Kristen Lodge: Confessions of a Former Peak Bagger
Grand County, CO Colorado
I haven’t hiked Byers Peak, yet. As an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast living in Grand County for over three years, I’m embarrassed to admit it. The craggy peak taunts me every morning while I drive to work: Hike me, hike me.
I just can’t seem to find the time for a full day hike. My friends joke about my daily project plan. A plan made the night before, detailing everything I need to accomplish. If it’s not on the plan, it doesn’t get done. But what I can fit in are smaller hikes, and these help fill the void of my former self that needed to climb high peaks to feel a sense of accomplishment and mark them as done on my list.
In my 20s, the peak-bagging weekends were an escape. I was living in New Hampshire and only hiked 4,000-footers so I could check off each peak from the list in the back of the AMC White Mountain Guide.
When high school friends drifted away, I climbed Mount Washington. When life wasn’t quite working out for me, I climbed Mount Jefferson. I loved the rush of seeing the world from a new perspective on each new mountaintop and eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a bald summit with views in all directions.
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I hiked 35 of the 38 4,000-footers before I got a puppy; then everything changed. I started hiking smaller mountains because she couldn’t go on long hikes. I started enjoying the smaller peaks and shorter trails.
I never did get back into hiking high peaks, even when I moved to Colorado and my dog could go on longer hikes. Now, I take short hikes every morning with my dogs and haven’t hiked a 14er, yet.
Some of my favorite short hikes are an end-of-day hike on the Fraser to Granby Trail with my friend Stephanie and our dogs. I like the hikes around the old railroad trestle on the Moffat Road with friends who visit from out of town. I especially like the Creekside / Flume Loop with my dogs so they can jump in the creek when they get hot.
On these shorter, popular hikes in Grand County, I always run into interesting people, such as the Estes Family from Birmingham, Ala. I was hiking to Adams Falls in Grand Lake this week when I saw a family sitting on a rock laughing and having a good time enjoying the views on this glorious Colorado day. They were in Grand Lake on vacation and this was one of the last hikes before their vacation was over. They are proof that small hikes with friends and family are some of the best.
My first hikes in the White Mountains were about getting to the destination and served a purpose when I was trying to figure out my life; perhaps the reason why I’m inspired by mountain landscapes. One day I’ll get back to New Hampshire to bag the final three peaks in order to be a member of The Four Thousand Footer Club. Maybe I’ll even start the 14ers in Colorado. For now, since I want to do everything and need to fit in many activities and commitments, maybe I’ll run up Byers Peak.
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