Hiking, energy bars, no idea where we were going, oh my!

As I was writing this blog, I realized that the “About Me” section is rather vague and doesn’t contain that much about who I am as a person. *Note to self: Update. Majorly.* Therefore, I intend to shed a little more light into who I am through this blog post. Enjoy!

I was born in Denver, CO and lived here for 14 years. The other four years I lived in Thailand (Say what??- I’ll blog about this later, don’t worry!). That said, the Rocky Mountains were at my doorstep and nature was calling my name. My family is very outdoorsy and we love to go camping, hiking, paddle boarding, canoeing, white water rafting, snowboarding, etc.. I love the outdoors and was glad to find that there are a couple of ski slopes a couple hours’ drive from Baltimore.

This past weekend, I went hiking with my cousin and some mutual friends. We originally planned to climb Mt. Bierstadt (1 of 53 14ers in Colorado) but the road was blocked due to a bike race (Pro tip: always check to see if an event is going on before heading up mountain roads).

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Mt. Bierstadt- 14,065′

We then went to the Visitors Center and the lady there kindly showed us more trails nearby. After debating numerous trails (If you’re in the Rocky Mountains, there is a guaranteed hiking trail near every city, town, campground, or lake), we decided to do the Echo Lake Trail. We had no idea where the trail would take us (we assumed it’d loop back around to the lake) and hiked up the mountain.

Echo Lake
Echo Lake

As we trekked along, the trail didn’t seem to be going back to the lake. A couple passing hikers told us that the trail takes us to another lake, so we decided to keep going. The uncertainty of the trail and the destination was somewhat disconcerting though exciting at the same time. As we hiked, the beauty of the mountains took my breath away. I couldn’t stop taking pictures, and even then, the pictures do little justice. We climbed rock outcroppings, jumped over streams, tasted bark (yeah, I know), built trail markers, collected rocks, and saw numerous mushrooms. We also saw the biggest fox (okay, the only fox I’ve ever seen), but it moved too quickly for the camera.

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After about 2 hours or so of hiking, we started to wonder if we should head back. We didn’t know how much longer until the lake, but we had come so far already. Just then, some joggers passed by (I wish I was that athletic) and told us the lake was only 3 miles away so we decided to keep going. Those 3 miles felt like FOREEEVVVEERRRR. Water between the 5 of us was low and our diet consisted of energy bars (almost gone, as well). By this time, we were questioning if there even was a lake and if it was worth checking out. After 30 more minutes, we finally came across a sign that said “Lincoln Lake” and literally jumped for joy.

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After that, there was a bounce to our step and the enthusiasm was contagious. And then we saw it.

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My friend looking over Lincoln Lake

After 3 hours of hiking, we were 11,673′ high. Definitely worth it. Our way back down felt so much shorter, but there’s no denying that it was a workout. Nevertheless, Colorado is breathtaking. My friend told me about this Yik Yak post that goes: “The only thing worse than Coloradans is Coloradans talking about how great Colorado is”. And let me tell you, that is very accurate. We are proud of our state and want everybody to know how amazing it is!

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Me and my friend Lydia with the gorgeous mountains in the background.

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Although I have been hiking all my life, this trip taught me many things and I hope to share it with you guys!

Bri’s Guide to Hiking in Colorado

Tip #1: Bring Enough Water

  • Altitude sickness is a serious thing, and it can affect everybody, even if you’re from Denver.

Tip #2: Know the Trail

  • If you want to try out a new trail, study the map and approximate how long it is and how much time it will take. My friends and I did not do this, so the trail felt even longer because we didn’t know how many more miles we had until the destination.

Tip #3: Tell Someone Your Route

  • Most hiking trails provide a slip where you fill out your name, phone number, emergency contact, and trail route just in case you get lost and responders need to find you. If there isn’t one, text someone or leave a note on the dashboard of your car so that people know where to find you in case of an emergency.

Tip #4: Go with Great Company

  • Even though water was low and we had no clue where we were headed, my friends kept me company and we had the chance to catch up, laugh, and have fun.

Tip #5: Lightheaded? STOP.

  • At the first signs of feeling lightheaded or nauseous and your head is throbbing, stop, sit down, and drink water. It is perfectly okay to take breaks on your hike. Trying to tough it out will only end up making it worse and the risk of passing out is increased.

Tip #6: The Way Down is Shorter than the Way Up

  • This depends on how fast you hike, but it’s safe to say that you take longer going up than coming down. Therefore, if hikers coming down tell you the destination is 30 minutes away, know in the back of your mind that it may actually take you 40 minutes.

Tip #7: Try to avoid hiking/camping over a holiday.

  • We went camping 4th of July weekend and one word. TRAFFIC. After watching fireworks at the marina (a brilliant spectacle), the Main Street of Grand Lake was at a standstill for at least an hour and a half. We decided to throw a frisbee around at the park until all the cars were gone. The drive down took us 4 hours, when it really should have taken us 2. Either plan ahead, stay one more night, or leave early unless you want to be stuck in mountain traffic.

Tip #8: Plan Ahead

  • Popular camp sites are almost always reserved and the chances of finding a spot on a walk-in is hard. Reserve your favorite camp site months in advance!

Tip #9: Know Campground Policies

  • Most campsites have policies stating that if you reserve a campsite, you need to have a tent set up by a certain time in order to retain your spot, otherwise your spot is up for grabs.

Tip #10: HAVE FUN!

  • Hiking is an amazing activity away from society and technology. You have the chance to appreciate nature and spend quality time talking to friends, exercising, and contemplating/reflecting on life.
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