What it’s really like to Hike a 14er the first time

I am writing this post from the perspective of someone who was out of shape and then basically decided to do a 14er one day. Ok, so it wasn’t quite like that but pretty close.I actually got bronchitis during my first 14er hike. A friend of mine wanted another hiking partner to go hiking with him. I went with him on the Bison Peak hike and although we didn’t summit that day, he said I had passed his test and he was satisfied I would do ok doing a 14er.

I have to admit, I thought I had the first one in the bag, no problem. When he mentioned it was going to be Mt. Elbert, I thought, “I got this.” When he said it would be about 8 miles total distance, I said “no problem” and when he said it would be at least a couple thousand feet in elevation climb, yeah, you guessed it. I said “no problem.” Yes, the naive me didn’t realize what hiking a big mountain was like.

It’s harder than you think. The air gets thin and climbing up a mountain is actually kinda hard (who would thought eh?). Basically, I learned that I should been exercising daily, giving my body every advantage I could of getting in shape. Daily walking, hiking, running, or other execise makes a world of difference. Even a few times a week would probably make a huge difference.

I see people having difficulty hiking up 14ers all the time. When I stop to talk to them, many of them tell me they are out of state, etc. and just thought it was a great idea to hike this “pretty mountain.” I really feel sorry for them because I know how it feels. They also have altitude acclimation to deal with whereas I didn’t.

I encourage you to do some research before climbing a 14er. Know who long it will be, know what route you’re going to take, how much food and water to take, bring rain gear, tell someone where you are going, and have fun!


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