Vail Daily column: Look up and remember why you’re here
Right now is my absolute favorite time of the year to live in the Rocky Mountains and, specifically, Eagle County. Everything’s green, the rivers are raging and the harbinger of our fleeting alpine summer — the GoPro Mountain Games — is finally here.
My first Mountain Games was in 2008, back when the title sponsor was Teva and I didn’t know the difference between an oar and a paddle. Three friends and I packed ourselves, our bikes and our gear into and onto a Jeep and drove the 14 hours from my hometown of Davenport, Iowa, to Colorado for a few days of camping, rafting, kayaking and beer drinking.
I’d never been to Vail before, and I’d never been to Colorado in the summer. The first day of the Mountain Games that year, it snowed. I stood on International Bridge and looked up at the sky and something just clicked in my brain. Three days later, I was back home in Iowa, applying for every available job at the Vail Daily.
It’s a story I’ve told dozens of times, but every time the Mountain Games come around again, it resurfaces in my brain. For whatever reason — fate, destiny, craft beer — I ended up here, and this weekend will mark nearly a decade since I first laid eyes on the Eagle River Valley.
I think most of us get to a point where we become desensitized to what lies around us. We get up, we go to work and we come home. We forget the majesty of the Gore Range, the beauty of the valley, the imposing ferocity of the river. We look down and put one foot in front of the other instead of looking up and appreciating where we are.
For me, the Mountain Games is a happy reminder to look around. The four walls of my office don’t circumscribe my life. My job isn’t the only definition of who I am. On Saturday, much like the photo above, I will hop into a tiny raft and throw a paddle in the water, side by side with my husband, and we’ll launch ourselves down Gore Creek. Cold water to the face, strangers cheering us on, reveling in everything that is this place.
Sometimes I wonder how the trajectory of my life might have been different, had I not climbed into that Jeep and driven through the night to see the mountains, but I did and I’m here, and I couldn’t imagine my life any other way.
Krista Driscoll is the editor of the Vail Daily. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.