Hiking On A School Night: Lookout Mountain

I’m still playing catchup over here after some long work weekends and a weekend away in Santa Fe, but I wanted to get this one out because I just had a really fun time with my friend in the mountains. Here we go.

A couple weeks ago, Courtney (my new-to-Colorado friend), and I planned a hiking adventure after work on a Thursday evening. On Wednesday night she texted me confirming our plans and said, “I get to go hiking. On a school night. Life is good.”

Her excitement reminded me of my own when I planted roots in Colorado after eight years in Florida. I was in a honeymoon phase for a good six months; everything felt magical and special and meaningful. I felt immediately changed by this new town and everything about it. Even a trip to the grocery store was a big deal because I could admire the mountains as I loaded my laundry detergent into my trunk. Beautiful trails and national parks were and are just a short drive from my house. A sunny day here beats a sunny day anywhere in the world. People are friendlier and more accepting.

As we tossed our excitement back and forth to each other that night about hiking mountains whenever the hell we wanted, I could feel that familiar shift from one life to another happening—from just moving through each day to actually living each one.

I’m happy she’s happy and I’m happy she’s here because the joy she feels about living here has reignited my own, making me fall in love with this place all over again. I don’t think I ever fell out of love with Colorado, but I got used to it, you know. Like a drug, tolerance builds up over time.

Around 6 p.m. we met at the top of Lookout Mountain in Golden, CO. The light rain was just clearing up and the sun was breaking through the clouds, blanketing the trees and the forest floor in an orange-y golden brown. I had only ever biked up Lookout Mountain, never hiked around it, so I did a little research before Courtney arrived and chose the Lookout Mountain Trail (which, I think, connected to the Beaver Brook Trail).

The first half of the hike was either flat or slightly downhill, winding around the side of the mountain providing epic views of nearby mountains. A portion of the trail is also open to mountain bikers, which can be tricky and a little scary since it’s quite narrow and there’s a very steep drop off on the right side. If it were me, I would definitely not be mountain biking up there unless it was a designated bike trail and closed to hikers. Yikes! Eventually we came to a section of rocks that looked like they were frozen in the middle of falling down the side of the mountain. It looked like a boulder waterfall.

As we hiked, we chatted about work and the biggest differences between our jobs in Florida and our new ones in Colorado. We talked about what we wanted to get at the big REI sale (spoiler: I got nothing) and gave Courtney my best advice on how to pack a backpack for a day-long hike in the mountains.

But mostly, I was just happy to be there as a guide, not only on the trails that evening, but in navigating this new life in Colorado. It’s really scary to take a path you’re uncertain about and hold onto blind faith that it will work out and be worth it.

We finished up around 7:30 p.m., just before the sun set, with huge smiles on our faces.

Since we turned around before it ended or before we got to another trail head connector, I think I’ll definitely have to come back and hike more of it. If it wasn’t starting to get a little dark, I think we could’ve made it even farther around the mountain.

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