Feb 19, 2021 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Aidan Luter | Illustration by Bibi Powers
“Time to get up!”
I jolt awake. It’s 2 a.m. The voice is, unfortunately, correct. Time to get up. I fiddle around for my headlamp, my sleeping bag rustling far too loudly as sleeping bags have the unfortunate tendency of doing. I grab my headlamp, click it on, and try to get my bearings. Wow, it is dark. Wow, this is crazy. Wow, I don’t actually know if I can do this right now. Maybe I’ll just sleep.
This moment of struggle came in the middle of a six-day trek through the Rocky Mountain National Park with my summer camp group. We were setting out for a “night-hike,” an utterly baffling concept to me at the time, but one that I now look back on fondly.
Two types of fun exist. Type One is easy, the type of fun we enjoy most of the time. We look forward to Type One fun, have a good time while experiencing it, and reflect on it in a positive way. Type Two fun is a bit more complex. This type is not easy. It might not even be enjoyable in the moment. Type Two fun, however, has the potential to be more meaningful, profound, and impactful in retrospect.
This was the moment when I opened up to Type Two fun.
Instead of rolling back to sleep, I find my hand stuffing my sleeping bag into its sack. My eyes watch in horror as my tent, my overly-damp sanctuary from the cold night, is broken down by my betraying arms. The part of my mind telling me not to do this is helpless as I pull my heavy backpack over my shoulders, and step one hiking boot in front of the other up the winding trail.
The Continental Divide at sunrise is our destination. We walk through the dark and loud night; a low hum of wind and animal noises is our soundtrack, along with the sound of a kid throwing up behind me. Not what I need at the moment. My feet hurt, my eyes are heavy, and the wind pierces my body through my fleece jacket. For hours, we walk. And walk. And bike, and swim. Just kidding, it’s just more walking.
Above tree line, my bloodshot eyes catch a glimpse of glowing yellow in the distance. Two evenly spaced yellow dots. Then more. Pairs of dots are covering the hill in front of me. And, after closer inspection, huge antlers. An entire herd of elk is right in front of us, becoming increasingly wary of our group. Luckily, we are able to sneak past without raising too much of a fuss from our intimidating fellow hikers.
After what feels like about three years, we finally reach the summit. I sit down, then I lie down. Then I curl up in a little ball and nearly fall asleep. The sunrise is indescribable, as they all are, so I suppose there’s not much point in trying. I eat dry instant oatmeal, which I strongly advise against (there is a surprising amount of salt). We sit on the summit for an hour, throwing rocks off a cliff into the snowbank below and soaking in the world. This is Type Two fun at its most concentrated.