Gay hikers share their favorite trails and advice for beginners

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With travel restrictions imposed across so much of the world, more people are considering things to do in their own countries. This might include exploring hiking. Unsurprisingly, after stay-at-home orders, the idea of being out in the wild outdoors becomes a lot more appealing!

GayCities caught up with three gay hiking enthusiasts to ask them to recommend some trails and offer advice for beginners.

Edgar Lozano

 

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Edgar, 27, is based in Los Angeles, California. He started hiking about two years ago after a friend took him on a group hike. He was instantly hooked.

What is the appeal of hiking for you?

The liberty to go at the pace I set. I can either go on a short fast hike or on a long backpacking trip to enjoy nature. It helps that I also use it to relieve stress and connect with myself.

What was the most beautiful trail you hiked?

The Cottonwood Pass trail to get to Mount Whitney (California). It was filled with lakes and rivers left and right. We spent three days and two nights on the trail and it was breathtaking at every corner and not just because of the elevation. It was pretty warm so any chance my friends and I got we jumped in the water.

What was the most challenging?

The trail to Mount Whitney was also the hardest one that I have done. It was about 45 miles total so we were averaging 15 miles a day on that journey, carrying about 30lbs of equipment and food on our backs, and just hiking at that elevation made it hard to catch my breath. Not to mention the mental game the mountain plays with you the last two miles. You make a turn and the summit looks so close but then you make another turn and it looks just as far. It definitely was difficult, but the feeling of accomplishment is overwhelming once the top was reached.

 

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Do you have any advice to offer people new to hiking

What new hikers need to understand is that a location is not going to look the same way you see it on Instagram or Facebook. A lot of the new hikers that I’ve met do not expect to be hiking for hours or carrying three or more liters of water. They just think they’ll go on a 30-minute hike and end up on top of a mountain or at the end of a beautiful waterfall.

The first thing I tell new hikers is that it’s not for everyone, but if it does end up being something they like, they’ll get to experience sights that not everyone will see in real life.

Other than that, if they’re new, try and find a group of friends to start with, or try and find groups on Facebook that hold group hikes. That’s how I started. Once I got more comfortable with the outdoors, I started going on hikes alone or with a smaller group of friends.

Related: Ten sexy men from across the globe to whet your appetite for a return to travel

Brady McGill

A past hiking trip organized by Las Vegas Pride
A past hiking trip organized by Las Vegas Pride (Photo: Las Vegas Pride/Barbara Maeker)

Brady McGill, 35, is the President of Las Vegas Pride and a leading member of its hiking group, PRIDE OUTside. The group meets monthly for an organized adventure.

When did you begin to take hiking seriously as an activity in your life?

The Las Vegas PRIDE OUTside program began in the Summer of 2014. We have hosted monthly hikes since then at locations all around the greater Las Vegas valley. I, personally, was involved in Boy Scouts of America in my youth, and went on many hiking and camping adventures over those years as well.

What is the appeal of hiking for you?

For our group, we are able to present an event that is free to attend, open to all ages, and offers some physical activity accessible to everyone (we even have a trail that is wheelchair accessible). Hiking provides a way to enjoy the outdoors, meet new people, and get some exercise while enjoying company and the scenery.

What was the most beautiful trail you hiked?

We have the luxury of having several beautiful and unique sceneries all within 45 minutes of downtown Las Vegas. The Mt. Charleston area has a coniferous forest and even has enough snow in the winter for a small ski resort. The trails there have green forests and waterfalls.

The Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail follows the original rail track down to Hoover Dam in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The trail also flows through tunnels, dynamited during the construction of the dam, and features some of the equipment discarded after use.

The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area, with its desert landscape and stunning red and gold cliffs, is breathtaking. Each of these trails are roughly three miles, round-trip, and offer their own interest and beauty. They are all uniquely perfect.

What was the most challenging?

Of the trails in our program, each also has unique challenges. Mt. Charleston trails are roughly two miles round trip, but each trail is the equivalent of climbing roughly 100 flights of stairs – steep. Our Red Rock trail has terrain variations and includes a loose gravel dry streambed, light rock scrambling, and ends with a bit of a climb and descent back to our starting point. The Historic Railroad Tunnel trail is deadly – while the trail is level and flat, the extreme heat closes the trail completely in the Summer.

Do you have any advice to offer people new to hiking

Go for it! If you’re venturing on a trail you have not tried before, ask questions to others on the trail about difficulty, distance, and directions. If you’re unsure, give it a safe try and plan to turn back if you feel like you’re in over your head at any point – there’s no loss in trying and staying safe! If there are groups who lead a trail, connect with them and use their experience to go somewhere new.

Ben L

 

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Instagrammer @ben_love_life is 34 and based in Vancouver, Canada. Originally from France, he says he began to take hiking seriously in 2017, “when I started my world tour without any airplane … I did my first overnight hike in Mount Cook National Park, in New Zealand. That’s where I fell in love with mountains.”

What is the appeal of hiking for you?

Hiking brings me back in nature, which is good both for my physical and mental health. Nature means to us that there is something bigger. It’s a constant reminder that we are part of a greater narrative.

What was the most beautiful trail you hiked?

The Berg Lake trail, in the Canadian Rockies. It is a 23 km long world-renowned backcountry hiking trail. This trail traverses three biogeoclimatic zones and takes hikers to some of the best scenery in British Columbia. You can even camp in front of Berg Lake, seeing icebergs falling from Mount Robson (the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies: 3,954 m)

What was the most challenging?

The most challenging hike: Mount Gardiner, British Columbia. It is a scramble with loose rocks, with an elevation gain of almost 2,000 m. You also have to hike over a glacier to get to the top. But the views are worth it!

 

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Do you have any advice to offer people new to hiking

Start easy and get comfortable with the correct gear. Always make sure others know where you are, have a first aid kit with you, and if you’re in the backcountry bring a bear spray with you! Another tip is to use the app Maps.me. It’s the best way to avoid getting lost on the trail. It is free and works online, anywhere in the world.

Once you feel comfortable, get out of your comfort zone and try an overnight on top of a mountain. There is always something magical happening!

Related: How two gay guys sold everything, left home to travel the world & lived happily ever after

 

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