Giving in to the moment

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As a child, wandering during mountain hikes with my dad, I can remember how the light took on a magical quality as it filtered through tree leaves onto a carpet of pine needles on the path. The mountains have always brought me a sense of peace. But sometimes, I need to push myself to take advantage of the landscape that makes our state so great.

In the more than 20 years I’ve spent here, I realized how easy it is to take those mountains for granted. From Denver, the silhouette of the Rockies in the west are a permanent fixture along the skyline. I often forget how beautiful that is. The mountains melt into the background, becoming part of the everyday.

Every year I tell myself I am going to hike more or go camping. But life seems to get in the way and I only head west a few times in the summer. Last month I made one of those rare trips — an even rarer occurrence in winter. I went to Breckenridge for the tree lighting. Exiting off Interstate 70 into Frisco, the sun was just starting to set behind the peaks. The warm glow brought me into the moment, a second of beauty with golden light falling on the snow.

Even when I left Colorado at the age of 14 to move to Seattle for high school, I lived in a city with a view of the mountains. While the Cascades generally lack the height and majesty of the Rocky Mountains, it was a small reminder of home. One of my first memories of Seattle was a family drive to Ocean City, about three hours southwest of the city. While driving, we could see Mount Rainier in the distance. In the early morning, the light had a purple quality. But the most striking part was a large full moon that sat right above Rainier’s peak. Although I still kick myself for not having a camera at that particular moment, I can still see it in my mind — a peaceful second on a long car ride to the beach.

The only time I’ve lived without mountains was during the year I spent in New York City for grad school. New York has its own special qualities that I will cherish forever. But there was never the sense of peace, or “wow” moments, looking to the west and suddenly remembering just how beautiful those mountains really are.

I made up for lost time pretty quickly by spending the year after New York living in the heart of Summit County. When there wasn’t a foot of snow on the ground — which was not often — I ran outside. I kayaked in Lake Dillon. Even after I was offered a job in Denver, I thought about how to make an hour-long commute from the mountains work every day.

We are lucky to call such a beautiful state home. Many of the people I know who moved to Colorado did so for the mountains, including my dad. We all take the mountains for granted sometimes. For me, I make sure I balance those moments with a second of reflection. When I make time for the mountains, I make sure to take in as much of their beauty as I can, and give in completely to the moment.

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