October is the perfect month for people who prefer to sleep in and take it a little bit easier. In summertime, it is often imperative to get an early start on most activities, before the heat builds. The long days provide opportunities to climb to the tallest peaks, go places that are inaccessible at other times of the year and push ourselves to the limits. By October, the days are shorter and the mornings are chilly. 5 A.M. goes from being dawn to as pitch black as the middle of the night. 7 A.M. goes from the ideal time to start outdoor activities to a chilly sunrise. And, 10 A.M. goes from the time when heat starts to really build to when the sun has finally warmed the air to a comfortable temperature.
Unlike the middle of the winter, there is still plenty of nice weather. It’s not time for those that shy away from unpleasant conditions to hibernate just yet.
However, the shorter days and cooler conditions give many of us permission to take the pressure off ourselves a bit. The 100-mile ride, the 14,000 foot peak and the trek deep into the wilderness are now out of reach. The time has come to take a somewhat more relaxed approach to our activities and just simply enjoy being outdoors wile it is still pleasant to do so.
In that vein, two great activities that are simply enjoyable are Left Hand Canyon outside of Boulder and Evergreen Mountain (not surprisingly, outside of Evergreen).
Left hand canyon is an 8 mile (13 km) bike ride up a mostly relatively gentle grade. The total climb to Jamestown is about 1300 feet (400m).
Jamestown is cute little town of only 250 people frequented by other cyclists making the same or similar journeys (the road does continue upward and connect with the Peak to Peak Highway).
There are plenty of great places to just sit and meditate by the river or grab a bite to eat. The downhill is most enjoyable, as it is steep enough to go fast, but not so steep as to frighten most cyclists.
With chilly mornings, October is also the perfect time to take on shorter hikes, like Mount Evergreen, a hike with an 816 ft (250m) vertical and a total distance just shy of five miles (8 km).
In the summer time, this is probably an ideal before or after work hike for residents of Evergreen. The trek is a combination of some sections that are quite easy (i.e. flat).
And some areas that are somewhat more challenging.
Near the top there is a short side trip to a scenic view of the town of Evergreen that should not be missed.
And, there are a couple of great vantage points of the taller mountains further west from a couple of points at the top.
As an active Coloradan, both of these activities feel relatively easy, or, at the very least moderate to me. However, as we approach November, the season of gratitude (based on the holiday Thanksgiving), I must reflect on the fact that these activities are not easy for everyone. Some people are not fortunate enough to be in good health and have the capabilities to climb 1300 ft. (400 m) on a bike or hike up 800 ft. (400 m). It is good to show gratitude for having functioning legs, a good circulatory system and the means to eat a healthy diet.
It is also important to remember that the easier activities would not feel so easy without the hard ones, the ones where we truly push ourselves.
For a sedentary person, these two activities would be hard.
If we do nothing but push ourselves, many of us will never truly enjoy the activities we take part in. However, if we never push ourselves, our range of possibilities would be very limited. We need both.
Perhaps that is what the changing of the seasons is all about.
However it manifests in the specific places we live and in our specific pursuits, it reminds us that different parts of the annual cycle and other cycles of life require us to focus on different needs.