by Tricia Stephens
Ten winters ago, I moved with my family into the foothills of the Rockies west of Denver, Colorado. Previously I had lived my entire life, over fifty years, in Texas in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, so moving to the mountains everything was visually different.
Colorado caters to people that like being outside. Besides the skiing, which Colorado is known for, parks are everywhere and most of the time they contain trails for hiking and biking, and they are visited year-round. Our first winter we collected a lot of trail maps while visiting the local Chamber of Commerce and visitor centers to see what was around. We made visits to parks, but they were short visits as our bodies acclimated to the snow and high altitudes.
When spring finally arrived at the end of June, I went on guided nature walks given by Parks and Recreation to learn to identify the beautiful wildflowers. I started hiking the trails at parks I’d read about during the winter and found myself having a great time. This was surprising because I had never really enjoyed exercise. Growing up girls didn’t participate in team sports and I always thought exercising by yourself was good for your health, but not meant to be fun. For the first time I felt the adrenaline high exercise can produce; something I thought only professional athletics could feel.
An even bigger revelation was realizing walking feeds my soul. Any worries and tension flow away while hiking and looking around the trail. It is easy to lose myself in the sights, sounds and smells of the forests and meadows. Seeing the huge mountains and tall Ponderosa pines I feel connected to nature and part of something that is eternal.
The most important way walking feeds my soul is the many positive thoughts that flow as I hike and relax. For instance, some years when we have excess snow wildflowers appear in the spring that I’ve never seen before because their seeds have been dormant for years waiting for the needed extra moisture. This reminds me that like the dormant seeds I’m never too old to change or start a new adventure.
Walking never gets boring. As the time of day and seasons change there is always something new to see. Blooming wildflowers cycle throughout the spring, summer and fall. Different animals appear at different times of the day. Watching these cycles encourages me to relax and accept changes in my own life instead of trying to always be in control. Change is something I often find stressful in my own life so this gentle reminder from Mother Nature is really appreciated.
Sometimes an Abert squirrel will run across the path, go part way up a tree and sit chattering at me. Aberts are small black squirrels with tall ears making them look like little rabbits. Alberts only eat from the tops of Ponderosa trees and since they are shy, sometimes I don’t see the squirrel, but only hear the chatter and see the remains of pine needles in the path. This reminds me there are many of God’s creations I overlook when I’m busy, and how special each of God’s creations is and how much he loves each.
Walking outside is the perfect way to start off my day. Hiking early in the morning I may see a fox, a deer or an elk. Whatever I’m lucky enough to see fills me with the wonder of what God has created and gives me a feeling of calm strength to start the day.
Tricia lives with her husband and two sons in Evergreen, Colorado. The elevation in the area ranges from 7,000 to 14,000 feet so the climate varies greatly from area to area creating homes for lots of different wildlife and plants. The one constant in Colorado is beautiful periwinkle blue skies.
Tricia studied business and graduated from the University of North Texas. Then she continued studying accounting after college obtaining her CPA license. Her career has focused on management accounting and budget both in the private sector and in governmental accounting. Outside of her very structured work Tricia enjoys the freedom found enjoying nature and hiking.
Tricia became interested in memoirs and started writing in 2001 with a women’s group out of Austin, Texas: Story Circle Network. She enjoys reading about the experiences of women and enjoys writing her own stories. Connecting to other women through story and shared emotions is very powerful and gives her strength.
Tricia keeps a blog about Evergreen to keep her memories of things she enjoys in her hometown at: https://evergreencoloradoishome.blog/