It was an early morning for a Saturday, but by no means was it early. We left Denver in my green Subaru Legacy, Cynthia, at 8:00 AM to make our way to Boulder, CO where our snowshoes were waiting for us. This happens to be one of my favorite drives in Colorado. As you go West of Denver and drive past Golden, you land in the middle of open spaces, flatirons mountains and blue skies that frame everything perfectly. It’s a 45-minute drive, but with mouthwatering views, it goes by a lot faster than that.
We picked up our snowshoes in a packed sports shop near the 29th Street Mall. Everyone was apparently in line for some adventure today and we would have to wait our turn. From there it was another 45 minutes into Nederland, CO. A drive that was still beautiful but nothing compared to where we had come from. The hardest part of this drive was staring at the hills around us with absolutely no snow on them. Afraid that our snowshoe rental would be a waste and we would be in for a hot day of hiking in snow gear, we continued on down the road praying that very soon we would see at least enough snow to walk on. Sure enough, 10 minutes outside of our destination 2 feet of snow covered our surroundings. It was clear that we had reached the needed elevation to embrace the Colorado winter that rarely shows itself in Denver.
The Trailhead is 1 mile up the road. The snow plow stopped plowing the road, meaning the hike started early. We parked in the long line of cars on the street and grabbed our layers to put on in the wind and freezing temperatures. We strapped on our shoes, zipped up our coats and wrapped every inch of our body that we could with warm gear to hide from the wind.
While it was the first time I’d snowshoed before, it in honor of celebrating 25 years on this crazy earth, it wasn’t a challenge to get it down. Just one step in front of the other like hiking but remembering that your feet are way bigger than usual. (I may have tripped over myself 2-3 times.)
My favorite part of winter is the cold air hitting your lungs. I’ve always liked it since I was a kid. Waking up in a mountain town early in the morning and breathing in the freezing cold air. Now every time I feel that cold air hit me inside, I think back on those family vacations to Steamboat and the memories we had there. Being up in the mountains, snowshoeing and then staying at a lodge in the woods, brought me back to those old days. It made me feel like a kid again. On a day where you’re only reminded that you’re getting older, it was nice to actually feel younger.
Hiking, there are few things like it; the fresh air, the views, the time in nature and now with snowshoes on it gains a whole new element, snow. Snowshoeing gives a different perspective of the land and of Colorado. It’s freezing, so cold that our water froze, but the push to get to the finish line, to see everyone we passed on the trail at the top, that makes it all worth it. I’m out of shape, it’s obvious, and the extra weight of my pack and its decision to start pinching a nerve in my back didn’t make the hills any easier. My boyfriend tells me I should start running and these hikes would be easier for me, I thought he knew me, I don’t run. But it’s true I need to be getting back into better shape if I’m going to be able to keep up with the boys this summer on adventure shoots, and 14ers.
While my legs might be lagging, my shoulder in pain, and we only have frozen water to drink, we made it to the top. It wasn’t the best view that I had ever seen, but it was still a good one, and laying on my back in the snow, the sun hitting my face, filtered by my Revo sunglasses, was the perfect climax to our hike. We hung out there for a short while, loading up on snacks and catching our breath until it was time to go back down (my favorite part). We retraced our steps, 3 miles back to the car. Passing snowshoers and cross-country skiers making their way up the mountain. We ran into too many dogs to count, wanting us to pet them every time. We passed the random cabins along the trail that we joked about buying someday, and the frozen rivers you could walk on, creating new trails in these forests. It was a new adventure, one that would make the memory books, and just the beginning to a birthday weekend of all my favorite things.