During the night I wake up a few times. Partially because of the jet lag, but also because it gets very cold in the car. I’m glad that I bought a little more expensive sleeping bag yesterday. It does a good job in keeping me warm. Still I turn on the heating a couple of times in the night to make it a bit more comfortable. Around 3AM I’m fully awake and can’t sleep anymore. I’m happy to remember that the barista of yesterday told me that the local Starbucks opens 4.30AM. When she told me that I was really wondering why that would be, but now I’m happy that they’re open so early. After I have had breakfast in the car, I walk across the street and get a double espresso. It’s an early start of the day, but I think that’s okay, so I can do a long hike this morning.
After I update my blog and check my e-mail, it’s just about the time of sunrise and I drive to a place in the Rocky Mountains that Chris pointed out to me yesterday. Just after seven o’clock in the morning I enter Rocky Mountains National Park. A local had already told me this morning that if you’re early, you don’t have to pay to go into the park. Indeed, there is no one at the entrance yet. You see? It pays off to be a morning person. 😉
I park my car at the starting point of the hike and make a lunch package. There are two more people at the parking place, but during the whole hike I see no one else. It’s very peaceful up here in the mountains. The hiking path is covered by snow, which makes it a bit more challenging sometimes. Most of the hike has some footprints of the days before, so I just follow those and when they stop I continue with the map. I bought the AllTrails Pro app this morning. Quite an investment, but already now I’m happy that I got it, because there is a big chance I might have gotten lost here. A few times I miss a side path and have to walk back. It’s just hard to see the path sometimes with everything covered by snow.
A little over one and half hours later I arrive at the lake I was hiking to. I take a break and eat some sandwiches. It’s really quiet here. You can hear the sound of a stream in the distance and melting snow falling from the mountains. From time to time there is the sound of some birds, but other than that it’s completely silent here. After staying by the lake for a while I go on my way back. The return is much faster, because it’s downhill and I don’t have to search for the path anymore. More people are coming up the mountain now and I’m glad that I went so early. For a moment I’m thinking that I could have met more people if I had gone later, but after a very social day yesterday I’m fine with being alone for a while.
It’s interesting how even when everything around you is quiet, it can still be hard to be silent yourself. My thoughts often go pretty fast, making plans and thinking about the future. The title of this blog inspires me to actually focus on being here and now. Sometimes I say the words to myself or I focus on my breath for a a couple of minutes to become silent. When you’re really in the moment, you can enjoy the beauty of nature even more.
I get back into my car, start the the navigation system and enter the address of the mother of a friend of mine, who lives in Colorado. I’ve been there several years ago and had a great time with them. My friend Laura has moved out since then, but I think it could be nice to surprise her mother with a visit. It’s about 3,5 hours driving from the Rocky Mountains, but it’s in the direction of where I want to go, so it’s fine. While I’m driving I see a local celebrity standing by the road, Yogi Bear, so of course I stop and take a picture with him.
It takes a moment to mentally switch from hiking alone for a couple of hours to driving on a crowded interstate, but I turn on some music and halfway the afternoon I arrive at my friends house. I remember it from years ago, good memories. I knock at the door, no one opens. I’m guessing she’s not home, but I give it one more try and call out if there is someone home. Then I hear a voice saying calling from the back of the house “Who’s that? Just a moment” and then I see Laura’s mom, Rebecca. It takes her a few seconds to recognise who I am, but then we greet each other with a big hug and she offers me a nice cold drink and something to eat. We sit down at the kitchen table and talk about God and life.
The conversation at the kitchen table inspires me and I’m glad I decided to visit Rebecca. At the end of the afternoon I have to go further again, because other friends are waiting for me. We say goodbye and I drive to Colorado Springs where Amy Sue works, the sister of my friends in Montana. I meet her at work and she’s very excited and introduces me to all her colleagues who are just as interested in my journey. We talk for a while and then drive to their home in Woodlands Park, about half an hour drive.
In Woodlands Park Amy’s husband Wes is waiting for us and we have a cold beer and talk about traveling and America’s beautiful nature. Wes is also an outdoors person and he shows me pictures of bears and deer who occasionally walk in their backyard. In the meanwhile Amy is preparing a delicious meal and we have dinner together. After dinner we sit down in the living room and talk further about all kinds of things. Around nine I have to excuse myself, because it has been a very long day again and I’m really tired. Hiking in the morning, driving in the afternoon and meeting great people in the afternoon and evening, today was good again.