Starting the Semester Right

By Eliza Lockhart, ENO College Brand Ambassador

As my summer vacation came to a close and I flew back out to Gunnison, Colorado to begin my sophomore year as a Recreation and Outdoor Education student, I couldn’t resist reminiscing about the wild adventures that my first year of college had brought me. From rock climbing in Indian Creek, Utah, to canyoneering in the North Wash of Utah, to local expeditions of backpacking and backcountry skiing— I had had quite the year. As I made the journey west and moved into my on-campus apartment, my excitement grew about what this year would hold for me.

Syllabus week came and went, and my friends and I started brainstorming for our first trip. Nothing big, as none of us were acclimated to the 8,000 ft. elevation yet, but something memorable and something to properly kick off our year at Western State Colorado University. We ultimately settled on a 4.5 mile hike up to Green Lake, located in Crested Butte— just a 35 minute drive from our campus. The night before, I packed my backpack with my sleeping bag, warm layers for the night, random (but essential) foods, and finally, my DoubleNest ENO hammock accompanied by Atlas Straps to ensure a good nights sleep.

As we began our ascent to the lake— which sits at 10,615 ft.— my expectations were high. I had been promised breathtaking views, and the scenery did not disappoint. We made our way, slow and steady, towards the lake and dove through patches of wildflowers, steep hills, and dense aspen groves. I clutched my camera, leaving the lens cap off, scared to let a single moment or landscape pass by without capturing it.

Mile 1 passed with ease, then mile 2. By mile 3 I was wondering how we were still going uphill, but the wild raspberries we found gave me motivation to continue. As I ticked off mile 4 an anticipation started bubbling up that gave me the final burst of necessary energy. We all emerged from a thick patch of evergreen trees and I saw an overgrown, seemingly stagnant pond of brownish color. But I couldn’t complain, the mountains behind it were remarkable. My friends laughed at me, “Thats not Green Lake, it’s just a little bit farther up the trail!”

Sure enough, a few steps later we rounded the final corner of the trail and I looked across the small lake and set my gaze to where the evergreens become thick at the base of a rocky peak. My friends and I all agreed to walk around the edge of the water, and to find the best hammock trees with the best view. 5 minutes later we were all pulling our hammocks out of their pockets and wrapping our straps around the trees. We rested in our hammocks, eating the random assortments of food we had brought along as we prepared for the night. After lining my hammock with a sleeping pad for extra insulation, I hunkered down into my sleeping bag for the night.

I woke up to a golden hue that came from behind the mountains. The air was still and cold, but I forced myself out of my warm bliss in order to turn my camera on and capture the oncoming golden hour. As I jumped onto the ground from my hammock, I threw on an extra layer and tiptoed away from my friends that were still fast asleep. I made my way around the banks of the clear water, watched the fish and toyed with my camera settings in the changing light. Sitting in the dew-covered grass, I was ecstatic at the reality of being back in Colorado with my friends, embarking on adventures that were new to me.

Eventually, I made my way back to our hammocks, ate peanut butter and Nutella in a tortilla, and packed my hammock back into its pocket in preparation for the descent. Passing mountain bikers and hikers on the way down, we chatted about our upcoming semester until we made it back to the car. Then we traced our path, driving back to campus, and back into the dorms where my hammock would (not so) patiently wait until our next adventure.