I’ve been hiking around Evergreen in Jefferson County open space for the last several months. The one hike that’s alluded me — until this weekend — was the 10 mile round-trip summit of Bergen Peak. Five miles one way isn’t much, or so I thought. Once upon a time, I’d run 10 miles in my sleep. Come to find out, that once upon a time was many moons ago. Add in several thousand feet of elevation gain, one very excited dog and a backpack with a camera and supplies that felt like a ton of bricks by the time we made it to the top, and I was dizzy tired.
But a very happy tired. The switchbacks on this trail were littered with golden leaves from the aspens running up the mountain. From the peak, the aspens look like veins of gold. The cool pine air, scattered snow patches toward the top and handful of forest animals we saw made it seem like something out of a Grimm’s fairy tale.
Plus, I’ve been working with Nelson on going off-leash. It is a lot more fun for both of us if he isn’t pulling me along. That said, he’s love and hunger for squirrel meat could be trouble. I didn’t want to end up chasing him through the forest. Thankfully, he did great, coming when I called and staying only a few paces ahead.
I’ve yet to find anything quite like a hard, head-spinning hike to get my thoughts in order. Maybe it’s the dreamy quality of that thin, crisp air this time of year. Maybe it’s spending 5 hours uninterrupted in nature, my Blackberry and responsibilities left far behind. Maybe it’s taking a break on a big rock, closing my eyes, and listening for God.
Whatever it was — yesterday it worked. And while I don’t plan on conquering Bergen again any time soon (poor Nelson has never slept so much), I am so thankful we pushed forward to reach the summit.