ypsilon & Chipmunk Lakes, Shelf & Solitude Lakes, Jewel Lake, Timber Lake,  Arch Rocks/The Pool,  Spruce Lake, Alberta Falls, MacGregor Falls.

There are two wilderness areas just south of Rocky Mountain National Park, the Indian Peaks Wilderness and James Peak Wilderness. Both are filled with dozens of trails to scenic lakes and mountain peaks. Two of the easiest hikes to get you started in this area are Lost Lake and Diamond Lake. Or hike to Isabelle Lake, Mitchell/Blue Lakes, Crater Lakes, Forest Lakes,Arapahoe Lakes and Woodland Lake & Skyscraper Reservoir.

Want to try something different, how about hiking to an arch? There’s Harmonica Arch in the Pike National Forest, Royal Arch in Boulder and the Rattlesnake Arches near Grand Juction.

Interested in history? Then don’t miss the chance to see several homesteads from the late 1880’s and early 1900’s. Homestead Meadows is in Larimer County, just about 10 miles south of Estes park. There’s also the Shafthouse hike (a failed reservoir project) in the Pike National Forest.

Want something even more unique? Check out the dinosaur tracks at Dakota Ridge in Golden. There’s a castle at Lair O The Bear that you can see from the trail, especially in the winter when the trees lose their leaves. And there are the castle ruins at Mount Falcon. You can even hike to an old fire lookout tower on Squaw Peak near Evergreen or at Devil’s Head in the Pike National Forest . Or try a “hike” underground by exploring Fulford Cave.

Dreaming of climbing a 14er? One of the best for first timers is actually two peaks, Grays & Torreys.

Traveling to the high country? Don’t miss South Willow Falls in Summit County. Or visit Hells Hole in the Mount Evans Wilderness. In Glenwood Springs, there’s the very popular hike to Hanging Lake or try the trial at the next exit at Grizzly Creek. You can also hike to Doc Holliday’s grave and the Storm King Memorial.

While in town hikes may not be as exciting as mountain hikes, two of the best areas to hike on the front range are the Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks and the Jefferson County Open Space parks in Golden, Morrison and Evergreen. Boulder and JeffCo have informative Web sites with good maps and easy to use information on their trails. Hikers often choose Jefferson County hiking trails because they are so well marked, with easy to find and read signs.

Like waterfalls? Here are my favorite waterfall hikes and my favorite waterfalls to visit with little to no hiking. Here are some waterfall hikes: Bridal Veil Falls (RMNP), Alberta Falls,  Lost Lake (Indian Peaks Wilderness),  Maxwell Falls (Evergreen), Horsetooth Falls (Ft. Collins),Boulder Falls.

County Web sites: Boulder open space trailsJefferson County open space trailsLarimer County parks & open landsDenver parksDouglas County parks & trailsSummit County open space & trailsEl Paso County parks & trails

Federal government Web sites: Rocky Mountain National ParkIndian Peaks WildernessBrainard Lake Recreation AreaArapahoe & Roosevelt National ForestsPike & San Isabel National Forests.

State Web sites: Colorado State Parks Web site

By Deb Stanley,

It’s an amazing idea – did you know you can hike from Aspen to Crested Butte? The hike is 11 miles between trailheads.

On the Aspen side, the trail starts at the appropriately named Maroon Bells Scenic Area. Just steps from the parking lot, you’ll be treated to an amazing view of the Maroon Bells, two beautiful peaks in the distance. The peaks are both “14ers,” meaning they are more than 14,000-feet high. Maroon Peak is 14,156 feet and North Maroon Peak is 14,014 feet,  Walk a short distance to Maroon Lake and you’ll hopefully get a great shot with the reflection of the Maroon Bells in the surface of the lake.
While it’s tempting to linger here, there are many miles ahead, so start on the path along the lake. Just past the lake, follow the signs for Crater Lake. The trail becomes rockier and begins to climb through the forest. When the forest opens up, enjoy the views of the surrounding peaks.
About 1.9 miles from the parking lot, you’ll come to a trail split for the Maroon-Snowmass Trail, follow the arrow for West Maroon Trail, walk just a few more steps and you’ll be at Crater Lake. Crater Lake is amazing because it sits in a basin surrounded by beautiful scenery and tall peaks. The lake is shallow, but very photogenic. After the lake, the trail goes west just a short distance to the bottom of the Maroon Bells cliff face, then it turns south. As you hike along the bottom of the rock, look up for waterfalls created by the melting snow above. Soon you’ll find yourself climbing up a trail, then following a creek. About four miles into the hike is a wide stream crossing. This can be a dangerous spot in wet years. Note, at this spot you’ve climbed 1,000 feet of elevation gain. There’s another 2,000 feet to go in the next 3 miles, but for now, the path is still climbing at just a slight grade as it winds through the trees.

During the next three-quarters of a mile, you’ll going to start getting glimpses of red rocks up ahead. Suddenly, at about 4.8 miles, the trees open up, and you’ll get your first look at the scenic basin ahead. This is a great spot to just turn 360 degrees and enjoy the views in every direction. Take a photo and keep going, the views are going to get better. From here, the hike begins to climb and turn west again.

Soon you’ll come to a spot where you can see Maroon Pass. That’s where you’ll climb over the saddle to drop down the valley to the Crested Butte side. But to get to the top, you’ll have to climb about 1,000 feet in the final mile. Take your time, take photos and enjoy this spot. If you come in July, you’ll hopefully be treated to fields and fields of wildflowers in an array of colors.

At the top, you’ll be amazed by the incredible view of the valley you’ve just hiked and the valley on the Crested Butte side of the pass. When you get here, take a good look at the clouds and decide how long you can stay. If storm clouds are approaching, you’ll need to take a quick picture and get below treeline as quickly as possible. If the skies are clear, you’ll want to linger here, have lunch, take lots of pictures and maybe talk with the other hikers making this incredible journey.

From here, you can return to your car on the Aspen side for a hike of 14 miles roundtrip. Or if you’ve arranged for a shuttle or a ride on the Crested Butte side, it’s time to hike on. From here, the trail drops quickly in elevation as it winds through more fields of wildflowers. As you hike through the valley, make sure you take a 360 degree turn occasionally and enjoy the view in every direction. At one point, making the full turn helped us spot a waterfall.

From the top of Maroon Pass, it’s four miles and 2,000 feet of elevation drop to the trailhead at Schofield Park. You’ll know you’re getting close when you see an old homestead. If you look closely, you may even spot a second building here.

Details: The hike from the Maroon Bells Scenic Area to the Schofield Park trailhead is 11 miles with 3,000 feet of elevation gain and 2,000 feet of elevation loss. The high point is 12,500 feet.

Directions: From Highway 82 in Aspen, take Maroon Creek Road 9 miles to the parking area. Note, the parking lots fill up before 7 a.m. on weekends in the summer. There is a $10 parking fee. From mid-June to September, you can only drive to the trailhead before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. you have to take the shuttle bus. Learn more.

In Crested Butte, consider the short hike to Judd Falls. For more great hikes in Colorado and throughout the west, click here.

By Deb Stanley,

Need a trail? Pick one of these! I have them organized first by area – Jefferson County, Douglas County, Boulder County, Rocky Mountain National Park, Indian Peaks & James Peak Wilderness, State Parks, Colorado Springs, Pike National Forest, Summit County, Holy Cross Wilderness, Glenwood Springs, Aspen, Northern Colorado, Grand Junction, urban areas and others.

Then I have the hikes in different categories – waterfalls, homesteads, arches, fire lookouts, snowshoes and odd/interesting hikes.

Let’s go!

Jefferson County Open Space & nearby area:

Douglas County:

Boulder County:

Rocky Mountain National Park:

Indian Peaks Wilderness & James Peak Wilderness:

State Parks:

Colorado Springs:

Pike National Forest:

Summit County (incl. Leadville):

Holy Cross Wilderness:

Glenwood Springs area:

Aspen area:

Northern Colorado including Steamboat Springs & Fort Collins:

Southern Colorado, near Silverton:

Grand Junction/Fruita:

Urban trails:

Other areas:




Fire lookouts:


Odd/Interesting hikes you have to check out:

By Matt Payne,

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.

By Kathy Harris,

Injured or lost hikers. Trapped climbers. Missing backcountry campers. We hear the news stories all the time. And although we don’t like to think about it, those accidents can happen to any of us who live and play in the mountains. One thing you can do to help protect yourself is to purchase a Colorado search-and-rescue (CORSAR) card. For the cost of the card, you help make sure that trained and well-equipped search-and-rescue teams will respond should you become lost or in need of rescue.

Your purchase of the card is a contribution to the Colorado Search and Rescue Fund, which helps offset expenses that may be incurred if you ever needed a search-and-rescue operation. Many cities, counties and other types of special districts bill victims for expenses related to their rescue. If you have a CORSAR card, the Colorado Search and Rescue Fund will attempt to reimburse eligible expenses to prevent you from having to pay out of pocket.

The card is not insurance, however. The CORSAR website specifically states that “the card is not insurance and does not reimburse individuals nor does it pay for medical transport. Medical transport includes helicopter flights or ground ambulance. If aircraft are used as a search vehicle, those costs are reimbursed by the fund. If the aircraft becomes a medical transport due to a medical emergency, the medical portion of the transport is not covered.”

You can purchase a CORSAR card for just $3 a year, or pay $12 for five years.

NOTE: Anyone with a current hunting/fishing license, or boat, snowmobile or ATV registration is already covered by the fund.

Purchase a Colorado search-and-rescue card online here.

By Deb Stanley,

Thousands of people come from around the country each year to climb Colorado’s 14ers. A “14er” is a peak above 14,000 feet.

Depending on who you ask, you’ll be told there are 52, 53, 54, maybe 56 14ers in Colorado. recognizes 54 peaks. counts 53. Web site says to be officially ranked as 14er, “the peak must rise at least 300 feet above the saddle that connects it to the nearest 14er peak.”

So what do you need to climb a 14er? The two main categories would be fitness and gear.

Let’s talk about fitness first. While some people fly in from New York, Washington D.C., New Orleans and many other places and climb a 14er the next day, you should give yourself at least a couple days to get acclimated to the elevation in Colorado. Consider a hike at 10,000 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park or in Colorado’s high country to see how you feel. If you get a headache or nausea, it is time to descend. And while you may run 5K’s at sea level, hiking at 14,000 feet is very different.

Now let’s talk about gear. You’ll see people climbing 14ers in shorts, a cotton t-shirt, a hoodie and a single bottom of water. Bad idea. Cotton absorbs water and doesn’t dry quickly. Storms are a normal day on a mountain, you don’t want to be soaking wet and cold. The temperature is also a lot colder at 14,000 feet than your hotel room in Denver. has a good gear list  that includes rugged boots for the rocks and possible ice and snow, and extra food and water since 14er hikes typically take longer than expected. Here’s another gear list from that includes a list of cold weather gear. Think you won’t see ice or snow since it’s summer? There was more than 6 inches of snow in places on Grays & Torreys the first weekend in August in 2009.

Maybe the best advice is to remember is there is no such thing as a easy 14er. The Summit County Rescue group says in just one week in July 2009 they were called out four times. Rescue teams say that’s because people read Quandary is one of Colorado’s easiest 14ers and underestimate how difficult it will be.

When you’re ready to climb, here are two good Web sites with information about climbing the 14er peaks: peak’s page & peaks page. Want to bag two 14ers in one hike? Try Grays & Torreys.

Courtesy of

By Carri Wilbanks,

Headed to Aspen this summer? Well, after seeing this line-up of cultural events and outdoor activities you will want to head West to the Roaring Fork Valley!

Outdoor Plays by Theatre Aspen

Talk about a unique theater experience – Theatre Aspen’s shows are staged at beautiful Rio Grande Park, just steps off Main Street. Imagine a backdrop of Aspen Mountain and nights dotted with starts, all the while watching Broadway actors as well as local talent put on a tremendous show. Coming up this summer:

Les Misérables: June 21 – Aug 17

Fully Committed July 5 – Aug 15

You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown – July 11 – Aug 17

Theatre Aspen
110 E. Hallam St.
Aspen, CO 81611
(970) 925-9313

Adrenlaine Rush With Blazing Adventures

Keywords here: Rafting, Inflatable Kayaks, Jeeping and Hiking. Here are three trips offered from this outdoor adventure company.

  • Whiskey River: Get ready to get whisked away on this trip down the Middle Roaring Fork. Take the trip in either a ducky or raft, followed by a stop at the Woody Creek Distillery for a tasting of locally made spirits.

*Available Tuesdays & Fridays.

*Cost: Ducky’s: $112.50 per person. Rafts: $112.50 per person

  • Cathedral Lake Hike: Trek to a stunning spot with a guide to a lake which is named for its unique feature of a cathedral stone wall.

*Round trip distance: 6 miles

*Cost: $98.50 per person, includes lunch.

  • Standup Paddle Board Tours: Learn the latest way to ride the waves. Instructors will teach you skills such as balance, paddling techniques and safety moves. Expect a great core workout! Trip finishes with a riverside BBQ lunch at a private river park near the Glenwood Canyon.

*Cost $158.50 per person. Includes lunch, rentals of wetsuit, booties, helmet and needed gear.

Blazing Adventures
555 E. Durant Ave.
Aspen, CO 81611
(970) 923-4544

Discover Culture at Aspen Art Museum

The Aspen Art Museum continuously rotates contemporary art from artists from around the world. Head here to check out a few of the innovative exhibitions of the summer:

  • Lorna Simpson: Works on Paper

July 26 – September 22, 2013

Through drawings and collages, this artist examines ways gender and culture shape the experience of life in our contemporary multiracial society.

Aspen Art Museum
590 N. Mill St.
Aspen, CO 81611
(970) 925-8050

Connect with History at Aspen Historical Society

Learn the history of this 1888 Queen Anne style built by Jerome Wheeler. Inside you can find- Seasons of the Nuche: Transitions of the Ute People. The exhibit explores the past and present of Native Americans in the American West. The exhibit journeys through the loss of their culture, territory, language and forced assimilation and their position in the world today.

Open Tues. – Sat. 1 – 5pm. $6 adults, $5 seniors (admission fee also includes the Holden/Marolt Museum) Children under 12 Free.

Aspen Historical Society
620 W Bleeker St.
Aspen, CO 81611
(970) 925-3721

Step into Nature with Aces (Aspen Center for Environmental Studies)

Learn about ecology, natural history and stewardship. Here is the line up of ongoing programs:

Starting on June 15- travel along mountain streams, over ridgelines, and through beautiful valleys with ACES’ naturalists. Options include:

  • Aspen Mountain: tours offered daily on the hour from 10 am to 3 pm. Meet at the top

of the Aspen Mountain gondola.

Discovery Center in the Snowmass Village Mall.

the Maroon Lake information center.

This hike has it all: explore the historic silver mining ghost town of Ashcroft and wander up along Castle Creekon this a 3.5 mile round-trip hike. Includes a gourmet lunch at the Pine Creek Cookhouse.. $75 includes tour and lunch. (Unless ordering a la carte for $38).


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