You never know what you might encounter on Colorado’s many hiking trails – an epic view, nearby wildlife, your new best friend. Most things you’ll pass along the way to the summit are quite welcomed, making the hiking experience one to never forget. Of course, there are also several things that can be a pain to see. Here’s my list of the scariest things you might encounter while you’re out there exploring.
1. That Bro Blasting the Latest Hit Single
We get it – your taste in music is far superior we should all be aware of that. We get it – you need that motivational beat to get you to the top of the mountain. We get it – you’re not here for the nature, you’re just here for the exercise. Go ahead, listen to your music…but put those headphones in! Not only does your music annoy most of the passersby, it can also have a detrimental effect on the ecosystem around you. #leavenonoise
2. A False Summit
There it is! It’s the top of the mountain, the end of the climb, the beautiful view…and you’re almost there. But are you really almost there? Nope. That only looked like the summit you’ve been waiting for. Now you’ve got to weather the letdown that comes with realizing your tired and aching legs still have a long way to go. Good luck.
3. Trailside Poop Bags
I know, I know…you’re “coming back for it.” Even if you do, no one else wants to smell the stink of a poop-filled baggie trailside. Don’t want to carry your dog’s poop with you because it smells bad? Do what I do and put them in a larger, sealable bag inside of your backpack. This will keep the stench locked in and keep the poop bags off the trail.
4. The Swinging Selfie Stick
Let me guess… up-and-coming Instafamous celebrity? Cool. I, too, am a fan of taking an obscene amount of photos while on the trail. I hate myself for it, but I can’t stop. If this is you, be aware of your surroundings. Don’t hog the coolest spot on the mountain while a line forms in wait of you capturing the perfect shot. Don’t break the rules of the trail to get the angle that no one else has. And whatever you do, don’t obliviously whack fellow hikers with your selfie stick!
5. Surprise Winter Conditions
It’s 70 degrees and sunny out…it has been for weeks…the trail will be fine right? WRONG! Sometimes it can seem like winter conditions come early and stick around forever on the trail, covering a dirt path in snow, ice, and mud. Plan ahead by packing traction and layers just in case the wind picks up or hail rolls through.
6. Misbehaving Off-Leash Dogs
Your dog might be well-behaved. It might not be well-behaved. Either way, if it’s on a trail where there’s a leash law, it should be on a leash. This prevents the dog from getting in the way of bikers and runners that might be blasting through, it keeps the dog from dangerous features you might not see, and it keeps your dog from approaching another dog that might not be so friendly. You’re old enough to be a good dog owner and follow the rules. After all, if people not following the rules cause problems, the rules tend to get more strict – no one wants that.
7. Speed Demons
Trying to get that new Strava personal record on your favorite trail segment? Cool, but, always be aware of your surroundings. Whether you’re on a mountain bike or blasting through in running shoes, give others on the trail time to react and move out of your way. If they don’t, be willing to slow down accordingly. Remember uphill traffic has the right-of-way. Get a bell that rattles as you move – it lets people know you’re coming and it makes the trail safer for everyone.
Nature is a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but it’s not about cutting corners. Staying on the trail prevents damaging the off-trail areas. It also keeps you away from unforeseen hazards, such as loose rock fields and deadly cliffs. Not staying on the trail is the number one reason that people get lost, often prompting expensive search and rescue efforts and sometimes leading to death. Stay on the trail!
9. The Bouquet Builder
Don’t be that person picking wildflowers. Not only does this prevent others from seeing the same beautiful scene, it can also be illegal. Leave No Trace by leaving all of the things you find exactly where you found them.
10. An Apex Predator
Few moments during a hike can be more intense than when you spot an animal that could easily take your life. Thankfully, there aren’t grizzly bears in Colorado ( that we know of), but there are black bears and mountain lions. Both of these animals have attacked and killed before. Know what to do if you spot either. With a mountain lion, stay calm, maintain sight, and back away slowly – never run. With black bears, avoid direct eye contact, don’t run, stay calm, and slowly leave the area.