Thankful for the Views- Thanksgiving hiking adventure at Red Mountain

The legs deserve a break!
Our original plan was to hike this, the Incline, but sadly it was booked up. Onto Plan B!

This year was my first time spending Thanksgiving solo. No, this isn’t going to be a post where I whine and complain about it. I actually had a fantastic Thanksgiving despite wishing my family and friends could be here. Sure, it was disappointing I couldn’t be with my folds back East but I’ll get 9 days with them over the Christmas holiday, so no worries! The holidays are super special to me, from Thanksgiving to Christmas. That time period is absolutely one of my favorites. I am a massive sentimental nerd and I absolutely am not ashamed to say I cry watching Christmas movies and looking at the beautiful decorations, it fills me with the most wonderful joy and hope. Thanksgiving and Christmas are super meaningful to me, a time to appreciate and enjoy togetherness with those I love; the most special gift on earth is love and togetherness. Gift giving is not a love language of mine, I’d much prefer the warm company of family and friends to any gift for the holidays (I’m quality time, physical touch and even words of affirmation). Thanksgiving is a day that solely focuses on togetherness, being with family and laughing together, hugging each other! So to be solo on a day that is simply about spending quality time with loved ones would seem to be really depressing but it gave me a chance to spend the day reflecting on how much I love and value my family and friends and it made me even more excited to see them all again soon. It was a day of reflection, starting with a fantastic hike and ending with wine, a free turkey pot pie meal from work, lots of Christmas movies and eventually a great Skype session with my folks.

Originally the plan was to hike the Incline in Manitou. But because of restrictions, the Incline was totally booked before we could get a spot. This is my 3rd unsuccessful attempt to hike the Incline. Is this a sign? A sign from Universe that I’m going to miss a step and fall all the way down? Should I be concerned? The first and second attempt to hike the Incline was thwarted due to weather-related incidences. One was a sudden storm and the other from the fires and smoke. This time, we just didn’t expect the Incline to be totally booked up over a week before Thanksgiving. Apparently, Thanksgiving morning is a popular day for hiking. Burning the calories in preparation for the excessive calories about to be digested? I get it, in college I’d spend 2 hours at the gym prepping for a night out of beers and nachos. I’ve even been known to work off the exact amount of calories in an entire bag of peanut butter M&Ms so I could “break even”.

The Incline may not be an option, but the beauty of living out here is there are a ridiculous amount of hikes and trails to trek! Onto Plan B! We chose Red Mountain in Manitou, close by the Incline so it’s a great alternative. The weather was perfect for hiking. Sunny but cool so you didn’t overheat. The air wasn’t too icy for my lungs either, which was great. Nothing worse than hiking up a steep trail when the air is cold to the point it stings your lungs. There were several pretty steep parts of the trail where we had to take a few extra breaks. I could feel my muscles tensing up at times. I even had a pebble sneak into my boot at one point and had to take a break to find that little bugger, seriously how did you sneak in my boot? A couple times I felt my boots sliding down and I had that minor panic moment that I was gonna slip all the way down. But not today, we’re gonna make it! My calves and thighs are going to be SORE tomorrow! But in all honesty, I like the feeling of being slightly sore after a hike, it shows me I did something and got a real work out. If I wake up the next day after a hike and my legs and sides aren’t sore I actually get disappointed.

The views from the top were absolutely gorgeous. The vibrant blue skies out here still amaze me! And you’d think I’d be used to gorgeous mountains views, but I still find myself amazed and dumbfounded. I constantly say to myself, how is this view real? I had to do some semi-dangerous rock climbing to get the better views. Worth it for the views! But just nice and slow and super careful! Seeing the incredible view of the town of Manitou and even the Springs in the distance, it still amazes me to realize I live here, in such a beautiful place. As I sat there looking out, I took a moment to reflect. On my family and my friends both back East and out in Colorado. I feel so truly blessed to have such supportive, loving parents and so many genuine friends who I can always rely on. There’s nothing more important to me than my relationships and connections with those I love. I only wish I could share more quality time with my friends and family back East. But at least the distance makes the few times I get to see them a year that much more special. I truly appreciate that even though I’m 2,000 miles away, so many of my friends have remained my friends. You never how distance will affect relationships but I’ve always held onto faith that the true friends will stay despite the inconvenience of me being across the country. I’m truly grateful for that. We may not see each other as often as before or talk as often, but at the end of the day we still are there for one another and value each other. That’s a great feeling, a huge sense of security in super insecure times. This year, I’ve really appreciated that sense of comfort and constancy from my family and friends, that no matter how insane this first year living out West gets or how many moments I feel anxious and unsure that I have an amazing support system of people who love me and are cheering me on. It means the world. This year has had some HUGE rocky mountains even beyond the pandemic situation for me, just in moving across the country away from a comfortable life. Trying to start over, rebuild and discover. I appreciate the support and love from my loved ones more than ever! Thanks to those who’ve been there for me despite everything.

The hike back down was definitely trickier than the hike up in my opinion. All those steep hikes up were now carefully coordinated baby steps down. A couple times, it was so steep I just sat down and scooted down. No shame, you gotta do what you gotta do! There was no way I was going to be able to walk down some of those declines! A couple times I found myself pebble surfing. In a standing crouch, arms outstretched riding the pebbles down sideways. I’ve got this earth surfing thing down! Maybe I COULD handle actual surfing? I’m sure I looked completely ridiculous but you gotta do what you gotta do to make it down safely.

I had been worried that this Thanksgiving would be really tough. Not being home with my family on a holiday that is super special for us. Not having Nixie with us anymore. But I can honestly say it was a great Thanksgiving. I’m the type who is ok on their own. Yes, I love to be social and spend quality time with loved ones, but I am also the type who can be content on their own. I can be happy either way. I value quality times with loved ones and with myself, both are special to me. I can go either way and I need both to be happy. I made the best of the situation. Yes, I was without family but I did a great hike with friends, went home and had a delicious dinner courtesy of work, enjoyed a nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and then got to Skype with my family. That’s a great day! And that really is the secret, instead of focusing on how you wish things were you make the best of the current situation. You take the time to reflect on the good things and to keep hope alive. Nothing is perfect but perception is reality. I could either tell myself, I’m alone for the holiday and it sucks OR I could take time to do things that make me happy and enjoy my holiday. I made a promise to myself a month ago when I was having a rough time in my grief process to be happy, keep a positive outlook and keep the faith and that’s exactly what I plan on doing. 🙂

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