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NY 46er to CO 14er

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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NY 46er to CO 14er

Postby Doodleman » Thu Jul 07, 2011 1:52 pm

I'm very excited to say that my wife and I are planning to move from upstate NY to CO next year. Once I take a couple of tests at the end of the year and have more experience from my current job I'll start applying for jobs in CO. We love the outdoors and nice weather and feel that CO is the perfect place for us. I actually lived in CO until I moved to NY with my parents in 1999 (summer after 6th grade). I was looking at the 14er.com website and a couple of questions popped into my head. 

My first concern was the steep/loose terrain on the 14ers. Here in upstate NY our trails are pretty safe and if you lose your balance 99% of the time you'll just fall down or maybe fall into a tree if you're really unlucky. From some of the pictures that I saw on the website it looks like one wrong step could be your last. I'm not the type of person to be afraid of everything, but when I go hiking I don't want to always worry about sliding down the side of the mountain. Since a lot of people still hike these I hope my concerns are unwarranted and solely based on pictures that look worse than they are. Another scary thing related to this is that there's a section for people who have died on the Mountain. That doesn't seem to be a regular occurrence, but seeing that on a forum really shows that there is some danger involved. 

Another one of my concerns is the weather. I've read that you need to be careful of lightning and thunderstorms. We are moving out to CO to enjoy the weather, but it would be a little disappointing to move out there and then be forced to stay off the mountain every afternoon. My main question here is, how often do you need to get off the mountain early and what time would you say the storms usually begin? If it's only a few days a week then that's not bad since there are plenty of other activities to do off the mountain, but if we need to be down almost every day before noon then that kind of stinks. Also, what time of the year to you need to be worried about this? Lastly (for this paragraph) what do you do about multiday trips? Do you only go when there's a little chance of thunderstorms, or do you plan your trip so that you'll have shelter during the "bad times"?

My third topic has to do with multi day trips again. Here in upstate NY we have a ton of water, so starting out with 3L of water and a filter system is usually good enough to last for long trips. Since CO is a drier state, does the water supply limit how far one can go? I think my water consumptions might go down because I won't be sweating as much (due to the reduced humidity) but I still wonder if we will be able to get enough for longer hikes. 

Now for my second to last topic. Are there quite a few trails in CO that don't have a lot of exposure. My wife doesn't love the idea of walking up a giant mountain with no trees around (which describes most of the 14ers), so I'm wondering if there are still a lot of trails that have the hiking in the woods feel. I would assume yes, but just want to make sure. 

My last topic is about hiking with dogs. Our dog is the main reason that we got into hiking (it's the only thing that really tires him out), so I want to be sure that he'll be able to go with us on most of the hikes. He's been up a number of the 46ers here in NY and did fine on a 20 mile 2 day hike that we took earlier this year. I know there there are more rocks and things to cut his feet, but he has nice boots so I don't think that will be an issue. 

I know that this has been a long post and if you'd read it all I want to say thank you. Any advice/insight that you can give my wife and I will be greatly appreciated. While I'm at it, any advice or info about the job market for my wife and myself would also be appreciated. I have a BS in mechanical engineering and at the end of the year she will have a BS in math and a masters in special education (shes going to be a secondary school teacher). 

I look forward to your input and am excited about getting back out to CO (assuming your replies don't change out mind). 

Thanks!

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Re: NY 46er to CO 14er

Postby MtHurd » Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:10 pm

Most of the trails on the 14ers are easy and do not have any exposure whatsoever. What can be differnt is the snow. This year was a high snow year so it hangs around a lot longer. That means an ice axe may be necessary, more so in June and July, less so in August and September. You will want to take a class to learn how to use it if you are not familiar with self-arrest. Your water needs will be similar to New York. I've never carried any more than 3 liters of water. Dogs can climb the easier ones with you, probably at least half (will need dog booties).

The monsoon season is basically all of July and August. It doesn't mean that storms will happen, but there is a high likelyhood especially in the afternoons that they will. Lightning is your biggest concern. It's best to get off of a summit by noon at the latest, although storms can happen any time of the day or night. Thus, you will want to get in a habit of leaving at around 5 a.m. (sometimes earlier) for your climb. Buy a headlamp.

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Re: NY 46er to CO 14er

Postby randalmartin » Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:27 pm

Doodleman wrote:Now for my second to last topic. Are there quite a few trails in CO that don't have a lot of exposure. My wife doesn't love the idea of walking up a giant mountain with no trees around (which describes most of the 14ers), so I'm wondering if there are still a lot of trails that have the hiking in the woods feel. I would assume yes, but just want to make sure. 

My last topic is about hiking with dogs. Our dog is the main reason that we got into hiking (it's the only thing that really tires him out), so I want to be sure that he'll be able to go with us on most of the hikes. He's been up a number of the 46ers here in NY and did fine on a 20 mile 2 day hike that we took earlier this year. I know there there are more rocks and things to cut his feet, but he has nice boots so I don't think that will be an issue.


First, congratulations on your pending move. I know how exciting that can be. I assume you will be moving somewhere along the front range and so Rocky Mountain National Park provides a number of hiking opportunities your wife would probably like (i.e., plenty of trees, lakes etc..). The Boulder area has another great selection of forested hiking trails including the Green Mountain, Bear Peak, South Boulder Peak and the associated trails around them.

The only restriction on dogs is just that they be leashed in designated wilderness areas of which there are a number of 14ers that are.

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Re: NY 46er to CO 14er

Postby peter303 » Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:32 pm

Once you try a couple of easier ones you'll find many of them arent really that bad.
You'll build your confidence then.

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Re: NY 46er to CO 14er

Postby Jim Davies » Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:36 pm

The thunderstorm threat is generally overstated around here. People get spooked by loud noises and bright flashes for some reason. ;) Lightning deaths are very rare; falls, uncontrolled slides down snow, and falling rocks are the biggest dangers. Check the forecast for the mountain you're going to - Bill provides handy links for this purpose. Many days are dry and clear, even in the dreaded "monsoon" season, and even then you can usually hike for 6-8 hours after dawn without any problems, plus the storms will usually hit you on the way down so aren't quite as scawy. Carry rain gear, either jacket or poncho, as you will get rained on if you do much hiking.

Most people carry all their water for day hikes, and use a filter/steripen/other purification method for backpacks. There's almost always somewhere to get water when you're hiking trails below treeline; lots of little streams are around.

Dogs are fine on most 14ers (Culebra and Longs are the two big exceptions). Many areas have leash laws (like most Federal wilderness areas). Dog etiquette is the subject of many flame wars here, so it's best not to start that again - try searching the forum.
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Re: NY 46er to CO 14er

Postby doggler » Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:48 pm

Doodleman wrote:My first concern was the steep/loose terrain on the 14ers.
There are somewhere between 20 and 40 of the 58 where this really isn't a worry. The large variance is due to not knowing how walking across talus would affect you. Some folks never give it a second thought, others find that beyond their comfort zone. Many of the easier, more popular routes like the ones on Yale, Harvard, and Humboldt to name a few, still require a good amount of hopping from boulder to boulder.

Doodleman wrote:Another one of my concerns is the weather.
I've just adjusted to the weather, as it certainly wasn't going to change for me. I don't mind at all that I have to be off the mountain early. I've found some of my most serene times in the mountains are when I'm cutting through singletrack in the 4:00 AM twilight. Sure, there are some times when you can afford to stay on top of the mountain for a while. But the daily development of thunderstorms during the monsoon season makes it rare where you'd want to take that chance. As for multi-day trips. Usually you have shelter somewhere and wait out the storm. I'll tell ya what, if you're on a multi-day trip where you're hitting some big mountains, there's nothing like taking an afternoon nap after a good day while the rain comes down all around you.

Doodleman wrote:Since CO is a drier state, does the water supply limit how far one can go?
As a whole, CO is quite dry, but the mountainous areas get a good amount of moisture. Most of the places you will go will be close to a stream or creek.

Doodleman wrote:I'm wondering if there are still a lot of trails that have the hiking in the woods feel.
Plenty. There are even plenty of them that share access with the 14er climbs. Lily Lake trail near Mt. Lindsey is a good example. Get near 12,000', though, and the trees are gone. It's a different kind of beauty.

Doodleman wrote:Our dog is the main reason that we got into hiking (it's the only thing that really tires him out), so I want to be sure that he'll be able to go with us on most of the hikes.
Dogs most definitely are welcome on *some* trails, namely all the ones that don't have tons of loose rock and exposure. (you might not want to start a 'dogs on 14ers' thread. ah heck, maybe you should just to see what happens)

Sounds like you're sold on CO, but your wife has a few concerns. :) I moved here from the upper midwest, so our climate was similar to yours. When I came out here, I fell in love with the weather. So much so that I didn't care about losing some green. I would venture to say that for most everyone moving from a climate like NY's, CO is heaven. You get tons more sun and good weather without ever having to totally give up the real "winter" stuff. You still get all four seasons, it's just that they all occur in every season. If you need a fix of green, you can get it in the mountains.

Re: NY 46er to CO 14er

Postby bergsteigen » Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:59 pm

I grew up in WNY and hiked as much as I could in the ADK's. So I have done the same transition as you will be doing.

Trail style. ADK: step on rocks or in between rocks in mud/water, CO: Step on rocks or in between on scree

Navigation. ADK: see through trees (ie don't get off trail much), well marked trails, CO: variety of trail sizes (easier ones have large visible trails), but less vegetation = easier navigation

Weather. ADK: rain, more rain, mist CO: clear, afternoon thunderstorms (just get up early to be off peak early)

Exposure. ADK: Hmmm I hope I don't slip on this wet rock slab and hit my butt, CO: I hope I don't tilt off this wobbly talus rock. (Of course there are a variety of exposures on 14ers)

Water: ADK: I'm thirsty... oh look, there's some water, CO: Plan ahead and know where water sources are

Start with the easier 14ers, and work your way up to the harder ones, it's how I did it :D
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Re: NY 46er to CO 14er

Postby DScott49 » Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:03 pm

First, I spent 25 years in the Army living all over Europe and the US and Colorado is the only place I would have decided to settle in after all that exposure. As you know from living here before; Colorado is awesome!

Second, you have come to the right place for information on the 14ers. There is no better site or source for the kind of information you are seeking. Searching through this site and it's forums will answer most of your questions; and the community of experts here can answer the rest.

For your water needs all you need to do is some prior research before you go to a site. Most 14ers have water sources (streams, creeks, rivers, etc.) past trip reports and trailhead information can help you there.

There are unlimited hiking trails available all over Colorado. Not everyone gets the 14er bug but there are more hiking trails of all skill levels than you could hike in a lifetime.

Most 14ers have little exposure, it is only the hardest ones that are so intimidating.

Others will answer to fill in the rest of your questions and more. Welcome back if that is your decision.

Happy hiking!

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Re: NY 46er to CO 14er

Postby ChrisinAZ » Thu Jul 07, 2011 4:49 pm

Howdy from a fellow former Easterner! I've done Marcy twice (once in summer, once in winter) and many of the 4000'ers in the Whites in NH.

My take on some of the major differences between east and west: the biggest thing is probably altitude. It becomes a real factor in how you climb mountains here--your need to acclimatize, your speed, even the way trails are constructed are influenced by it. Switchbacks and sustained gentle uphills are the norm here, except on the rougher peaks; out East, trails tend to go straight up. That said, in more rugged country, you'll find the rock-hopping, scrambling, etc. quite similar to that in the High Peaks or the Presis.

In the Northeast, trails largely don't seem to exceed class 3, and rock is generally solid. Here, there are some mountains with an overabundance of loose rock, and you should never take a handhold for granted--always test it out! There's a whole continuum of "trail" difficulty, which is nice because it allows you to slowly work your way up to more difficult goals if you so wish. Exposure is much the same deal--some mountains have it, most don't. If it's something you need to worry about on a given mountain, you'll probably hear about it researching the route.

Water--in terms of drinking it, there's mostly not much difference between here and the East, if you're just talking about 14ers (filter it). Most trails following valleys will have some sort of stream, river, or lake. You just might not see as many tiny side brooks or mud puddles around, especially later in the summer. However, things do get more arid down in the foothills and at lower elevations (say, below 9,000'), so be prepared. The air is drier, which is nice from a not-sweating-to-death standpoint, but also means you'll lose water faster. Stay hydrated!

Lightning--yes, it does limit what times of day you can generally be up on the mountains, but thunderstorms are a real concern out East too. Afternoon thunderstorms are not a given--there are many times, especially in September, where I've been able to relax on a 14er summit in mid-afternoon without serious weather concerns. However, they're likely enough (and, as I realize after last week, scary enough) that it's something you don't want to test very much. Pre-dawn starts are one of the sucky parts to climbing 14ers, but it comes with the territory. Besides, you'll get to see some amazing sunrises and have plenty of time to enjoy a post-hike dinner! :)

Forests--depending where you are, they can be as low as 6000' or as high as 12000', with a high desert characteristic on the low end and somewhat similar (though bigger) to Eastern high forests. Most 14ers will have some part of their hikes in the trees, but don't forget there's the whole amazing rest of the state too! There are forested places you could spend days, if not weeks, wandering through.

Dogs--people's opinions vary. For me personally, I love seeing dogs out on the trail, and they brighten my day. However, I'll be less sympathetic if someone brings a dog who's unruly or aggressive, and not on a leash or under voice command. Same goes for bringing dogs on dangerous mountains, where their owners are not only endangering them, but anyone below them who could be hit by canine-induced loose rockfall. You'll get a good feel for what is and isn't prudent to bring a dog on--just start off slow.

Welcome to Colorado, be safe and have fun! :)
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Re: NY 46er to CO 14er

Postby Shawnee Bob » Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:43 pm

Scale and altitude. Scale in that things are usually bigger/farther than they appear. It also means bigger dropoffs. Altitude is the biggest and most obvious difference right away. I'm a flatlander in decent shape, but I hike SLOW when I'm past 12000 feet. You'll acclimate after awhile and it won't be as big of a deal later on.
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Re: NY 46er to CO 14er

Postby RJansen77 » Thu Jul 07, 2011 7:57 pm

Shawnee Bob wrote:Scale and altitude. Scale in that things are usually bigger/farther than they appear. It also means bigger dropoffs. Altitude is the biggest and most obvious difference right away. I'm a flatlander in decent shape, but I hike SLOW when I'm past 12000 feet. You'll acclimate after awhile and it won't be as big of a deal later on.



+1.

Having grown up in the East and hiked throughout NH, VT and NY, I can say that the two biggest transitions for me were the altitude and the sheer scale of everything in Colorado. The altitude is something that you'll likely get used to depending on where in the state you live (I live in Denver and I've noticed a noticeable difference in my ability on the 14ers from when I first got here). Especially if you exercise consistently between climbs and hydrate, you'll set yourself up well.

The scale of everything in Colorado took me by more surprise than the altitude. You may think you're only 30 minutes from the summit, or that ridge you've been eyeing, until you see a person up there and realize just how small they look! Everything out here is much further and bigger than back east, and it has taken me time to adjust. This can be a real morale breaker in some situations, which, combined with the altitude can definitely demoralize some hikers. However, like the altitude, it just takes a little time to get used to it. Before you know it you'll have an understanding of your pace, the size of the mountains, and you'll be able to move more comfortably at higher elevations.

Congratulations on your move, and best of luck in your climbing endeavors out here!
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Re: NY 46er to CO 14er

Postby Doodleman » Fri Jul 08, 2011 4:38 am

Wow! I expected a few replies that hit on some of the topics, but had no idea that I'd get so many detailed replies. Thanks everyone. My wife got a call about a teaching job so that might complicate things a little bit. I haven't checked yet since I'm on my phone, but is there a section of this forum about jobs or something similar? I have a few questions about teaching, but want to put them in the correct section if it's exists. Thanks again everyone!

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