Everyday that we woke up in Colorado, I wanted to go hiking. And Dan would diligently remind me—either through words or action—that work comes first. He would get out of bed, start water boiling for our coffee, open his computer, and essentially say: This isn't vacation.
It all makes me wish I were more of a morning person—that I could get up really early, hike, and then start my day. Because Colorado is so beautiful, with a new trail to hike every few hundred yards.
Being from the flatlands of the Midwest and living in downtown Chicago, I wanted to see all Colorado had to offer, and if I could ever get myself out of bed earlier, maybe I would have.
In a phone call with my sister-in-law Emily about our trip so far, I told her that I wake up “with the sun.”
“You do?” she asked, well versed in my love of sleeping in, naptime, resting my eyes, and laying down for a little bit. “What time does the sun come up there?”
“Oh, I wake up around 8:30,” I told her.
It occurred to me then, thinking about Emily and her 16-month-old son, that waking up with the sun probably happens a lot sooner than 8:30 a.m. So I Googled it, and found that waking up with the sun in Denver in August would actually mean waking up more than two hours before 8:30.
Fair enough. I still found a way to work in the hikes. Some mornings, I would start working later. Some afternoons, I would stop working earlier. And some Saturdays were devoted to hiking.
I was going to liken this hiking urge to doing hard drugs, but that seemed cliché and out of my wheelhouse. So I’ll liken it to experiencing a great wine or cheese. Hiking—despite my fear of bees, rattle snakes, and bears—filled a void I didn't know I had.
The quiet challenge of it gets me every time, and I imagine the people and animals who have traversed these places before me. I look at the giant sky and the towering trees. Sometimes I pretend I'm walking on Mars. It makes me feel very small and insignificant in the best way. We saw so many breathtaking views, smelled so many plants, heard so many birds, and felt…so much difficulty breathing.
To us, these hikes in Golden, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and El Dorado Canyon were gorgeous. But they were also filled with haze from the wildfires in Washington. We could see the area directly around us fine, but the lines of mountains in the distance were covered in smog, creating a layered backdrop of gray tones.
We didn’t notice this was out of the ordinary until people told us so. But in the week since then, a number of wildfires also have erupted in Glacier National Park, which was going to be our next stop.
News stories, Reddit, and a woman we met at the Cowboy Bar last night who told us that Glacier was "between Hell and Earth right now" convinced us that we should go elsewhere. We’re re-routing, spending time in Wyoming near Yellowstone, and thinking of all the people risking their lives to stop the fires.
It's obvious how the fires happen. The air is so dry at this elevation (we're at nearly 7,000 ft. now), that we have to water our plants twice daily. We're also constantly applying lip balm and lotion, and making sure our water bottles are full.
And we're looking forward to the miles upon miles of hikes here in Wyoming, too. We’ll be all up in them—a couple of city kids gone wild.