Many people hate New Year’s Eve. Sorry to tell the haters, but it’s my most favorite holiday of the year. Yes, I love to drink and party, and that’s part of it. But really, it’s because New Year’s Eve is a celebration of life – the highs and the lows, the lessons learned, the personal growth achieved, and the adventures that were had. I am so lucky to be living the life that I am, and it would be a damn shame not to appreciate it. “Live the life you love, love the life you live,” right?
So, as we inch closer to the final days of 2016, I reflect back on the challenges and the smiles I’ve had on the trail, how the river soothed tender sore spots on my heart, how I gained incredible insight in the forest, and how the trees filled me with renewed energy. Maybe you’re not a sentimental sap like I am and you’re just looking for fun experiences in Northern Colorado. Well, this list helps with that too.
For reference, here are the previous lists:
Thank you so much for following along with me on these outdoor shenanigans. I look forward to sharing many more mountain adventures on here, because there are endless possibilities to find excitement out there. And I can tell you, this next year is going to have a lot going for it, with invitations for readers to join me. Happy New Year and may 2017 be filled with breathtaking mountain moments for you!
*click on the title to read the whole post…
I had reached the falls, which felt like an empty gap where I usually expected to hear the roar of a powerful river beating against the rocks of the waterfall. The silence was deafening, compounded by the soundproof qualities of the surrounding blanket of snow. I climbed down the rocks, over the hollow river covered in snow, and sat upon the frozen, silent waterfall, watching the life trapped behind glass from small viewing window that had been scraped by previous winter wonderland visitors.
I hung out, enjoyed the view, hydrated, and snacked in the wind, then packed up to make my way down… in only an hour and a half. I hauled ass, and it was AWESOME. I was on such a Rocky Mountain High from reaching the top, pumped full of endorphins and thrilled beyond belief to have completed a redemption hike. It was one of the best hikes that I’ll remember for years to come, and in fact, it was the first high alpine winter solo snowshoe/hike that I’ve completed, let alone with the difficulty rating. So, it was extra special to me. I hope I never forget that feeling.
There are a few memorable trail experiences that have left a lasting impression in my mind because of these moments of mountain paradise, and the trails that provide them become sentimental favorites.
Snowshoeing on Sawmill Creek trail was most definitely one of those adventures full of exhilarating moments. It is absolutely stunning scenery, especially on a sunny Colorado spring day in the high country with diamond-sparkling snow contrasting against the bright bluebird sky. Straight up gorgeous.
Last month I leveled up and got into a Wilderness First Aid class. While it was really helpful, I still feel like I need to continuously study up. Thankfully, there’s the massive training book we were provided, and no doubt it will make for interesting camp conversation while we’re on the road and have run out of reading material.
I was solo for this trip. Usually when I’m on a solo hike in the wilderness I’m mulling over my own thoughts about life. These thoughts tend to be about my place in this world, what the wilderness means and how it speaks to me, and other outdoor-hippy philosophies. But on this hike I was ruminating about how I already know these thoughts, so my mind began to wander to thinking about the people I was sharing the trail with. What did this hike mean to them? Did they appreciate it too or was this just a simple vacation? Are they as moved as I am being surrounding by this incredible beauty?
From this point on, the hike became a slog – inch by inch, mile by mile – as it was all uphill. It was intense. My feet were on fire, my hips ached, my back was numb, and it took every ounce of both mental and physical endurance to keep on hiking. I haven’t been challenged like that in quite some time. It was great. There’s nothing like the feeling you get at the end of a long day on the trail, and you get to take off your boots, slap on something more comfortable, and start planning on where you’re going to drink that refreshing post-hike beer. I LOVE IT.
In all of my years of solo mountain adventuring, I’ve made some interesting observations based on the reactions from fellow outdoor enthusiasts when it comes to being alone on the trail. Most of them are positive and supportive, but not all. There have been two recent conversations that really stand out in my mind, and I’ve been having a hard time letting them roll off my high alpine sun scorched back.
However, in all of the times that I’ve been to Strawberry Park Hot Springs, we always drove up the winding, dirt county road and parked in their small parking lot. There’s not a lot of room up there and they often ask people to shuttle in. It wasn’t until my last visit that I learned you can hike in, too (also, mountain bike).
And that’s not all! If you follow Fresh Air Fort Collins on Instagram, there were awesome adventures had that are still posts in the works!