Be Nice to Box Canyon

Have you strolled through Box Canyon lately?

It’s one of my favorite places to go when I just have a few hours and need to get outside.

Our kids love climbing the rocks.

We love having picnic dinners in the canyon.

Or packing library books in to read as we’re perched on the top of a rock formation.

We go there at least once a week.

I love Vedauwoo and a walk through Box Canyon is the perfect place for families.

But lately I’ve been sad, and angry when I walk through the canyon.

Because of things like this.

Excuse me while I step on my soap box!

Why on earth do people feel the need to carve their initials into aspen trees.

Why?

Is it because aspens along the path are already scarred with graffiti? Why not add my initials too?

Why not add my initials too?

Monkey see, monkey do?

Tree carvings suck.

No.

No.

No.

It is NOT okay to carve into trees.

It’s called vandalism.

It’s called graffiti.

It’s not art.

It’s punishable by a fine, $325 for one family who thought it was cute to Instagram their family tradition of tree carvings on federal lands.

Wouldn’t it be great if they had a family tradition to clean up trails instead and didn’t turn aspen tree bark into their own twitter feed?

$325 is too light of a fine if you want my opinion.

Here’s what the US National Forest has to say about it, “Respect living trees. By carving or chopping into the trunks of trees, people unknowingly damage the tree by slitting veins right below the bark. These veins transport nutrients and water throughout the tree. If the damage becomes severe, it will deprive the tree of nutrients and food, and the tree slowly starves to death.”

We’re already dealing with a pine beetle epidemic. Why would we want to destroy more trees by being jerks?

There’s one problem with this.

The USFS doesn’t have time to patrol and hand out fines to people being jerks in our forests. They are understaffed and underfunded and doing the best they can with what they have and I think they are doing a great job.

Let’s help them by taking care of our local forests.

Let’s preserve them so our children’s children can enjoy them without seeing trees marred by jerks.

Let’s report anyone we see carving trees to the USFS and local authorities.

Let’s teach our children to be respectful of our natural world so they learn to respect it.

Let’s remind visitors to our local forests that this is our home and demand that they care for it too.

Because I don’t know about you, but I seek solace in the wilderness.

And seeing trees destroyed makes me angry, not peaceful.

Let’s be good stewards of the land.

{end of rant}

{thanks for tuning in}

{feel free to share this post and help get the good word out}

 

What You Need To Know About the Snow Survey Cabin

Last weekend we headed to the Snowies to celebrate our oldest kiddo’s 5th birthday.

We’re all about birthday adventures at our house and our kids are all about trying to stay in every single Forest Service cabin that exists.

The Snow Survey Cabin

So naturally we had to check out the Snow Survey Cabin on the back side of Medicine Bow Peak.

We’d heard great things about this cabin, especially in the winter since it has propane heat and lights.

But since we didn’t get up there last winter July seemed like a decent enough time to go, even though we booked our stay in recreation.gov several months ago to make sure we got it for the big birthday weekend.

Here’s a little synopsis of our stay and details about the fascinating history of the cabin.

 

A few things you need to know if you head there.

  • The outhouse is pristine, the most non-stinky outhouse ever!
  • The cabin is super clean and organized, a completely different experience than the Little Brooklyn Lake Guard Station which seemed cluttered and dirty after staying at the Snow Survey Cabin.  I don’t think any cabin in the woods is entirely mouse-free but there was no evidence of mice inside the Snow Survey Cabin.
  • The cabin is stocked with dishes, pans, and basic necessities. But don’t forget an axe to split firewood if you want to use the outdoor firepit, matches, toilet paper, and sheets for the beds.
  • The cabin has lights and heat, it’s almost too luxurious!
  • There isn’t any drinking water or a pump at the cabin, You could boil water from the creek or just bring your own water jug from home.
  • Make sure you reserve this place months in advance, it fills up quickly year round. When we called to get the code for the door we were also super impressed with how kind and friendly the Brush Creek/Hayden Ranger District office was so thank you for that.

More details and booking information can be found right here.

(p.s. We don’t get paid to review Forest Service cabins or anything really so do know that all of these thoughts are our own)

Have you stayed at the Snow Survey Cabin? What did you think?

The Sunshine After the Storm

When Al and I quit our cushy government jobs to move to Laramie to write trail guides a lot of people thought we were completely crazy.

I guess it’s time to confess.

Yes, we are completely crazy.

Who else in their right mind would move to a little town like Laramie, Wyoming and try to write trail guides for a living?

Clearly a few people without the ability to think logically.

In the past four years, Just Trails has grown from a crazy handwritten idea in a notebook to something that we’re proud of…a real small business that hasn’t failed (yet).

We’ve hiked thousands of miles, we’ve written thousands of words, we’ve mapped hundreds of miles of trails, we’ve had our ‘ups’ and we’ve had our ‘downs.’

We’ve earned money, we’ve lost money, we’ve learned along the way.

We’ve developed relationships with big mega retailers, and then watched them fizzle and die.

We’ve gained fans and followers. We’ve lost fans and followers.

We’ve written terrible blog posts and done embarrassingly pathetic gear reviews.

We’ve learned every inch of our favorite local trails. We’ve (okay, me) gotten hiking groups lost and then found again.

We’ve made a lot of bad decisions and big mistakes.

90% of our ideas have turned out to be terrible ideas but throughout all of this, we’ve let our mantra guide our work.

Let Us Help You Explore. 

It seems so simple, right.

But we try to live and breathe by these 5 words in everything we do.

This spring we thought we had turned a corner with Just Trails.

We had a glimmer of hope that we’d be able to press on and keep doing what we love.

We had a plan to grow and expand, a plan to expand our outdoor education offerings and for the first time in years we were totally excited about the prospects of growth.

And then something happened.

Last Sunday afternoon we were psyched to be at the Elevation 8076′ Celebration in Centennial.

We set up our tent, pulled out our trail decks, t-shirts and other merchandise and sat waiting to talk to people about our local trails.

 

elevation celebrationBut we didn’t see a lot of foot traffic and eventually dark clouds caused us to throw our products in the truck as fast as we could just before a gust of wind sent our event tent flying over two cars and down a parking lot.

As Al & I were trying to recover what was left of our tent it started hailing.

Meanwhile, a few awesome people were helping us deal with our tent, which was like a parachute in the storm and stash rain-soaked products and tables in our truck.

After several minutes of chaos Al & I sat, soaked and chilled to the bone in the truck.

the storm

I was on the verge of tears.

Al looked at me and said, “Is all of this worth it?”

I didn’t reply out loud but in my head I thought…

“Maybe we should just shut it down, maybe the universe it trying to tell us that Just Trails never was a very good idea. Whenever we get ahead and start to make a buck or two something like this always happens.”

We were in a bad place.

We were just 16 hours away from setting up for Freedom Has A Birthday.

Our expensive tent had two broken legs and was completely inoperable and all of our booth set-up was either destroyed beyond repair or soaking wet.

Could the show go on?

Would the show go on?

Or should we just call it a day, shut down the website and remember it fondly?

We knew that we had to try to make an appearance at Freedom Has A Birthday, after all we had already paid the vendor fee.

So we rallied, changed out of our wet clothes, unloaded our wrecked set-up in the garage to dry, headed to Walmart and replaced our beloved expensive tent with the second-to-last tent in the store.

IMG_2776

The best Walmart experience on my life.

And just like that we were back in business.

Monday morning found is in better spirits at Washington Park setting up for Freedom Has A Birthday and something amazing happened.

— Just Trails (@JustTrails) July 3, 2016

 

People stopped by our booth to tell us that they like our Trail Deck.

They stopped by to tell us that they love our website.

They stopped by to chat about hiking.

Freedom Has A Birthday

They stopped by to ask about Little Laramie Hikers.

Some Hike Like A Woman fans even stopped by!

They stopped by to tell us that they loved taking our Map & Compass and GPS classes.

They stopped by just because they’ve been reading the blog and wanted to say “hi” to us in person.

It was an amazing day.

And these were the most amazing socks we saw all day (thanks DuG)!

IMG_2784

We didn’t sell a record number of Trail Deck’s.

We didn’t sell out of Medicine Bow Peak t-shirts, or #takeahike swag.

But somehow, those dark clouds that were following us around the day before disappeared.

We recovered from what was one of the worst days in the history of Just Trails and by doing so we realized that we’re not going anywhere.

We’re here to stay.

Because you know what?

At the end of the day it isn’t about being able to earn a living selling trail guides.

No, that’s what our other jobs are for.

We’re about helping, inspiring, encouraging and motivating others to find their trail.

To get outdoors,

And to explore.

If we help just one person do that then we are doing exactly the right thing.

So thank you, our loyal readers and customers for helping us turn it around and reminding us why we do what we do in the first place.

You have no idea what it means to us to hear you say that you love our products and our website.

It means a lot.

So thank you, we mean it. Thank you so much.

“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

– Winston Churchill

And if you’re one of the one’s who helped us recover from the fiasco in Centennial we’re totally hooking you up with a virtual hug. Thanks SO much! We promise to pay it forward.

Book Review: Outdoor Medical Emergency Handbook

A while back we were given a copy of “Outdoor Medical Emergency Handbook,” Second Edition, by Dr. Spike Briggs and Dr. Campbell Mackenzie to read and review. Since then I’ve spent a little time with it and in general I’ve been very impressed.Outdoor Medical Emergency Handbook

This book is very well organized and everything from the layout to the binding and type of paper is designed to be used in the field.

I think the biggest advantage to this book is the extensive useof flow charts and it’s step by step construction.

This is appropriate given the book’s target audience of traveler since most injury situations in the wilderness are going to involve fairly long term contact with the patient while evacuating them or waiting for help to arrive. In that period of time, this book will help you to methodically work through the steps and make sure you are doing the best you can for an injured person.

Of course, this is all after you’ve dealt with any urgent, life-threatening problems.


At some points, I can tell that it is written as a reference for people with fairly advanced medical training.

Certainly beyond anything I picked up in my Wilderness First Responder Course. In fact, some of the things in this book shouldn’t be done except by people with advanced training and equipment.

But there are still many parts of this book that are still useful to someone with even basic wilderness first aid training.

This book seems ideally suited for any type of larger expedition or any type of a supported trip. Even if that support is just your own car while you are car camping. However, I don’t think I would carry it if I was backpacking with a couple friends. It’s a little bit too big and heavy for that.

If you do take this book on your next adventure, you’ll want to read through it first and become familiar with its parts.

It is written to be used as a reference but like with all reference material, you need to be familiar with the basic components to get the most out of it. This need is compounded in this case by the likelihood of stress and fear that can accompany wilderness injuries.

Finally, I would hope that getting a book like this encourages you to get some level of medical training. Rebecca and I are both Wilderness First Responder Certified. Medical knowledge is important for people who spend a lot of time isolated in the wilderness and no book by itself can make up for a course and practice. In contrast, having even basic wilderness first aid training will make a book like this one much more useful to you.

What You Need To Know About Medicine Bow Peak

So, maybe you’ve lived in Laramie your entire life and climbed to the top of Medicine Bow Peak dozens of times.

Or, perhaps you’re new to town and looking to learn more about this iconic peak.

Regardless we thought we’d talk about one of our favorite places (ever!) on the blog today, ‘The Peak.’

The best place to start if you’re looking to summit this peak is on our trail page, where you can learn more about the trek to the top and print off a FREE downloadable trail guide. We also have an entire map card dedicated to this peak our Trail Deck and an app and it’s mentioned in our e-book as well. So tons of resources right at your fingertips.

Please don’t be like the group we found last summer, lost and trying to navigate their way to the top with a bad map, that’s not fun for anyone!

WELCOME (3)

Now, I’m assuming you’re here because you already have your reasons for wanting to climb the peak but just in case you need some convincing here are 5 reasons why you should add this to your summer bucket list.

When you’re charging up or down the peak if you know exactly where to look chances are you can view some wreckage from United Airlines Flight 409, which crashed smack dab into the mountain during a storm in 1955. It’s a sad, but true tale.

But there have also been amazing things to happen on the peak, like an old fire lookout and the scandal that took place to construct it, or the first woman to ever “man” the lookout tower. You can read both of those stories here.

And last, but certainly not least. If you’re a parent the thought of climbing the peak with your children (especially babies and toddlers) might seem daunting. But I’m here to hook you up with a High 5 and tell you to go for it. I’ve climbed this mountain pregnant, with a baby, toddler, preschooler and I’m not that awesome. You can climb this mountain with kids of all ages. These tips will help.

Have questions about how to climb the peak? We’re always here to help. Hook us up with a note or send us a quick comment and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Top 10 Things You Need To Know About the Little Brooklyn Lake Guard Station

The Little Brooklyn Guard Station.

This iconic cabin in the Snowy Range is a place that you need to experience. I stayed at this cabin twice this winter and here are a few things that might help you plan a weekend there.

  • Book the cabin early. You can book it up to 6 months in advance, if you’re looking to reserve it for a special day then it might be worth it to get up at midnight to make your reservation. I’m not joking. Currently renting the cabin costs $40.00 per night. I did learn that if you change your reservation recereation.gov you’ll get hooked you up with a big fat fee even if it’s still months in advance. I want to say the fee $50.00 so beware of that little extra fee.
  • The cabin has 1 futon, 1 set of bunk beds, and 3 single beds. Say hello to the “hobbit bed”–fun for kids and that’s about it unless you want to make an epic bunk bed fort, which we did (of course!).
  • The cabin description on recreation.gov isn’t completely up to date. As of a few weeks ago there is no refrigerator or gas heating. Neither of which are a problem. If you go during the winter let nature be your fridge. If you go during the summer pack along a cooler and sufficient ice. The cabin does have a wood burning stove which can reach sauna-like temperatures, you won’t be cold in this cabin once you get that stove fired up.
  • There are mice in this cabin, so keep it clean and pack your food up well, especially at night.
  • Be prepared to ski or snowshoe in from October to the end of May. When we went a few weeks ago, I dropped Al and the kids off near the turn off to the Mountain Meadows Cabins and then parked the car at the Green Rock trailhead and skied up from there to meet them. It worked out great, especially if you’re heading in with kiddos who might be good on skis or snowshoes for just a mile or two.
  • Bring a sled in the winter, a hammock, fishing pole and a good book in the summer. The sledding might be the best part about staying at the cabin. This place has the most scenic sledding ever.
  • This cabin gets a lot of use and abuse, and I doubt that it’s high on the priority list for maintenance and upgrades. But it’s actually pretty clean–or was left clean the two times I’ve stayed there. I pack along sheets to cover the futon and beds, mostly because dogs are allowed in the cabin and I’m allergic to dogs so putting a buffer between me and any residual pet hair is a good thing. I also have a thing for cleanliness…so if you’re a neat freak or an allergy sufferer trust me, bring some sheets.
  • This cabin has a nice supply of cookware, pots, pans, cooking and eating utensilss, plates, mugs etc. So there’s no need to pack that stuff in or drive it in if you head there in the summer. But don’t forget garbage bags, toilet paper, and matches. Fire starter is good to have in the winter too. Previous occupants are supposed to stock the wood pile but you might find yourself stuck with wet or no kindling.
  • This cabin is not a place to go if you’re looking for peace and quiet in the winter. There is a lot of snowmobile traffic on the way to the cabin and around the cabin.  For the most part, we like snowmobilers, they make a nice packed surface to ski on and most of them slow down and are courteous. But snowmobiles are noisy and there is a constant hum of snowmobiles in the area during daylight hours. If you’re looking for solitude and quiet go in May when there’s still enough snow to ski or snowshoe in but not much left for snowmobilers.
  • Bring a hammock! I’m serious. The beams on the cabin’s porch are the perfect distance apart for a lazy nap in a hammock.

WELCOME (2)

Have you stayed at the Little Brooklyn Lake Guard Station? What advice or tips would you give to those who want to stay there?

Toddlers & Seniors Hit the Trail Together

A few months ago the Little Laramie Hikers, a local kid-friendly hiking group that I started a few years ago ran into another local hiking group at Curt Gowdy State Park.

We were at the Visitor’s Center gawking at the mountain lion and wrangling kids in the parking lot when the Seniors on the Go pulled up.

The were fit, energetic and headed out on a much faster and more rigorous hike than us.

I was curious about the group so I started stalking them on facebook. I learned that both of our groups had similar goals and objectives. And we both hit the trails every Friday morning.

-the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow-

When I timidly asked if they’d like to team up for a multigenerational hike they agreed. I promised that they could hike at their own pace but wanted to see what it would be like for our children when they showed up at a trailhead just to be greeted by friendly new faces from fellow hikers decades older than them.

Over the past year I’ve been reading and re-reading the book, How to Raise a Wild Child by Dr. Scott D. Sampson. In the book, Sampson describes the concept of being a “nature mentor”– or a fellow explorer to children.  I’ve sought out ways to try to be a better nature mentor through WY Outside, an organization that I volunteer with and teaching kids from Beitel Elementary School about maps. But the truth is, I want my children to grow up having nature mentors, or someone besides me or Al who can explore alongside them and teach them new things.

A joint hike with the LLH & Seniors on the Go seemed like the perfect opportunity to start building friendships between the children in our group and adults who value time spent in nature just as much as we do. Maybe some nature mentorships will form?

But I had my doubts.

Would anyone from the LLH show up if they knew we’d be hiking with senior citizens?

Would anyone from Seniors on the Go show up knowing that they’d be chased down a trail by preschoolers with sticks and parents with whining babies?

Would Seniors on the Go want to see wildlife? The only wild animals we ever see are 2-year-olds…

-the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow- (1)

But yesterday morning, the day of our joint hike, I watched the parking lot at the trailhead fill up and conversations begin as hikers unloaded their gear, hoisted babies onto their backs and headed down the trail. I knew that I was witnessing something amazing.

Laramie hikers were coming together.

We were connecting children with seniors.

We were sharing a passion for hiking and the outdoors.

We stopped together for a photo shortly after leaving the trailhead. Then we split into groups of those who hiked at an adult pace, and those who hiked at the pace of a toddler.

WELCOME

I’ll cherish this photo forever because to me this is what community is all about.

Thanks Little Laramie Hikers, for being awesome. I treasure our hikes together. Thanks Seniors on the Go for letting us join you for a hike, and showing our children that outdoor adventure doesn’t have age restrictions.

Here’s to many more hikes together!

 

Little Laramie Hikers: Come Hike With Us!!!

If you’re on our local trails on a Friday morning chances are that you’ve seen a gaggle of children stopping on the side of a trail to eat a snack, throw pinecones, or climb rocks.

Once a lady we saw on a hiking trip asked if our group was a daycare. Nope, just a bunch of kids and parents…

I’ll admit that one of the best parts of my week is our weekly hikes with our hiking group, the Little Laramie Hikers.

If you’re a parent with children who need to get outdoors.

Or a grandparent looking for something to do.

Or a childcare provider.

Or even if you don’t have kids but are looking to inspire a new generation to turn off the screen and get outdoors I’d like to invite you to come and join us on a hike!

We don’t hike far (most of the time). We don’t hike fast. And sometimes I think we spend more time stopping to play on the side of the trail than actually hiking down the trail.

But our goal is simple. To connect children (of all ages) with trails.

All of our hikes are free.

Most of our hikes are fun (every once in a while we enjoy an epic 2-year-old meltdown) 🙂

We typically publish our summer hiking schedule on our private group facebook page. But since facebook isn’t everyone’s jam I thought I’d publish our schedule right here for all to see.

Little Laramie Hikers

So here goes, the Little Laramie Hikers schedule for the summer of 2016.

***
  • June 3. Fairy Slippers Wildflower Hike with Seniors on the Go. Location TBA meet at the trailhead at 9 am.
  • June 10. Geocaching Hike. Meet at the Happy Jack trailhead at 9 am.
  • June 17. Lake Owen Hike + Playing in the Lake. Meet at the West Laramie Shell Station (2471 W Jackson St ) at 8 am or the Lake Owen Trailhead at 9 am.
  • June 24. Hike through Soapstone Natural Area in Colorado. Meet at the Barts Flee Market parking lot at 8 am or the trailhead at 9 am.
***
  • July 1. Safe Kids Hike. We’ll talk about hiking safety, practice getting lost and teach kids the Search and Rescue ‘hug-a-tree’ method during this hike. Have your children bring a whistle. Meet at the Chimney Park trailhead at 9 am.
  • July 8. Lone Pine State Wildlife Area in Colorado. Meet at the Barts Flee Market parking lot at 8 am or the trailhead at 9 am.
  • July 15. Libby Flats Hike. Meet at the Forest Service Visitors Center in Centennial (just up the hill past town) at 9 am. From there we’ll convoy to the point where we’ll start our hike.
  • July 22. Geocache Hike. Meet at the Vedauwoo Pay Kiosk outside the gate at 9 am.*
  • July 29. Saratoga Fish Hatchery & Hobo Pool Swim. Meet at the West Laramie Shell Station ( 2471 W Jackson St ) at 8 am or the Saratoga Fish Hatchery at 9:30. Bring a lunch & a swimming suit. This will probably be an all day adventure.
****
***
  • Sep 2. Raspberry Picking. Location TBA

A few notes about the group:

  • Sometimes we’ll change the location of a hike based on weather or trail conditions. This schedule is subject to change so come join us on facebook for the latest information and check out our calendar page for other local outdoor events throughout the summer.
  • I’d love to offer weekend hikes, but we’re busy teaching backcountry navigation courses on weekends…and I also work a pesky part-time job a few weekends/month. But often families will come up on our facebook page and invite others to join in on weekend hikes.
  • We try to be prompt with our schedule. Most hikes start at 9, we take a few minutes to load kids into carriers and get settled and we step off by 9:10.
  • Bring along snacks, water, appropriate footwear, hats and dress in layers.
  • Don’t forget your MBNF parking pass, WY State Parks pass or cash for a parking fee depending on where we are going.
  • We hike year round…well, we snowshoe and ski in the winter so come on out!

Questions? Let me know. 

Hope to see you on a hike this summer.

 

9 Things You Don’t Know About Just Trails

We’ve seen huge growth in our website traffic and Trail Deck sales the past few months so we thought it was a good time to let you in on a little behind-the-scenes stuff. So here goes…

9 things you don't know about

  • We’ll turn 4 this spring, maybe we should throw a birthday bash?
  • Al & I are both serial entrepreneurs. We have a million ideas but have to really narrow it down and focus on one or two projects at a time so we don’t get overwhelmed. It’s perhaps the hardest thing about owning a small business.
  • We currently operate out of our home office (ie guest bedroom) but we’re expanding and moving after the holidays. We’re looking forward to our new space, mostly because we’ll have room to maps out all over the floor and space for an intern or employee or two.
  • When we started Just Trails everyone thought we were crazy. They still think we are crazy, maybe we are. What do you think?
  • The mission of Just Trails is to help you explore. We hope we’re doing a good job with that. If you think we are (or aren’t) we’d love to have you tell us what we can do better, leave us a comment or shoot us a message. (rebecca@justtrails.com)
  • All of our focus right now is going to our Backcountry Navigation School, we’ve got big things coming this spring with the launch of our online navigation courses. We hope you’ll join us for a class.
  • We really are a family owned, operated and run small business. We hope to leave a legacy of hard work and stubbornness for our children and hope that Just Trails will be something that they can take over and manage and be proud of when it’s time for us to retire.
  • We still smile every time we sell a Trail Deck. We usually dance too, you should see our kitchen-floor break dancing moves 😉
  • We’re thankful for you, you have no idea how much it means to use that you download our maps, read our blog, take our classes and buy our products. Thank you so much!

How do I climb a 14er? (Reader Question)

Lately, we’ve been asked a lot of questions about things like gear, equipment and hiking in general. It’s awesome, we love being able to share our thoughts. Instead of keeping the conversation confined to an email or social media conversation, we’re going to start publishing more Q&A’s right here too.

At the end of August I headed to Colorado to climb Mt. Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln and Bross with a few friends. They were my first 14ers. I write a trip report over on our sister site, Hike Like A Woman and it’s been crazy popular. But it also generated a lot of questions about bagging peaks.

Now, you might have noticed that we don’t have any maps or trail guides published for any 14ers yet. The key word there is yet, because as we expand into Colorado more we’re going to be mapping and bagging more big mountains. Also, I think that the “rules” for climbing 14ers also apply when you’re climbing our 11 & 12,000 foot peaks. So, I thought it would be fitting to go ahead and answer a question about 14ers right here today.

HOW DO I CLIMB A 14ER

***

Today’s question comes from Rachel. 

“Hi Rebecca, I just read your blog post about climbing four 14ers in Colorado. I’m curious, was this your first 14er? I’ve never climbed one before but I’d like to. What advice do you have for someone like me?”

Hi Rachel,

That’s awesome, do it. 

Yes, I did climb my first 14er last summer. I’d climbed plenty of 12 & 13,000-foot peaks but decided it was time to tackle mountains the 14,000-foot variety. Now I’m afraid that I’m a little bit hooked…

Here’s what I did.

  • Research and find the perfect first peak. For me, it was the Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, Bross (the DeCaLiBron) because I wanted to get all 4 on my first time up. I recommend the website 14ers.com. It is super useful for trip planning.
  • Get in shape by doing a few good climbs before you attempt your summit, but know that even if you’re in amazing shape your lungs will burn at 14,000 + feet.
  • If you’re coming from sea level there are a few different schools of thought in terms of acclimatization, check out this post. Most important is to stay hydrated, well-fueled and to listen to your body and head down if you feel sick no matter how badly you want to summit.
  • Get an early start, if you’re hiking a popular trail near the front range be hiking no later than 5:30 or 6 am to avoid not just crowds (it’s like Disneyland up on some of the more popular peaks) but also dangerous afternoon lightning and thunderstorms.
  • Recruit a few good friends to join you, just for the fun of it.
  • Don’t forget to wear good boots that are well broken in, plenty of people climb in just running shoes but if you’re like me you’ll want the protection and ankle support that only a pair of boots can provide when you’re descending a scree slope. Also think about finding a good pair of trekking poles.
  • Choose your season, Aug, Sept. good months for climbing 14ers but some rad people ski up them in the winter too.

Thank you for the question Rachel, best of luck to you!

 

Have you ever climbed a 14er? What advice would you give?