Natural Highs: Night Hikes

Sunlight illuminates your surroundings, casting a hot glow on the city walls; the street radiates heat from friction as tires roll across stained asphalt. Fumes inhabit the atmosphere and the buzz of business and progress drowns with the chatter as the horizon expands westward towards the Rockies. The skies subtly turn to shades of orange and purple as the rotation of the earth brings us closer to nightfall. The hot glow soon becomes a warm sunset, and as the lamps in city apartments may stay lit well into the night, darkness falls across the western foothills, and a cool breeze brushes across the elevated land. In the darkness of these hills, serenity is found.

Where day hikes satisfy the adventurous with warm sun and a expansive view of the surrounding geography, night hikes deliver a peaceful mystery that disguises the landscape and exposes the city lights, right in our own backyard. Rather than houses and buildings against a blue sky, electricity feeds a massive light show as headlights glide over darkened streets. The patterns laid out by the glimmer of lights can be taken in from a bird’s eye view, and one can’t help but think of all the people and cars as they combine to form a systematic grid below. It can really help put things into perspective once in awhile to look down on our city and see how small everything is compared to the scale of the earth, and simply breathe.

Although I do not live in the city itself, I have been downtown numerous times, and have seen the city from within its walls. To know that I can grab a bite to eat at the Colorado Mills, cross the street to Denver West to catch a sunset hike, and watch the lights trickle on in the distance, creates within me a soothing feeling.

By taking  Basalt Cap Loop, which is an easily accessible trail to the north of Denver West, one can see in all directions from the mountains to the city, and the trail is well lit by the surrounding light. The hike takes roughly 20 minutes and is well worth it on a relaxing summer night, even if you are simply looking for a change of scenery. The great thing about the natural world is that it exists all around us, and changes drastically from night to day. Although the mountains are breathtaking, its comforting to know I can still experience the outdoors right outside my neighborhood. The best thing about night hiking: there are numerous hiking trails right here on the front range. Try one. You might see the city-and our earth-with a new perception.

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