Royal Arch Trail

Exhausted. That’s the only word that could possibly describe my mental and physical state going into this hike. It was a beautiful day and I was determined to stick to my goal of exploring different hikes on my off days from work. So, Bella and I began a very slow incline through Chautauqua Park. I’m not sure why I was so worn out, but I had to stop every couple stair style steps up and catch my breath. I was pretty frustrated but figured I had all day so I might as well take my time and enjoy the beautiful sights. The trail winded through many pine trees and up through red colored rocky formations. Towards the end, a section of the trail got to where you were really having to climb over some steep slabs of rock and Bella got a little nervous. It’s a beautiful thing, the relationship you develop during activities which require you to put your trust in an another living being. She was able to allow me to help her down and push her up some undoubtedly scary looking rocks.

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The views from the top of the trail were well worth the hike up and the frustration that came from being so tired. I could see all of Denver and Boulder, and the arch itself was something impressive to look at. As I was scanning the rocks for somewhere to relax for snack time, I noticed a small notebook was tucked into one of the crevices. It was beautiful. Someone had left behind a journal for hikers to write in as they so pleased. There was one story I found that really touched my heart.

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It was simple but inspiring. I had just moved across the country myself, something that I had always wanted to do, but had just now found the courage to do. It was so scary, yet here I was a couple weeks later, confident that it truly was the best decision I had ever made. I don’t know the person who wrote this journal entry, but I want to thank you. Your simple story made me smile and feel like I was definitely in the right place at the right time. So, I entered my own short inscription and put the journal away for another hiker to enjoy.

I broke out several different snacks for Bella and I.  I am a big advocate for dog snacks on trails, because if I get hungry, I know she’s hungry, especially since she does at least twice the amount of running around that I do. It wasn’t long before we were joined by two chipmunk friends. I couldn’t believe how unafraid they were! Bella just sat watching them run around and I offered them pieces of my snacks. I’m sure there’s something to be said for not feeding the wildlife, but they were so cute and cheeky I couldn’t resist. A fellow hiker took an awesome photo of my interaction with the chipmunk that he so kindly emailed me later.

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I gathered our things and we descended back down to Boulder to meet up with a visiting friend from Gainesville. It was a great hike and great day and I would definitely do this hike again, especially with friends or family from out of town. It is challenging, but it’s a wonderful spot to quickly get away and view the city from a distance.

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FL>>CO

If anything can go well it will. On August 14, 2015 I found out I would be moving to Denver, Colorado approximately two weeks later for an internship with the Denver Zoo. That was two weeks to finish up work with my pet sitting company, find a place to live in Denver, move my home full of things from Jacksonville to Tallahassee, pack what I could fit in my little Mazda 3, and drive Bella, my 6 year old chocolate lab, and myself the 1,662 miles to our new home.

My excitement was undeniable. I had been needing a change and the mountains had been calling. Growing up, my family moved a lot. We had moved from Florida, to Iowa, to Tennessee, and back to Florida. After living in Tallahassee, FL for a number of years, I moved to Gainesville, where I got my degree in animal science from the University of Florida. I continued living in Gainesville after finding a post-grad job and moved to Jacksonville a couple years after that. While I will always consider Florida my home and location of some of my favorite people in the world, I had always missed living in the mountains of Tennessee. The mountains have a pull on my soul that is nearly indescribable There’s something so special about being lost in the tall, vastness of the forest and reaching the peak of a mountain after challenging yourself to make it there. I had only been to Colorado for skiing vacations in the past, but I had a feeling it was just what I needed.

So, I took to Craigslist and found a place to call home. It seemed like a good situation, pet friendly, month to month, fenced in back yard. Rent was decently cheap compared to the rest of Denver and the location was pretty ideal; in the middle of where I would be working and where the mountains were located. And the rest is history. I packed a few belongings in my car, bought an air mattress, and drove out west, not having the slightest clue what would happen when I got there.