The following guest post is provided by our internet friend Heidi Nicole a.k.a "Run.Around.Aroo". You can learn more about her stories about running, adventurous recaps, and ultra marathon training her website runaroundaroo.com and or social handles [@runaroundaroo].
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My first attempt at hiking to the summit of a Colorado 14er did not go as planned...but it did get me out in the backcountry and sleeping in a tent. It also taught me a few important lessons about being prepared for adventure before you head into the wilderness. But, most importantly, it gave me a taste for what backcountry hiking was like and kicked off a trend of adventures.
There are a lot of risks that come with hiking 14ers and spending time in the Colorado wilderness [ie: wildlife, weather, navigation, altitude, etc.] but there are also many, many reasons to get out there and just do it! Still not convinced? Well, here are a few reasons why you should hike a Colorado 14er…
1. The Views. This one is simple. When you get to the top of a mountain all the mountains around you seem small, until you look down the trail you hiked up...then everything looks massive. And it’s not just the top of the mountain that offers amazing views. As you hike along the trail you’ll discover mountain lakes and fields of wildflowers. They are always worth the hike and “photo stops” are a great excuse to catch your breath!
2. The Animals. I am yet to hike a mountain without encountering at least a few marmots and if you’re lucky [and especially if you’re hiking in the Front Range mountains] you’ll come upon mountain goats or big horn sheep. I’ve been lucky and managed to avoid any predatory animals but they are out there -- just keep that in mind if you’re camping!
3. The People. While you’re out hiking you’re bound to run into at least a few other people -- they are out there for the same reasons you are, which makes conversation easy. A simple “hello, how’s it going” may lead to quite the chat and maybe a new friend. And this isn’t just about strangers -- bring your friends with you! Regardless of their mountain hiking experience you’ll find plenty of excuses to laugh and enjoy life out on the trail.
4.The Solitude. Sure, the people are great and if you are headed to a popular 14er on a weekend you probably won’t find much solitude...but, if you’re lucky enough to snag a weekday summit the quiet can be pretty amazing. Being on the mountain alone puts life into an interesting perspective. Getting out on the trails less traveled is definitely worth the added effort and precautions necessary.
5. The Stepping Stones. While the stepping stones that take you across mountain streams are pretty neat I’m talking about the stepping stones of life. Getting outside and hiking your first 14er might make you a little nervous...that’s okay! That’s actually good! It means you respect the mountain and Mother Nature. It also means you’re pushing against the edge of your comfort zone. A 14er summit may be a tiny step or a huge leap outside of your comfort zone...but go do it. Your comfort zone will readjust and you’ll never know what adventure you’ll be gearing up for next!
I’m sure there are many, many more reasons to head into the Rocky Mountains for a 14er summit, but these are some of my favorite. Please, share your excuse for getting outside and hiking up mountains -- share your stories and give other people just one more excuse to go adventuring!
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