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Clear Skies

This is part of a weekly series, published fresh on Thursday mornings.

Can we hit pause on the baseball season? After last week’s 12–2 home opener win—plus the sunny weather on game day—we want to savor the start of baseball season. Of course, that’s impossible because our worries about the Rockies are growing as both Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki have had trouble staying healthy. It will be a long summer, though, and we hope we will find plenty of reasons to pass through the “The Evolution of the Ball” arch (pictured above) near Coors Field’s Wynkoop Street entrance. —Natasha Gardner

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Clear Skies

Why a little bit of climbing high in the Rockies might just be what you need to stay grounded.

A as a native Coloradan, I should have known better. It was a 70 degree August morning, in 2009, with bluebird skies, and sure enough, the trailhead at St. Mary’s Glacier in Clear Creek County was packed. Day-trippers clad in flip-flops and jean shorts chattered. Children squealed. Dogs, eager to hit the trail, barked and nipped at their owners’ heels. So much for clearing my head.

I had set out this morning with a special journey in mind: I was looking for a new “rock.” The rock started out as a literal thing when, as a child, I would sit on a stone in our south Denver backyard to get a respite from schoolyard teasing or trivial frustrations. My dad encouraged me by creating a mantra that said: Wherever life took me, I could—and should—always find my rock. When I moved away from Colorado for college, internships, and jobs, I found new spots to keep me grounded: a bench in Boston Common Park, a perch on Chelsea Piers in New York, and a grassy spot in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. I always found peace outdoors, which makes sense, because I’ve been hiking since I was wearing diapers.

But after moving back to Colorado two months earlier, I had felt disconnected with myself. On my hike to St. Mary’s Glacier, I hoped to escape the nagging buzz of work and relationships. Sighing at the crowds, I slung my backpack over my shoulder, and with my yellow Labrador, Savannah, ambling beside me, I tried to escape the noise as quickly as possible. The less-than-one-mile trek to St. Mary’s Lake looked more like a rockslide than a hiking trail, but with my worn hiking boots, it was easy to weave through the traffic of unprepared tourists.

I kept moving, climbing past the lake—and crowds—and up to the glacier, a year-round snowfield (and one of only 14 named glaciers in the state). My summer legs weren’t used to moving on snow, but after a few slips, I picked up my pace. About a half-mile past the lake, I stopped to survey the landscape that surrounded me. There it was: My new rock—a 10-foot-high boulder surrounded by open space. I shed my backpack, poured some water into Savannah’s bowl, and climbed to the first tier of the layered boulder. I leaned back, took a deep yogilike breath, and let the sun warm my face.

This was what I needed all along: clean mountain air filling my lungs, no sound but the wind, and a clear view of fourteeners in the distance. My thoughts slowed, as did my heart. I couldn’t help but smile; I’d found my one, true rock. Now, I take the same route every summer past St. Mary’s Lake: up the glacier, onto the open tundra, and up to my perch. From that vantage point, I feel the same sense of ease I did on that first visit. And I know that wherever I travel or whatever I do, this view will always bring me back to my roots.