Hiking, field guides and what it really means to take in the views
Thinking about going on a hike soon? My advice: take the time to smell the flowers, literally. Recently I went hiking with me family. Admittedly we were all a little out of shape from the lack of being outdoors and found ourselves taking many small rest breaks as the incline claimed our energy much more quickly than expected. We found ourselves marveling at all the small details nature has to offer – wondering why certain trees have different types of bark, and what did poison ivy really look like? What is the difference between a shrub and a tree, a weed or a flower? As we whipped out our plant identifier while taking a break, other people stopped to ask what our discoveries were, and we heard many whispers of passersby wishing they too had remembered to bring their plant and bird identifiers with them.
Not only did I feel less badly about the amount of time it was taking to reach our high destination, I learned a lot about the species around me. The hike and the time I spent with my family that day is a lot more memorable because I will always think of the Rocky Mountain Maple I can now spot from a distance, or the Spotted Towhee I learned nests on the ground and not in the trees. Whether you have kids who would love to find the next bird to look-up in their own identifier book, or if you just like to take your time on the trail to really take in the views, some of these light and easy-to-carry books may be just the right fit for you:
- National Geographic's Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America
- What's That Tree? by Tony Russell
- National Geographic's Pocket Guide to Trees & Shrubs of North America
Looking for Colorado-specific recommendations? Check out these handy field guides to help you identify Colorado's native flora and fauna.