Every now and again, I take some time to myself. I hop in my car, go on a drive, or maybe I’ll just go to my favorite coffee shop, or occasionally it’s just picking up some delicious Chinese food to enjoy with some netflix on a weeknight. I think that time is important. When I got back from YWAM, I wanted to take a weekend and go up to Estes Park to enjoy the last little bit of fall colors up there and some of the easier trails.

I’ve done a lot of hiking in the park, not enough to have done all the trials, but all of the easily accessed ones, so I wanted to try something new. Basically, I looked at the map, found an area I hadn’t spent a lot of time, and said, “ok, let’s do that.” Normally, I’m the kind of person that likes to plan things. I sit down for hours making lists and planning out every little detail so I don’t forget to do something that needed to get done. But it was a refreshing break to just go for it.

Despite most of the trees having lost their leaves weeks before, I still found beautiful color in the small things. I think sometimes we forget about that. We pass over the small details in our lives simply because they weren’t that massive, breathtaking landscape in front of us. It’s something I’m guilty of, but something that I’m learning every time I go out and shoot. When I first started photography, I was taking photos of the little things. I wasn’t doing portrait photography, my goal was just to see how amazing I could make this leaf on the ground look; how can I capture this in such a way that people will notice it the next time. It was a great starting point that I began to forget as the years went by. But going hiking when I had no time constraints, no limits, and nobody that I was holding back, it was an ideal moment for me to pay attention to the small things.

I find that when I appreciate the golden medallions of fallen aspen leaves, I appreciate a kiss just that much more. Giving attention to the movement of water opens the door for me to pay attention to you better. I really want to encourage more people, especially those of you who are photographers to go back to the beginning and fall in love with those details once again. They make us better, more attentive people when we do bigger shoots.

I love it when I turn around a corner on a trail and  all I see is this beautiful path framed by the trees. I think I have more trail pictures than pictures of people at this point! Maybe it’s the Lord of the Rings fanatic in me, or maybe it’s just the fact that the road isn’t over. There’s more beauty to be seen in this time in the forest. Or maybe it’s that I’m constantly looking forward to the journey. I rarely know what my destinations look like. In life or on the trail, I’m just going for it, hoping to see beautiful things, experience incredible things, challenge myself, and interact with people along the way. If you ever saw me on a trail and started talking to me, there’s a good chance we’d finish the hike together as good friends. Normally, I’m very shy, but there’s something about a trail that brings people together, I’m able to open up and just talk. My boyfriend once told me that “you give a man something to do and he’ll never stop talking.” And I feel like that’s true for just about everybody. Meeting over coffee is a good thing, but it’s so much better to get out and do something.

As I sit here and reflect on my time in the mountains, it makes me realize that I need to take a break more often. We all do. As a nation, we get so sucked into our day to day lives, work, family, drive, school, money, spending, advertisements, fast food, that even though I like only an hours drive away from mountain oasis, I forget that it exists. I work at a Starbucks with a great view of the front range, and occasionally I’m caught off guard by the beauty of the sunrise on the hills. I forget that I live in the most beautiful state because I get so sucked into the craziness.

I also love that I see so much wildlife up here. It’s much better this time of year without the flocks of tourists ruining the views, blocking the roads, or getting so dangerously close to the animals with their iPads, you think you’re about to see somebody get gored by an elk. It’s much quieter this time of year and you’re more likely to see the animals come out, and that’s exactly what happened. I was welcomed to deer outside the house several times, a heard of elk my last morning, and a wrong turn led me to a beautiful herd. I was also joined by some deer at the start of my hike the second day.

The last day I was up here, I was treated to some snowfall and I got to see a lake I’ve hiked to several times caught between winter and summer. It’s amazing that everything can be warm enough to be hiking in a tank top one day, and the winter the next. I guess that’s Colorado. It’s the beauty and the curse.

Thank you for reading my blog! Leave a comment, and keep in mind, all of these are available for print! Contact me for pricing and options!

Elizabeth Mae