- Associated Press - Friday, May 23, 2014

TRUCKEE, Calif. (AP) - There’s nothing unusual about proud hotel owners such as Jeff and Patty Baird getting excited about showing visitors around. But what’s unusual about this couple is their excitement is as much, if not more, about hiking the trails in the surrounding Sierra Nevada than the luxury property they built together in 2006.

“You just sort of show up, we’ll show you the way,” Cedar House co-owner Patty Baird, said not long after the couple insisted a visitor joining them for a hike use a set of trekking poles from their gear stash.

Jeff Baird, 68, described the goal of the couple, first time hotel owners, as an attempt to share what they love about mountains with as many people as possible. Not only does Cedar House employ a desk clerk who is also author of a published guidebook and a restaurant server who is an avid rock climber, they stock up on ultra-light hiking gear so there’s no excuse for guests to lounge too long in their rooms.

“We’ll put them on the trail with the best equipment, with the best GPS tracking, so they can’t get lost,” said Jeff Baird, who was a contractor before building and opening the hotel with his wife.

The two also know quite a bit about traveling by foot, they’ve recently traveled to Peru and Japan for trekking adventures and hike as much as 300 miles per month around the Sierra Nevada, depending on the season.

With summer, prime hiking season in the area, right around the corner, they’re hoping their experience on the trail and guiding from the hotel can help other people be ready to push themselves.

Not surprisingly, much of the advice from the seasoned couple is about preparing before a hike in order to have as much fun as possible when the time comes to explore.

One of the aspects of hiking or trekking they emphasized is that, unlike lots of sports, nearly anyone can do it without much money, long distance travel or expertise.

“We can’t all climb Mt. Everest,” Patty Baird said. “But I do think a lot of a lot of us like to challenge ourselves and trekking is an attainable challenge.”

She says preparation starts with getting body. More specifically she tells prospective guests planning to visit to Cedar House, especially if the plan includes a guided hike, to be ready.

“We do try to prep them in advance, by walking,” she said. “Just to build up your mileage, build up your endurance.”

She said a good first step is to get into a routine that includes not only intense walking but some hill climbs as well. Gradually push the distance and intensity to the level it will take to comfortably join a long day hike.

“If you are going to do it you can’t expect to feel good if you just got off the couch,” she said. “You need to stress the body a little bit, the whole leisurely stroll is not going to get it done.”

Jeff Baird had his own list of hiking preparations for people, in addition to his wife’s conditioning advice.

“The biggest bulk of people can walk and they can build themselves up from zero to almost anything we can do around here in a very short time,” he said.

Having led and joined numerous guided, group hikes he said it’s important that everyone show up prepared for the group to have a successful trip. Seemingly little things, like an uncomfortable hiking boot or forgotten snacks, can grow worse as a hike goes on. And the problems of the unprepared can begin to slow down the entire group, which makes for an unpleasant dynamic.

When it comes to clothing it’s important to dress in layers, especially in the mountains where hikers can turn a corner, say from a wind-shielded, southern-facing exposure to a wind-swept, shaded and eastern or western exposure in mere moments.

He and Patty recommend wearing a short-sleeved, non-cotton base layer, a long sleeved layer on top of that and a jacket. It’s also a good idea to have a rain poncho that’s large enough to cover the hiker and his or her pack.

Other items Jeff Baird recommended people bring, even for day hikes, included an emergency blanket, head lamp, a water filtration device, sunscreen, a small first aid kit and some food.

He also said hikers will enjoy their trips more in the upcoming season if they make an effort to think about how to hike efficiently.

“We concentrate on the strides, the cadence and the breathing,” he said.

Finding a sustainable combination of those three factors, Jeff Baird said, allows hikers to find a rhythm that’s steady and will allow them to relax and cover more ground with less burnout than they would at an erratic pace.

“Keep this momentum going and your mind relaxes and it relaxes the rest of your body and your breathing becomes much easier,” he said.

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Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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