Never have I ever … understood why the outdoors are so great |

Never have I ever … understood why the outdoors are so great

Ali Murray
Never Have I Ever ...

I am not what you would call “The Great Outdoors” biggest fan.

I may live in Vail, but I feel much more at home in a bookstore taking my adventures via book bindings instead of by skis. Don’t get me wrong, I do love going outside — I was raised in Montana and we have a lot of outside there. It’s just never really struck me as a “I-must-climb-this-mountain-because-I-live-here” sort of thing. You’re all laughing at me now saying “If you don’t like the outside, then what the heck are you doing here?!” I am here because I work here. And now, I finally understand why everyone else is here, too.

This past Easter weekend (better known as Closing Weekend), I went to Moab to see friends from home, to camp and to hike. Pretty self-explanatory, and without boring you with the details of my personal life, we had a great time. What was most interesting to me about this trip was I realized that even the desert can be a lot of fun if you go there during exactly the right time of the year.

The previous time I’d traveled to Moab with this group of friends, it was 110 degrees out. Every. Single. Day.

I am not a lizard. I do not thrive in extremely hot climates. I’m more of the, I don’t know, koala bear type. I like my shade and cooler temperatures especially if I’m being active.

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But this time, it rained/drizzled the first day during our longest hikes. The sun peaked out and finally by mid-afternoon it got up to around 80 degrees. Holy perfect. What a difference 30 degrees can make in my stamina. It made hiking up to see Delicate Arch an even more pleasant experience than the hike already is. The views are breathtaking — if you’re not completely out of breath from the hike — and you feel so small and powerless. Maybe I’m thinking too hard here, but standing in front of something that is more than 50 feet tall which was created by the sheer, incredible power of Mother Nature herself can be a little daunting. It definitely deflates your ego a bit, which is good seeing as we can all get pretty wrapped up in ourselves and our lives from time to time.

Was this it? Have I discovered why they’re called The Great Outdoors? Maybe … but I think there’s gotta be more to it.

Garden of the Gods

Cue my trip to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs this past week. For those of you not athletic enough for Moab, or if you have small children, then Garden of the Gods is a great option for you. You can get out of town, not worry about any technical hiking gear and even bring the stroller! Garden of the Gods, the main part, has most of its paths paved like sidewalks. The other stairs aren’t hard for little kids to climb and you still get to experience that feeling of being at awe with nature. While wandering, I spotted rock climbers.

I have a near-paralyzing fear of falling, rolling my car off Interstate 70 while going downhill, etc. Yeah, not fun, but as I watched these climbers just go for it and try to make it all the way to the top of these huge-rock-spire-thingys, no fear was present. My only thought was “Damn. Can I try?”

What this trip showed me, though, is nature is the neverending challenge. There is always something new to try; something to push yourself toward being able to do. You’re all sitting back laughing at me. I know, I know, this is possibly the most trivial revelation I could come to after wandering through a majestic masterpiece outside. But to me, a person who has never actually cared to spend quality time outdoors unless I’m paintballing, swimming or tanning, it’s a really neat thing to realize. I have so many untapped potential activities to do this summer here in the Vail Valley.

So many trails to run, so many fish to attempt to catch, so many death-defying stunts to pull off and so many places to remind me of just how small and powerless I really am. When I say powerless, I don’t mean I can’t do anything with myself or for anyone else. I mean it more in a sense of “everything in this place is out of my control. I just get to be” kind of powerless. And I really do think it’s that feeling of being able to let everything go that keeps us all in this valley. It’s nice to be able to hit the slopes and just not think about life because for 10 minutes it doesn’t matter how well we cleaned the kitchen, what matters is what’s right in front of us — getting down the mountain in one piece and feeling how great the snow feels under our skis.

I will be writing a series this summer for the under-outdoor achieving people like me. For the newcomers who have no idea what it means to stand-up paddleboard or who have never picked up a fly-fishing rod. Let me give someone a starting point for their summer adventure, so we can all check off things on our Never Have I Ever … lists together. Because I mean, if I can figure out an activity out with all my lack of coordination and general patience for being outside, anyone can do it.

Ali Murray is a copy editor at the Vail Daily. If you have any comments on her column, ideas, etc. for her, email them to

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