Whenever you are hiking in the Rocky Mountains you need to stay within your comfort zone. Stepping outside of your comfort zone may lead to serious problems for you or your family.
Hiking is a super fun activity whereby you can get good exercise. I strongly encourage everyone to get out and do more hiking. However, I can’t caution strongly enough how important it is to stay within your personal limits. This is even more true when you go hiking with kids, babies, or toddlers.
Know Your Limits And Comfort Zone
To stay within your limits you first need to know what are your own personal limits or comfort zone. The only one that truly knows the answer to that question is you.
There are a number of different factors to keep in mind when thinking about what is your comfort zone: fitness level; hiking experience; experience using a map; general outdoors knowledge; and general knowledge of the area. These are a number of different things and you need to keep them all in mind to know your personal limits or comfort zone.
You may be very strong physically, but have no hiking experience. In such a case, you are fine doing a long, well maintained trail, but not a long backcountry trail.
Or you may have lots of hiking experience and even knowledge of the area, but if you are not physically fit then you still can’t attempt a very long trail without going beyond your comfort zone. Being an experienced hiker does not mean you are safe from getting lost, exhausted, or suffering heat stroke.
Going Outside Your Comfort Zone Puts You And Others At Risk
If you decide to push your limits one day and go for a 15 mile hike in the desert when you have never done more than a 6 mile desert hike before, then you are just putting yourself and others at risk. Making a decision like that is simply setting yourself up to have problems, such as running out of water, heat exhaustion, or simply getting lost.
If you run into problems when you are out hiking you are first and foremost putting yourself at risk. Then you also put your hiking companions or family at risk. Finally, if you are in severe trouble then you are forcing others to come and rescue you, thereby putting them at risk too.
Trip Leaders Or Parents Need To Know Everyone’s Comfort Zone
If you are hiking with a group of people or even just with your family then whoever is leading the hike needs to keep in mind everyone’s limits. The parent leading the hike has the added responsibility of making sure that everyone is safe.
Maybe you are fit and experienced, but that doesn’t mean you can take your family, including your 6 year-old son or 70 year-old father-in-law on a ten mile hike. Choose a shorter trail to hike on rather than force them beyond their limits.