When people hear that you’re from Colorado they often respond with a conspiratorial raising of eyebrows and a knowing smile. There seems to be a general assumption that, as a Coloradan, you partake in certain recreational activities for which Colorado has become known in recent years. This, in my opinion, is a rather unfair assumption. Allow me to set the record straight once and for all. We don’t all like to hit up the local dispensaries when we’re in town, not when there are so many mountains to summit instead. This is my rocky mountain high.
I wracked my brain to find a suitably profound thought or quote to accompany this photo but came up empty. Sometimes it’s enough to simply enjoy the view. Happy trails to all the hikers out there, in Colorado and elsewhere.
One of my favorite parts about being out in nature is imagining a group of hobbits traversing similar terrain. I’m always on the lookout for views that remind me of the epic struggle of the War of the Ring, whether it be the tidy gardens of Valparaiso that are so much like the ones decorating Hobbiton or the snow capped peaks of Colorado that bring the Misty Mountains of Tolkien’s story to life.
This photo was taken at the North Chagrin Reservation in Ohio where a network of earthen paths allow for easy walking among the tall vibrant trees. I couldn’t help thinking of the immense silver barked mallorn trees of Lothlorien, home to the Galadhrim. Nature truly is the stuff of fantasy and has a way of making you believe in magic.
I’m excited to say that I have now visited two of the great lakes. My sister and I spent the weekend savoring the flavors and atmosphere of Little Italy in Cleveland, just a short drive from Lake Erie. While sampling the local cuisine occupied most of our time, we were also on a mission to explore the great outdoors of Ohio. We decided to try the North Chagrin Reservation for our first outing and were not disappointed. One could spend hours getting lost in nature amid the winding wooded paths of the reservation. We spent the morning investigating offshoots along the trail although our interest was peaked when we began to see signs for Squire Castle.
I grew up in a family of happy, hearty Colorado hikers. My dad, the boyscout, instilled in my sister and I healthy respect for preparedness when venturing out into the wilderness. Whether we’re hiking two miles or twelve, we always make sure to bring a pack stocked with water, extra gatorade, snacks and/or lunch depending on the length of the hike, and other outdoor essentials. ‘Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it’ has been one of our long standing family mottos.
Friends and coworkers are always shocked when I show up to our weekend day hike shouldering a full camelback and wearing a good pair of boots. It’s not uncommon for them to arrive in jeans and their favorite pair of loafers, toting nothing more than a light windbreaker. Depending on the weather and the degree of difficulty of the hike, this can be sufficient and I may occasionally be over prepared as is my preference. When it comes to hiking, it’s important to find people who speak your language. What one person calls a lovely nature walk may be deemed a rigorous hike by someone else.
Have you ever been struck with an overwhelming urge to throw your arms in the air and skip off down the trail while singing the lyrics to the theme of a 1965 musical about the Von Trapp family? Did you do it? Sometimes when out in nature you just can’t help it, especially when nature looks like this.
It’s why I usually hit the trails with close friends and family who understand the pure joy of journeying to these places. They’re more than happy to share in the musical celebration, even joining in singing the chorus lines and back up vocals whenever the need arises.
Today is all about the photo. The breathless hike to this spot was one of the steepest and most challenging sections of trail on my entire ten day vacation to Colorado. However, reaching the top and stepping onto level ground once again, I felt a bit like a weary explorer discovering the lost city of Atlantis for the first time. After countless water breaks and gasping pauses, my parents and I finally arrived. We had found a floating fairy kingdom in the sky. Had it been night time I could have stretched up on tip toe and brushed the stars with my fingertips. It was the perfect Colorado day.
Everyone knows the rules for a standard game of rock, paper, scissors (excluding fun additions like lizards and Spock). Rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper and paper beats rock. I never fully understood the mechanics of that last rule until I came across this example while hiking in Colorado. It makes sense now! This is how paper beats rock. Nature is full of surprises and my favorite place to ponder life’s big questions.
When walking familiar trails in the mountains of Colorado I love to imagine my favorite fellowship of nine led by a wizard in a tall pointed grey hat traveling similar paths. It brings me no end of entertainment to picture a hoard of orc warg riders charging over the distant ridges to meet the cavalry of the Rohirrim. The scenery while journeying to hidden icy lakes and craggy mountain peaks is the stuff of fantasy. Great tales of legendary battles and mythic creatures are set in places like this.
On this clear mountain day I wondered what the giant had been playing when he tossed these boulders in a pile. Perhaps sunlight on the surface of the adjoining lake caught his eye, distracting him from his game. Maybe someday he’ll come back to finish it. I haven’t met any mountain giants yet but I’m always on the lookout. Happy trails!
Posing for pictures can be a tricky business when you get far enough away from paved roads. Snapping the perfect photo often devolves into an animated romp through the trees, picking a path across gurgling streams and balancing atop the ridges of boulders. In my experience, it’s an all terrain test requiring sure footing, concentration and a bit of cardio strength. However, scrambling over rocks and creeks is much easier with a helping hand and the right pair of boots.