This was an adventure because after a few months of lock down even our rare drives to the supermarket or to pick up a take-out dinner had begun to feel like an adventure.
The word ‘adventure’ has taken on new meaning in the midst of a pandemic. Once upon a time, the word might mean participating in a century ride, a multi-day hut-to-hut hiking trip or travel to another country. Today, our adventures are likely found close to home when even dining at a restaurant feels adventurous, but that doesn’t make our experiences ‘lesser than.’ They are just different.
On the morning of my 61st birthday, my husband and I rolled out of bed at 5 and hit the road at 5:30 a.m. We drove to the mountains to hike, anticipating a cloudy or rainy day or hordes of people, well aware that we might need to initiate Plan B and also aware that we had not fully defined what Plan B might be. Adventure was on the agenda, we needed the soothing balm of the mountains and nature.
We considered this hike to be an adventure despite choosing a fairly mellow path because after a few months of lock down, even our rare drives to the supermarket or to pick up a take-out dinner had begun to feel like a night out.
Though my time sheltered in place has involved hours of reading, some painting, and the development of the Women.Words.Wisdom Podcast, all things that in and of themselves are adventurous, the mountains had eluded us. Ten miles was the recommended distance for Colorado residents to travel until the state began to open up.
Colorado has an abundance of open space, hiking trails and mountains to get lost in, but so many had been closed that the few remaining open trails had been overwhelmed with visitors. I love to hike. I love the solitude, the quiet, the chance encounters with wildlife, the smell of pine trains, the crunchy sound of my boots along the trail, the way the clouds tend to build as the afternoon progresses.
Rob and I avoid over-populated or the most popular trails and set out to hike when the rest of the world is either still sleeping or already done for the day. Some of our favorite moments have been hitting a trail just before dusk in the summer, astounded by the diamonds reflected in a mountain lake, gem gifts from the setting sun. We greet other hikers as they complete their day and are often rewarded with our own personal and private setting.
When I woke on my birthday, I was not in a celebratory mood. Though I am not one who feels the need to gather all my friends to celebrate on my day, I do enjoy a nice dinner on an outdoor patio with a good bottle of wine, celebrating with my husband.
There would be no dinner out this year and given the state of the world, even wishing for a celebration seemed self-centered and insensitive.
Though I know it is not healthy to live in fear for too long, celebrating one’s self in the midst of a pandemic felt…off.
I woke, brewed my coffee, groggily dressed in my hiking clothes. The sun was already rising. I had forgotten that the sky lightened that early, and began to worry that despite our early beginning, the trails would be packed.
We pulled into the parking lot and were relieved to see these worries had not come true. And even better? The forecast for rain and snow aside, we were surrounded by blue skies, no wind and temperatures in the 40’s. A perfect day was waiting. An adventure was waiting.
The road to Brainard Lake was still closed for the winter season, but it was clear of snow so we decided to head out that way towards the lake and take it from there. We didn’t see anyone except a wild-life photographer returning from his early morning photoshoot.
The trail was ours.
We hiked past the lake and thought we might try one of our favorite trails, but the drifting snow had made finding the trail challenging. All we had on hand were our micro-spikes having decided we didn’t want to schlep our snowshoes. Our journey could not have been more perfect and as we walked, my soul began to heal. I began to feel light. I smiled.
At one point, we sat on a log to eat our snacks, enjoying a view towards the mountains. Another couple approached us and asked how we were. I said, “Today the rest of the world is drifting away. It feels like this is all that matters.” He said, ‘This IS all that matters.”
My spirit was lifted. My heart felt light. I began to remember how to celebrate my life.