I picked up writing Fresh Air Fort Collins mid-August after Chloe had finished up writing during a two-year streak. So while I haven’t been writing on here for longer than four months, I still thought it would be fun to do a Best of 2014 post to highlight the outdoor adventures I had the most fun on and list the most popular posts that you all have found to be the most helpful in getting you out on the trails.
And, it’s something I’ve been doing on Feasting Fort Collins for the last five years, so I thought I’d keep it going over here too, since it’s a reader favorite feature as well.
New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday of the year. There are a multitude of reasons why I love it so much, but the essence is looking back at the year filled with experiences, good and bad, and looking forward to what another year may bring. It’s a middle moment, sandwiched in between the past and the future. While most people think of New Year’s Eve as a night of drunken debauchery (and yes, it can be), it’s really a celebration of life. You party because you’ve made it through another year, you’ve learned, you’ve loved, you’ve lived.
Writing Fresh Air Fort Collins has helped me live life to the fullest. I hope some of these posts have inspired you to do the same, giving you an idea of where to start in our beautiful mountains of Colorado. Thank you so much for following along with me on these crazy fun escapes. I look forward to sharing many more mountain adventures on here. Happy New Year and may 2015 be filled with exhilarating moments for you!
*click on the title to read the whole post…
I will never forget the solo hike where I was chased out of the trees by two moose.
I didn’t see or hear anything and I was hyper alert because I was alone. I unbuttoned my pants. I heard a rustle and then? There’s a moose looking right at me only a few feet away.
“OH SHIT. OH SHIT. OH SHIT!” I exclaimed and grabbed my pants. I jumped behind a tree, took a breath and looked at the moose again. It was not looking happy because I startled it and it was starting to walk towards me. I looked at the distance I had to get to my car and decided that I could sprint to it. So I did. I ran like hell.
I thought I was familiar with all of the nooks and crannies of Poudre Canyon, but I realized there’s still so much more to explore. This post has inspired me to hike more of the Rawahs in 2015. This was the most read post of the whole year, even before I started writing Fresh Air.
I chose these sites as the best because of their views, surrounding beauty, and campground space. There are a lot of campgrounds that are too close to the main highway, have little access to recreation like fishing and hiking, aren’t particularly pretty with few trees or streams, and have tent pads/lots that are too close to each other (kind of like the houses in the burbs). This list makes sure you have it all! Each campground is linked to a Gaia GPS Map (one of the best maps I’ve found online!). Not only will you be able to see where the campsites are, but nearby trails, lakes, and other recreational spots that might interest you.
It doesn’t matter what time of year you go camping – be it Labor Day Weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, or any time in the summer in between. You’ll be able to reference this list for suggestions and use it as a resource whenever you’re looking for the best campgrounds in Poudre Canyon!
This post taught me to always be prepared for a hike for those moments of trail spontaneity.
This trip sent me up Pingree Park Road. It’s an area that I’m familiar with having camped on Crown Point Road multiple times, and camped near Tom Bennet campground on occasion as well. I’ve also hiked up to Denny’s Point on one of our wedding anniversary camping trips without the kids. The Road to CSU’s Pingree Park is absolutely amazing, especially when you reach the end. You’re met with breathtaking views. I know that’s cliche to say in Colorado, but it’s honestly the truth. I remember the first time we drove to Pingree Park on that anniversary trip – warm summer breeze coming through the windows of our truck, the sun shining on our skin, the brilliant blue sky contrasted by radiant green trees, and then the majestic Mummy Mountain Range towering above the valley. I got goosebumps and teared up. It was moving.
I learned more about rattlesnakes from this post than I ever imagined I would in my life. I also discovered a space where you can escape the crowds in Poudre Canyon. I loved researching this Open Space! It was also the 3rd most read post of the year!
There’s a hibernaculum in the area where the snakes are born and leave a scent trail when they venture out. There’s about a five-mile range that snakes travel in, so where there are rattlesnakes, there are places for them to hunker down for the winter not too far away (Devil’s Backbone and Horse Tooth, anyone?). The hibernaculum isn’t particularly easy to find and depending on foot traffic in the area, they may move to safer places with fewer people. Snakes really don’t want to get all up in your business.
I’m an essayist at heart and this post allowed me to get to those writing roots. It was also a post that highlighted the philosophical change a person can go through in regard to hunting. This journey changed my life.
One night Bill suggested we watch Steve Rinella’s Wild Within. It was the episode where he was foraging in San Francisco and cooking roadkill raccoon (seriously). In the episode he mentioned the book he wrote, The Scavenger’s Guide To Haute Cuisine. I can say that this writer, and this book, single-handedly inspired me to contemplate my view point and do some introspective reconsideration. He spoke about the connection to our food and it resonated with me so deeply that I recognized being anti-hunting wasn’t inline with the farm-to-table philosophies I believe in. “Everyone eats bacon, but nobody wants to stab the pig,” he says in another episode during a wild boar hunt.
This was the single most amazing outdoor adventure I went on this year. I will remember this trip for the rest of my life. This was the 2nd more read post in the entire year of 2014 and months later I’m still getting emails from readers who’ve said they’re inspired to start elk hunting next year.
“OH MY GOD! THESE ARE FRESH AS HELL!” I tried not to whisper-yell. There were fresh elk tracks leading us up the mountain side. We followed each one, step by step, pausing to listen every few moments. This was a roller coaster experience that you only see in the movies. It was mental whiplash. At one moment we were accepting defeat, and now we had a viable last chance. I’ve never felt more like an excitable tracking hound with explosive energy trying to burst from my chest than in this moment. I felt like running up the mountain.
I had never been truly snowshoeing until this trip. I’ve always hated winter and being cold. This post helped me to get out of my comfort zone and expand my boundaries. It was a breathtaking experience!
Well, holy hell, was that a severe understatement. I went snowshoeing with a friend last weekend and it was absolutely incredible. It was one of those outdoor treks that left us grinning ear-to-ear afterward, completely full to the brim with fresh mountain air and pure joy. This was a real Rocky Mountain high and it lasted for a solid two days. I’m hooked for life!
I seem to learn things the hard way. This post was inspired by a snowshoeing trek gone wrong. Fortunately, it only takes once for me to catch on!
This is the essence of wilderness survival – be prepared for any and all situations that may arise. There are graveyards full of people who thought, “it’s not going to happen to me.” From cross-country skiing at City Park, backcountry snowboarding in the high country, and mountaineering on Long’s Peak, Colorado adventurers are out there in the ice and snow living it up. As we should be! We should always be aware of potential wilderness dangers no matter the season, and we shouldn’t let that hold us back, but some of the risks dramatically increase in the winter. Nobody is immune from danger. Winter sports-related injuries send a lot of people to the emergency department for sprains, muscle strains, dislocations or fractures, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. It’s smart to think ahead and be prepared for what you’re getting into so Larimer Country Search and Rescue doesn’t get a call to start looking for you.
Here’s a complete list of things to consider before your next winter adventure, including lessons learned the hard way! Because apparently that’s how I learn best.