I was three the first time I dared to step out into the snow. My Nana (bless her heart) was very excitedly trying to teach me how to ski. It was supposed to be a bonding experience, a sweet moment between grandma and granddaughter to be treasured forever; me, with my little legs and rosy, cherubic cheeks aglow with delight, my Nana gently guiding me along with smile on her face.
Well, that’s how it was supposed to go.
I took one step out into that stupid snow, crossed my skis, and fell face-first into a nice mound of wet ice. Needless to say, the only thing I wanted to bond with right then was a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
Then of course there was that time Dad decided to take me fishing.
I’m sure you can picture the sweet scene with me: baiting the hook, attempting the perfect cast, waiting in breathless excitement for the big catch. A tug comes on the line, we reel it in together, Daddy’s hands over mine, annnd… I come face-to-face with the ugliest river creature I have ever seen. Its lifeless, beady eyes stared right at me, its gaping jaw wide open, its slimy body wriggling, and a nasty scent I’ve never forgotten made my gag reflex go off for the rest of my life.
I would have jumped out of the boat if I wasn’t afraid the thing would follow me.
People laugh when I tell them this story, but it is not funny. I don’t know how anyone could trust a fish. I mean, even the goldfish kind. Think about it–’round and ’round they go, with those beady, shifty little eyes, and their slimy scales. What about that says, “Ooo, pick me to look cute on the counter while you sleep”?!
I cannot even begin to tell you what going on a field trip to a Fish Hatchery did to me as a kid.
Then there was the time poor Nana took me to try golf. It seemed fun in theory. It was the perfect environment: no snow, no fish, simple concept: whack a ball into a hole. Safe–in theory.
I asked Nana if I could try to drive the golf cart. For one very brief, wonderful moment, we looked like the very cover of GOLF Magazine as we switched seats and waved like Princess Diana to her subjects. Then I drove us into the trunk of a tree.
For what seemed like a very long while, Nana just breathed heavily with one hand on the steering wheel, making little noises that I think were her counting to ten. Then Nana and I stared at each other, and I could see reflected in her eyes what I’d just realized, too: we’re not really going to get anywhere with this, are we? Unless it’s Chess Club or Bingo, this kid really shouldn’t be let out of the house.
So. Considering my track record, you might understand why I’ve never really entertained the notion of this popular thing my fellow Coloradans call “hiking.”
Which, understand: to not hike, bike, shoot, or fish in Colorado is equivalent to a Youth Pastor without a soul patch. It just isn’t done.
Not only have I never had the inclination to hike, I’ve also never wanted to go hiking with anyone even remotely from around here, because certain things about myself just do not compute with them. At all.
Like, how can a person not like snow?
Here’s how a typical conversation goes for me every single winter:
“So do you ski, or snowboard?”
Breathe, Lizzie. “Neither. I don’t really like the snow.”
“I don’t like the snow.”
“Sure you do.”
“No, I really don’t.”
“Well, have you ever tried?”
“Yes. I don’t like it. I hate being cold.”
“Wear a jacket then! Don’t you like building snowmen?”
“No. That would require me to be out in the snow.”
“You have to love the snow. Everybody loves the snow!”
“Sure you do.”
See my point?
However, I am not above challenging myself, and I realize I live in a beautiful place that deserves to be explored. I can even understand why some people enjoy it, and I would never begrudge them that. Believe it or not, I actually kind of like nature. Driving through the canyons in Colorado with rock formations towering above you is one of the most awe-inspiring things you’ll ever see, and watching dusk hit snow-tipped mountains in waves of gold and pink will take your breath away.
There’s a lot of things to appreciate, and I’ll admit that freely. But let’s be real here: sweat, dirt, and bugs who want to annihilate humankind. That’s what hiking boils down to. At that point, my love for nature officially ends.
But wanting to push out of my comfort zone a little bit and having put it on my Colorado Bucket List, I finally decided to take the plunge this summer and go on my first ever hike with some friends who were willing to take me. Prior to this, the closest I’d ever been to going on a hike was walking up an incline in heels. (In my defense, though–it was a steep incline. I didn’t fall or wobble once. I’m pretty proud of that, and I’d challenge anyone to walk up a hill in heels and not call that a hike!)
Unfortunately, though, my heels had to stay in the closet for this trip. And contrary to what some people might expect, I came fully prepared. A simple tank, comfortable capris, hair pulled back, sunglasses, a backpack fully stocked with “hiker food” such as pumpkin seeds, some borrowed running shoes, and I was good to go.
Dude, I thought, Pumpkin seeds in a backpack. This is legit. Now all I need is a granola bar. The fact that I was thinking “dude” made it all the more legit.
California has their surfers. Colorado has their hikers.
To my utmost surprise, I actually did enjoy myself for the most part. Lavender butterflies and beautiful wildflowers were just a few of some of the delights I found.
I stopped often just to take it all in, and I’m pretty sure my friends thought I was using the landscape as an excuse to catch my breath:
“Oh, look!” Huff, puff. “What a pretty flower!”
“Guys, are you seeing this?!” Huff, puff. “Look at that crazy rock formation!”
“Dude. I totally just saw a squirrel.”
In all seriousness though, the truth is that the older and busier I get, the more I just want to breathe. Take it all in. Not let it pass me by. I think it helped realizing that this may be my last chance to trek through this amazing wilderness God has created for us here in Colorado, and I wanted to remember every detail and embrace every moment as it happened–the feeling of the sun on my face, the happy chirp of a chipmunk racing through its domain, even the itchy, piney scent that always seems to claw down my throat and make me sneeze until it looks like I’m having a seizure.
My happiest moment came on the way back though (which may or may not have been coincidence):
Me: “We should sing. Do you guys wanna sing?!”
“You don’t like to sing?”
“Not usually in public.”
“Sure you do.”
“Everybody likes to sing!”
“Well, not me.”
“Not even in the shower?”
“No. I don’t like singing.”
“Sure you do.”
(Not exactly how that conversation went, but tryin’ to make a subliminal point here. Or maybe not so subliminal.)
All-in-all, it was a beautiful day spent with some dear friends, and I can honestly say I enjoyed it. You might even convince me to do it again sometime.
Just don’t ever ask me to take you ice fishing in a golf cart.