Do we know how good we have it?
I am traveling this weekend to camp in RMNP with Conor and Will. Since landing, I can feel the gratitude for life. Being kind to the people I come across brightens up the day. I feel somewhat uncomfortable writing this down, but it is true.
This weekend I get to sleep in the cold and hike some of the most magnificent trails on the planet. We only get this for a blip in time. Have to make it count.
It was cold when I got to Denver. Conor and I got to RMNP late afternoon, set up camp, and headed to meet Will in Estes. We went to Rocky Mountain Tavern. My favorite spot in Estes. Live music, drinks, and great food. It is a cozy mountain cabin restaurant.
Will, Conor, and I left dinner cozy and warm. We were greeted at the campsite by strong wind and below 20-degree temps. It was undoubtedly some suffering, and the three of us needed it. It took about 20 minutes to get the fire going. Conor worked on some fire starter in the bear box, while Will and I got some coals going. We finally got it going with Conor's fire starter and some pine needles.
After that stressful 20 minutes, we broke out the tin cup whiskey and enjoyed our cold evening together around the fire. It was a beautiful view. Not a lot of stars, but a bright moon made it easier to see the mountains and everything around us.
We sat around the fire for a few hours. We were laughing that we decided to camp in this rough weather. We had grand plans for hiking the next morning. It didn't work out exactly as planned, but that happens.
The cold night was a little rough, but eventually, I got cozy in my sleeping bag. My liner helped keep me comfortable. The only odd moment was when I left the tent to go to the bathroom; there were three mule deer about ten feet from. I didn't have my glasses on and was a little spooked initially. Besides that, it was a good night in the tent.
We woke up a little before 6. Freezing our asses off, we made some coffee and watched the sun come over the mountains. We had the most incredible view. It was a fantastic way to start the day.
After we had a warm drink, it was off to the trail. Our goal was Black Lake. We were on a bit of a time crunch, so we only went a little past Mills Lake. The way up was a bit more complicated than anticipated. We should have spikes on, and I suffered from not doing that a few times. The first fall of mine was about 50 yards into the hike. I was distracted by the beautiful leaves on the trees and the snow. My love of nature took me down.
I was so happy to be on the trail. It didn't matter how far we went. Every step was about being in the moment and being grateful. Our entire time on the trail, I felt the magnitude of life. The gift of all the little details. The fact that I can make my feet move so I can go up into the mountains. It feels woo woo to write, but it was a moment of pure clarity.
The hikes were a joy. They were love. They were a fleeting moment. Be aware, put down the phone, or you miss that joy.
The other great thing about being out there is experiencing it with your best friends, appreciating the view and struggle of the mountain together.
Within the joy, we're fun, and slightly embarrassing moments. On the second hike, Alyssa joined us. We made our way to Ozul Falls on the Southside of the park. Within 100 yards of starting, we came across two young bull moose. Alyssa was the first to see. She began to turn back. My first thought was a bear. When I looked, the first moose I saw in RMNP was within 50 ft of me. I immediately went into escape mode. I love watching wildlife, nut these are arguably the most dangerous animal in North America. I don't want to be on its way. Traveling further down the trail took us in the opposite direction, the moose headed.
The most alarming part about this encounter was the reaction of the people we passed when we told them to look out for the moose. Most responded by hurrying up and holding out their phones. Keep a safe distance for you and the animal!
The rest of that hike was great — more small details to appreciate and love.
We went back to Fort Collins that night and had a blast. Wine and beer flowed. We crushed a nice Italian dinner.
A great weekend in the mountains with friends. My focus was there. I felt truly in the present moment, and I think a big part of that was not trying to be in the present. It was more of a surrender to the hike. I am excited to get back out there in a few months to enjoy the cold again. A cabin will likely be on the card the next time around.