Colorful Change Contest Stories
Colorful Change Contest Submissions
The outdoors have fundamental changed all of us at Bold Betties. So much so that we decided to build a business around our love of adventure. It's not just about what happens at the end of that long ride or the top of the mountain. Those are rewarding moments, of course...but what comes later is the pinnacle...what happens to us fundamentally in life because of our experiences in the wild. We asked our Bold Betties to tell us when the outdoors changed them for the better. Here's what they had to say:
I lost a close friend last February due to a sudden heart attack. She was the brightest person to be around and I was in shock to lose her. I climbed my first 14er last August as a tribute to her. Steps away from the top I started to cry from the emotions of knowing she'd never be able to see the view with me.
When I stood on top though, and saw the views, I knew she was there with me. It was a humbling moment for sure. I've since climbed three more and think of her on each one. Being outside and seeing all that nature provides is really amazing. Makes me realize just how lucky I am to be able to enjoy it!
I'm going through a tough time looking for a job and found solace at the South Boulder Creek off the Walker Ranch Loop trail. The fall yellow leaves, the scent of the pines and the sound of the rushing water was intoxicating and made me forget my troubles! :)
The outdoors give me the opportunity to believe in myself. The outdoors inspire me to become the best version of me every single day. Any time I encounter a challenge at work or in my personal life, I sit back and remind myself: "Yes, you did that 14ner. Yes, you finished that marathon in kick-ass time! Yes, you climbed and jumped off that 40-ft pool! Yes, you did that and can accomplish even more!" The outdoors simply allow me to pat myself on the back any time there is self-doubt. The outdoors is that best friend who wants the best for you but will kick your butt in gear to make sure you get up and meet the challenges with pride and an open heart.
Spending time outdoors has taught me to be resourceful to say the least. I have done everything from using a yoga strap to hang my food in the tree to attempting to start a fire with tampons. Being in nature really teaches you some creativity skills!
I entered a quarter life crisis when I was 24. I was in my hometown after graduating college, working a desk job that didn't do much for me, and I was lusting after something bigger and deeper and more significant in my life. I had found rock climbing, and through it, yoga, and ended up on a 7 day yoga retreat in Costa Rica with several lovely individuals I met when I showed up. But rather than appreciate the beauty of my surroundings, my days spent on the beach and surfing, my mornings and evenings spent meditating in a lovely yoga space just for the yoga students, I spent those 7 days filled with angst over my life choices (or lack thereof) and misery about my current state of nothing affairs. I journaled angrily and tearfully each of those 7 days, trying to work out the agony inside me. It was the stark contrast of the beauty and adventure and physical connection in Costa Rica that highlighted the contrast to my life back home. What was life all about? Was this the best that it had to offer?
In retrospect, my time in Costa Rica was magical and life-changing, but at the time all it offered was an opportunity to find new ways to hate myself each and every day. I wasn't as thin as the other ladies. I didn't have great clothes like the other ladies. My life wasn't nearly as successful as the doctor or engineer or businesswoman in my group. Somehow, towards the very end of the trip, I came to a conclusion. I had to move. And I had to move to Denver, a city I'd never even visited before but I knew held the key to my ongoing satisfaction. I journaled my decision and resolved then and there to make it happen.
3 months later, I had quit my job, sold everything I owned and packed my cat and remaining possessions in my car and drove into the great unknown. It was the best decision I ever made and 4 years later I am still grateful for that trip to Costa Rica that gave me the space to sink into the deepest recesses of my emotions and identify a strong, bold and determined course of action to wrest control of my life from the ravages of time and make it mine. All mine.
I had only started climbing that year but had already a nice group of friends to practice and learn with along the way. One weekend we decided to head outdoors at one of our local crags. Day 2 and I was already physically and emotionally exhausted from pushing myself the day before but really wanted to try my first 5.9 outside. I watched my friend climb it first, set up a top rope, then once he was down, we switch places. It was my turn to climb. Feeling excited but scared all at once I took only a few steps up the glaring granite and froze. What if I can't make it? I'm too tired for this today, right? I should just enjoy being with friends and skip climbing right now? Turn back, you can do it next time? All of these things went through my mind as I stand only a mere 10 feet off the ground gripping the rock in front of me. Apparently my friend saw my apprehension and started yelling up to me "You got this! One foot after the other! You've done this in the gym millions of times! I've got your back down here! Just keep going up! Stay strong!" And for some reason I did two of the most backward things I could imagine at the time...I kept climbing up but I started crying to myself. I felt strong but weak all at the same time. But the impact of such support from my friends while I was so emotional brought me to courage and to tears. All I could think climbing was "I got this! One foot after another!" and in no time I was at the top of that glorious rock!
I turned around, looked over the beautiful rolling mountains covered in trees and then down at my friends below me conversing and climbing and most importantly belaying me. And at that moment a wave of emotion fully swept over me and I burst into full tears. And in response, everyone down below starting clapping in excitement. They knew as much as I felt, that this was an epic moment for myself. It was the moment that no matter how scared, exhausted, emotional, or beat up I was, I was able to continue and accomplish my goals! And of course, that I had the best group of people a girl could ask for as friends that would have my back whenever I need them.
I could see the clouds turning dark beneath the early afternoon sun and convinced myself that I could make it back below tree line by the time the rain hit. A sudden clap of thunder a few minutes later, and with less than 500 vertical feet from the summit of Clark Peak in the Rawah Wilderness in Northern Colorado, I turned on my heels and started sprinting down. No stranger to how quickly the weather can change in the mountains during the summer, I chastised myself for hitting the snooze on my alarm for well over an hour that morning.
The mountains have a funny way of bringing you back to yourself, where the only thing you can do is live in the moment and hope that the mountains take mercy on you. Miraculously the rain let up shortly after it began, but not a short enough time for me to contemplate a 2nd summit attempt. Trudging back to my car I looked back at Clark Peak and thought, I’ll be back for you! That’s how the outdoors have changed me for the better – there are no shortcuts to anything worth doing and the knowledge that while I didn’t stand on the summit that day in early August, I’ll have another shot at it again soon.
Originally, I moved to Colorado because that's where my boyfriend at the time got his job. We were here for 6 months and I only went hiking twice. For some reason I just wasn't into it... maybe it's the person that I chose to do it with and I was too insecure and scared to go alone. I ended up moving back to Oklahoma for a summer and by the end I said, " Ugh! There is nothing here for me.. I need to move back to Colorado." Well, not knowing why I was choosing to go back to a state that I never took advantage of when I was there, it was the "most right" decision I have ever made. Since moving back, I bought a road bike and now I ride my bike most days. I started hiking the front range and then thought maybe I should try a 14er... I've hiked 6 now and loved every minute of it. I bought a snowboard and all the gear off craigslist. This will be my second season and I will be going every weekend to complete a season goal. Last year's was landing jumps at the terrain park and this year will be a hike and snowboard down. I love everything about being outside now. I just celebrated my "Coloradoversary" of 2 years and I couldn't be happier. You will now find me trying things alone just to go out and do it and bonus if it's outside.
On Christmas Eve a few years back, I was annoyed my mom was complaining on the phone and I told her I'd call her back in an hour. I didn't and she died of a heart attack 2 hours later. Never having enough money, she still raised and fed all 8 kids. We never knew we were poor! My mom sacrificed all kinds of adventures in life to be there for us.
She loved the mountains and camping so much and I remember one year I gave her a huge framed photo of the Rocky Mountains that she hung in her bedroom so she could stare at it when she laid in bed. After her shocking, sudden death, I was sorting through her things, I came across journals and notes where she had expressed her unlived dreams of travel and outdoor adventures. I was broken that my mom had given up so much for us to live and she was always so excited on the phone to hear my Colorado stories out in the mountains.
I vowed when I returned to Colorado that I would write "MOM" in the snow, grass, dirt with whatever stick I could find and as many places as possible. Her name has been written several cool places throughout CO, so if you come across a MOM in the snow this winter, say hello to Irene when you pass by!!
This year I completed a solo backpacking trip at Maroon-Bells (4-Pass-Loop) with my border collie / aussie Stella. Changed is an understatement! I've been a mountain obsessed, backpack camping, dedicated 'bold bettie' for the majority of my adult life but this was my first time completing a solo trek. Through the lightening storms and downpours, blisters and bear canisters, Stella and I tackled 26+ miles in 3 days with over 50 lbs. of gear between the two of us. What a satisfying and empowering feeling to know that we accomplished something that so few ever even attempt. The long days and shaky legs were worth the incredible, take-your-breath-away views of the Maroon Bells. I feel changed, blessed, proud, independent, powerful, BOLD, lifted, and just all around badass! This trip helped to solidify what I knew -- nature is my therapy and it has proven time and again that my life is exponentially better because of our relationship.
I'm lucky to have grown up with the outdoors an integral part of my life - my parents took us kids skiing in the winter, swimming and boating in the summer, and my bike is simply an extension of my body - I've never NOT had one. But nature ALWAYS reinvents me - every time. Of all my many adventures, the ones that inspired me the most were my trips between Alaska and the western US. Once you head east of Anchorage, or west of Fort Nelson, the land is so huge, so stunning, and you are so alone. My size and place in this world really hits home as I drive day after day surrounded by that grand beauty and solitude - it's truly like backpacking. Eventually your mind slows it's spinning and you are sO in the present moment. It belongs to me - and I belong to it. Someday, the hope to retire in Whitehorse, Yukon
One day, when I write my best-selling memoir I'll title it: Learning to Ski at 30. Those who learned to ski at 5, 10, or even 15 years old, will never understand what a difference muscle memory and the ability to learn without fear can make. When you learn to ski at 30, you learn with fear and that is the worst way to learn. Last year, I learned to ski and it was scary. Actually, I'm still learning to ski and it's still scary. And I'm 31 now. I began with wobbly knees and flailing arms on the bunny slopes and green runs as the kids in racing suits whizzed past. I remember my quads burning and the desperate feeling of wanting to pause and take a break midway down the mountain but not trusting myself enough to be able to stop without injuring a small child in the process. I stayed on those green runs for a while and, with time, my length strength improved and I learned to keep those poles glued to my sides. I eventually tested myself on blue runs, suffering a few (okay tons) of wipeouts along the way. I complained every time the conditions were the least bit icy (that wipeout was totally not my fault, it was the ice!) but I kept going.
Then, I got on a lift one overcast today without knowing where it would lead. Unintentionally, I ended up at a part of the mountain that was only accessibly by black runs. There were no green or even blue runs to lead me down gently. I was stuck on on a part of the mountain that was for advanced skiers- not for people like me. This part of the mountain was for people who learned to ski long before the age of 30. But I had two choices. I could either turn around humiliated and ride the ski lift down or I could show up and ski. I didn't want to be that girl. You know the one, riding the ski lift lonely and ashamed as she avoids eye contact with all of the other riders joyfully heading up the mountain. I wasn't going to be that girl. So I decided to show up. And of course, I skied down. Without falling, without shattering any bones and without injuring any small children, I made it down the mountain.
I wasn't without fear though. I was scared and I still get scared every time I'm staring down a steep, icy mountain slope. I certainly haven't made it to moguls or tree runs yet. But I still show up. And you better believe I'll be starting early this season.
I have been connected to the outdoors since I was little, and moving to Colorado has only encouraged my sense of adventure and drive to be outside. After moving away from family, being outside made me feel connected to my roots in New England and the forests I was a part of growing up.
This past year, in light of my 26th birthday, I found out I had a genetic mutation which predisposes me to cancer and with a routine check found out I had stage 2 colon cancer. A month before I was supposed to start grad school, I had my first ever surgery to remove part of my colon. During my month of recovery, it was most difficult to be housebound and not enjoy the summer sun. I remember my first day outside and even though it was a short walk to the end of the block and back, the sun on my skin and smells of flowers felt so healing.
Since I started school, I have neglecting my self-care and have mostly been inhabiting the library. In one of my classes, however, I was able to go on a camping trip where we did a solo activity. Being under aspens, breathing in the crisp mountain air and reconnecting to nature centered and calmed me. I felt at peace with all the chaos that happened over the past months and finally felt normal again. I feel lucky that I have always had access to the outdoors and its healing effects. With this in mind I have been striving to make the outdoors more accessible.
I came to Colorado last year for school directly from Venezuela after not knowing a lot of people here I join Denver Cruiser where I found couple of good friends. We decided to start our journey together and discover what was around us .So, our first stop was conundrum Hot springs. I do not have words to describe that journey; the hike was worth every step and we finally made it to the hot spring that was incredible!! also was middle of Autumn so the aspens where amazing. It was a life changing trip. Oh! I can not forget that I met the great people along the way that we share a little party on the hot spring! That trip change my mind completely I never would have done that back home even though we have also spectacular surrounding its really insecure. Now I have not stop since! I have enjoyed after that every little detail that mother earth has to offer, Colorado is a piece of art! and someday I will do it in my homeland too :)
I've always been a lover of the outdoors. Always been active. But then college happened and my first 'real' job so my active-ness went to stand still. I gained weight. I was the largest I'd ever been in my life. And I've always been a bigger girl, always self conscious of what I looked like, what others thinked about me. At 27 I was diagnosed with a border-line ovarian cancer tumor (size of a grapefruit!) unbeknownst to me. I remember being in the hospital and having the MD visiting me and saying 'the size of your tumor is because of your weight.' It hit me like a ton of bricks. After recovery, I started walking. Hiking more. Getting fresh air outside. Doing the things I've always wanted to do, but never could do because of my weight like a climb a 14er, hike the Manitou Incline, etc. My weight always held me back, but now I'm determined to not let it. I'm determined to get healthy, stay healthy and keep enjoying and discovering the outdoors. I feel happy there. I love exploring and being adventurous. I like seeing how far I can push my body and how my 2 feet can take me to all these wonderful and beautiful places that I never would've seen from the road below. It's amazing out there and I'm lucky to finally be enjoying and living my life how it should be!
Three weeks in the backcountry of the San Juans were my choice. Fresh from Florida and more seaworthy than rock-steady, I barely noticed the altitude or the weight of the pack – at first. But as the days passed my relationship with the hills became a yo-yo of love and hate: moments of tranquility quickly drowned by a cacophony of screaming goats.
What are screaming goats, you ask? These are the wild, obnoxious, no-you-can’t, quit-now voices that will not be ignored. In any given moment, they would stir my oxygen-depleted brain into a spiral of unmotivated grumpiness. But I still remember the morning, the moment even, that would help me silence them forever.
Everything was frozen: my boots, my socks, my water, even my headlamp began to flicker (not sure that was the cold though), so I turned it off to have a good cry in the dark. Sitting alone, I felt very small and defeated. And then I noticed the stars. They were everywhere.
The early morning sky looked like glowing sand on the bottom of an inverted ocean. I could still feel the cold biting at me, stabbing my lungs, but in that moment, I didn’t care. I felt simultaneously insignificant and powerful, the days of pain and struggle amplifying the beauty that surrounded me. Thoreau would have been proud. I came back to myself as the stars faded into the pink-orange air of sunrise. Others in my group were reluctantly leaving warm sleeping bags, fumbling with icy boots, and moaning over frozen water bottles. I realized that I was present, that I felt alive in a way I never had before.
There isn't a time when being out in the mountains hasn't done something for me, but what I thought about the other day is how nature and its seasons have lessons to teach; they are a way of helping us learn to let go and move through life as life has intended. I was in the park under a tree holding a beautiful red leaf up to the sun and thought, "okay--let go of whatever this season has brought and welcome winter and this new season of life with open arms". Nature makes us stop and appreciate what is in front of us in that moment in time, because as seasons change, so do we and so does life. It's a lesson about embracing and enjoying the present but being excited for what's to come.
Sometimes you find yourself crying in your car, outside of a trailer you don't want to live in, in a relationship you no longer want to put unreturned effort into, and feeling the most stagnant in the only place you've ever known. Then, six months later you find yourself in a new place, staring at the most breathtaking mountains because you're camping in them, you find yourself at the top of 14,000 feet thinking to yourself "how did I get here?", you find yourself skiing, exploring a huge city and meeting some of the nicest people, you find yourself doing things you never dreamed you would accomplish, and more importantly you find yourself reflecting and growing on where you've been and where you're going. I have found such peace and purpose in an unfamiliar place. Most of my soul searching stems from the experiences I'm having especially when I'm outdoors in the mountains. I climbed my first 14'er this summer and the accomplishment I felt is too difficult to put into words. Seeing a mountain and thinking, "okay, I'm going to climb that. I'm going to conquer that." Such an incredible feat mentally and physically that I never dreamed I would do! The opportunities I've had in the past 8 months or so have opened up my eyes and heart. I've let resentment, anger, and sadness go with each trip outside and it's truly a warm feeling. I couldn't be more thankful for the choices that have led me here and I can't see where they take me!
Learning to rock climb at the Garden of the Gods. I am not big on heights, but doing that with a bunch of ladies that were in the same situation was awesome. Once I got to the top, it was easy :)
This is a true story….As I am a transplant here from Michigan and an outdoor girl by nature, I am always finding myself every weekend (sic) that I can find the time, driving to the mountains and taking my tent. One weekend I was in the Pike National Forest at a camp site just on the fringe of the Hinman burn area. One side of the street was burn, the other side pines. In the morning when I woke up coming out of my tent there was a deer on the edge of the tree line, only a few yards from me. It didn't bolt, but it watched me as I got my coffee. I actually think it liked the smell. I walked, avoiding getting too close, to a small creek which was just behind where the deer was standing. It turned as I think it knew I was headed to the creek. I sat on a rock next to the creek. As I was drinking my coffee I looked to my right, and there was the deer taking a drink from the creek. I sat and watched. Slowly it creeped up the creek toward me. I sat quietly, but it knew I was there. I took a drink of my coffee and continued to watch. It came within less that 10 yards of me. Looking at me. I just kept drinking my coffee and seemingly every time I took a sip of coffee, it took a drink from the river.
Once it got around 10 yards from me we just looked at each other, as to size each other up to see if we were a danger to each other. This went on for a few minutes, then it turned and went across the river to a pine area and lay down. I watched the deer for another 10 minutes, then went back to my camp. While I was living in Michigan, I lived in northern Michigan South of Traverse City in the country across from the Betsie River. I had four deer that would visit me daily, one in particular that I called Brown Eyes.. so this event I needed. I was that morning before getting out of my sleeping bag missing home (Michigan) and this deer I almost felt knew what I was missing, and that was the serenity and connectedness with nature that I always felt when I was back in Michigan.
The outdoors changes me on a daily basis. When I step outside I am reminded how the earth is alive and I am a part of it. When I admire nature, I feel connected to it. I am one with the earth and it inspires me to be a better person with all my brothers, sisters, creatures, crawlers and swimmers of this planet. It reminds me that life is beautiful
I hiked the Bonds (White Mounttains, NH) several years ago and it was HARD. My partner and I hiked in a few miles and bushwhacked to a camp spot to get some mileage under our belts. Woke up the next day early, it was a chilly but beautiful fall day. By the time we got up in elevation the weather turned to shit. I was tired, cold, frustrated. I didn't bring mittens (last time ever) so I wore socks on my hands. The 'unsurpassed views of the White Mountains' that we'd been so excited to experience were out of reach, hidden in the clouds and rain. But we did it. No one got injured, hypothermic or in a fight. It was then I really knew I had a bigger motivational threshold than I thought. I knew if I could make it through that crappy hike with no view rewards, I was ahead for my next trip.