Last weekend, I was in Vail, Colorado, for my cousin Hilary’s wedding and while that was what my family’s entire weekend centered around, a few of us were still able to take in the beauty and majesty of the landscape by going for a long hike in the Colorado countryside.
If you know me, you know I’m not the most graceful person. I’m not a perfectionist either, but when I set out to do things I’m bound and determined to get them done. This is how I see hiking. I know it’s going to be tough. I know I’m going to stumble, probably fall, and not do it like i ‘should’ do it, but I’ll make my way...and hey, that’s the point right?!
The best view comes after the hardest climb. - Ain’t that the truth. We could pertain this to many situations in life, right? Let me explain.
It wasn’t until my twenties that I decided that I liked hiking. I’ve hiked a little bit here and there and I always forget my love/ hate relationship with it. I set out to do it. I get really excited thinking I’m going to get away from the madness of everyday life, clear my head, throw on some classical music, and have epiphany after epiphany. Most of the time, it doesn’t go that way. It will come down to the fact that I get nervous my phone will ring or I’ll miss work emails, or one of my family members will have an emergency... so I usually just end up walking with music, and just being still, in the droll of my everyday, monotonous life.
But this particular time, in Colorado, I went hiking with Kait and Rachel. We knew going into it, it was an eight mile hike to a lake at the top. So what did we do? We took showers, put on our lulu-iest Lululemon and Nike gear, threw our hair back, grabbed a water bottle for ourselves, macadamia nuts - FOR THE SQUIRRELS, and headed off to start our big adventure. One of us was very gung-ho, another was contented, while the last one was very skeptical and I’ll just leave that to your imaginations as to who was what. :)
We began our journey and it was tough right off the bat. After 30 minutes, I think we took more breaks and time outs than Ross and Rachel did, in Friends. Our safe word was “bear” because we thought it was funny. Good thing no one was hiking around us because we said “bear” quite often. Also a good thing that we were fortunate enough not to see any bears because we probably wouldn’t have taken the others too seriously.
Anywho, so we are on this hike. We are trekking up river rock, over sticks, through branches, climbing straight upwards and every 15 minutes saying, “We are almost there!” At one point in time, a gent told us we were halfway—which we didn’t believe. We laughed and headed on, only realizing later that he was right.
The altitude in Beaver Creek is roughly 8,080 ft., so breathing is a lot different there. It’s easier to get winded since there’s less oxygen the higher you climb. Nonetheless, we pressed on, taking several breaks or small moments to complain about an ache or pain, or long enough to get disoriented and mess up a shoulder. We were tired, we felt a little defeated, but yet, we still pressed on. This lasted for nearly two hours, until the loud rushing of the large rushing creek next to us nearly went quiet. Onward and upward, onward and upward.
We began eating sweaty macadamia nuts meant for the squirrels we wanted to feed. We often would catch our breath, “bear” while older couples with walking sticks would walk casually past us. If they can do it, we can too, right!?
Finally, we passed a couple with a dog. “How much longer?”, we finally asked. “Five feet and you’re there.” the woman said nonchalantly back to us. So we pressed on, again for the finaltime and that’s when I saw it. The trail began to open up, the trees began to look friendlier and we were no longer climbing upward, we were on a straight path to something more magical and glorious than I’ve ever seen before. I gasped aloud as I walked over to the lake and looked a the beautiful water in front of me, not believing that we actually made it, that we were here. The water looked as if it had glitter on it and was boasting its bright colors from the light the sun was providing. Almost as picturesque, I looked over as a large bird made its way soaring low across the water, looking for food. I had no words. It was then that I realized how amazing and how truly beautiful and big and wonderful our world was and how blessed I was to be a part of it.
That day will forever remain in my heart. I will never forget how we struggled so hard to get up there, how we fought to make it to the top, and once we got there, how breathtaking it was. The walk back down was more lackluster. It took us less than half the time and we realized how ridiculous we were for not packing more waters and food to keep with us, so if you’re hiking, don’t forget these essential things: water, protein (not just nuts for the squirrels, and a camera to photograph where you been. And if you’re ever in Colorado, make sure you do that hike and you too, will not be disappointed.