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It wasn’t the moose blocking the path that stopped me. It was my husband—when I walked straight into his back. At least 10 minutes had passed since I’d last seen the flash of his blue shirt amid the pine and fir trees in Rocky Mountain National Park. That wasn’t unusual: Our hikes often turned into solo missions. His six-foot-two frame and singular focus on our destination (be it a lake, summit, or cascade) regularly outpaced my it’s-about-the-journey hiking style.
I was so surprised to crash into him—and to see a moose 50 yards in front of me—that I didn’t even glower at him for leaving me behind. Our speed disparity had irked me for years. It was an incompatibility I couldn’t square with the rest of our relationship. What was supposed to be quality time together left me feeling abandoned, and I began to lose the joy of hiking—along with my breath—while I tried to keep up.
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I knew the issue wasn’t that he didn’t care or wanted to hike without me; it just felt as impossible for him to match my languid pace as it was for me to speed up and not feel like I was in a trail race.
It was on a path near Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in 2016 that I finally realized that, if I was ostensibly hiking alone, I could hike however I wanted—while letting my husband hike his own way, too. I needed to let go of my frustrations and let the fun back in. A few months later, while trekking the Village to Village Trail at Beaver Creek Resort, I focused less on where my husband was and more on why I was lacing up my boots in the first place: I was surrounded by wild silvery lupine and pink fireweed. The wind whistled as it blew through the aspen trees.
By not trying to make the math work, I began to appreciate that our different styles came with perks. We both get the safety of a hiking partner, but I’m also able to revel in my solitude (at least until we meet up at the next fork in the path). I can puzzle through a story I’ve been struggling to write or daydream about adventures not yet taken. I still get to enjoy that all-important quality time on the way to and from the trailhead, at overlooks where we share a snack, and when we celebrate with a summit selfie. With more years and many more miles behind us, I’ve come to see that it doesn’t matter if our footsteps are out of sync because we are still a pair. And we don’t need a moose to force us back together.
Take Your Time
Three trails well-suited to leisurely fall hiking.
This 10.3-mile round trip up 9,701-foot Bergen Peak near Evergreen will tax your lungs if you take things too quickly.
It’s only a 3.5 mile-loop, but with some of the park’s best views you’ll have to stop for plenty of photos.
From mountain goats to looming Quandary Peak, there’s plenty to admire on this 2.8-mile, above-treeline trek.