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DAY OF YOUR HIKE

This is the day!  The day you are going to venture into the wilds of Boulder or Boulder County.  There are many questions.  When should you hike? What should you take?  What will the weather be like?  What will you see?  Many of these questions have been discussed in prior Discovery pages, so be sure you have read through them as well.  However, some would be good to review at this point.  Look at the weather forecast for the day.  Step outside.  Plan to layer if it's cool but the temps are planning to rise.  There's nothing less enjoyable than sweating on the trail because you wore too many clothes and forgot to layer.  The sun or lack of it can change temperatures significantly in the spring and fall.  How long is the hike?  Do you need to take a day pack or small backpack to carry extra water, a rain poncho, camera and energy snacks?  For my personal gear I typically have a ziplock bag for storing wallet, keys, cellphone, etc in case it starts to rain hard.  Rain can come and go quickly during the summer monsoon.  A little water never hurt anyone, but it can be murder on an iPhone or key fob.  

Resident of Brainard Lake Recreation Area

In summer months it's best to start your hike earlier than later.  Cooler temps yield quickly to the heat of the sun and the afternoon rains can come without warning.  If there's a threat of thunderstorms, you might consider rescheduling or at least taking a shorter hike.  It's exciting, but not in a good way, when you find yourself exposed on a mountain side with lightening strikes.  If it does rain while you are on your hike, trails generally drain quickly, but baby heads and other rocks can become quite slippery, so take care.  

Before you head out start your day off right with a good breakfast.  And begin to hydrate.  It's not a bad idea to get a bottle or two of water in your system before you hike.  Of course this can cause other concerns so don't forget to hit the powder room before you hit the trail!  Being at altitude also has a way of really ruining your day if you like to consume alcohol, so take care the night before.  Your best friend is H20 so if you are enjoying beer, wine or other, be sure to supplement consumption with water to avoid dehydration, headaches, or worse. 

Krumholz greets visitors to the sub-alpine zone

If the weather forecast calls for clear sailing, don't forget to cover with sunblock, wear a floppy hat, protect shoulders and sensitive skin, and carry plenty of water.  Twice what you would likely think you need is a good rule of thumb.  One of the items often forgotten in our house when we go hiking is hiking poles, so if you brought them don't forget them.  Also, if you downloaded a GPS app to record your hike, don't forget to start the meter before head out on the trail and turn it off when you finish!  I have done this and nothing frustrates me more than not having a record of my activity, especially if I'm mapping a hike for posting in Beyond Boulder!

When on the trail, remember, rest often if you start to feel winded.  It's not you, it's the altitude.  And while its effects are quick to come on they are also quick to pass.  Last year I hiked my first 14,000' peak, Gray's, and I remember the closer we got to the summit, the more frequent the stops we made due to oxygen deprivation, but also that the associated fatigue would pass quickly.  Walk slowly and carefully over rocky terrain, especially if it's wet.  And while it may seem counter-intuitive, more people get injuries coming down the mountain than going up.  So be careful on your descent and use hiking poles if you feel you may want the added stability they can provide.  Finally, don't rush the experience.  Take your time.  If you have children with you, or you are still just a kid at heart, play a game.  Start a scavenger hunt for a certain color rock, or something fuzzy, rough, bumpy or smooth.  Or stop and use the senses to listen, or look for things.  Challenge others to see them or hear them too.  Make up stories of what happened along the trail 100 years ago, or 500, or 4 million.  Use your imagination.  My favorite is the "Don't fall in the lava!" game.  There are so many baby heads and larger rocks on the trails in the mountains that you can often walk from rock to rock without touching dirt or grass, which is defined as the 'lava pit'.  You obviously want to be careful not to encourage someone who might not be able to play for fear of twisting an ankle, but kids and even adults love it.  

Also, if you have brought your pet(s) along for the experience check out our Hiking With Your Pet section for great info on how to prepare for their safety and resources in case you need emergency care for your four-legged friends.

Beautiful South St. Vrain Creek along the Jean Lunning Loop Trail (G.2)

While out on the trail, or at the trailhead, you may see postings or evidence of bears and mountain lions.  You may even be lucky enough to see one of these great creatures, although it's not a frequent occurrence.  They are native inhabitants of the Rockies.  They are not to be feared, but to be respected.  None of these creatures want contact with humans any more than you want contact with them.  If you happen to come upon a bear or mountain lion while hiking there are several things you should know, all mentioned in this great Boulder webpage.

Regardless of which trail you hike, what the weather is like that day, how many times you stop to look around or just catch your breath, we sincerely hope you have a wonderful time.  And we hope you might, when you are back home from your visit and thinking about your hikes, drop us an note at our email below and tell us if you have any comments, ideas or suggestions on how we can make Beyond Boulder better for your next visit and for others. 

So... let's go find your first hike!