I prefer to go out on hikes that have their climbing on the first part of the hike. Climbing, it seems, is not always my favorite thing to be doing. But it’s always unavoidable. I’ve never lived in a flat part of this country, and I’ve never been able to experience a hike that led me out and back without changing my elevation. Colorado, it seems, is especially lacking in flat places until you drive a few hours east in to the plains.
So I’ve spent a lot of time climbing on foot and on bicycle since I made Colorado my home. At first, I wasn’t a fan. I’d set out up a mountain with a two-day or bigger pack on my back and I’d have to spend time huffing and puffing. I’d try to keep up with the group, pushing till my heart pounded in my ears and sweating. Exertion, weight and altitude together put a pretty good strain on you. As time went on, it got easier. Although it still gets hard when I spend too much time behind the desk and not out climbing.
But the end of a climb is always worthwhile. Mountains spread out as far as you can see, or a view of a valley, or even sometimes just a spot where a nice cool wind flows over you after climbing in the harsh sun for a while. Always a nice spot to stop, and catch your breath, and have a sip of water while you take it in and enjoy it.
I don’t mind the climbing so much anymore. I know it has a reward. But I still am slow, and I kind of feel bad that I make Stephanie wait for me to catch up. She doesn’t seem to mind too much, but I still feel bad about it. I used to be involved with a woman who hiked far more than I did and when she would get to a climb, she would go as fast as she could to the top and then berate me as I slowly caught up. Needless to say, that relationship didn’t last. It put me off hiking for a number of years. But now that I’m back, and I have the best hiking partner in the world, the climbing doesn’t seem nearly as bad as it used to.
But I still prefer the climbing to be done in the first part of the hike. Hiking ten miles or so and then having to climb up to get back to the car is just sadism on the part of the trail builders, I think.