Being out in nature has always been a healing experience for me, whether I realize that is my motivation at the time or not. The warm feeling of the sun hitting the back of my neck or the sound of the wind rustling the leaves in the trees overhead tend to make me feel peaceful. I always forget this about myself, so I thought I would reflect upon a particular hike that I took years ago.
During a summer trip to Colorado, I went on a hike that still lingers in my mind. It was mid-July and I was with a group of about 15 people, ten of them high school age and the other five were adults. I was exhausted and at this point in my life, I had no idea coffee existed. I set out with my large group of friends to look at the map at the bottom of the mountains. One guy had spent the whole car ride begging for us to stop at a gas station, so we stood around waiting for him to get back from the bathroom. A few groups passed us while they waited, chattering about how it was such a nice day.
There were several trail options, we picked a 3-mile hike up to Emerald Lake. Within the first five minutes of steady incline, we were out of breath. Well, most of us. The cross-country runners were at the head of the pack singing at the top of their lungs. The views of the mountains got more incredible the higher up we were. The air seemed to shimmer as the sun reflected off of everything in sight. I remember realizing I should have put on sunscreen about halfway up.
We balanced on logs, tiny streams trickling underneath us. This is a good time to mention we were all in shorts and t-shirts when we came across a large patch of snow. Of course, a summer snowball fight ensued, the mountains filled with teenagers shrieking and cackling. We haunted those paths and the other people on those paths, especially the people who wanted a peaceful hike.
When we finally abandoned the snow to keep going, we started to hear water. The path opened up to a large lake with calm navy water, surrounded by mountains from every angle. There were two guys daring each other to jump into the water. One guy dipped his toes in and yelped at how cold it was. Of course, they both ended up jumping in and screaming and running right back out. We watched this free entertainment unfold sitting on a slab of rock.
On the walk back down, I tried to memorize all of the details of this hike, convinced that I had never seen a setting so beautiful in my life. I don’t think any hike has ever topped that one. I didn't even take any pictures, I only have the ones other people took. Not only was my mind full of cheesy thoughts of mental pictures and great company, but I also just felt amazing.