Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Tue November 03 2015

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | November 3, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    Mountain Hiking in Vail

    Mountain Hiking in Vail

    Photos by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

    Vail Mountain is most famously covered with snow and topped with skiers, but I discovered the simpler appeal of climbing the peak when it's splashed with greenery and wildflowers. I joined a Walking Mountains guided tour of White River National Forest and experienced the splendor of mountain living.

    I like to walk, hike, bike — really anything that keeps my legs in motion is fun for me, so the prospect of scaling an iconic Colorado mountain sounded thrilling. Riding up to the base of Vail Village, the views of the soaring landscape were the first thing that I noticed.

    Walking around the quaint streets, festooned with Alpine designs and flowerpots, I felt the slight headache of altitude sickness. I was advised to drink lots of water to ward off the ailment but even after downing bottles and bottles of water, I still felt off balance and my ears were constantly popping. Apparently this isn't unusual for the first day at a high altitude, though I wondered what it would feel like when I actually climbed even higher.

    The next day, I woke up feeling energized, like my body had adjusted to the new heights. I loaded my backpack with water, snacks and sunscreen for the two-hour hike and hopped into the van with Peter, our Walking Mountains guide. Rolling up to the entrance of White River National Forest, I joined my tour group in ogling a group of llamas that were just leaving the trail. The cuddly creatures are part of a program called Take a Llama to Lunch, where hikers join the llamas in a leisurely climb and then enjoy a picnic lunch. I made a mental note to try the excursion out the next time I visit Vail.

    There would be no furry animals to distract me on my hike, so I grabbed a walking pole to help me traverse the steep inclines and followed Peter up the path.

    We climbed up several hills and Peter stopped to point out brightly colored mushrooms that looked like they were straight out of “Alice in Wonderland.” He explained that foraging for mushrooms is a popular pastime and this pretty bunch was left behind because they were poisonous. Further along, wildflowers and hot pink fireweed sprouted around spruce and fir trees.

    White River National Forest is the most visited forest in the country and as I surveyed a portion of the 2.3 million acres, I felt like I was embraced by nature. The panoramas unfolded with an endless array of trees, valleys and dreamy blue sky that looked like a Renaissance artist had carefully painted it. The dizziness and ear popping that had plagued me seemed way in the past and well worth the rewards of standing on top of Vail Mountain. As we made our way back down, one of my group members found several rose quartz stones.  As he handed me the glistening pink rock, which happened to be one of my favorites and traditionally symbolizes love and joy, I realized just how special Vail Mountain is.

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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