Summer Solstice and the Solo Hike
Happy Summer Solstice! Celebrate the light and our longest day of 2017 with your favorite outdoor adventure. The solstice will take place tonight at about 10:24 p.m. MST signifying the first official day of summer. If you can’t be at Stonehenge or Machu Picchu, where the sun lines up just so with sacred stones the moment the sun hits its most northerly point, Steamboat is a great place to celebrate all things summer.
This time of year, I often seek introspection and find solace in solo hikes and runs. The rivers and creeks are running high, wildflowers are starting to bloom and the valley is that perfect shade of bright, brilliant spring green. It feels easy to slip just far enough down the trail to feel alone in the natural world we have just minutes from town.
Spring Creek has long been one of my favorite escapes. Almost immediately after the trailhead (located at Amethyst and Maple), you hear the sweet sound of many species of songbirds, including yellow warblers, and are greeted by colorful butterflies. The birds’ melodic songs fill your ears, while the raging creek creates a perfect soundtrack for a contemplative run, hike or bike ride.
No matter what is happening in your world, you have only to travel a short distance to be immersed in nature. The Spring Creek trail is more mellow and rambling than intense vertical, but you can run for miles on its soft dirt, whether you head left to the Ditch Trail or right toward Dry Lake Campground.
Our lives are full of such forks in the road; luckily in this case, both directions bring beauty and rewards of the natural variety. You can choose to run along the shadier right-hand path listening to the roar of Spring Creek or pad alongside a gentle, ambling stream on the Ditch Trail. The trails connect if you are in for a longer loop.
The Ditch Trail slips me right into a meditative state with its perfect singletrack. Tibetan prayer flags swing in the breeze, and a curious plastic duck bobs below. I am momentarily tricked into believing it’s real every time. Tibetans say that prayer flags are best hung in a high, clean place and the Alpine winds blow your wishes and prayers to the heavens.
However you choose to spend your solstice day, I hope you get outside to enjoy the magical beauty of this sweet spot between our often-chilly spring and the full blaze of mid-summer. There are many trails besides Spring Creek to enjoy the rushing waters and ample sunshine. Try Fish Creek Falls, Mad Creek, the many trails on Emerald Mountain or Mount Werner as crowds are thin while the gondola is closed for upgrades.
Happy Summer Solstice!
Jessica Berg is a freelance writer and Suzuki Violin teacher. She first moved to Steamboat after college in the mid ’90s and, after a long hiatus, is happy to call Steamboat home again. She runs a private violin studio out of her Steamboat home and teaches violin with Boulder Suzuki Strings. She holds a degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University and loves blogging about mountain life.
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