Introducing The First Diaries, a weekly column in which one Coloradan documents her misadventures, trials, and triumphs in the outdoors as she tries a new activity or adventure each week. With humor, practical advice, and some serious real talk, our goal is to make the outdoor space a little less intimidating and a little more fun for all of us.

Sometimes, being outside is not fun. It’s just the natural order of things here in Colorado, after so many balmy winter days of bliss and little more than a breeze, the deep freeze will come, and it tends to bring with it winds as hateful as the Arctic cold.

Unfortunately, I recently picked the day Colorado decided to catch up on its winter frost to try out snowshoeing for the first time. I had heard what a winter wonderland the Brainard Lake area is for snowshoers, how if you’re going to do it once, do it there. I imagined myself frolicking in the picturesque woods like a woodland creature singing show tunes with Snow White, vainfully picturing the incredible Instagram shots I would surely get and recruited my oldest friend to join me in what I expected to be a very a charming First.

But we didn’t make it to Brainard Lake. We cut our terrifyingly icey drive short just outside Nederland, instead, at Hessie Trail. Temps were in the single digits. The wind was fierce. Forceful gusts were sporadically gathering momentum through snow-coated trees and would soon be blasting our faces with tiny shards of ice as we trudged through them, heads down.

Not quite the Disney-worthy scenario I had pictured for my first venture out on the rackets, but I wouldn’t take it back for a second. And let me tell you, we almost did. So, today I want to talk about not turning back.

Heading up to the trailhead, my bestie and I went back and forth on the possibility of aborting the mission multiple times. You’ve probably been in similar situations, maybe headed to the ski resort with (too much) snow pummeling down, or packing up the car for a weekend camping trip with rain clouds looming overhead. I’m talking about that awkward, obligatory conversation to entertain the idea of just staying home instead. It’s sort of like choosing a restaurant with your sweetheart: vastly more stressful and time-consuming than it needs to be. You’re afraid to commit to any option because you’re not sure if the other person is telling you what they really want, or what they think you really want. In other words, purgatory.

Ultimately, we decided that I had rented snowshoes for just this occasion and we’d already invested about 40 precious minutes of weekend into the drive, so dang it, we were going.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time back in Colorado, it’s that the best choice is always to go for it. (Safety of conditions provided.) Don’t worry, I’m not about to tell you you’re guaranteed to have the time of your life, if you just muster up a positive attitude. Because you’re not.

We spent our Saturday morning power-housing up a trail covered with sheets of ice and hard-packed snow while being blasted with tiny ice daggers in below-freezing temperatures. That’s as fun as it sounds.

And for all that purgatory on the way up, I was rewarded with a hellfire burn in my quads, both from the physical exertion and from the constant whip of impossibly cold air assaulting my legs as I trekked. I also discovered a level of hip flexor exhaustion I never knew possible, and I earned a grotesque blister the size of small mammal on my right heel, to boot.

But here’s why I’d do it again: I spent my weekend outside, moving my body, not looking at a screen. That’s enough. I don’t want to get bogged down in the better day that could have been, and let’s be real, the Instagram photo shoot that never was. That perfect day wasn’t in the cards we were dealt, and there’s nothing to be done about that. What we did accomplish was to go out and do a new thing. That’s a win.

What We Believe

We are driven by our deep respect for our environment, and our passionate commitment to sustainable tourism and conservation. We believe in the right for everyone - from all backgrounds and cultures - to enjoy our natural world, and we believe that we must all do so responsibly. Learn More

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