Rocky Mountain High

I fell in love with the mountains of Colorado the very first time I visited. I grew up with incredible family vacations- we’d pack up the car and drive across the country, heading out west for a stay on a dude ranch. The 30 hours of close quarters were exciting and bearable, knowing a week of refreshment in the rocky mountains was just on the horizon. I can remember weeks of preparation, researching and planning JUST the right activities crammed into one week. “Can I hike Tuesday morning and still make it back in time for Mexican lunch and then go horseback riding in the afternoon, but still have enough energy to SquareDance that evening?!” As kids and especially as teenagers, my siblings and I would forgo sleep in favor of making as many memories as possible with ranch friends. The weeks flew by- and there was never enough time. The drive home left us rejuvenated, a bit sad, and already thinking of the next year- What did we miss out on?…And How can we make it all fit?

In college, I maximized my “vacation” by spending my full summer on staff at the ranch in Colorado. It truly was hard work, but I loved every bit of it. I’d work six days a week, and enjoy one glorious day off. Those days off made my summer. Just like as a kid, I’d spend plenty of time looking forward and planning to fit in as much as possible in that ONE day. “Can I hike a mountain, explore a ski town, and make it back for a soak in the hot springs before midnight?” There was always more to DO and SEE.. I was captivated.

The end of the summer meant going back to school in Virginia. By spring, I was counting down the time until I could pack up and go back to Colorado. As I neared graduation, I made my plan to move out west. Within a week of earning my degree, I was driving across the country with everything I had—ready to make Colorado my forever home. As much as I miss my family and friends back east, I wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else.

You are not IN the mountains; The mountains are in YOU. -John Muir

Today, as an “adult” in the “real world” {a phrase that I still don’t feel can possibly describe ME}, I still look to the mountains for rest and refuge. When real life gets overwhelming, stressful, emotional, you name it- I find my peace on a trail. A deep breath of pine forest and the quiet solitude of mountain air immediately settles me. I experience both a sobering loneliness and a profound sense of belonging.


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