This weekend Joe’s parents come down to spend some time with us. This freed Joe and I up for a date day. We, of course, chose to hike. It was weird to arrive at the trail head, snag a front row parking spot, and hop out of the car having only ourselves to worry about. Joe and I laughed at how accustomed we have become to spending 15 minutes in the car upon our arrival to the trail (or anywhere really), loading our backpacks with kids, diapers, wipes, snacks and whatever else they may need. I can’t tell you how strange it was to just exit the car and start towards the trail head. It was a sad kind of weird at first, but it quickly felt normal as Joe and started to talk.
During our Flagstaff days, Joe and I hiked all the time, and at a pace that would leave me gasping for air now. All of those hikes set the foundation for Joe and me to quickly acclimate to hiking as a twosome. Anytime we get out on our own, we are quickly reminded of the old days, before kids, before jobs. We were married for four years prior to becoming parents and together for a total of six years. During that time we went on several adventures (i.e. a bike trip across the country, to London, backpacking the Grand Canyon). Those bigger trips were accompanied by smaller hikes and bike rides and camping trips throughout AZ, CO, and CA. We hiked every weekend! Back then we also had a community of other hikers that we would meet up with which was always fun. I say this to connect the dots to the immediate sense of normalcy that I experienced when I’m out on the trail with Joe sans kids. In the year since we started 52 Weeks of Nature, we have only hiked alone twice (this being the 2nd time). Prior to that, I don’t think we hiked alone since before we had AJ!
Back to the route – we stayed somewhat local with our hike and beat the crowds by arriving at 8:30 am. The way up was awesome! The hues of orange, gold and red made me feel so warm inside and excited for fall. We also had some amazing views of Denver and of the Indian Peaks. One of the best things about the foothills is that you can experience nature and civilization within steps of one another. So many hikes can make you feel totally removed from city life while at the same time exposing you to views of the city that remind you how nature and urbanization coexist. Hikes like this fascinate me because they represent the dualism of humanity. On one hand, we want beautiful buildings to represent our creativity, authenticity, etc, and yet we escape to nature to “find ourselves.” This is not a good or bad thing, as I see it, just interesting.
Hiking is a personal refuge for me. It is also a refuge for my marriage. On this day Joe and I had an opportunity to check in with each other as the couple we once were, the couple we are and the couple we are becoming. It was needed and we couldn’t be more thankful to my in-laws for giving us this time.