Friends don’t let friends hike with bad maps

Last Friday Al was leading a guided hike so I headed to Lewis Lake to see how far up the trail I could get with a 3-year-old and a 2-year-old.

My goal was Medicine Bow Peak but the initial ascent from the lake wore my kids out and they needed to be carried for the final 1.5 miles. We had to turn back within spitting distance of the summit when the scramble over the final talus slope proved too challenging with 58 pounds of sleepy kid strapped to me.

Friends don't let friends Introducing

Near the gap we ran into a couple who were trying to navigate off of one of our competitors maps–you know those big sites where the content is crowd-sourced and not always accurate? The route that they were trying to follow on their map was a route that doesn’t even exist. They were looking at the map, looking at the trail, looking at the terrain and trying to figure out why the map didn’t match the trail.

We stopped and chatted with them about the trail and the route to the peak and I made a mental note to toss a few of our demo trail guides in my pack just for situations like that.

Friends don't let friends Introducing (1)

Then yesterday I was at Curt Gowdy State Park with a few friends. We were chasing our children down the Crow Creek trail when we ran into 2 separate groups of lost hikers looking for Hidden Falls. In this situation neither group had a trail map, they were simply relying on maps at trail intersections and following the “Waterfall” signs.

Friends don't let friends Introducing (2)

I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve taken bad maps on big hikes and spent the entire time being confused. I’ve also taken off without even looking at a map. But, since we’re in the map-building, navigation-teachin’ business I really think that it’s important to hike with good maps!

Here’s why we stand by our maps.

We don’t put a map on our website until we’ve hiked it ourselves. We’re local, and small, we aren’t crowd-sourced. We’re Al & Rebecca sourced and if we haven’t hiked a trail it stays in our database until we have.

I’m not telling you to stop visiting Trails.com or AllTrails.com, I think they are good references for some material. Our business models are different, we aren’t subscription based, you can access all of our trail information and even print trail maps for free. We stand by that because no one shoud have to hike with bad trail information.

***

p.s.

We’ve written a lot about Medicine Bow Peak, it’s by far our most popular trail. these links might help if you’re planning a trip that direction.

You can also find a ton of trail information for Curt Gowdy State Park right here. Since Hidden Falls seems to be the most popular attraction at the park here is a step-by-step guide to get you from the Aspen Grove trailhead to the falls.

 

 

Why Laramie needs a path from downtown to the mountains

Last week Al & I attended the Wyoming Bike/Walk/Trails Summit sponsored by Wyoming Pathways. This is a great non-profit organization who focuses on “people-powered” trails throughout the state.

The summit felt like an urban planning session and lacked discussion about bonafide outdoor recreation, mountain trails like the ones that we focus on here, but it was still interesting to learn about urban pathways.

At the conference, a few things came to mind about our trail systems, both in and out of town. I couldn’t help but dream about what Laramie needs to do to evolve from funky outdoorsy town to kick ass outdoor town.

Why Laramie Needs

Here they are.

  • I love our greenbelt. It’s nice to be able to walk along the Laramie river (when the greenbelt isn’t flooded). But, what if one end of the greenbelt didn’t end at the nasty parking lot by the gas station on Curtis street or dead end in the middle of nowhere. What if both ends of the greenbelt both connected to more pathways and trails? And those trails connected to the mountains!
  • I love that parks like Washington and LaBonte have jogging loops. But, what if those jogging loops connected into a much larger series of pathways?
  • I’m not a fan of the new high school being built on the east side of town and here’s why. I think that schools need to be centrally located to allow our screen-addicted and overweight children the option to walk or ride their bike to class! But, since the school is already being built and the citizens of this town clearly wanted a new school what’s the solution? Laramie needs to designate several pedestrian pathways, mark them up with some signs, fix up some crosswalks, and establish more pathways so that EVERY kid in this town has a safe and accessible ADA accessible path to and from not just the high school but every school in town.
  • Have you ever tried to push a stroller through the city streets of Laramie? Navigating curbs at intersections is downright annoying if not dangerous if a street is not right near campus or downtown. My heart goes out to the boy in a wheelchair who has to ride in the street past my house because the curbs are not accessible. If we want to make Laramie more pedestrian friendly we really need to take a close look at our curbs.  I don’t know whose responsibility curbs at intersections are homeowners or the city’s…but it’s a problem in this town.

And here’s my biggest idea. Watch out, it’s highly controversial, revolutionary and would be completely rad.

What if there were a pathway that would connect downtown Laramie right to the Happy Jack and Tie City trail system on Pole Mountain? Could I be as bold as to say that it would be amazing if there were another pathway that would connect downtown Laramie right up to Centennial and the Snowy Range?

Every weekend we see people riding their bikes from town to Happy Jack or up Snowy Range road. Wouldn’t it be great and safer if we could develop a group to work with all the agencies and private citizens who own land along these roads to design a pathway that would keep cyclists safe but still allow for some epic cycling? What if we were even able to groom these pathways in the wintertime (when there’s enough snow) to allow for fat biking, nordic skiing and even snowshoeing?  You see, I think this is possible. Organizations all across the United States are doing projects like this.

Trails are a magical thing, sure I prefer trails on scenic mountain vistas but I’d love to be able to access them without jumping into my car. I want it here in Laramie. Towns all over the United States are realizing the economic and health benefits of such trail networks.

I want more trails, safer streets and better pathways here in Laramie. The economic and health benefits of trail networks is amazing.

I really think it’s time for Laramie to catch on board. But…

I have no idea how to start such a revolution. I do have a voice though, right here on this blog. A whole lot of Laramie reads this blog. Let’s start a revolution. Let’s do this. Let’s follow the example of places like Jackson and even Casper and make Laramie an outdoor mecca. Are you in? Leave a comment below.

5 Things You Need for an Epic Spring Break

Every year as a kid spring break was a big deal.

My family didn’t travel anywhere but we did use the time to ski, hike, play outside, visit Yellowstone and see how much fun and adventure we could cram into a week.

As an adult I think it’s important to take a little spring break too–even if it just means skipping a day of work to head into the mountains or taking the time to clean out the garage, slap some storage wax on the ski’s and tune the bike.

We’ve written about spring break adventures before & even written about how to have a fun spring break right here in our hometown (Laramie, Wyoming).

But I’ve noticed that all spring adventures have a few things in common. Here’s a list of what you need to have an epic spring break.

5 Things you need for an Epic Spring Break

  • Gear. Lots and lots of gear. I’ll admit that I’m getting tired of stuffing my car full of skis, boots, poles, snowshoes and baby carriers but it just wouldn’t be a spring break adventure without gear…both winter and summer gear.
  • Food. I’m not talking about all that junk we eat during the holidays. I’m talking about camping food like s’mores and burgers. We need something to fuel that adventure.
  • Maps & Trail Guides. Yep, spend your last afternoon of class figuring out where to go so when you’re ready to start the break you can just load gear in your car and take off.
  • A sense of adventure. Check your expectations at the door. Be prepared for new places, people, a Chaco tan and maybe even a snowstorm.
  • A day without a screen. This might sound crazy but make it a goal to take a day without looking at an i-phone, tablet, computer or television screen. Resist the urge to snap a selfie or update your twitter account. Just spend a day connecting with the mountain, the trail and whoever you happen to be spending your adventure with.

If you have kids, check out this post we just wrote for WY Outside with a few fun, family friendly outdoor spring break adventures.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us what spring break adventures YOU have planned!

5 Ways to Make Outdoor Friends

A few weeks ago I was interviewed on the S’more Outdoor podcast (I’ll let you know when the interview goes live). It was so much fun–but one of the questions caught me off guard and I’ve been thinking about it since.

I was rambling on about how much fun it is to hike with friends and to hike with a group. But then Brett, the mastermind behind S’more Outdoor asked what people can do who don’t have anyone to hike with.

It got me thinking…how do you make outdoor friends?

I’m all about embracing solo outdoor adventures but there’s a lot to be said about having a good solid group of core hiker friends. Not only is it safer to hike with friends but it’s also really fun.

Here are a few ways to meet great hiker friends in any community and a few things that we’ve done to get to know the local outdoor vibe here in Laramie.

5 ways to make outdoor friends

1. Take a class.

We’ve talked about the NOLS Wilderness First Responder Class before and the importance of outdoor education but taking a local class on anything related to the outdoors is a good way to meet people. Maybe you just go on a local wildflower hike put on by the community, or take a class at a local store like an REI or Sierra Trading Post. Regardless, you’ll make friends in the class–I promise.

2. Hang out at an outdoor shop, talk to employees, get a feel of the outdoor pulse in the community.

Whenever we relocate (and we moved a lot when we were both in the Army) one of the first things we always did was hit up the local outdoor gear shops. I’m not talking the big brand shops here–I’m talking about the corner shops downtown. The kind of shops where the owner gets down and dirty waxing skis and tuning bikes next to their employees. These are the kind of shops where you can really get to know the outdoor flavor of a town. More often than not people who work at gear shops are “in the know” when it comes to local trails, hiking, skiing or snowshoeing groups, climbing routes and mountain bike rides. Hit up a local shop and you’re one step closer to making true dirtbag friends.

3. Volunteer.

Another great way to make outdoor friends is through volunteering. Maybe it’s with your local search & rescue or helping out at a ski race. It could even be something as simple as starting and leading a local hiking group, or volunteering first aid skills at a mountain bike or adventure race. A few of our favorite volunteer organizations are the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers, who do a whole lot of work on some of our favorite Colorado trails and WY Outside, aimed at getting Wyoming youth outdoors. I’ve been fairly active with WY Outside this year and we’re always looking for help. Volunteer and you’ll make outdoor friends for life.

4. Start your own hiking group.

About a year and a half ago I started a local hiking group with a bunch of Mom’s who are all about schlepping kids up mountains. I did it because I wanted to meet women who like to get on the trails too. When in doubt, start your own hiking group, or mountain bike club or whatever. You’ll make friends and get to hit the trails together. Win/Win.

(p.s. if you’re in Laramie and you hike with kids and you haven’t come hiking with us you totally should!)

5. Befriend local outdoor bloggers/writers.

Yep, outdoor bloggers and writers want to hike with you. It’s fun to meet people in person who actually read what we write! It’s even more fun to share an adventure together. We’ve hiked with a lot of “strangers” who have found us through Just Trails, in every single case those strangers have turned into great friends. In fact…I love it when I can say that Al is out hiking with some guy he met on the internet!

Now it’s your turn. How do YOU make outdoor friends?

How To Hike in the Wind

If you live &/or hike (cross-country ski, snowshoe, mountain bike etc) in southeastern Wyoming this scene is probably familiar.

You notice that there’s no wind in town and think to yourself, “I should be hiking right now.”

So, you grab your daypack, load it up in the car and drive up the mountain.

As you pull into the trailhead you hear the wind howling. Suddenly your car starts shaking and momentarily you think you’ve been caught in an earthquake before you realize that it’s just the Wyoming wind threatening to blow your car to Nebraska.

You sit and contemplate whether or not to get out and start hiking, or to turn around and drive back to town where you can just watch Mile, Mile & a Half on Netflix to get your hiking fix instead.

But no, you’re already there so damn it you’re gonna hike.

You open your door, a gust of wind threatens to blow it off the hinges. You briefly think about how miserable it would be if a gust of wind actually did blow the door off your car.

Just as you’re thinking this, your Forest Service pass, the one that is hanging on your rear view mirror blows out the door. Ugh, now you’ve lost the pass and you’re a litterbug. A few receipts, a coffee cup from Starbucks and whatever junk you have lingering on the dashboard are also donated to mother nature and have blown into the abyss.

You hop out of your car, survey the damage and pay for a day use pass all while trying to cinch your pack to your body, your children to your body, your dog to your body and any other possible thing that could fly off the mountain never to return.

When everything is situated you run like a mountain lion chasing an elk into the trees, hoping that their branches will somehow protect you from the wind.

No such luck.

You start to cry, but it’s on accident because your body is producing it’s own tears to protect your eyes from all the junk that the wind is blowing through the air.

Finally you give up, You accept your fate and you start to hike, putting one foot in front of the other and trying your hardest to forget about the wind that’s slapping the straps of your daypack against your back, the tears that are stinging your eyes and the little chunks of dirt, gravel or snow that are pelting your face like shrapnel.

Welcome to Wyoming.

how to hike in the wind

I wish I had a hundred marvelous tips on how to hike in the wind but I don’t. I hate the wind just as much as anyone else. I hate driving in it, I hate hiking in it, I hate skiing in it. But, as a true citizen of Laradise I’ve accepted my fate. There’s no way to escape from the wind.

So how do I hike in the wind?

I do have a couple of tricks up my sleeve.

  • Smile.

That’s right. Look boldly into the direction that the wind is blowing and smile as if to say, “Mother Nature you’re a cruel and heartless mistress but you can’t stop me. I win. You lose.”

  • Always pack a shell.

Wind is going to rip right through that sweatshirt or fleece jacket. Wear a shell, a good, wind-blocking outer layer…even a rain jacket will do. If you’re cold the wind is even more unbearable.

  • Try to hike into the wind from the trailhead.

We’ve all made the mistake of thinking that we’re really doing awesome out on the trails just to turn around and realize the wind was pushing us speedily down the trail and now we’re faced with hiking against the wind back to the trailhead. This sucks, get the hard part of your hike done first by boldly hiking face first into the wind.

  • Prepare your gear in the car before you even start your hike.

When you’re out on a windy day take a few minutes to prep your gear. I’ve gone as far as remove granola bars from their wrappers and stick them in my pockets to avoid trying to unwrap them in the wind without littering. Look at maps in the car too, so you can leave them in your pocket as much as possible.

  • Use your trekking poles.

Yep, trekking poles can really help with balance when the wind is threatening to knock you over.

Hiking in the wind, it’s inevitable around here.

What tips do you have to share? Leave a comment below. 

 

What Happened When I Left My iPhone At Home

Yesterday afternoon I took my kids cross-country skiing at Tie City.

After loading the car with clothing, ski’s, poles, the Chariot, snacks, water and ski boots we were off. Happily driving up the mountain to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.

Then something crazy happened. I pulled into the trailhead, looked in my pack and could not find my beloved iPhone. I remembered that I had left it at home, right on the kitchen counter where I had last been using it to take a picture of my kids eating apples (I know, now that I’m writing this that seems so ridiculous).

How was I going to ski without an iPhone?

How was I going to track my speed and distance on endomondo?

How was I going to take pictures to put up here on our website for a trail report?

How was I going to take pictures of my adorable 1 year old skiing alongside his 3 year old brother to prove to the world via social media that my kids really do like to cross-country ski?

How would I call for help if I got a flat tire or slid off the road?

Ironically I managed to ski for over 30 years without an iPhone. Back then it was just me gliding gracefully down the snow. I had nothing to prove and there was no platform to prove it on. I had no supermom feats like cross-country skiing with 2 kids to brag about on instagram.

So  I got over it and we skied. And there were smiles. And there were tears. There were snack breaks, and water breaks. There were points when my kids skied happily side-by-side and I couldn’t stop smiling. There were meltdowns and arguments over who got to ride in the Chariot.

What Happened

I noticed something as we were skiing. Without my iPhone there to record every single moment I was a lot more “in the moment”–I wasn’t scampering around trying to get the perfect shot. I wasn’t distracted with email. It was just me on the trails with my two little boys soaking up the experience and just skiing, just being.

I learned something valuable yesterday, I need to put away my iPhone more. I need to stop trying to photo document everything. I need to create memories, not a larger digital footprint.

I don’t have a trail report to write. I don’t have photos of what the trail looked like yesterday to show you. All I can tell you is that the sun was shining, the snow was perfect, and the skiing superb.

Maybe you’ll start to see fewer photos around here and more words, or maybe not. I don’t really know but I do think that leaving my phone at home is something that I’m going to try to do more often.

What about you? 

5 Reasons to Take a NOLS WFR Course

You might have noticed that it’s been a little bit slow around here lately.

This book can be blamed.

IMG_6091

I just spent 10 days knee deep in the NOLS Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course. Al spent the weekend doing his WFR recertification.

The 10 days cost us a whole lot of money ( $699.00 for the WFR course + $235.00 for the recert + a babysitter ) and a whole lot of time (80 hours for the WFR + 24 hours for the recert).

But,  I can say that every single penny was worth it.

Here’s why.

The instruction was incredible. The course material was relevant and useful and I trust NOLS to only put out information that is accurate.

Here’s what I learned and here’s how I grew throughout the 10 day experience.

1. Someday I might have to try to save the life of someone I love.

I usually hike with my family and my friends and I want to be able to help them.

If I’m hiking with our local hiking group and one of my kiddos or a friend’s child falls off of a rock at Vedawoo I want to know exactly what to do to take care of that child. I want to know how to asses the patient, how to safely evacuate the patient and how to stay calm and take control of the situation. Before the WFR course I had zero first aid skills, not such a good thing when you write trail guides for a living and lead a popular hiking group.

2. Someday I might have to help someone who you love.

If we hike a lot it only increases our odds that we’re going to come across someone who needs our help in the wilderness. Maybe they’ll just be having a hard time breathing at altitude or maybe they will have fallen off a cliff and fractured their femur. We just don’t know. As human beings I think it’s natural for us to want to help when we see someone in trouble. But how can we help someone without causing further injury if we don’t know how? There’s something to be said about learning some wilderness first aid.

3. This course helped me to dispel myths and misconceptions about the outdoors and medical treatment.

There are a lot of outdoor bloggers out there publishing useful information but it’s not always good. We can’t trust everything we read on the internet…or everything we grew up learning about the outdoors and first aid. NOLS spends a whole lot of time and effort working with top researchers around the world to ensure that their curriculum is based in science and that it works in a wilderness context. Basically everything that I grew up reading in my brother’s boy scout handbooks is dead wrong (but I already knew that).

NOLS

 

4. This course helped me know what to pack in my first aid kit but more importantly, how to use what’s in my kit.

For years I’ve hiked with a first aid kit, thinking that I knew how to administer the medications in it or use the contents of it. In reality I had no idea what to do. You can find a bazillion blog posts out there about what to put in a first aid kit but not a whole lot of detailed information about how to use your first aid kit. To me that’s where the WFR course really stepped it up a notch. Especially after our night scenario when I was laying there in the snow with a fake fractured leg looking up into the stars and really thinking about what I would need to help someone out and survive in the wilderness. My entire packing list now needs a complete overhaul.

5. This course gave me confidence.

There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance is not good. Ever. But confidence is essential–especially when it comes to taking care of a serious injury in the backcountry. Knowledge breeds confidence. If you take the WFR you’ll finish the course confident in yourself, your knowledge and your abilities.

If you’re a casual weekend hiker I’d recommend looking into the NOLS Wilderness First Aid Course. If you do a little bit more than that or are thirsty for some serious outdoor medical knowledge, WFR is probably more your style.

The good news is that NOLS is a Wyoming based organization and finding a WFA or WFR course or recertification is pretty easy, especially because the University of Wyoming Outdoor Rec Program offers one WFR course every winter.

In the mean time if you’re curious about the WFR course or want to chat about it just leave a comment below or come up on our social media sites. I still can’t get over what an incredible learning experience it was, a huge thanks to top-notch NOLS instructors Dusty and Jake!

UPDATE 2/3/15: I’ve been called out on social media (holy cow this blog post went VIRAL) for not mentioning that another reason to take a WFR class is to meet awesome people. And yes, that is very, very true. Al and I have both made friends and done some important networking through our WFR experiences. So yes, take a course and make friends too. It’s a win win!)

6 Questions I Ask Myself Before Every Hike

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about safety on the trails and being prepared for the unexpected.

You know, everything from a flat tire on the way to the trailhead, to a twisted ankle or a diaper blow-out. When we leave Laramie and head to the mountains anything can happen.

We’ve written a lot about planning hikes and packing for hiking trips but with our frequent hikes this summer the whole planning & packing process has become somewhat automatic. There’s danger there. The danger is complacency.

6 questions

To prevent that I’ve made a checklist with 6 things I ask myself before every hike. Here’s my list:

1. Where are we going? Do we know how to get there? What’s our route when we get there? Do we have our Trail Deck (yep, we use our own product around here).

2. When are we leaving, when do we plan to return and who knows our plan?

3. What’s the weather in town? What will the weather be at the trailhead? What will the temperature difference be between the trailhead and the summit?

4. Do we need to throw any items into our car or packs that aren’t part of our regular packing list (ie snowshoes, trekking poles, extra gear or equipment for friends who might be hiking with us)?

5. Do we have a full tank of gas?

6. Is my cell phone fully charged? Do I have my charger in the car?

Asking a few simple questions before leaving the house helps keep me from forgetting to do anything essential. It also puts my head into “hiking mode” and often triggers a reminder like….oh, my 3 year old needed 10 bandaids for a tiny scratch yesterday. I should put some more in my first aid kit.

What is your mental checklist before you hike? What questions do you ask yourself before a day in the mountains? Do you agree or disagree with anything I ask myself? What would you add?

Aspen Alley: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Last year an acquaintance told me about a place in the Sierra Madre’s called Aspen Alley.

She told of tall aspen tree’s forming a canopy of colorful fall colors over a dirt road. Her description was so charming that I couldn’t wait to visit.

So we headed there yesterday. Taking a cue from the aspen tree’s that we’ve been seeing on Pole Mountain and in the Snowies we thought we’d arrive just in time to see vibrant yellow leaves but we were probably a week or two too early.

This is what we saw.

aspen alley collage

And yes, Aspen Alley is beautiful and charming.

For me it wasn’t the kind of beauty that I find on the top of a mountain but the kind of beauty that I’d read about in a good book. As we walked down the road, stopping to take photos and looking up at the leaves of the tall aspen trees I couldn’t help but soak in the view.

Until I looked just a little bit closer and realized that nearly every tree along the road was scarred. Not scarred from fires or bugs but scarred by humans.

scar

This beautiful and unexpected place has been the unfortunate recipient of graffiti courtesy of a bunch of jerks and their pocket knives.

I felt angry and then I felt sad.

Sad, because someone clearly never taught the poor pathetic fools who left their permanent mark on the white bark of the Aspen’s the meaning of the word respect.

Respect for the natural environment. Respect for others. We protect what we love. We love what we respect. 

I wanted to find a date from the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. I thought that if I could discover some sort of historical value in the situation I wouldn’t be so sad and angry, but I couldn’t. Most of the dates carved into trees that I could find are after the year 2000.

Once I realized that some people are just selfish jerks I was finally able to relax and enjoy the views again.

Regardless of the tree graffiti, it’s worth the drive to visit Aspen Alley. If you’re headed there from Laramie I wouldn’t make it your only destination, you can always detour through Saratoga for a dip in the Hobo Pool or lunch. Or stop to hike along the way.

The Sierra Madre are beautiful and clearly we need to spend next summer exploring them as well as the abundant trails on the “other side of the mountain” near Silver Lake.IMG_5688

You can read what other people have to say about this magical place here and grab driving directions here.

Have you been to Aspen Alley? What did you think?

 

 

10 Tips for a Stress-Free Hike

The internet is bursting right now with studies showing that time spent hiking in nature reduces stress and it’s true nature is cheap therapy.

But I gotta be honest…sometimes hiking IS stressful.

I’d like to say that every day we have a zen like experience wandering through the mountains, completely in tune with ourselves and our natural environment.

But we don’t.

It’s not always a blissful walk through the forest. Often it’s dirty screaming children, bug bites and rainclouds.

So what can we do to have a stress-free hike or to at least reduce the amount of stress felt on a hike?

stress-free hike

Here are a few things that work for us.

  • Have a plan.

Know exactly where you’re going to hike and how to get there. It’s stressful when you don’t know where you’re going and how long it’s going to take to get there.

  • Have a pre-hike routine.

It’s never a good idea to start a hike stressed out because you forgot to fill up the tank with gas or because you woke up late and skipped breakfast.

  •  Have a good packing list or system for packing.

We start with a basic packing list for every hike and then modify based on where we are going, how long we plan to be gone and what we think the weather is going to do. Getting to the trailhead and realizing that you forgot to pack something as basic as bug spray makes for a stressful hike.

  • Do an equipment check before hitting the trails.

Have you ever gotten to the trailhead and realized that the zipper on your pack as broken? When you’re packing it’s a good idea to check your equipment for malfunctions as well.

  • Eat a good meal before leaving the house.

Don’t try to start a hike on an empty belly. It’s just a bad idea. Conversely, the days when we’ve filled up on gas station donuts before a hike have also ended with us being tired, crabby and out of fuel.

  • Leave it at the trailhead.

If you drive on I-80 headed towards Vedauwoo you know that some jerkwad truck driver is going to cut you off. Things like traffic, the idiot who took up 6 parking places with his gigantic RV at the trailhead and so on can leave you stressed. So, try to leave it all at the trailhead and start the hike fresh.

  • Put away the i-Phone.

It seems like I’m able to get good connectivity on my mobile phone in more places lately, which is good and bad. Sometimes when I see an email pop up and I’m hiking I want to respond to it right away and I can’t. That adds unnecessary stress to my hike. So, sticking the phone in my pack when I’m not taking a photo or video helps keep hikes stress-free.

  • Bring plenty of food and water.

This one seems like a no-brainer, but we all get grumpy when we’re thirsty and hungry. I’ll take it one step further…have you ever been on a hike and realized that you didn’t bring enough food or water? That’s a stressful situation that in most cases can be avoided.

  • Leave the kids at home with a babysitter.

This may make me sound like the world’s worst Mom, but hiking with kids is stressful. There’s the constant watching to make sure they don’t wander off the trail, fall off a cliff or get snatched up by a mountain lion. Then there’s more realistic little stressors like dealing with tears, fatigue, sunburns, bug bites and emotions. If you want a stress-free hike leave the kids at home.

  • Give yourself enough time and set realistic distance and speed goals.

I always get stressed out when I set a distance goals that are unattainable. Realistic goals are the way to go, or setting goals a little bit lower than expected. Usually my maximum mileage with both kids is 5 miles but on days when I’ve been able to knock out 6 or 7 miles I’ve felt like a champ.

I do think that hiking can be a great stress reliever but sometimes it takes just a little bit more than driving to a trailhead and expecting zen.

Now it’s your turn. What do you do to make hikes less stressful?