Hiking Colorado’s Summit County

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Let’s face it — it’s easy to pack when you don’t have much to pack for, but when you’re doing a weekend getaway, hiking is involved and the weather is grand.

I couldn’t tell you the last time I left home without some sort of planning, Google-searching or bucket-list-referencing. Even the briefest weekend missions tend to include a shout out for Facebook suggestions.

Hiking in Colorado’s Summit County

hiking Summit County, Colorado

But this time – on a three-night meetup in Colorado with my parents – I didn’t even know where we were staying.

So luggage fit within the strict limitations of budget airlines and the space under our teeny seats.

As the plane twitched down through turbulent cloud coverage, I think I actually sighed in relief.

Maybe it was the crisp mountain air waiting outside pressurized windows, or maybe the filtered coffee finally kicked in. Our weekend calendar was empty and it energized me.

freedom, Summit County, Colorado

All the possibilities, all the options unknown – utter freedom.

Isn’t this what a real holiday is supposed to be? An escape from chore lists and the pressure to be somewhere, do something? It’s not even that we laid around in pjs for 84 hours (inconceivable, if you know my mother).

escape to Summit County, Colorado

No, we did plenty, so much that Aila began to comment, “More things to do today? Oh, man!” After all, Summit County’s options were as numerous and overwhelming as the empty hours in our days.

We circumnavigated Cataract Lake, shamelessly documenting progress with a selfie stick and dusty socks.

In Breckenridge, we wandered under historic wooden shop signs, ogling unaffordable real estate and dreaming of ski bum retirement.

Colorado kid

We cooled our palms on frosty glasses of micro-brewed ale and played card games until bedtime.

In Dillon, we hiked through a forest of quaking Aspen trees; when the trail ended in Indiana Gulch, Aila threw pebbles into the chattering waters.

escape to Summit County, Colorado

Picnicking wherever a quiet space appeared, we hid ham sandwiches from Daddy Longleg spiders and moose supposedly haunting the backwoods.

Most importantly, we refrained from asking “What’s the plan?” every other hour. When a hiking route required directions, of course my All Trails app came in handy. A skim through the local newspaper led us to an annual arts fair, and Summit County’s regional magazine produced plenty of options for dinner.

Except for these helpful guides, the only real ‘plan’ was to take things as they came. Be (in an over-dramatic, symbolic sense) as moody as the mountain storm that swept over each afternoon.

heaven is mountains sign

And yes, when all that wore us out, my family slipped on scrubs and lounged around the rental apartment, happy just to be together.

Sometimes, the only thing a good trip needs is an excuse to go. Uber-preparation? Unnecessary…

family travel, Summit County, Colorado

See Hiking St. Mary’s Glacier in Colorado and 15 Fun Facts about Jackson Wyoming.

Tell me about your latest ‘no-plans’ trip!

Kelli Mutchler
Kelli Mutchler left a small, Midwest American town to prove that Yanks can, and do, chose alternative lifestyles. On the road for five years now, Kelli has tried news reporting and waitressing, bungy jumping and English teaching. Currently working with Burmese women refugees in Thailand, she hopes to pursue a MA in Global Development. Opportunities and scenes for international travel are encouraged on her blog, www.toomutchforwords.com.
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