Hiking and fitness expert Ellen Miller provides advice for getting ready for hiking season
Hiking is the No. 1 activity that guests participate in when visiting Vail. This can range from a stroll along the Gore Creek recreational path to summiting a 14,000-foot peak. As visitors get ready to trek in the surrounding Gore and Sawatch mountain ranges, there are a variety of ways in which they can prepare for their adventure.
Ellen Miller is a 20-year resident of the Vail Valley and one of five women to have summited Mount Everest from both sides – Nepal and Tibet. In 2000, Miller founded Mountain Outdoor Fitness as a motivational fitness program for people who want to hike, run or climb their way into shape while experiencing the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains. The basis for the outings is cardiovascular fitness. Strength, balance and agility are incorporated into the workouts and the sessions can accommodate people at all ability levels. Depending on the goals of the individual athlete, (specificity of distance/type of event) a different type or level of workout is assigned.
In addition to her Mountain Outdoor Fitness program, Miller leads guided hikes up Vail Mountain throughout the summertime. Following are her top five tips for preparing to hike in the mountains around Vail next summer.
1. Dial in your footwear! Spend time walking around your house, the grocery store, the block; anywhere close to home. Get comfortable in your boots before you try to hike for any distance in them; don’t plan to break them in on the trail. Working out any footwear kinks before you hit the trail will maximize your entire experience. 
2. Be honest with yourself about your fitness level. You know better than anyone whether or not you’re physically ready for a big trek. If you’re preparing for a long hike or climb, training with gradual elevation gain and mileage/distance increases is absolutely essential. Don’t try to tackle a big hike as soon as you launch from your office chair. Get help if you need it, or research training recommendations for long hikes. Strength training, endurance, cardio and intervals are important training tools and they'll make all the difference on the trail.
3. Safety and preparation first. Research the routes, gather information and plan ahead. It’s important to realize cell phones don’t always work in the backcountry or on hiking trails, so you’ll need to plan for worst case scenarios. Pack food, water, extra layers, a first aid kit, rain gear - anything you might need if the weather changes, if you’re injured or if you're held up. Know where you’re going and where you’ll be hiking in relation to major landmarks - roads, towns, etc. It’s easy to get turned around in the wilderness, but if you have a good idea of what else is in the area you can more readily find your way to safety.
4. Respect Mother Nature. The environment is a non-renewable resource. Understand your impact with regard to erosion and litter. Pack it in, pack it out and tread lightly; be aware of the literal footprint that you leave. Practice reverence when it comes to the environment. 
5. Make a pre-trip checklist. Make a list of everything you want to carry in your pack. A two-hour hike requires different gear than climbing a 14,000-foot peak and you’ll need to pack accordingly. Research exactly what you’ll need based upon the hike you’re planning and have your gear in order well before you depart. Practice stuffing your pack so you know where everything is located for easy access when you’re on the trail.  
Hiking trails in and around Vail are generally accessible as early as June and can be enjoyed through the change of seasons into late October. For additional information on hiking in Vail, please visit www.vail.com.
About Vail
There’s no place like Vail for year-round recreation, outdoor pursuits and cultural activities in the heart of the Rockies. Located just two hours west of Denver, Vail’s fresh air, rugged beauty and charming pedestrian village await guests. Discover a quaint mountain town where outdoor activities abound and the performing arts flourish. Matching the incredible winter mountain experience, Vail from May through October is characterized by a rich culinary scene, family activities, a world-class events schedule and everything in between. This summer guests can experience events like the new Vail Summer Bluegrass Series, GoPro Mountain Games, Vail Jazz Festival, the Vail International Festival of Dance, BRAVO! Vail, Gourmet on Gore culinary festival and much more. Vail offers a diverse range of lodging options from luxury brands to boutique hotels, condominiums and vacation rentals. For more information on a Vail vacation, please visit www.vail.com.
About Ellen Miller
Miller is a USATF Certified Level 2 Endurance/Athletic Coach, and works as an Outdoor Fitness Coach at the Vail Vitality Center and Vail Athletic Club in Vail, Colo. She is the Coach/Manager of the US Women's Mountain Running Team. She is the only American woman to climb Mt. Everest from both Nepal and Tibet 2 (1 of 5 women in the world) and she works guiding treks and climbs in the Himalaya. Beyond her world-wide extensive climbing resume, Miller also has climbed other Himalayan 8000-meter peaks Lhotse, Cho Oyu, and Manaslu in 2010.  In 2013, she became the second woman in history to climb Nuptse, and complete the "Everest Trilogy.' In 2002, she was voted Colorado Sportswoman of the Year for longevity and achievement in athletics. Miller takes pride in helping people at any ability level, reach their potential in fitness and wellness. As a bi-lateral hip replacement recipient, she supports and encourages other aging athletes to continue their pursuit of passion in sports.
For more information on Vail summer activities, lodging options and outdoor pursuits, please visit vail.com.


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