Every season provides the opportunity for adventure. Summer brings the chance to travel to exotic lands. Winter is the season of holiday trips to visit family. Spring beckons us to escape winter’s grasp with getaways to lush, tropical lands.
But Fall, in my opinion, caters to a different kind of adventure. The kind that doesn’t require vacation days or piles of cash saved for months and earmarked for travel. For me, fall is best spent traveling in my own backyard, in the mountains of Colorado.
Most travelers set off to view beauty or experience the diversity of another place, somewhere other than their hometowns. The arrival of the fall season brings both of those pleasures right to your front door.
As you look out your window, you see the world wholly transform itself. The solid green of the trees blooms before your eyes into a dazzling array of yellows, oranges, reds, purples, and browns. Every day the view is different. One day a golden patch of aspen trees may be brighter than the day before, or it may disappear altogether the day after.
The majesty of the newness surrounding you mirrors that in your heart when you look upon a new place for the first time.
As fall progresses, the trees lose their leaves, creating piles of intrigue that need to be explored. The citrus hues of the cottonwoods mix with the reddish-purples of fallen maples, swarming together and bidding your feet to explore. You yield to the temptation and kick into the pile. The swoosh of flying leaves brings a smile to your face, the same smile that adorned your lips the moment you saw the Taj Mahal or Machu Picchu.
This feeling intoxicates you, fuels your desire for more. So, you venture forth to find an even bigger pile of leaves. You jump in that one too, reveling in the crunch beneath your feet and the lift in your spirit. This simple act of childhood provokes amazement at how awesome the world is, from the grandest view of the Great Wall of China to the discarded leaves that make way for a new season.
This year one of our backyard adventures took place at Snowmass Mountain, a ski resort not far from where we live. This summer marked the opening of the Lost Forest, a brand-new adventure park on top of the mountain. We boarded the gondola and took in the views of the mountain peaks surrounding us. No matter how many times I ride a gondola or chairlift the views never cease to amaze me. It’s something about the change in perspective when you can suddenly see the peaks of every mountain for miles around.
At the top, we got harnessed up and took an orientation class for the Treeline Adventure Course, a challenge course with ziplines and other suspended obstacles hanging high up in the trees. The area presented five routes of increasing difficulty, each with different elements that you had to navigate to get from tree to tree.
Since we fancy ourselves to be quite athletic, we started at the middle level course, completed it with ease, and skipped to the hardest challenge. Level 5 was the highest course, around thirty feet in the air, and it was no easy task maneuvering through the course. At times, I found myself clinging onto the ropes for dear life hoping the next move wouldn’t bring disaster. The exhilaration of the Treeline Challenge Course had pasted unfaltering smiles on both our faces.
The next stop in our backyard adventure was the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster, a sleek alpine slide that barreled down through the trees between ski runs at top speeds. We decided to ride together, chatting patiently as the coaster slowly pulled us to the top of the course.
As the sled crested the top and we started to descend, the butterflies in my stomach fluttered with excitement. The sled accelerated much faster than I expected and before I knew it the coaster had taken on a life of its own. The wind whipped across our skin as the sled jerked us back and forth. It felt as though we could be tossed from the sled at any moment. Aaron laughed and I screamed the entire way down. By the time we reached the bottom, we knew that we would have to ride it again.
We rode the Alpine Coaster five times, feeling more and more like little kids each time.
I kept thinking to myself: This is like something we would do on a vacation! I came to realize that this is exactly the point. It’s important to remember to enjoy the opportunities to explore in your own backyard. You don’t always have to travel great distances to generate the excitement of vacation-like experiences.
Fall is often thought of as the season where “everything dies” but to me it’s the time of the year when the “newness” that travelers are addicted to comes to our very own doorstep.
-Annie, Your Friend at Orange Backpack Travel