One thing that I’ve been trying to focus on is being in the moment. I used to hate this phrase. It seemed like some new age ideology, which I stubbornly try to believe that I’m not into, and it seemed to carry a sense of shame with how you regularly live your life. I don’t know – I just hated it when people would talk to me about living in the moment.
But, as I grew older and (maybe) wiser, I began to realize that I spent a lot of my mental energy on the past and the future, which would almost completely obliterated the present.
If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.
This was most certainly a trail time realization after my husband, Bill mentioned it to me, but it took sweating it out on a hike somewhere to let this sink in. That’s not to say the practice is easy, because here I am with 20/20 hindsight on my moon lit, glow stick snowshoe hike on the Gould Loop realizing that it could very well be my last snowshoe adventure for this winter. And I wonder to myself, knowing that may be the last snowshoe trip, did I enjoy every moment? Did I soak it up and appreciate it? When you’re not in the moment, it’s lost forever.
Every month I write up the Fresh Air Fort Collins Extra Mile Newsletter. It’s full of organized events to change things up on your outdoor excursions, give you some creative ideas to try outside, as well as a list of classes and seminars to help you increase your outdoor skills. I often wonder if it’s useful enough for readers. After writing up the one for February, the glowstick full moon open house at the Moose Visitor Center in State Forest State Park hosted by Colorado Parks & Wildlife sounded like a lot of fun. So, I put it into my schedule and started to rally some friends to join me.
Colorado Parks & Wildlife hosts a full moon glow stick trail event a few times during the winter at the Center. They line the Gould Loop with randomly placed glowsticks and set up a hot chocolate and cookie stop in one of the cabins that line the trail. Everyone wears glowstick bands during their snowshoeing or cross-country skiing experience. There’s also a potluck aspect to this where you can eat dinner before or after your excursion.
It’s a popular event with people returning year after year. There can be anywhere between 90 to 250 attending, but the funny thing is that it doesn’t feel like it. The organization is really loose and free. You basically show up with your potluck dish, eat whenever you want, and do as much of the trail as you want. It’s mountain whatever philosophy. I love it.
Fresh Air guest blogger Becky and I made the trek up there together, talking about our families and trail epiphanies along the 2 hour drive. We were some of the first people to get there, so we strapped on our snowshoes and hit the trail, opting to eat our potluck dinner afterward.
The trail was groomed and easy to navigate. It’s a 6.5 mile loop (that’s truthfully a tad longer) with trail signs, and it’s mostly flat with very little elevation gains. It’s easy for kids (not so much the length) or beginners. Here’s a review that Chloe wrote January 2014. My snowshoes were giving me blisters for some odd reason, so Becky let me borrow her microspikes. The trail was packed enough that you didn’t even need snowshoes. There was no postholing with crampons, as long as I stayed on the trail.
It was beautiful snowshoeing at sunset and watching the moon rise over Nokhu Crags. The moon was bright enough that we didn’t need to pull out our headlamps. The light reflected off of the snow creating a deep blue glow that made it very easy to stay on the trail. It was magical.
We’d occasionally cross paths with a few people, and then towards the end of the trail we came across a large number of groups of people starting later. I’m an antisocial hiker. I love the silence and not being obligated to chat since I do that all the time for work and family. My hikes are often an escape from everything else I do. However, it was nice to switch it up and chat with people about their trail times, how much they loved this event last year, and the countless “hello’s” as we passed. It was both friendly and fun!
And then? We finished the trail, ripped off our snowshoes, and shoveled food in our faces at the potluck. People baked homemade rolls, had hot chili and soups in crockpots, delicious salads, and desserts as far as the eye could see. IT WAS AWESOME! This was the best way to finish up 3 hours on snowshoes!
This week we did get more snow in the high country, so snowsports aren’t over yet for Colorado. The snow sticks up there until mid-May and sometimes early June. If you’re looking for something chill, you might want to consider the Gould Loop (even though glowstick hikes are over). And if your adventures are getting a little stale, check out the monthly Extra Mile Newsletter for some new ideas to freshen it up. I know I’ll be adding more to my own calendar since this event was so much fun.
And who knows – maybe it wasn’t my last snowshoe trip. With the way Colorado is, I could be doing wildflower hikes and snowshoe trips in the same week. But if it was, I certainly made the most of it!
One Way Length: 6.5 miles round trip in the loop
Beginning Elevation: 9,400 ft
Peak Elevation: 9,650 ft