For most hunters coming out to Colorado high country from the east is a very different and challenging experience. Here are some tips that will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable time here in the mountains.
Before You Go:
First of all you should plan ahead for your trip well in advance. This doesn’t just mean to reserve your airline ticket. Planning for a high country trip involves getting physically fit. Although nothing can prepare you for the strenuous uphill and downhill grades or the huge lack of oxygen, the more fit you are the faster you can recover your breath when you do take a break. Always carry at least a small backpack with a few energy bars, water, a flashlight, matches, a knife, and also to carry the clothes that you will be taking off as you go. It is essential that you layer clothes even in the summer. The high country can be very unforgiving and it can feel like it is 90 degrees when the sun is out and feel like it is 30 degrees when that sun goes behind a cloud. I have had snow storms pummel me in July. Although they are usually short lived it is long enough to drop your core body temperature if you are not prepared. Speaking of the sun, make sure you put some sun screen on your face. The high altitude puts you closer to the sun which means you burn a lot easier. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
The Day You Leave:
Make sure at least one person that is not going with you knows where you plan on going. Preferably give them a forest service or topo map outlining your intended route. This will be key if Search and Rescue has to be called in. If you are going on a major park or wilderness trail don’t forget to sign in. Most trailheads have a sign-in log to let the park service know where you are going and how long you will be gone.
Before You Leave Your Vehicle:
This is one of the most important tips in my opinion.
If you are hunting or hiking with somebody always, always, always, leave the keys at the vehicle. Either with a magnetic hide a key somewhere on the vehicle or under a nearby rock or log. Make sure everyone in your hunting or hiking party knows where the key is before you walk off into the woods. The reason for this is that if the person that has the keys is the one that gets lost or injured someone else can drive for help and not have to walk for it. This can add a lot of time to a critical situation, especially if the injury is of the life or death type.
While Your There:
Drink plenty of fluids. The high country is a very dry place even if there is a lot of snow on the ground, the air is still dry. Having a hydration pack is ideal as you can take a few sips every 15 minutes or so. If you don’t have one stop every hour and drink up even if you don’t feel thirsty. By the time you start feeling thirsty you are already a quart low. Don’t take unnecessary chances. Although sliding down that waterfall might be fun back home next to the road any injury here could take many hours or days to get you to medical attention. Its just not worth it.
By: Ron Dolzani
Owner: All Colorado Sports