Mark your calendars: Saturday, June 7 is National Trails Day! That’s a day to pull on your hiking boots and hit a trail near you to enjoy some exercise as well as the great outdoors. In honor of this day, I asked some friends who love to hike to share their experiences with you:
Question: When did you start hiking?
- Sondra: I was hiking around the trails in my neighborhood starting in third or fourth grade. If a trail went off the main streets into the woods, I was sure to follow it.
- Kathy: I started hiking officially when I was 15 years old. Growing up in Texas, there were few mountains/trails that were dedicated as such, but we certainly explored caverns, hills, etc. When I was 15, I accompanied my parents and three of my seven siblings on a three-month road trip to visit every national park/monument/natural wonder along the way. We camped and hiked and never stayed in a hotel, and when I arrived in Colorado, I told my parents I would live there one day. I moved to Colorado in 1996 and have been actively involved in the Colorado Mountain Club, volunteer on an Avalanche Search and Rescue team, served as a volunteer ski patroller for 13 years, and volunteered as a firefighter for our mountain community for four years.
- Kaye: I started hiking approximately 17 years ago.
- Kathy H.: I started hiking when I started visiting the mountains, so when I was in my late 20s.
Question: Where is your favorite place to hike?
- Sondra: Yosemite National Park is first. Second is Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park. Third is Big Bend.
- Kathy: I have travelled the world, and have hiked Mt. Vesuvius plus the Swiss, Bavarian, Austrian, German, French, Scandinavian, Italian, Irish and Grecian Alps/mountains/countryside.
- Kaye: Currently my favorite place to hike is on random trails throughout the many national forests in Western Montana. They are all wild and beautiful!
Question: Have you gone on any hiking trips during which you've camped out?
- Sondra: Yes. Yosemite, Na Pali Coast, Big Bend National Park, Sam Houston National Forest, the beach on Guam, a cave in Cozumel, Mexico, and several state parks, including: Colorado Canyon State Park, Guadalupe State Park, Buescher State Park, Inks Lake State Park, Fort Parker State Park. I may be missing some. Thanks for forcing me to remember all these beautiful places!
- Kathy: I have hiked and camped on 16 14ers (mountain that meets or exceeds an elevation of 14,000) including Pikes Peak, Longs Peak, Grays and Torreys, mountains Lincoln, Bross and Democrat, Mount Rainier, (and also have hiked in) Redwood National Forest, Wind River Range, Gunnison, Steamboat, the Everglades, the Painted Desert, Moab, Lake Powell, and Yellowstone.
- Kaye: No, I do not camp out because I'm afraid of bears.
- Kathy H.: Yep, all the time. It's what our family does here in the mountains for our summer vacations most of the time.
Question: What’s your advice for a new hiker?
- Sondra: Don't spend too much time planning or packing. Just go.
- Kaye: Comfortable shoes are a MUST, especially for ankle support and to prevent blisters; wear socks that are a wool blend NOT cotton. Always go prepared even if you think you are going to take a short day hike because you never know what you'll encounter on the trails. Think safety first (I always travel with bear spray and a gun); be aware of your surroundings at all times--this will help prevent dangerous missteps on loose rocks or surprise encounters with animals (or scary fellow hikers). Be sure to enjoy the beauty around you!
- Kathy H.: Do your research and choose some easy paths to begin with, with small elevation gains, so you don't get discouraged. Also look into how crowded a trail is...for your first trails, you want it to be the best experience possible so you'll keep it up!
Question: Can you tell me a memory from one of your hiking trips?
- Sondra: I was in a tent at a primitive campsite in Yosemite on a week-long hiking trip with my friend Paul. When we awoke the next morning, the tents of several Boy Scouts had been ripped and boys scared half to death only a short distance from our site. Apparently there was more than one bear on the prowl, and the boys did not mind the strict Yosemite rules of "no food in your tent." Another night on that same trip our bear canister, which contained all of our food for the entire trip, had been kicked several hundred feet from where we left it the night before. But I never saw a bear...only lots of tracks.
- Kathy: Favorite memory was having a rare brother-sister moment (not fighting) and we were trying to warm our toes by the fire. I massaged his toes and mine--naturally, my mom took a picture. It was over 30 years ago, but I still remember it well.
- Kaye: I remember spending a week at a "hiking camp" in Vermont where various level hikes were offered each day. There was a beginner, intermediate, and advanced level. I felt pretty confident after easily completing the first two levels so I tried an advanced hike--not realizing that this level meant we had to RUN the entire trail. Evidently the team was trying to beat a time clock which really took all the fun out of it for me. The entire reason I go hiking is to be able to savor the experience of being outdoors in a beautiful place, which is impossible to do when you are in a hurry.
- Kathy H.: My son and I were on a hike when he was just 2 years old. We started him early! He's toddling along on the trail and says, Mama, a bear! I think he's using his very active imagination...until I see a very real black bear off in the distance, about 50 ft. away. I scooped up the kid and backed our way out of there. The bear never even gave us much thought. She was more interested in her berries, thank goodness.
Question: What's your dream hike?
- Sondra: I dream of hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
- Kathy: More than I can enumerate.
- Kaye: I'd really like to go back to Muir Woods in California to see the redwood forests again, or I'd also like to climb to the top of a glacier in British Columbia, Canada to see one of the remote (frozen) lakes.
- Kathy H.: Shady forest in the heart of summer, with wildflower meadows interspersed, and a river, stream, creek, or lake along the trail. Also love it when it's a loop trail, versus in and back. AND if the trail summits a mountain along the way, with a beautiful view, bonus points!
Published On: May 27, 2014