Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My First 13er!

 Nick and I arrived in Colorado a couple weeks ago and I have to admit, it has been quite a whirlwind. With so many friends to see and so much to do (finding an apartment, finding a job, hosting house guests, getting our lives in order....) we've barely had time to ourselves.

Since we've been back in the country, we've spent so much time catching up with friends and family that we really haven't done much together. Just the two of us. I have to admit, after having Nick all to myself for almost a year and a half, I have missed our little adventures together. Yesterday, after almost 3 months back in the US, Nick and I had our first solo-activity together: we hiked Mt. Audubon, elevation 13,223 feet.

Even though I've already spent two years living in Denver, this was my first 13er (Colorado speak for a mountain over 13,000 feet). I have to admit... I really wasn't that excited about it.  Sometimes I really do enjoy hiking, being out in the mountains, taking in the fresh air and the natural beauty... but if I'm being honest with my self, most of the time I'm not such a big fan. Depending on the trail, for me hiking can just feel like walking up hill. And really, who likes to spend 3 hours walking up hill???

But thankfully, the trail up Mt. Audubon was a gentle incline, relatively easy, and full of gorgeous scenery right from the get-go.
We couldn't have picked a better day for our hike. The sky was blue (with not one cloud visible until about 12 or 1:00) and the weather was perfect, warm and sunny with a cool breeze.
Although it's already the end of June, the mountains still have a good amount of snow on them, and we did have to trek over patches of snow in a couple of places.  I was wearing my Choco's which are not the typical foot-gear you'd consider when treking through snow. But I have do admit, it was pretty fun wearing sandals and hiking through the white stuff! We even had a couple of snow ball fights... Snow ball fights in June! It was awesome!
 The peak of the mountain really looks more like a big pile of rocks (is this why it's called the "Rocky Mountains"?) and so we spent the last 20 or 30 minutes of the hike making our way through a big pile of boulders.
It's pretty weird because every time you walk over a loose one, it sounds like this big mound of rocks - this mountain - is hollow. It's almost the same sound a bike makes as it crosses an old wooden bridge - as if it would be possible for me to fall deep down into the pile. It was a pretty eerie sound to hear under your feet as you approach 13,000 feet in elevation!
I have to admit, wearing sandals while walking through a field of boulders isn't really ideal, but really my Choco's are probably the best hiking shoes I own at the moment - the have great grip and a really thick sole and are perfect for walking through areas on the trail that are snowy or wet - so I'm glad I wore them to hike in. 
 Once we got to the top of the mountain, we were rewarded with some of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen. Mt. Audubon is virtually surrounded by snow capped mountains on all sides, and it was absolutely gorgeous. 
We spent a good hour up top, eating some left over pizza for lunch, taking in the views, and taking a nap on the warm rocks before beginning our decent.
On our way down the mountain, I was able to move a little slower (Nick was in much less of a hurry on the way back down!) and really enjoy all of the flowers that are blooming up in the mountains right now. I think they're typically long gone by this time in the summer, but because of all of the late-season storms this year the mountains are still full of snow-melt which means plenty of water for the wild flowers. I was pretty surprised by the variety in the kinds of flowers we could find this high up, about 3,000 feet above the tree line.  


Everything about the hike was fabulous, the snow, the easy climb, the scenery, the flowers... it was probably the best hike I've ever been on and it was even better because it was something for Nick and I to do together, in our own country!