Trailhead: 29th, 27th or 22nd Street
Difficulty: Similar to an hour-plus on a Stairmaster
Distance: 4.8 miles round trip
Average time: 2 hours
Suggested water amount: 1 gallon
Precautions: Bikers, hikers, animals and fatigue
This week’s happy trail is Malan’s Peak where beginners become novices. Malan’s Peak, at an elevation 6,980 feet, requires hikers to gain 2,140 feet over the course of the hike. Water and hiking etiquette are essential for this hike.
Trail etiquette is important because this hike draws hikers, bikers and pet lovers. When hiking up, you should always yield to a bike and call it out so everyone knows. When you encounter another happy hiker coming down, it’s up to you to keep going or to step off the trail, take a breath, say hello and let them pass. It’s arduous going up, so most people will stop and yield to you.
Coming down the trail, I was recognized by WSU student Erik Brooks, who was hiking his first time up to Malan’s Peak, and I noticed he didn’t have any water. After a few inquiries, Erik headed back down the trail, so he could fill his canteen and save himself from a horrible first hiking experience.
As always, if you pack it in, you must pack it out, including what pets pack in as well.
When I reached Malan’s Point, the end of the first switchback, I met Skylar Stam and her dog, Ginger. She advised to make sure to pack water for your pets as well as yourself and to alternate your walking patterns. For example, if you walk using your toes, it will help save your calves, and using your calves will help save your feet.
There are five switchbacks, trails that zigzag, and the trick to these is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. This is not a race to the top, but rather a time to be in the moment. Focus on your breathing and appreciate the views of Taylor’s Canyon along the way.
I usually stop for five minutes at the end of each switchback to hydrate, adjust and set myself up for the next leg. Hiking is about enjoyment and connection with nature, so set your own pace for success and take plenty of pictures.
On the way back to the trailhead, be sure to stop and look around. There are plenty of trees and rock formations to notice that will deeply add to your overall experience in Taylor’s Canyon.
The hike to Malan’s Peak is one of mental fortitude. Like most bigger trails, you must keep going even though you might think the trail never ends and keeps getting steeper. The trail does end, however, and when you reach the top, you will be filled with a profound sense of “I am so glad that is over.”
The enjoyment comes when you’re down at the trailhead, you look back up at Malan’s and think to yourself, “Wow, I was just up there.” Do not rob yourself of this satisfaction by quitting and going home early. Get to the top, and then do it again because it gets easier the next hike.
If you see me on the trails, say hello to The Dude, and let me know what you like about hiking.