Sarah O'Leary

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Inspiration in Nature

Spending time out in nature is my favorite thing to do when I need to recharge and rejuvenate. Almost daily, I find myself dreaming of the next time I can escape the four walls around me and spend time among trees and on trails. 

Having a day to put everything aside and be outside is a gift, and having a week to do so is even more wonderful. This past March, I took a week off of life to visit Colorado for the first time. From the mountains of Knoxville, we drove across our state, then we journeyed across the seemingly endless plains of Kansas until we reached the mountains of Colorado. 

The landscape out west is a sight to behold. Rugged, full of rich yellows and pine greens, meadows covered in snow, red rocks. Each day had new sights, new smells, new landscapes to explore. From Denver, we took a quick day trip to Boulder, a city nestled in the mountains. From the city center, one can see the stunning Flatirons, but it is by venturing into the Flatirons themselves that one really experiences these beauties. We scrambled up trails and climbed over rocks until we were rewarded with a view of the Boulder and the magnificent rocks around us. I left feeling as if I could explore those rocks and mountains for days. 

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The next day, we drove west, to Sliverthorne–a ski town in the mountains. On the two hour drive, we were privy to stunning views of the snow covered mountains and glacial lakes. Staying in Silverthorne allowed us access to a myriad of hiking trails and mountains I was longing to explore. So, the day after arriving, my friend Katey and I set out to hike our first 14er. We chose Mt. Quandary, as it is considered an “easier” 14er and suitable for winter climates. At just 6.75 miles round trip, it sounds like a fairly easy hike. However, in over just over three miles, one climbs from 10,850 feet to 14,265 feet, an average of 1022 feet of elevation per mile. It was, truthfully, one of the hardest things I have done, and worth every second.

After hiking Mt. Quandary, we were both exhausted and spent the next morning relaxing and brunching–a must on any vacation–before driving north to Rocky Mountain National Park. With only a few hours to explore, we took a quick hike on the snow covered trails in Estes Park, home to many glacial lakes. In March, they were frozen solid, but still beautiful. Slipping and sliding on those trails is something I won’t be forgetting anytime soon; I definitely should have worn different footwear!

This was our last day in Colorado, and I know I for one was sad to leave. We woke up at 4 am to squeeze in one last item on our Colorado list: Garden of the Gods. Two hours south of Denver, these incredible rock formations were like nothing I had seen before. Red rocks, rising out of the earth and forming craggy peaks and cliffs. Arriving at 8 am, we were barely awake, and spend a wonderful half hour wandering the trails around the rocks. The landscape could not have been more different from the snow covered mountains I had found myself in just one day earlier. 

And so, after that last wonderful stop, we climbed into our car and drove back home. Colorado, you were not a place I will be forgetting soon, and I will be coming back. 

travel, natureSarah O'Leary