Tips to hiking your first Colorado 14er: Be prepared for taxing, rewarding experience

COLORADO — Welcome to Colorado, land of mesas, plains, rivers, sand dunes and most importantly: 53 — depending on who you talk to — 14,000-foot mountains. 

Here in the Centennial State, we call those 14ers, and they’re both a badge of honor and a daunting challenge for those who climb them. That number amounts to thousands each year from around the globe.

They aren’t Mount Everest, but don’t get us wrong: they’re dangerous and claim dozens of lives each year. For those embarking upon a routine summer journey, tips may not be needed, but with Colorado’s swelling population, there will be many newcomers on the trails this year. 

For those who are inexperienced, a few key tips could help turn a challenging experience into an incredible one, rather than one which you suffer through. 

1.) Take it slow, choose one of Colorado’s less taxing peaks to summit first.

Colorado’s easier peaks include Mount Bierstadt, Grays Peak, Quandary Peak and Torreys Peak are a few choices that will be less taxing and dangerous, all while getting your legs primed for mountaineering. 

A solid tip from experienced hikers is choosing mountains that allow you a slight head start, and a hike of only about 3,000 feet in elevation. 

2.) Gear up appropriately.

You’re going to need water, a lot of it. But that’s not all. Don’t be caught on the trails wearing flip flops, in shorts. You’ll quickly be turned around by more experienced hikers who recommend you change.

Bring a large backpack with space for a change of socks, a pair of shorts (you probably should start in pants since it gets cold at the top) and a first aid kit. 

Don’t forget a hat, sunglasses and other creature comforts. 

3.) Fuel your body. 

Drink water ahead of time, don’t drink alcohol the night before, eat a good meal before you hit the trails. In addition, you will burn thousands of calories on your…

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