Exploring… Myself.

It seems it’s about time to follow my own positive, ambitious outlook on life that is clearly depicted in my adventurous posts below.

These past several months in Denver have had me on an emotional rollercoaster. Going through a confusing breakup with a long-term partner and friend, continuing to adjust to the realities of adulthood, and doubting my career and other life choices, have been a lot to take on. I say this not to depress anyone, but to make it clear that along with any rosy adventures, we still all have to deal with thorns. And that’s ok. Because it’s all part of the journey.

Since breaking up with my ex, someone who I was excited to share this chapter of my life with, I have been thinking a lot about why I’m here in Denver and if it is right for me or if it was just right for us. It is a question I live with constantly but for now, I think it is too soon to tell. I love my adventures here and cherish all the amazing times I’ve had in the mountains and all the wonderful people I’ve met, but with those incredible adventures has also come a lot of internal struggle. I keep feeling as if I can do more, be more and create more – yet haven’t found the opportunities to do so. I am just beginning to apply to new jobs that I feel align better with who I am and what I want to do so of course things can work out, but I think it’s always important to question where we’re at and keep ourselves open to endless possibilities.

Despite the struggles I’ve been experiencing, I am finally at a place where I am ready to be me and do me without worrying about the past, how I got here or what I’m doing compared to others. The last time I was single I was a junior in college and thought I had life figured out – man was I wrong. I’ve never been one to overly plan my future, but in many ways I think I thought I’d already found the wisdom to live a great life. And I have so far. But recently I’ve also been learning how much I didn’t know and have had to pick back up where I left off on my personal growth as a single person four years ago. Now that I’m a full-fledged adult with a romantic relationship and incredible, life-changing adventures behind me, I’ve been forced to step back and re-evaluate where I see myself going from here. It’s a tough question but I think taking the time to work with yourself to find the answer is the best way to get to where you are going.

Life is an adventure and can consist of endless possibilities, places and people, but it still requires a lot of effort, thought and diligence. The hikes, camping weekends and trips to Cuba, Europe, etc. have been great but one of the most important trips you can take is internally too. And that is something I am finally going to take the time to work on.

– Annaleigh

The Calm of Winter

Colorado

As winter rolls in, so have lot of feelings, new activities and new people. With my ex no longer taking up much of my life, I’ve been forced to work on being ok alone and opening myself up in whole new way to people. I used to leave all my emotions and “real” talk for him but now I find myself opening up more to new friends and even complete strangers. I miss having “my person” but it is nice to be connecting with new people on a deeper level again – I think I’ve missed that.

Last weekend I went to Breckenridge to celebrate a couple friends’ birthdays and had such a great time with so many new faces. By the end I felt like we were one big, crazy family… I guess spending 2 days in a cabin in the mountains with people will do that. We mostly drank, danced, drank more in the hot tub, and played in the snow.  The weekend was simply fun that way. I also noticed how different everyone was and how much character and personality we each had – our differences made it that much more fun and special.

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On the last day, my friend Charlie and I hit the slopes for the first time this winter. It felt great, and somehow not that weird, to get out there again. Of course I stuck to the greens and blues but it seemed like it came back pretty easily. I can really see myself improving a ton by the end of this season, you know, now that I’m a local 😉 It really is magical that I am living this life – one I never expected to live as a child. It shows me how much I’ve grown and pushed myself over the years… and I’m proud. I’m proud to live somewhere full of new opportunities and activities that once seemed so far away and unattainable as a Florida girl. The snow’s pristine beauty and energy gets me every time. Like a lot of Colorado locals, I look forward to every snowstorm because it means winter wonderland and good skiing – an excitement I’ve found is unique to this state. In many places, people whine and complain about the winters but here, people smile hop on the slopes. It’s just fun. Pure fun.

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With those exciting days though, also come days like today that are wet and ugly but calming in a way. I’ve spent the entire day at home and it’s been lovely. I’ve focused on me and used every minute the way I wanted to. Some moments have felt lonely but I’m thankful. I’ve felt so cozy in my sweet Colorado home today and have been able to reflect on the life I’ve built here. Yes, there have been road bumps and heart breaks, but I’m here and I’m still moving forward. Tomorrow I head out early in the am to ski again and I’m stoked – there’s always something to look forward to 🙂

This Thanksgiving I’ll of course miss my family and will feel the guilt of not being there with them, but I will also enjoy the presence of my new life and the great new people in it. I’m hosting a Friendsgiving Wednesday with around 10 people and plan to head out on an adventure Thursday with a friend. The joy never ends… even when it feels like it might.

 

 

Not in Florida anymore

Colorado, USA 

The end of October is somehow nearing and it’s that time of month I begin getting antsy about writing a new post. Now that I work five days a week, things don’t seem to change quite as quickly as when I was traveling but that’s ok – at least I still have something to write about 😉

One of the highlights from the past month was Denver’s first snow of the 2018 / 2019 winter season. Coming from someone who lived in Florida her whole life prior to Colorado, the white snowfall was so magical and calming. Since it was a Sunday and there was no reason to leave the house, I stay cozied up inside, watching movies and cooking. I did step outside for a walk at one point and of course felt compelled to make a snow angel on the snow-covered golf course behind my house. The snow really brings out the kid in me…

Other than the snowfall, October has been a bit of a blur. My parents visited at the beginning of the month and we went to Breckenridge for a weekend. It was a lovely time until we drove back into Denver, on my first snowy, icey drive on Loveland Pass, and into cold, rainy weather in the city. We made the best of it though with yummy food, the Coors brewery tour, a movie at one of Denver’s oldest theaters and beer at Irish Rover. My parents’ company was comforting and exhausting at the same time. I forgot how much driving people around and listening to old people’s stories (sorry Mom and Dad) exhausts me.

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While the month has been a blur, it’s also been exciting. I saw two great shows this month so far – St. Paul & the Broken Bones and Tycho – and also booked a week long trip to Europe with my college friend, Emily, for February. We’re probably going to freeze our butts off but we figured we both live in the cold now (she’s in NYC) so we can deal. The cheap flights are totally worth it. We’ll be going to Iceland for an overnight layover (Blue Lagoon, holla!), Germany (Berlin, Nuremburg, and Munich), and I’ll be going to Zurich by myself for one night since it was cheaper to fly out of there. I’m thrilled to have big travel plans for the first time in what feels like a while. I so miss exploring other cultures and being out there in the unfamiliar.

In other news, my relationship problems are still a struggle and constantly on my mind but I think its strain on me has prompted me to do things like book a trip to Europe, spontaneously get tickets for a band I didn’t know (St. Paul & the Broken Bones) and end up loving them, get to know other people more and learn to be comfortable being alone again (still working on that but it’s getting easier). I’ve also had a lot of fun with “him” and with “others,” casually. The most fun I still have is with him though. There’s too much fire and history between the two of us for it to be easy to be apart or move on, and I know he feels it too. I’m continuing to give him space and attempting to move on with my life but he is still a priority for me and I’m doing what I can to keep him in my life while he figures things out because maybe I’m just naive, but I really feel that with some time things will turn around we’ll end up even better.

Speaking of time, winter is just around the corner. Although there are still days in the 70s here and there, the days and nights are getting cooler, and sun is going down quicker. I’m both excited and a tad nervous (but in a good way) for my first winter. Some say it is going to be a more intense winter than usual while others predict it is going to have low precipitation like last year. In my experience here so far, I am in love with the snow. I love feeling the seasons change and seeing the snow fall while I look out my cozy, victorian home window or my office downtown. It is so different and exciting for me. On the other hand, though, I am a bit nervous about driving in the snow and am sad about not being able to camp anymore on the weekends. Instead, it is time to strap on those skiis and do what 10-year-old me never thought I’d do – ski on a weekly basis (I hated skiing when I was younger). Colorado continues to bring new adventures, new friends and new challenges, all of which continue to change me. Here’s to living.

 

 

 

The leaves are changing and so is life

Denver, CO

The leaves are changing, the weather is changing and so is life… After a vibrant, lively summer of exploring the mountains, a new city and new people, things have slowed down and there are a lot of moving parts in my life. I’ve noticed that so far it seems life has a way of changing things up about every six months.

My boyfriend, James, and I are now separated for one. I don’t like to say “broken up” because that’s not what it feels like… there was not fight, just a difference in situations within our Denver lives. After a lot of going and not much time focusing or saving, I guess it all got to be too much for a committed relationship to handle. Although the initial conversations around changing our relationship was hard, I’ve come to an understanding that it’s what he needs and I’m supporting him. We still care about each other and love to be around each other so are making every effort to still spend time together while not being a couple for now –  tricky, yes, but we’re making it work.

I also had one of my roommates, Paige, move out to live with her boyfriend. Her and I became pretty close over the last several months and I can’t thank her enough for being such a warm, friendly face to welcome me to Denver and my new home. I was so sad when she said she was leaving, especially because she has an amazing dog named Barkley who I miss so much. One of her and my other roommate’s good friends, James, is moving in though so chances are she’ll be around plenty.

And with all those changes, the leaves are also changing – quite early I might add. Middle of Sept. my high school friends visited and we took a day trip to Aspen – not a quick drive, but it was beautiful.  We saw the Maroon Bells and all the yellows, oranges and reds nestled into the mountains. So lovely… I’ve never really witnessed a real “Fall” so I am so excited about enjoying the seasonal changes for the first time in my life.

With the temperatures getting cooler, people are sneaking in their last camping trips and hikes in for the season. Tomorrow I plan to camp near Vail for a friend’s birthday and I expect to be cold but it may be my last chance for a while so I’m going to go for it. Last weekend, despite a broken toe that was stepped on while out on the town, and a serious hangover, I snuck in a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park with a friend and did the Bierstadt Lake Loop Trail. It offered great views of the changing leaves within the park and was easy enough for someone with a broken toe. My friend and I hung out by the lake at the top for quite a while, taking in the fresh air and views, before it was time to head back to the city.

I’m getting excited for the winter but I’m also sad to goodbye to a lovely summer. Colorado has treated me right so far, offering me more views and adventures in a few months than I’ve had in my whole life before now. Today I sit in a coffee shop in Boulder, after visiting my friend at the Google campus for lunch (super impressive by the way and wow what great food…) in a sweater and jacket since its 48 degrees and grey outside. It truly is nice though… being witness to these seasonal changes. For the first time in a few months, I’ve woken up chilly and gone to bed comfortable (without AC).  I can’t wait for more camping next season but for now it’s time to strap on the boots for an upcoming ski season. Here’s to more mountain adventures – this time with snow.

 

 

 

Mt. Elbert – The climb up my first 14er

Mt. Elbert, CO

Yesterday, I summited my first 14er when I reached the top of Colorado’s highest peak, Mt. Elbert, using the North Mt. Elbert Trail. It was the hardest hike I’ve done to date and one that challenged me mentally as much as it did physically. It was steep, long, and high in altitude, making it one of the harder hikes you can do.

Since I underestimated the hike because I hadn’t done adequate research, I was surprised by the intensity of the challenge it presented me with. There were times I didn’t think I could make it and times I felt like the most badass lady in the world. Mountains like that will do that to you… they present a constant wave of emotions while you step foot by foot in the direction of the summit that you know you must reach to be content with yourself.

The trail started out with gradual switchbacks through the pine forest, a glorious flat ground for about half a mile and began to hardcore steepen before we were even past the tree line. I remember telling my friends “wow that part was so steep”… little did I know the rest of the trail would be that way… Once we were past the tree line, two friends and I stopped to take a break, looking back at a beautiful view of the mountain range in front of us and trees below us. At that point, we were already tired and realizing this hike was going to be much harder than we realized. We asked passerby’s how much longer we had and while they were honest and told us we had quite a while, they were encouraging and confident we would get there. That is where the real trek began… From then on, it was straight up the mountain from hell (jk but kinda). I had to take several breaks at nearly every sort of turn or even halfway up a stretch to catch my breath and motivate myself to continue.

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Inclining for the whole rest of the hike was tough. At first it didn’t seem so bad (hence when I felt like a badass) but as the elevation increased, it only got harder to breathe and to exert the energy required to take steps towards the summit. I must’ve taken a break every 12 ft. or so before I would have to stop and take a breather, and sometimes even sit down and have a snack and some water before I could even imagine continuing on. That is where the mental challenge came in. At that point, I had to have patience with myself and awareness of my body like I never had to before. I had to pay close attention to how much my muscles could handle and how much my lungs could take without much oxygen before I had to stop again.

There stretch before the final climb to the top was a bit of a scramble. It was rocky, sandy and slippery, and so so high up. It took enough mental strength to keep going as it was… I can’t imagine if I was afraid of heights. Looking down at the peaks of Colorado made me realize just how high up I was and while beautiful, it was also incredibly humbling to think how little you are in this big, big planet.

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As I slowly yet excitedly trekked up my last stretch to the top, many people who had passed me going up were coming down with encouraging words and smiles, happy they were going down and genuinely happy to see me going up. Somehow on the mountain other’s accomplishments become almost as important as your own. You want to see everyone achieve the summit and be able to walk down with pride. Everyone on the trail becomes your team, and if it isn’t enough to make yourself proud, you want to make them proud as well. After all, they took time to encourage you and believe in your ability to reach the top when you doubted yourself, and you don’t want to let them down. As much as it is a solo journey and achievement to summit a 14er, it is a social achievement. As my friend’s who hiked behind me trickled up to the summit, I was so happy and relieved to see they made it. After all the challenges you and your crew goes through to reach that peak, the last thing you want to think is that you don’t all make it. You experience raw human emotion, humility and unique perspective climbing up a mountain like that and as hard and hellish as it may sound, it was purely and beautifully awesome.

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I think 14er trails like the one to the top of Mt. Elbert put human struggles into perspective and challenge our bodies and minds in ways we are not commonly challenged anymore. What our bodies are capable of is amazing and how well they can adapt to a range of climates and elements makes you wonder why we don’t use these strengths more often. I suppose this is the reason many love to hike, to climb, to bike, to play sports, etc… because it is re-creating the activity that was once required of us. While in today’s world this kind of strenuous physical activity is rarely required, it still brings people joy to realize what their body is capable of. It’s human nature. It’s what we’re supposed to do. And you can bet I’m going to keep doing it.

-Annaleigh

 

 

 

Jazzy in Telluride

Telluride, CO

You know those places you see in Instagram photos and wonder what kind of filter that person must’ve used to make the colors THAT vibrant and the place THAT stunning? Telluride is one of those. It’s not because of a filter though…

People definitely hype it up so there was no surprise that it was gorgeous, but to be able to sit and stare at the tall, lush peaks in person for a weekend was magical. The way the town snuggles up into the narrow valley between some of the tallest mountains on the map makes you feel like you’re in a fairytale. And to think over and over in my head that it is just a 6-hour drive from my house was something else incredible. Thankful is the best way to describe that feeling.

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The reason we headed to Telluride last weekend was because we were volunteering at the Telluride Jazz Fest, which ended up being a lot of old people and high school jazz bands. But how could we complain with the environment surrounding us? For our volunteer shifts, we were assigned to the “Jazz After Dark” concerts on both Saturday and Sunday nights to sell tickets and basically be the gate-keepers for the separately ticketed events. By the time we went to our shift each night we were exhausted, but it was fun to get behind-the-festival and get a closer glimpse into Telluride nightlife.

Our full days on Saturday and Sunday were relaxing and fun. We took our time getting to the festival each day as there was so much of the town to see and so many activities to enjoy. On Saturday, we took the Gondola to Mountain View Village and explored Telluride’s ski town to get a feel for the other side of the town. It was such an incredible view from the Gondola on top of the mountain, staring back at town. From up there, it felt as if we were living in a painting.

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Sunday morning we participated in a New Orleans-inspired second line parade. People wore Mardi Gras beads, threw cups to the crowd, and danced down the street with a view of the mountains the whole way down to the main stage. At the bottom, the jazz band who marched in the parade stopped and finished off with an incredible full-sounding finale. I felt so lucky to be there in that moment.

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Later in the day we found a trail near our campsite and took off on a hike up in the mountains. Although I think the trail we went on wasn’t a used trail anymore, we could tell it was leading us to waterfalls so we used it anyway. Alas, it bought us to a couple different waterfalls and to the shore of a stream where we dipped our heads in the fresh, mountain water and took in the nature surrounding us. It was a fun little adventure away from all the hoopla of the festival.

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The jazz during the festival was great too, of course. My personal favorite was Cory Henry, an award-winning pianist who can play the keys like crazy and gets everyone jamming. I couldn’t help but turn around and look at the mountains and the smiling people every now and then. It almost didn’t feel real to be dancing right in the middle of so much natural beauty.

The next time I make it to Telluride I doubt it will be for the jazz festival, but I hope it is not too long as I predict I’ll keep its natural beauty fresh in my mind for quite a bit of time.

– Annaleigh

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West Elk Scenic Byway

Southwest Colorado, USA

Even though the Fourth of July fell on a Wednesday this year, I didn’t want to give up a celebratory, adventure-filled weekend. Following an Independence Day spent people-watching in the Clear Creek river in Golden and then drinking around Denver with friends, James and I headed southwest for toward Crested Butte and then Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park for a quick, yet fulfilling weekend adventure.

I knew the Wildflower Festival was going on in Crested Butte so I wanted to check out the mountain town known for its wildflowers while headed that direction. We never found the site of the wildflower festivities but did end up at a great campsite in a dispersed camping area about 20 minutes north of the town. Located in a meadow surrounded by yellow wildflowers and the well-photographed Mt. Crested Butte, we found ourselves in the kind of picturesque Colorado summer setting we had one imagined. We got there close to dark so we really only had time to make dinner before heading to bed but we did spot a Fox in the meadow just before we headed into our tents. Nature, man…

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On the road to Crested Butte

The next morning the bright sun woke us up just after sunrise so we made an oatmeal breakfast and coffee, and then picked a few wildflowers to make a lovely bouquet. Of course I had to have a little photo shoot with my freshly picked flowers… 😉

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An alright way to wake up
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Hand-picked wildflowers
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I had to…

The town of Crested Butte was charming, beautiful and a tad bit cookie-cutter. I realized it is one of the more “exclusive” mountain towns I’ve been to with a lot more retired couples than young people, but that didn’t change the fact that is was in fact, very lovely. Clean and quaint with fresh mountain air and views surrounding it, it had a certain Colorado charm.

After a walk down the one Main Street in town, we headed toward the rougher town of Gunnison to begin our journey farther west to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Like many others who visit Colorado, I had never heard of this place until I moved here but began hearing about it as “the most underrated National Park” by people and backpacker magazines. Because of its remote location, not many visitors make it down there. Lucky for the locals though because it gives Colorado natives their own secluded, striking canyon to enjoy.

We set up camp at the North Rim of the canyon, which was a longer drive to get to but also a more secluded place to view the canyon from. Just behind our campsite we could climb down a bit and be standing on the edge of the canyon. It was a wild feeling to be so close to the canyon wall without a fence or a crowd of people taking pictures. It was there to soak in without any noise except for the flowing Gunnison river below.

Black Canyon, Colorado
The intimidating view behind our campsite

We did a hike that day that took us around the rim a bit higher to get a more aerial perspective of the canyon. The entire way the depth and colors of the canyon continued to blow us away. And all the while there was hardly anyone else there to disturb the peace 🙂

The weekend finished off watching the sunrise from the other side of the campground, where we could watch the sun semi-light up the canyon before we left. It was pretty amazing to sit there in peace and take in the power of nature before us. The pictures could never do the moment justice but believe me when I say the serenity that comes with the sun coming over a black, deep canyon is quite the way to start a day.

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Sunrise at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

It was back to Denver after two amazing days exploring Colorado’s southwest. While the driving took a toll, the views are always worth it.

Rocky Mountain High

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

As I wind through mountain roads and hike up to alpine lakes on summer weekends, I’ve had John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” song stuck in my head. Cheesy I know, but the song makes so much sense now that I’ve had the chance to experience Colorado’s high peaks and mountain streams first-hand. It seems I’m undoubtedly high on this Colorado summer (and it’s not because of the weed). The Rockies are so vibrant with life and offer an incredible, wild playground for outdoor enthusiasts.

My Dad came to visit in the middle of June and we camped at Moraine Park Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park, which is set in a valley that was once a golf resort. The day we got there, we set out for a hike on the Lake Loch trail off of the popular Bear Lake trailhead. It took us past Alberta Falls, a mountain creek, and several Aspen trees before reaching the lake. The lake was stunning. It was surrounded by Pine trees and had such a clear, fresh  color. Not to mention, the mountain backdrop with snow on its peak. Even in June, we had to walk across snow to get to the view. One hour you’re in 95 degree weather in Denver, and the next you could be walking across snow in the Rocky Mountains… I’ve fallen in love with that diversity.

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After spending some time admiring the fresh, alpine lake and dipping our feet in just to see how cold it was (insanely cold btw), we headed back down the trail to camp. That night we made some chili cheese dogs over the fire and drank some cold Coors beer. Overnight we got some rain and strong winds but managed to keep the tent up with our hands – you never know what weather is going to come at you on the mountain.

The next day Dad and I drove on Trail Ridge Rd., the highest continuous paved road in North America, on our way out of the national park. Most of the drive we were on the edge of a cliff next to some of the Rockies’ highest mountains, and even drove across the tundra. I was in awe that we were still in Colorado and not somewhere like Switzerland or Alaska as the road offered some of the most spectacular mountain views I’ve ever seen. While we were wearing short sleeves down at camp, that drive called for our thickest sweater since the temperature dropped about 20 degrees on the way up.

Elk hanging out in a meadow

Dad and I had so much fun exploring Rocky Mountain National Park that I headed back a week later to do a much harder hike called Chasm Lake trail with James and some friends. We had a chill night camping the night before just outside the park and then hit the trail by 7am the next day. With an elevation gain of over 2,000 ft., the trail makes you work for the views for sure. On the way up we passed a couple gorgeous waterfalls surrounded by green moss and green Pine trees and then once we passed the tree line, we climbed a bunch of steps through the tundra to get to Chasm Lake. While walking across the tundra on the edge of a mountain, we frolicked with marmots and witnessed some gnarly waterfalls, lagoons and views.

Chasm Lake trail

When we reached the lake, we immediately sat down to eat lunch and admire the bare, yet striking body of water we worked so hard to get to. For a while we climbed around on the rocks and took pictures of the view before us. It was so nice to chill in such a lovely, remote spot high up above civilization. The weather was also perfect (but hot) as there wasn’t a cloud in sight.

Chasm Lake

On our way back down, we ventured off the trail to a snow-packed area that looked like the perfect slide. Turns out it was. Five out of the six of us ended up climbing up a series of rocks and slid down together. It was so much fun that we climbed up the rocks again to slide down a second time. Talk about a playground for adults….

Driving along winding roads, camping amongst Aspen and Pine trees, walking across snow to alpine lakes, and frolicking past waterfalls and mountain meadows, has me hooked on the Rocky Mountains. Only an hour and a half away from my house, I can be in a peaceful mountain paradise full of adventure, and I am so very thankful for that. Thank you John Denver for putting that feeling into words….

– Annaleigh

It’s Colorado rocky mountain high
I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky
Friends around the campfire and everybody’s high
Rocky mountain high” -John Denver

Listen here

 

 

 

The Beautiful, Wild West

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

It seems all the hype over the western part of the U.S. is completely accurate. As spring turns into summer and a whole new world of opportunities open up for exploring this beautiful part of the country, I am in awe of the beauty surrounding me. The snow has melted, the gear has been bought and the camping trips are rolling. I have never lived somewhere before where the beauty of the outdoors is so appreciated and the locals are so busy appreciating it. Nearly every weekend since it warmed up, I have had some kind of invitation to go camping or hiking with a group of people who love this place and all the incredible outdoor activities it offers. And if I didn’t – I’ve gone hiking anyway. It’s just too beautiful not to…

The most recent trip was to Bryce Canyon National Park for memorial day weekend. The drive from Denver is about 10 hours with stops but totally worth it. The best part is that the drive is half the fun. With the interstates and highways winding through the mountains and desert, there are breathtaking views almost the entire time. I was blown away by the vibrant green color of the mountains in towns like Vail, and was shocked by the dramatic landscape of the dry, red and rugged Utah desert.

Bryce far exceeded my expectation. Upon first glance, I was stunned by the vast canyon and its red and pink colors that stare back at you. It’s moments like those that remind me how totally cool mother nature is…

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The next couple days I explored the canyon with friends, laughed by the campfire and even snuck in a solo hike into the heart of Bryce Canyon. It was so amazing to see the forest / desert contrast that Bryce has to offer. Somehow lush, green trees grow in between the cracks of the desert floor and it is so beautiful to see. The rocks that stick up in weird formations, almost like poles but much more intricate, are called “hoodoos.” They are everywhere and I never ever got sick of seeing them.

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The drive back from Bryce actually ended up being one of the highlights of the weekend… like woah. The variety of incredible views I had in a day were mind-blowing and had me completely fall in love with this part of the country. There is so much beauty and it is so inspiring. We went through the area of Escalante, Utah and winded through desert, rock mountains, Capitol Reef National Park and even a forest of aspens before being greeted home by the high peaks of Colorado. I arrived home that day stoked about where I live and the incredible adventures ahead of me. In many ways, the Bryce road trip solidified Colorado being the place for me right now. I can’t wait for all the amazing sights I will see!