Walks around the block are not enough anymore. Colorado contains a bounty of trails waiting to be explored, so why have I been content with a daily commute? Why do I opt to stroll down local sidewalks or jog around a rec center track while tourists take full advantage my home state’s natural beauty? Thrill-seeking has never been in my nature, but I aim to make this summer a watershed season. My overall objective: a transition from suburban walks to bona fide hiking. I will figure out the details as I go. Right now: the main priority is simply to start. Truth be told, taking action is not my forte. I would much rather sit down and think an entire venture through before initiating the first step. I cannot help but wonder if my motivation is simply hype fueled by others’ influence.
Social pressure does seem to be a culprit. I would call it peer pressure, but that would imply a singular age group. In reality, the explorative spirit knows no demographic boundaries. Nowadays, my dad walks for the sake of his back, but he was running, skiing, and hiking at my age. Among my coworkers, a blended sample of both the millennial generation and Generation X, there are several regular walkers – and a lone BMX enthusiast. (As I write, a handful of them are planning a hike this very weekend.) The closest of my college friends have been known to take impromptu excursions through the backwoods areas of campus. In my situation, the idea of exploring nature could not exactly be called a novel concept.
At the same time, a collection of personal desires propels my choice. As someone who beholds Pikes Peak every morning, I would like to finally trek to its summit this year. If people journey to Colorado during their valuable vacation time, then maybe its idyllic attractions are worth investigating. Also, hiking combines physical activity with the potential for meaningful conversations. I have always been in love with both in theory. Now all that remains is to translate those sentiments into action.
I have an idea of what to expect from research. I’ve combed through trail reviews and attempted to familiarize myself with the lingo. The practice appears to be straightforward. Walking outdoors plus short bursts of climbing plus nature gazing equals a good hike. Recently, I have mostly been hoofing it through housing developments, but hiking does not seem like such a far cry from that. Besides, a pleasant change in scenery will be well worth any learning curve. Part of me feels ready to brave the nearest trail with gusto.
While I partly know what I am getting myself into, I remain open to the possibility of surprise. As a boy, my dad tried to learn swimming from a book. The water itself gave him a rude awakening. I recognize that research only goes so far, which is why I desire feedback. Hikers, what trekking tips would you share with a suburban walker? What are the websites not telling me? How much gear is necessary? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
These musings are brought to you by Phil Long Hyundai Chapel Hills: unofficial sponsors of Coloradan wanderlust.