About three years ago, August and I embarked on our honeymoon in our little 2001 Ford Focus station wagon. We were headed to Colorado. During our engagement, we had talked about going to Iceland. We both love mountains, cold weather, and wild adventures. However, we decided on an alternative since Iceland would really be too cold for traveling. So, to Colorado we went.
I remember crossing the border leaving Kansas as we entered the coolest state ever. Nothing changed much in the landscape at first. Seemingly endless grass fields dominate the landscape in what is known as the Plains. Colorado’s plains. I wasn’t quite impressed. Then you see MOUNTAINS! Big, beautiful, wild, wonderful, crazy tall mountains capped with snow and ice. I was so excited and August was too. After hours upon hours of driving we had reached Denver. Surprisingly, it is a big city and much more than I expected. After a few days of relaxation in a luxurious hotel we got back in our faithful gold wagon and drove to our first adventure, Mount Elbert ,which proudly holds the title of Colorado’s highest point. At 14, 433 feet above sea level it is high and lofty. At first glance it doesn’t daunt you too much, until you see the sheer rock faces and the snow and ice which caps it snowy summit. August was more than ready to boot up and get going. So, we put on our thermals, heavy winter weather jackets, wool hats, and heavy Vasque boots. We then swung our camping packs over our shoulders and snapped them shut across our chests and waists to ensure good support. As we started walking up the rocky, dirt road I felt like an astronaut.
We walked for a few hours along the trail. Birch trees and aspens lined the way. Their vibrant yellow leaves looked golden as the sun set. Around 10,000 feet we set up camp. That night was cold. The thermometer inside our tent got down to 25 degrees or so. That night we were woken up several times by coyotes who circled our tent on and off through out the night. It was eerie hearing their howls and the pitter patter of what sounded like 20 feet times 4! When morning came so came the sun and its welcomed warmth and glow. After eating a quick breakfast of August’s famous oatmeal, we began our climb.
I think it took us all day to get to the top. Each step was grooling! Each step took so much energy because we weren’t properly acclimated, but still, we persevered.
At the top, my breath was taken away for several reasons. One, the lack of oxygen. Two, we had been hiking for over 8 hours. Three, the view was spectacular!! All other mountains were several hundred feet below us and we really were on top of the Colorado world.
Anyway, it was gorgeous and this morning I found myself thinking about that day. It was so much fun. A cheesy hamburger and salty fries had never tasted so good afterwards.
Sometimes I find myself thinking wistfully that we could live there. Virginia is like the Shire, but Colorado is like the land of Rohan and the Misty Mountains. (I have been slightly intrigued by Tolkien’s books which is why I make this comparison). Someday, I hope to return! The landscape is so beautiful and wild. Secretly, but not so secretly, I want to move out there and call Colorado my home.