ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAY

My 40-Hour Sabbatical this year sounds like an extrovert's nightmare. A few days alone in the Rocky Mountains. No one to talk to or laugh with. No one to head up that hiking trail next to you. No one to share your table at the adorable little espresso cafe. No one to share anything at all. Just you and an endless stream of all by yourselfies. I'll let them tell the story. 

My homebase: a 200-square foot cabin in Nederland, Colorado. Tucked away enough to feel truly secluded, but my hostess, Cindy, lived in a separate house on the same piece of land. Perfect...I'd have someone to help me fight off any axe murderers rampaging through the woods. 

My homebase: a 200-square foot cabin in Nederland, Colorado. Tucked away enough to feel truly secluded, but my hostess, Cindy, lived in a separate house on the same piece of land. Perfect...I'd have someone to help me fight off any axe murderers rampaging through the woods. 

I wanted to rough it and do some writing, and this place was basically built for those purposes. Seriously, that desk is begging for the next great American novel. 

I wanted to rough it and do some writing, and this place was basically built for those purposes. Seriously, that desk is begging for the next great American novel. 

I brought a ton of my own reading material, but found a handy little survival guide on the shelf. It was meant as a joke...I think? 

I brought a ton of my own reading material, but found a handy little survival guide on the shelf. It was meant as a joke...I think? 

I settle in and go sit by the stream. Just me and my notebook. An idea for a spoken word piece has been rumbling around my brain for months. As the water bubbles by, words bubble up in my mind. I start scribbling. When I look up, the sun is about to set. 

Nightfall. Cindy explained how to get the wood-burning stove going (I think she could tell I was just the type to "get too gung-ho and throw the big logs in right away"), but I didn't have a lot of faith in myself. I've struggled lighting a gas grill. But the combination of patience, chilly mountain air, and not having a damn soul around to do it for me did the trick. That, and following directions. Who knew?  

Nightfall. Cindy explained how to get the wood-burning stove going (I think she could tell I was just the type to "get too gung-ho and throw the big logs in right away"), but I didn't have a lot of faith in myself. I've struggled lighting a gas grill. But the combination of patience, chilly mountain air, and not having a damn soul around to do it for me did the trick. That, and following directions. Who knew?  

The next morning I found this awesome little breakfast spot - "Outside My Cabin Door." 

The next morning I found this awesome little breakfast spot - "Outside My Cabin Door." 

After breakfast, I drove up to Lake Brainard to go hiking. It took me an extra hour to get to this trailhead because I parked in the wrong parking lot at first. I should've been suspicious that the lot was completely empty and I hadn't paid to get in; AllTrails had warned of a crowded parking lot and $10 entrance fee. But, I believe in a benevolent universe that grants me unexpected gifts...and no one was around to talk sense into me. After about ten minutes of hiking, I noticed my phone was dying strangely fast. It had my only trail map, so I went back to go back to the car to recharge it. I didn't want to just sit in the parking lot, so I drove one minute further up the road and lo and behold: the park entrance. (Maybe my dying phone was the gift from the universe?) The ranger gave me a paper map and a tip to take the Blue Lake trail all the way to the end for stunning views. It's "moderate" she assured me. Three miles? No sweat!  

After breakfast, I drove up to Lake Brainard to go hiking. It took me an extra hour to get to this trailhead because I parked in the wrong parking lot at first. I should've been suspicious that the lot was completely empty and I hadn't paid to get in; AllTrails had warned of a crowded parking lot and $10 entrance fee. But, I believe in a benevolent universe that grants me unexpected gifts...and no one was around to talk sense into me. After about ten minutes of hiking, I noticed my phone was dying strangely fast. It had my only trail map, so I went back to go back to the car to recharge it. I didn't want to just sit in the parking lot, so I drove one minute further up the road and lo and behold: the park entrance. (Maybe my dying phone was the gift from the universe?) The ranger gave me a paper map and a tip to take the Blue Lake trail all the way to the end for stunning views. It's "moderate" she assured me. Three miles? No sweat!  

First mile: done. A little bit of a climb but otherwise as moderate as promised. I stopped at Mitchell Lake for an apple, a breather, and some breathtaking views. Only two miles to go!

First mile: done. A little bit of a climb but otherwise as moderate as promised. I stopped at Mitchell Lake for an apple, a breather, and some breathtaking views. Only two miles to go!

It was the worst two miles of my life. One uphill climb after another, and barely a trail at all in some points. After scrabbling up a massive mound of rocks, I glimpsed this body of water. Blue Lake! Nope. A stick-toting senior citizen coming back the other way told me I had another mile to go. I was only halfway there?!? “You can do it!” he chirped, adding as he vanished downhill, “It’s not that other little lake up there either.”

It was the worst two miles of my life. One uphill climb after another, and barely a trail at all in some points. After scrabbling up a massive mound of rocks, I glimpsed this body of water. Blue Lake! Nope. A stick-toting senior citizen coming back the other way told me I had another mile to go. I was only halfway there?!? “You can do it!” he chirped, adding as he vanished downhill, “It’s not that other little lake up there either.”

It may not be Blue Lake, but it’s a perfectly good stopping point. Right? It’s a lake. In the Rockies. Perfectly pretty and picturesque. What’s so great about Blue frickin Lake anyway? Technically, I still hiked the Blue Lake trail. Isn’t that enough for one day? Is some great view really worth the extra sweat and quad pain?

It may not be Blue Lake, but it’s a perfectly good stopping point. Right? It’s a lake. In the Rockies. Perfectly pretty and picturesque. What’s so great about Blue frickin Lake anyway? Technically, I still hiked the Blue Lake trail. Isn’t that enough for one day? Is some great view really worth the extra sweat and quad pain?

Yes. Yes it is. As always, those who don't quit and settle for the easier path receive a much greater reward. 

Yes. Yes it is. As always, those who don't quit and settle for the easier path receive a much greater reward. 

I thought my breakfast spot was pretty great, but my lunch spot was even better. 

I thought my breakfast spot was pretty great, but my lunch spot was even better. 

Another hiker just informed me that the hike to Blue Lake is an 860-foot elevation gain. I feel triumphant! Outdoorsy! Unstoppable! 

Another hiker just informed me that the hike to Blue Lake is an 860-foot elevation gain. I feel triumphant! Outdoorsy! Unstoppable! 

Until I trip on a loose fucking rock about a half mile from the trailhead. I might have been too busy whistling by then to watch my step. I go flying and land HARD on my hands and knees in the dirt. After my feet's two previous glamour shots, it felt like this one was in order. 

Until I trip on a loose fucking rock about a half mile from the trailhead. I might have been too busy whistling by then to watch my step. I go flying and land HARD on my hands and knees in the dirt. After my feet's two previous glamour shots, it felt like this one was in order. 

I’m back in my cabin by sundown. Exhausted and in pain, but nevertheless fueled by a sense of accomplishment, I sit back down at the desk after dinner and start writing. By midnight, my piece is finished. Just in time to light the fire.

I’m back in my cabin by sundown. Exhausted and in pain, but nevertheless fueled by a sense of accomplishment, I sit back down at the desk after dinner and start writing. By midnight, my piece is finished. Just in time to light the fire.


Traveling alone had its ups and downs. I definitely got lonely sometimes. And alone in a cabin in the woods in the middle of the night, a pinecone hitting the outside wall definitely sounds like a psycho killer rapping his giant blood-stained knuckles on your door. But I loved the peace, the independence, and most of all, surprising myself by doing things I wasn't sure I could do on my own, even if I fumbled along the way.  

And my solo journey wasn’t over yet. Next stop: Shoshoni Yoga Ashram for a three-day yoga and meditation retreat. The revelations continue.