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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Beginning My Climb to the Top of Colorado

There are fifty-three mountain peaks in Colorado that climb over 14,000 feet into the sky from sea level. That number can be disputed to one side or the other based on certain measurements, but fifty-three, all of which have a 300 foot peak prominence, is a fairly accepted number. Climbing these mountains, some in record times and ways, is a hobby of many Coloradans. For me, they’ve always been a thing best admired from the bottom.
Well, that is until now.
Matthews / Winters Park sits on the western edge of the Denver metropolitan area. It is a last barrier as the hills begin their change to mountains farther into the interior of Colorado. It is here that, many years ago during the mining era, tolls were charged on the roads leading up the canyons into the mountains. That is before the government purchased the land and made the roads free for everyone.
I had no desire to drive along the nearby roads, including Interstate 70, on one of the first sunny days of the season. Instead, I wanted to get out and explore some of Colorado’s beautiful scenery on foot. And in doing so, I would begin my climb to the top of one of Colorado’s fourteeners.

I thought of my summertime goal as I treaded the red-rock trails at Matthews Park; I traversed them for over six miles, wrapping around green hills and large rock formations on the north end of the famed Red Rocks Amphitheater. It would be a lofty goal, no pun intended, since I had only ever been to that elevation thanks to the use of an automobile – driving to the summits of both Mount Evans and Pikes Peak. This would be a totally different challenge.
The day was sunny, the wind was strong, the deer were out, and the trails were full of many other opportunists out for a stroll like myself. It was possible only a handful of them had the same goal as me, to reach the top of their first fourteener, but, to be sure, there were several other people on the trail who had already reached that mark. It is not an unusual hobby in Colorado, after all, to climb to the top of fourteeners for fun.
I had always felt intimidated at the prospect of climbing so high a peak. But, as I climbed a series of switchbacks on this day’s hike, topping out in the area of 6,500 feet above sea level, I knew I could do the fourteener this summer. Sure, it will take some training in the gym and on the trail, some dieting, and maybe even a couple of failures for one reason or the other, but I realized, only slightly out of breath, that my goal is not as out of reach as I once thought.
I pulled out in my car from the trailhead, content after doing my six miles in approximately two hours, intent on doing some research; picking out the perfect fourteener would be something to be savored, just like choosing a juicy steak from the butcher, and I would need to be educated. No matter which one I selected, I know it will not be an easy task. After all, climbing to 6,500 feet on this day will be nothing like climbing to 14,000 feet on another day.
But, if it were that easy, I wouldn’t have the desire I do now.

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  1. Hiking at Red Rocks | Jason's Travels - July 24, 2013

    […] hiking at Red Rocks. I’ve done the stairs bunches of times. I’ve even hit the trails at nearby Matthews / Winters Park. But not once have I gone hiking at Red Rocks. Why not? Good question. Probably because of all of […]

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