March 7, 2011

Jessica Lynch

The Sherpa path that connects Alpine Village with the dorms is a nice, relaxing stroll. It gets you from point A to point B with little effort and a nice dose of fresh air. It does not, however, release your inner child’s love of exploration.

For a more challenging course, begin your hike from behind the apartments and climb straight up.

Avoid the marked path at this point and prepare yourself for some deep breathing and maybe a trickle of sweat if you really push it. I’m not in terrible shape, but the beginning climb was challenging enough to make me wish I’d brought a water bottle. Continue up through the washed out ravines until you spot the infamous stoner couch. How it was hauled up the hill is beyond me, but it’s still in relatively good shape aside from some exposed springs and a bit of dirt. The blue of the fabric is faded, but still worth sitting on for a few minutes to take in the broken beer bottles and your first view of the city. From this vantage point, Garden of the Gods is a straight shot to the mountains and the endless stream of traffic can be daunting in its realization.

From here, continue winding your way through the trees and if you’re hiking with someone, make it a race. (Though be careful of the loose dirt and rock.) Soon you’ll reach a cluster of large boulders, many of them shaped like Snoopy, that provide ample opportunity to climb, jump and throw rocks. Overall, it’s reason enough to act like a little kid again.

Again, continue climbing upward until you reach your next destination point: the pull-up bars. As my boyfriend explained, from the top bar, you might feel a little bit like the King of the world. I think that’s reason enough to do a pull-up. Maybe even a two or three if you can. The shorter bars are also perfect for spinning. This maneuver is usually done by girls under the age of seven, but can be managed as long as you check for ample headroom to complete the full rotation.

After this, take a moment to look back at not only how far you have come, but the school below and the city itself. There’s nothing like taking time to explore the fervor of city life and the lives that perpetually wiz by without notice. And while we might not always realize this, each car is more than just a passing vehicle, but an individual person with a story. And it’s important, I think, to step back from it all and remember this before we get caught in the vicious cycle of daily frustrations and routines.

Climbing up the bluffs during the evening to catch the sun setting in the west is a beautiful, breathtaking sight and should be experienced from these great heights.

From the top, a path winds its way easily across the bluff to the far east side. Begin following this at a leisurely pace, taking in the brush, the rocks, the grass and the howl of the wind. Walks like these were made for deep conversations and intellectual thought. So whether you’re with someone or walking by yourself, jump in with an open mind and a willing heart.

Before long you’ll stroll by the cell phone tower and realize that if a mountain lion decided to attack you right then, there’s a chance you could get a call into 911 first. It’s really a very comforting thought. The path gets a little complicated through here but if you continue along a generally straight line, you really can’t get lost. Along this area are a couple rock outcroppings that lead you to the edge of the bluffs. The further east you walk, the more you feel like you’re in the middle of the wilderness because you can no longer see the school.

When you reach the far east side of the bluff you can either start the descent to the bottom or turn around. I advise back tracking and enjoying the path back so you can stay on top of the bluffs and on top of the world, a little bit longer. The climb down can be a little difficult because of the sand and loose dirt, but if you brace yourself and bend your knees, a little sliding is actually pretty fun. When you do finally reach the bottom, take a deep breath and remind yourself to continue appreciating life’s beauty.