Yesterday the Cosmic Wife and I decided to do something we haven’t done in a long time, probably years. We went on a ten-mile day hike through some of the most rugged Rocky Mountain back-country areas near Denver.

Specifically, we went to the Mt. Evans Wilderness Area and hiked in to the “Chicago Lakes”, two true mountain lakes located where several mountain peaks come together creating a classic Rocky Mountain valley with multiple lakes full of wildlife, flowers and, of course, trout.

(Not my photo, I do have some photos, but they are on my camera and I haven’t uploaded them to my laptop yet.)

Anyway, as I said, it’s been a while since we did such a strenuous hike. And we learned a few things:

  1. Our old boots are in need of replacement. We wore the same boots we purchased probably ten years ago. Turns out that my feet must have gotten larger somehow, because the same boots that I’ve hiked probably hundreds of miles in, no longer truly fit my feet. By the end of the hike my toes were feeling pretty crushed. I wonder if that’s because I’ve been wearing round-toed boots and my toes have spread out a bit since we used to hike frequently. Regardless, I need new boots if we’re going to do ten-mile day hikes regularly.
  2. Our backpacks are crappy. Which, again, is weird because they are the same backpacks we’ve used for years. I guess we just didn’t care as much about comfort back then, but on this hike it was clear that our backpacks needed to be upgraded. We probably just picked these up at WalMart, and they are bargain-basement day hike backpacks. Mostly they are nylon bags with zippers and straps sewn onto them. I think we need some actual well-designed and well-constructed day hike backpacks. It looks like a decent day hike backpack costs about $50 minimum, and up to $200 for the “serious” models. I may take a trip to REI or some other outdoor store today to look at some.
  3. We need to pack more intelligently. I have a tendency to throw a bunch of stuff in my backpack, where it all just sort of meanders around resulting in hard corners poking out here, there and everywhere, which causes me to have to reach back and try to adjust things as we’re walking. We bring too many snacks I think, and too much other stuff. For example, our sunscreen was a big metal can of sunscreen, when a tiny little tube of the stuff would likely have been much lighter and more convenient.
  4. We may need some walking sticks. When you are in your second straight hour of plodding along scree-filled trails that force you to step from rock to rock, it is easy to stub a toe and trip. And falling with a backpack on is no fun. I used to have a nice walking stick, but it broke years ago and I haven’t replaced it. Maybe we should get the ski-pole type of walking stick.
  5. Finally there’s the “cooler” question. Some day packs have a section that is insulated and allows you to keep something cold, or at least cool. Up until now I’ve always considered those to be overkill. But a nice cool drink with lunch isn’t a bad idea either. So I’m wondering what the best way to pack something cold would be.

Anyway, I don’t know if or when we’ll tackle a similar hike again. But I enjoy long mountain hikes. Sure there are times when you are plodding up a miserable, never-ending uphill section where you start to wonder what you are doing, but the end result is almost always worth the effort. It certainly was yesterday.