When We Have No Time to Hike

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAWhen life gets so busy, whether with necessary tasks or the pursuit of our dreams, that it feels as if we have no time, I believe it’s even more critical to carve out moments to connect with nature. I’m sometimes tempted to ignore the call of the outdoors and keep writing about whatever inspiring idea has me in its grip, or to keep doing all the things others expect of me until I’m depleted, or to crash in front of the TV because its easier to passively take in someone else’s story after a hard day. Mostly those things tempt me because I convince myself that enjoying nature will require me to spend a lot of time planning or preparing, or to spend all day far from the city. Not true.

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Sometimes it only requires me to spend a few minutes to a couple of hours: weeding or watering my garden, grabbing a scone from the local bakery and eating it in the park, or taking a short drive with my husband for a brief stroll along a creek, canyon, foothill, or tree-lined path.

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Dale and I recently drove just a half hour to Waterton Canyon, and walked for maybe an hour out and back along the South Platte River. This trail also just happens to be Section #1 of the 400-mile Colorado Trail—inspiration for another time. We only walked about two miles round trip, although it can be a 13-mile hike or bike-ride if you go all the way to the Strontia Springs Dam, where Denver gets much of its drinking water.

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It’s not the most amazing hike I’ve ever been on, but it’s lovely and that’s all I needed it to be. The point is that we decided to go on the spur of the moment, grabbed some water, and gave up just two hours of our day. In return we enjoyed a peaceful rocky canyon, rushing water, a family of geese, a mule deer, wildflowers, and sunshine. It also reminded me to be grateful for the long and precious journey Denver’s water makes to get to our faucets.

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I’m always fighting with my schedule to make time to work on my novel, and at first I was loathe to tear myself away for those two hours. But it was, as always, a delightful surprise to discover how much creative energy I can gather from just a little sunshine and water. That’s what flowers do, and it turns out we humans can learn a lot from a flower. Afterward, I dove back into my manuscript with more new ideas and solutions than I had before I left.

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In the end, making time for nature often makes us more efficient at our work than pounding away at a task until we can barely think or feel anymore. A writer who stops thinking is one thing, but a writer who stops feeling? That will never do. Whatever it is you do, I hope you’ll stop now-and-then to remind yourself of why we all do whatever we do, and go gather up some joy amid wild posies or beasties, rockses or cricks. It needn’t take long, though it can if you’d like.

2 thoughts on “When We Have No Time to Hike

  1. Cara Lopez Lee Post author

    I know what you mean, Beth. I have this nifty little “Denver Hiking Guide,” by Dave Rich, which boasts a list of 45 Hikes Within 45 Minutes of Denver. Of course, some of those actually are in Boulder, and a few are multiple options in the same park. It’s a fairly old book, but it has plenty of convenient suggestions, all of which appear to still be around, though I have to look online for the latest info on parking and fees and such.

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