Hiking in the mountains is one of the most effective ways to leave behind the noise, stress and pressures of a daily urban existence. Study after scientific study has shown that the health benefits for both the body AND mind from hiking and time spent outdoors are numerous. For stressed-out Americans, an opportunity to start living a healthier life can be as simple as getting outdoors more and hitting some hiking trails. Yet as more individuals realize the wonderful health benefits of hiking, some of those trails can become a bit overcrowded. With more people sharing the trails it’s essential for hikers to understand the written and unwritten rules of the trail. So we met up with the team at Adventum Colorado, a group of four friends who discovered a mutual passion for hiking the extraordinary mountain landscapes of the Colorado Rockies. After multiple hikes as well as summiting several of Colorado’s esteemed 14ers together, the foursome decided to launch a company that celebrates the adventurous spirit of outdoor enthusiasts everywhere who enjoy the thrill of conquering a challenging mountain summit or simply cherish the opportunity to explore new trails and the great outdoors. Here are their tips & tricks for happy hiking…
1. Obey the Written Trailhead Signage
Many trailhead signs give important and helpful information such as routes with distances and a map of the area. Some will also list hazard warnings to alert you to recent obstacles on the trail in addition to warnings of increased prevalence of particular wildlife in the area with safety precautions should you encounter a bear or mountain lion for example.
2. Stay on the Trail
Don’t step off the trail unless it is absolutely necessary when yielding to others. Hiking off the trail can be dangerous for hikers as the ground can be uneven, slippery or rocky which could lead to a sprained ankle or other unfortunate injury with just one misstep. Hiking off trail is also damaging to vital plant life…think about if young tree saplings are toppled over by hiking boots…they will be prevented from developing into new plants and large trees which are crucial for our beautiful forests.
3. Uphill Hikers Have the Right of Way
Downhill hikers should always yield to uphill hikers. When you’re descending a trail, step aside. This is a courtesy to uphill hikers as it takes more energy and effort to go uphill than down. But keep in mind that many uphill hikers (especially at higher altitudes above treeline) will gladly welcome a little rest and may possibly signal to downhill hikers to proceed past them while they take a breather.
4. Give a Hoot; Don’t Pollute!
Those of us ‘70s children may remember this famous slogan from the U.S. Forest Service’s national symbol/advertising character Woodsy the Owl. While it should be common sense not to litter, it’s astonishing how much trash is still found along hiking trails all over the country.
5. When Nature Calls…
We’ve all been there…when nature calls, find a discreet place to go. Just as you would bring for your other trash, bring large ziplock bags to dispose of used toilet paper, tissues or other sanitary supplies and pack it out with you.
6. Do Not Disturb Wildlife
This should be a no-brainer but it’s quite bewildering how many people get too close to wildlife while trying to snap a selfie with a Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat, Elk or Moose. It’s an all too familiar news story we hear about—visitors get too close to wildlife and since they are in fact wild animals, they react with sometimes tragic consequences.
Thanks to the team at Adventum Colorado, we now are ready to hit the trails and play well with others. And if you find yourself summiting your first or fortieth 14er, celebrate by heading to adventumcolorado.com and grab some swag to remember the ultimate thrill and pride of such an achievement.