Saturday morning, 7:30 am
“Come on Hayden, remember we are off for a hike, get up, get some breakfast before we go.”
The car is VERY quiet as the four of us travel to Cheyenne Mountain State Park. It is about a 30-minute drive away. The sun is shining bright; it is a perfect blue sky Colorado morning. The kids are half asleep in the back seat; they don’t look happy to be up this early on a Saturday to go hiking.
We park in a nearly empty lot and relish the peacefulness. I have never been to this park before, so I am excited to try out some new trails. As we slowly climb out of the car, I expect a blast of cold early March Colorado air, but am pleasantly surprised to feel the warm sun on my back. I wonder if I’ll need the hat and gloves I brought with me. As Hayden finishes a cold pancake, Brennan prepares his camera for photos. Darren tosses me the car keys and heads out on an 8-mile run. Still… not the happiest look on the kids’ faces; I wonder if this was a good idea. Maybe I should have just come by myself and let them sleep in.
After checking out the warnings for bears, rattlesnakes, and mountain lions, we pick a 1.5-mile loop and head out. The trail is very well marked, which makes it even easier to relax and enjoy the morning. I walk ahead at a brisk pace, while the kids dawdle behind a bit. We take in the beautiful views and are happily startled when a lovely bluebird takes flight out of a tree as we walk by. Brennan stops to take a few photographs; Hayden waits and asks about what he saw. As we continue the conversation grows as the kids start discussing their individual blogs.
After a bend in the trail, we come upon what appears to be a dead tree.
“Tap, tap, tap…”
“A woodpecker!” Hayden exclaims as Brennan reaches for his camera. The smiles and sense of wonder from my 14 and 12-year old warm my heart.
The hike continues; we notice a side trail that would add ½ a mile to our journey. After consideration, we decide to go for it know Darren will take longer on his run. The sun is higher in the sky now and I remove my gloves. The sun provides so much warmth at altitude; it often seems 5 to 10 degrees warmer than the actual air temperature.
I walk a bit ahead, but the kids stop to climb a huge rock and photograph some moss. Every time I look back they are lost in conversation. It seems their mood has changed.
As I approach the car, I look back once more to see them stop at a sign together. They walk side by side together, laughing, smiling, and enjoying each other’s company. It seems they are awake and their mood has changed… the transformative power of a hike. I knew it was a good idea to drag them out of bed.