Rules for hiking high

Sidni West

Colorado summers are the best. Even just saying you live here during this time of year is a low-key humblebrag. There’s a million things to do, people are generally happier and every sunset looks like cotton candy fire. Now that the season is unofficially upon us, people are psyched to get outside and start working on their Chacos tan.

Escaping to nature is therapeutic, especially when using marijuana to enhance your experience. As a West Coast stoner through and through, it’s my admonition to just like, be chill when exploring the wild spaces. It’s pretty common to see tourists who come here and end up smoking weed for the first time in decades, getting way too high and forgetting how to function. Or remember that asshole who ate too much acid, stripped naked and then needed to be rescued off the First Flatiron? Side note: if that was you and you still live in Boulder, please contact me ASAP for a follow-up story, ‘cause I would love to know how your life turned out.

But really, hiking while high is the best and it’s not that hard to be cool and responsible about it. Just in case you don’t know what that looks like, here are some basic pointers:

1) Know what you’re doing. OK, this is obvious, but assess what you’re getting into before you show up blazed. Does your objective match your experience and athletic ability? Can you do it sober? Are you prone to altitude sickness? Listen to your body and know your limitations. Plan your distance and trail snacks around how stoned you plan on getting. Bring extra water for cotton mouth. And my personal rule no matter where I’m going or what time it is: always have a headlamp.

2) Smoke sativa. Smoking a super strong indica while carrying a heavy pack and walking uphill for hours in the sun is on absolutely no one’s bucket list. Sativa strains tend to be more consistent with a motivated, high-energy buzz, so stick with the likes of Durban Poison, Lemon Skunk and practically every strain with the word “Diesel” in it. Make sure you are literally ready to run before you spark up — shoes tied, water bottle filled, playlist set and keys-in-hand — or it will take forever to leave your house. If I’m heading to a local trail that’s walking distance from my place, I usually take a few bong rips and that keeps me good for at least two hours of running through the woods. If I know it’s going to be an all day or multi-day adventure, I usually preroll a bunch of spliffs, bring a vape pen or pack some edibles. Back in the day, I always brought my trusty one-hitter, but those things feel dated now that the industry has revolutionized fancier ways of getting high.

3) Follow the rules. It’s so frustrating to see people getting these wrong all the time. First off, leave no trace. I don’t care if it’s tiny and made of hemp paper, do not litter your joint and spliff roaches! Besides the fact that littering makes you a garbage human, we live in an area that is prone to wildfires, so don’t be an idiot and ruin the whole summer for everyone by causing the next big one. Secondly, don’t go off trail. Sure, disregarding all of the clearly marked trails and posted signs asking you not to stomp all over a fragile ecosystem will get you that sick Instagram shot, but it could also get you fined, lost or murdered by nature. Which to be honest, at that point, is probably what you deserve.

4) Be courteous. Just because marijuana is a well-accepted part of Colorado culture, doesn’t mean that everyone wants to be around it. Personally, I find it repulsive when people smoke cigarettes on trails, so I can empathize with anyone who feels the same way about cannabis. Be aware of your surroundings. You don’t have to be secretive and paranoid about it, but don’t carelessly puff away if you’re in a crowded area or around children. Also, absolutely no one wants to listen to stoner jams while they’re trying to enjoy the mountains and even if they did, it still sounds like shit blasting through your low-quality bluetooth speaker; just do everyone a solid and use headphones. I’m looking at you, CU undergrads at Chautauqua.