All of our favorite higher elevation trails around Steamboat Springs are still under a couple feet of snow. We have no choice but to be patient as the sun and warming temperatures do their work to melt them out. In the meantime some lower elevation trails are open and dry and ready to be hiked.
Yesterday, I hiked a trail not far from my home. I have been on this trail hundreds of times because it’s practically in my backyard. I hate to say it but this trail had became common to me. Perhaps my stepping on and over familiar rocks, rounding bends on the trail through sections of thick Spruce and Pine and knowing what to expect, and knowing where the trail opens up to big views of wilderness to the North have become very familiar. I didn’t realize it but I have been taking this trail for granted.
Yesterday, that all changed.
Don’t ask me what was different but it felt like I was going up this trail for the first time. The morning sunshine cresting the ridge to the East sent long shafts of light and shadow around trunks of spruce and pine and aspen. Pine boughs and new green aspen leaves caught the light as if the tops of the trees was a massive outdoor kaleidoscope. Nearby and very close, an elk huffed and puffed asking us to move along. The sound of rushing water filled the lower canyon. The torrent of cascading water doing its best to make round the jagged blocks of granite and the granite was doing its best to block the flow altogether.
I’m hiking this trail for the gazillionth time and thinking to myself how it is so wonderful. My to do tasks at home weren’t on my mind. The looming work week was not on my mind. Being in the moment hiking silently over a trail topped with soft duff and seeing and listening and feeling the morning cold made this trail feel like a brand new experience.
My epiphany isn’t the result of some astute genius thought or developed theory. It is simply this… Hike with your eyes seeing and comprehending – look beyond what you expect to see. Hike with your ears open and hearing. Stop frequently and listen. Hike as quietly as you can (as long as you’re not in real big bear Yellowstone country). If you’re with friends hike without conversation for a bit. Look and listen. Take nothing for granted.
Old trails. New trails. And old trails become favorites again.
Here is a list of some great low elevation trails that are open now (May 29, 2017).
Fish Creek Falls (you will eventually hit snow as you get closer to Long Lake)
Mad Creek Trail
Sarvis Creek Trails
Spring Creek Trail
Emerald Mountain/Howelsen Hill
Red Dirt Trail
South Fork Trail
Call Ski Haus or email for directions and current conditions. Have fun out there!