Dog and I went camping again yesterday in the mountains (where else?). I am normally and early riser anyway, but especially when I am camping and haven’t slept too well anyway. I am excited to see the morning after a long night in the tent. I was much warmer on this trip (thanks to a better sleeping bag, kindly lent by my roommate), and extra blankets. Dog was perfectly comfortable, sans blanket. Still, when I woke up and saw sun creeping across the sky and heard the birds chirping away in the cheerful morning chatter I was glad. The air outside the tent was coooooold and I regretted my decision to leave my blanket nest, but Dog was ready to go so I didn’t have much of a choice. April in the city of Denver is much warmer than April in mountains, and the air had a special spring chill. Refreshing and sweet, but cold. Anyway, I layered up, and after a hasty breakfast Dog and I set off on the trail. Here are some reflections on early morning hiking.
1) You will meet a whole different set of birds. I WISH I WISH I WISH I hadn’t left my new Rocky Mountain Bird identification book at home, but I could tell even without it that the birds I was seeing and hearing in the morning were different from the ones I encountered in the day and evening. For one thing, the woodpeckers- a species different from the kind I was used to in Wisco- were voracious, and their pecking echoed all around the forest. Dog and I had a good time watching all the early morning birds swoop around and call to one another.
2) If you prefer the trail to yourself, you’ll have it. I did see two trail runners go past, but apart from that we had what felt like the whole mountain to ourselves. Most of the other campers were still asleep, and the day trippers weren’t in the park yet. The stunning views of Panorama Point were OURS, muahahaha. I also felt less inhibited about sitting down in sunny patches to catch my breath or to snag a snack.
3) The freshness of the air and the sun coming up behind peaks and trees is unbeatable. Yeah, I’m sure the air is always fresh up there, but something about the brisk temps and bird chatter just made the scent of the trees and chipper mountain streams fresher. It was a joy just to breath. Stopping to take great big lungfulls of air I was also in awe of the views of the sun rising from behind forested peaks. It wasn’t dark when we set out from camp, but there was definitely a sharp contrast between the places on the trail where tendrils of sunlight had sneaked in and where it hadn’t.
4) The feeling of accomplishment when you saunter back into camp having completed a somewhat grueling hike while everyone else is just starting their day. I took a one hour victory nap in my tent to celebrate. So did Dog.