By Matt Payne, Examiner.com
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.