Hit the Trails

An experienced hiker shares her trusted gear for a day traversing the great outdoors.

Kim Gilder recently climbed the equivalent of Everest. Last summer the Daphne nurse anesthetist and mom of two girls completed Utah’s 29029 Everesting, where hikers are given 36 hours to hike 29,029 vertical feet — the same as Mount Everest. “It was one of the hardest things I have ever done,” she remembers, “but also one of the most rewarding.” But the outdoor enthusiast promises that you don’t have to go near that far, or climb that high, to have a phenomenal experience in the great outdoors. Closer to home, Gilder and her wife love to hike the wooded trails at Blakeley State Park. “Last spring, I crossed paths with a spotted baby fawn that was napping right on the trail!” She believes the park is one of our area’s greatest assets. “My lab loves to get in the streams to cool off.”

Gilder says she enjoys both the outdoors and exercise in general, so combining the two is a no-brainer. She alternates the more extreme challenges with relaxing hikes at Oak Mountain in Birmingham, short stretches along the Appalachian Trail or afternoon kayaks along the coast. “My parents live on Polecat Creek, so I often paddleboard from their house out into Fish River.” 

The right gear can make or break the experience, and Gilder has already found what works for her. Here she shares some of her go-to picks for a day on the trails.

For hiking, a good pair of trail shoes or boots are essential. I like Altra trail shoes for their wide-toe box. 
Altra Women’s Timp 4 $160 Red Beard’s Outfitter

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I like Goodr Sunglasses. They are affordable, polarized and don’t slip.
Goodr Gardening with a Kraken sunglasses $25 Fleet Feet

I’m a big fan of Balega socks, the blister resistant quarter crew in particular. In Utah, I was able to climb over 30 hours straight in those with not one blister! The quarter crew is good for hiking because it prevents little rocks and pebbles from getting in your sock.
Balega Blister Resist Quarter Socks • $20 Running Wild

A good pair of trekking poles are also nice to have for stability and support. I like the Black Diamond Brand because they are super light and fold down easily to fit in your pack. 
Black Diamond Trail Explorer 3 Trekking Poles $60 Alabama Outdoors

I really like Osprey backpacks. I have one of their day packs as well as one made for multi-day backpacking trips. They are very comfortable and don’t put a lot of pressure on the neck and shoulders.
Osprey Women’s Sirrus 34 Backpack • $200 Red Beard’s Outfitter

For 29029 Everesting, I used a product called Salty Britches. It’s got a funny name, but it was a lifesaver. You can put it on your feet or anywhere else you don’t want blisters or chaffing. 
Salty Britches Chafing Ointment • $14 The Village Mercantile

I like Precision Hydration. They make gels, chews and hydration mix. You can put in your info online and they will recommend a plan for you based on what you are doing. How far, how long, etc. 
Precision Fuel & Hydration PF 30 Gel • $3 each Fleet Feet
The old Cliff bar stand-by or some trail mix gives me enough energy to keep going.

Nalgene bottles are good water bottles for hiking. They are lightweight and fit in the side of most backpacks.
Nalgene 32oz Wide Mouth Sustain Water Bottle • $17 Alabama Outdoors

The red hat of 29029 is a symbol to the community that you’ve reached Everest. It is only earned, never given.


Alabama Outdoors9 Du Rhu Drive, Mobile. 340-0528. alabamaoutdoors.com

Fleet Feet 3972 Airport Blvd., Mobile. 461-6701. fleetfeetmobile.com

Red Beard’s Outfitter 51 Kenneth St., Mobile. 217-7466. redbeardsoutfitter.com

Running Wild 72 S. Section St., Fairhope. 990-4412. shop.werunwild.com

The Village Mercantile 925 Beach Club Trail, Gulf Shores. 224-3660 

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