My Week-long Wanderlust: Day 5

17 Jul

Today was the first day I had the thought, “Oh no, we’re leaving soon.”

Today was also the day I felt the greatest sense of appreciation for the time here.  I found myself consciously taking deep breaths as the edge that I’m typically surrounded by at home began to slowly envelop me. “Right now,” I reminded myself.

Day 5 of 7 we rose to ready ourselves for the Berry Picker.  I was eager to get onto the mountain and feel the fresh morning air stinging my face and the burning of my lungs. I didn’t know how difficult the trail would be – it was listed as moderate. But I had done week-long backpacking trips and knew what difficult was. The Berry Picker was a 2.5 20130716_094152– 3 hour hike that we could choose to take to a gondola further up the mountain or ascend higher, take another trail over and then down, or backtrack our way to the start on the same trail. We hadn’t decided what we’d do when we got to a stopping point, keeping with our trend of not having to plan everything out.

The first mile proved to meet my expectations- immediate ascension leading into a well-groomed, narrow and knotty trail of aspens and foliage that left our lungs heaving and hearts pounding in our ears. My bliss. I could go uphill all day. There was a rhythm I’d find with the exhale and inhale, turning the hike into an experience of flow. A reminder perhaps of what I would be going home to very soon?

Mile 2 seemed to come quickly. A series of switchbacks provided us with brief reprieves from the incline and my competitive mind pushed its way in as I calculated how quickly we were covering the distance. 27 minute per mile was what my high-altitude oxygen-deprived brain had determined, with stops to admire the view and snap some photos that could instantly take us back.

20130716_09021420130716_09022620130716_09175820130716_094354We had chosen a perfect day. Pillowy clouds lined the sky in the distance, and rain was called for in the late afternoon. We had gear for whatever the conditions brought us, but with only a few hours, it was clear we’d be enjoying the sun when we would emerge from out of the tree-lined forest. The birds serenaded us, the brooks we

crossed several 20130716_095516times babbled frantically as they tumbled over the smooth stones, and a far-off helicopter roared in the distance as we trekked through mile 3 and were dropped at a utility road. Signs indicated it was the detour for 3 paths, but we were confused as to the direction we needed to head. Out came our trail map. Onward! (And we’d done the 2.5-3 hour hike in 1 hour and 40 min- BOOM!).

We walked another 10 minutes and a gentleman, seeing the map, asked if he could help us. Explaining where we wanted to head, he explained the construction and pointed us in the right direction. Deciding that we wanted to continue hiking though, rather than taking the gondola back down, we got back on the Berry Picker in the hopes of running into another path that would drop us on the other end of the village where we’d started.

An hour and 20 minutes later, after landing on paths unanticipated, avoiding those marked “Easiest Way” (c’mon!), and taking to trail running, we emerged in Vail Village…right at lunch time.

Setting up camp at the end of a trail to beckon the hungry hikers through its doors,  Los Amigos, knew what it was doing. We would gladly fall prey to their savvy business strategy. We asked for  table outside and enjoyed another great meal on what the menu touted as “The Best Outdoor Patio in Town.”

Spent, content, and refreshed, we took a leisurely stroll around town again before heading back to the condo to rest and spend two hours on the phone with Samsung tech getting assistance for a gmail syncing issue. I could only laugh at the dichotomy of the day’s events.

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