by Andi Goddeyne
This is the summer of hikes. I remind myself I made this internal pledge anytime I feel like skipping one. The truth is hiking can be tough. It seems like what the Internet sites consider an “easy” hike can still get a little rough for me. The only thing that matters is this: I keep moving.
I’m from northern Michigan, the tip of the mitt. I’ll be straight with you; people don’t “hike.” We swim, we water ski, we do anything on the water, especially if it is followed by a BBQ or bonfire. We certainly do not “hike.” Not what Coloradans consider a hike, anyway.
So when I moved here in 2007, Colorado’s favorite pastime was a little bizarre to me. And it was hard, really hard. I had spent my entire life at a different elevation, one with more oxygen readily available. I also had not trained my muscles to climb any mountains, let alone a rocky one. Over the years, I have gotten slowly but surely better at it, and now I look forward to a good hike.
I decided that this summer would be the one that I really explored the hikes of the Grand Valley, ergo the summer of hikes was born. I want to see this beautiful place I call home. I push myself, even when I would rather be at home lounging on my couch because every time I reach the end of a hike I am filled with so much pride.
I don’t just mean pride in myself, I mean pride in Colorado. Sure, I have felt relaxed when I am on the water. In fact, my favorite place to be is in the water. It’s the Michigander in me. However, there is something different about being on top of a mountain. The sense of accomplishment, sure, but I have never felt more tranquil than when I am looking over the land from a mountain, enjoying the breathtaking views and knowing that I had endured a hike to witness them. That’s a different kind of peace.
My point is that you don’t have to be an expert hiker or in tip top shape to enjoy that feeling. You can start small and work your way up. If a girl from the mitten can do it, so can you. And the majority of the hikes here in the valley are free. It doesn’t cost a thing to get active and find that little slice of heaven.
I’d love to know, what is your favorite hike in the Grand Valley? Maybe I’ll add it to my summer of hikes!