I love hiking. And climbing. And just about anything outdoors. But this last summer, I missed out on most of the hiking season because I was traveling and doing mission work (see previous blogs!). So when I was planning to get back from Hawaii on September 19th, I was watching the weather, and hoping that I’d get a chance to summit one last 14er before the season closed.

Four days after coming home from being at sea level, I took a slightly impulsive trip to Torreys peak. I had already done Grays the summer before with my mom, but didn’t have time to get to the second summit. So I left early in the morning, mostly to get a parking spot since this is a more popular trail and the last time I was up there, it was insane.

I started just before sunrise. Coming from hot and humid Hawaii and shorts weather, the cool, crisp air was a bit of a shock. But everything smelled so fresh and clean in that typical earthy way. Something I had dearly missed on my travels.

Some of my favorite moments on my hikes happen right at sunrise, the moment when you start to see the adjacent peaks slowly becoming illuminated by the sunrise. It’s funny because every other time of day, the sun seems to move at a snail’s pace, but at sunrise and sunset, it’s like gravity somehow has an effect on the beams and pulls them faster. It’s one of the most beautiful and fleeting moments.

I had a much easier time with this trail a year before when I was in shape and hiking 14ers more frequently. This time through did test me. I was heaving, my legs struggled to pull me up, but at the same time, I was so excited to be in my element again. And I know what you’re probably thinking, why trade Hawaii for the cold? We all see things differently. What I find beautiful is other people’s nightmare. What bores me is the highlight for somebody else. And I guess the world caters to everybody’s tastes, because while I didn’t enjoy the beaches and the sand, Panama at least offered me refuge in forest.

I saw  some mountain goats hanging out up on the ridge when I was still pretty far down the trail. I was lucky enough to get closer to them as they were still there when I finally got up. I love mountain goats. They’re some of the best rock climbers, beautiful creatures, and graceful. I see them a lot when I’m up at this elevation, so it was a great “welcome home” to be greeted by these guys.

I almost missed the beautiful fall colors with getting home so late from my trip, but I got very lucky, not only for a shot like this, but the weather as well. Normally it will be snowy or rainy this time of year, but the season held out really long!

I always take a photo with my Colorado flag on top of each mountain that I climb. It’s become tradition for me as well as a simple, lightweight item that I can carry without loosing space or adding too much weight. It also makes for some pretty cool photos!

Just before driving out of the parking lot, I realized how beautiful this shot was. I love it when clouds move into the scene. They’re the last thing you want to see hiking, especially in the summer, but they make for the best landscapes!

I’m looking forward to this new season of hiking. Expect more beautiful photos and blog posts of my adventures! This is going to be a great year, here’s the 2016!

-Elizabeth Mae-