A couple of weeks ago, my brother and I went on our annual hiking trip. This was our fourth trip together, and this time we decided to explore the rocky mountains of Colorado. My goal for this trip was simple, hike at least 50 miles in three days and not get altitude sickness. My wife and boss at work also had a goal; they told me not to do anything dangerous and to come back alive.
We visited Rocky National Mountain National Park, which is in northern Colorado. We stayed in an Airbnb in Estes Park, the eastern part of the park. The size of Rocky Mountain National Park is 415 square miles (265,807 acres) with over 300 miles of hiking trails! We hiked together for three days while my brother stayed for an entire week. The highest peak in the park is known as Longs Peak (14,259′) and is also one of the most dangerous to the summit. Many people have fallen to their death since there are many exposed areas. We hiked about half of this trail, but the wind was too gusty, so we did not attempt the more dangerous areas. A local hiker told us that he would not attempt to go further, so we listened to him.
We hiked together for three days, starting at 5:30 a.m. each morning and ending in the afternoon. My first observation in Colorado was the smell of clean, fresh air! We experienced amazing views from over 10,000 ft, walking above the tree line and looking at the vast scenes below. We hiked through green forests and enjoyed an afternoon rainstorm. We walked over a waterfall and listened as the water went down the side of the mountain. There was good conversation and times of walking in silence, experiencing God’s good creation. My soul felt refreshed as I put aside my daily routine to wander in the wilderness. In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost.”
I enjoy hiking because my mind and soul can rest while pushing my body to its limits. My brother commented that he wants to hike as much as possible while he has the strength since his body will wear out one day. The Bible says, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day (2 Cor 4:16).” As healthy as my brother and I are, the reality is that our bodies will begin to break down. Although each day the body is wearing out, we can do our best to stay healthy today, which will affect how we feel in the following decades of life. We hope to hike for many decades to come, knowing that one day this too will end. In the meantime, physical activity also has other great benefits for our mental health, helping with things like anxiety and depression. Simply, hiking is good for the spiritual and physical parts of our beings.
I did reach my goal for the trip. We hiked 57 miles, with the longest day at 22 miles. I also avoided altitude sickness. There are few experiences like throwing up on top of a mountain and knowing that you must keep going! So, another memorable hiking trip is complete; now, on to thinking about the next one.