As I sluggishly inched along the 3-mile Sanitas Trail Loop, fit, middle aged women continued to power walk by like it was just another morning jog. I didn’t like how out of breath and out of shape I felt in comparison and resented that they passed by without saying hello. Everyone says hello on the trails. It’s a common courtesy.
My feet were sweaty from being trapped in socks and sand-soaked hiking boots all day, and I kept tripping over tree roots sticking out of the ground because I gradually became too tired to notice they were there. Walking along the graveled trails, I could feel every rock and pebble beneath my feet. Dust collected on my clothes and dried out my hands. My skin felt sticky from layers of sunscreen mixed with sweat. Occasionally, I had to climb over rocks or use trees to prop or pull myself up, all the while hoping I didn’t brush against anything poisonous.
These conditions aren’t specific to Mt. Sanitas, yet I continue to devour hiking trail recommendations from friends like chocolate cake. It’s all because I love the challenge, and I want to become more comfortable exploring and navigating through nature. I want to learn through trial and error how to better take care of myself on the trails especially when I’m hiking solo.
The scenery on the way up was breathtaking (I was literally panting the whole way up). Tall boulders that looked like inspiration for the landscapes in The Lion King, jutted out over cliff-edges and stood taller than anything else on the trail.
In those last few steps to the summit, my heart was racing and I was short of breath. But as the horizon came into view, I was blown away. Wiping the sweat from my forehead, I planted my bum onto one of the giant rocks to soak in the 180 degree panorama before me.
Out of my peripheries, I could see the rest of the mountain range. Extending ahead as far as the eye can see, the rest of Colorado lead off into great distances like a road into the future.