Hike of the Week: Full moon hikes illuminate the landscape in a new, special way | VailDaily.com
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Hike of the Week: Full moon hikes illuminate the landscape in a new, special way

Full moon hikes can illuminate familiar trails in a new light.
Special to the Daily

Have you ever had the experience of visiting a familiar place, maybe for the 10th or 100th time, and noticing something you’ve never seen before? For me, if I’m paying attention, I get this experience every time I head out onto the trail.

If I’m on my cross-country skis, maybe I’ll notice a downhill turn that seems a little tighter than it was on my summer run. When I get out before the sun, the sunrise illuminates familiar trails in a different way. Wakening wildlife at dawn adds new sounds to familiar sights.

The beautiful thing about our trails is they’re never the same twice. However, certain settings sometimes can help make a trip seem even fresher. Many of my most memorable experiences in the mountains have occurred at two times, that both require a little extra motivation: sunrise and the full moon.

I’ll never forget the experience of tackling a 14er on a mid-May full moon snowshoe adventure. Turning off my headlamp at 2 a.m. and basking in the moonlit expanse of alpine tundra is something that stays with you.

However, you don’t need to summit a 14er in order to experience the majesty of winter trails under a full moon. Even venturing into your backyard can introduce you to how bright snow-lit fields and forests can be.

Last month, as a part of a Walking Mountains program, I had the opportunity to experience our backyard trail here at the Science Center — the Buck Creek trail — in new light. Portions of the trail that I’d simply passed by in the summer stood out as remarkably beautiful: open fields of sagebrush and shrub sparkling under the full moon. What was most memorable for me was hearing the awe and wonder of our group as they experienced this landscape for the first time, and the chatter of excitement as the smell from the campfire waiting for us just up the trail wafted down the hillside.

Whatever your preferred mode of winter recreation is, lace up your boots, wax your skis or strap on your snowshoes this weekend and experience the full moon for yourself. It’s a memorable experience that I can’t recommend enough.

Sign up for Saturday’s hike

If you don’t know where to start (or even if you do), join Walking Mountains for our second full moon snowshoe hike at Walking Mountains Science Center on Saturday. Visit http://www.walkinmountains.org/snowshoe for more information on this experience, or email hike@walkingmountains.org.

Nathan Boyer-Rechlin is the community outreach coordinator for Walking Mountains Science Center. For more information on this hike and others with Walking Mountains, you can reach him at 970-827-9725, ext. 144, or nathanbr@walkingmountains.org.


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