My Favorite Experience: Hiking In Colorado With My Dad

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The author hiking with her dad at Cathedral Lake

My birthday was on a Tuesday this year, which happens to be a miserable day for a birthday because, as everyone knows, Tuesdays are the C+’s of the week. And yet, as the sun crested on that remarkably average day, I found myself clutching my pillow in a cold sweat, tears welling inside my early rising eyes, for I had finally had The Epiphany.

The Epiphany, as I have named it in my post-birthday state, is the sudden, and rather jarring realization that you are older, and time, which seemed such a sweet companion in your youth, has just stabbed you in the back with a kitchen knife. Unable to muster the strength to get out of bed I rocked my body back and forth until gravity pushed me to the floor and I could lay on my back, staring at my alarmingly spotted ceiling. Floors must have a relaxing quality because as my mind settled into my carpet all I could think of was a hike I had taken with my father thirteen years prior. Now I realize I have just set the scene for a really remarkable hike, one that will surely involve talking wildlife and a close encounter with a bear- but alas this hike was quite the opposite.

We set out on an early summer day just outside of Aspen. I sat atop my father’s shoulders, bumping up and down with each of his purposeful steps. We paraded our way up a hidden mountain path, one that zig-zagged back and forth through tall, damp trees that were much older than I, and gave me an unusual sense of security. My dad whistled to the tune of a Paul Simon song as he walked and when we reached the top of the path we sat by a lake and ate salami sandwiches. We then turned around, walked down the zig-zagging path and made it home before the rain. It was indeed a rather typical day and as calming as the memory was, I found myself curious as to why it was that memory that had sought me out on my birthday morning.

Upon reflection and using my newfound wisdom that comes with age I have decided the following: I thought of that moment with my father because I still identify with it. That hike, as unremarkable as it was, represents, in some abstract way, me. Life does not move in blocks, it’s not like certain attributes are gained with certain ages, rather it’s a progression- a gradual accumulation of experiences and knowledge. At the end of the day it seems we are simply a compilation of all our experiences. 

My dad died a year after that hike. Today, 13 years later and 12 years since my father’s death I can lay on my floor, contented by a simple experience he and I shared together. In that moment lies the beauty of life- the fact that in something so seemingly small a whole relationship can be remembered. While momentos are often lost to time or carelessness, experiences have a habit of sticking around and popping up as memories when you need them most. His whistling still resonates in my ears and that hike remains engrained in my memory, as much a part of me today as it was when I was just an 8 year-old girl, trotting around the mountains with her father.

Have a story of your own to tell? We love experiences that create indelible memories. My Favorite Experience is a new feature celebrating the stories of memorable experiences. We’re looking for stories from people who gave a gift or those who received an experience as a gift or, even if it was just a memorable experience in Colorado. We’d love to share your story!

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