Brainard Lake Recreation Area is one of the most beautiful spots in the Front Range. Nestled between Nederland and Ward, Brainard Lake is just 45 minutes up the mountains from Boulder. To complement summer hiking, fishing, backpacking, and cycling, this area offers incredible winter activities such as snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and picnicking.
From about November to May, the Brainard Lake Road is closed beyond the entrance station. This road turns into an excellent start for any skiing, snowshoeing, or picnic adventure. From the entrance station, you have three route options: stay on the road, veer left onto Lefthand Park Reservoir Road, or turn right onto the Sourdough Trail.
Heading straight on Brainard Lake Road offers adventurers a relatively flat path, perfect for learning to cross country ski or snowshoe. Red Rock Lake is the first destination on this path, just ½ mile beyond the entrance station. From here, users can follow the road another 1.5 miles to Brainard Lake.
Those looking for some elevation gain may opt to follow Lefthand Park Reservoir Road to Lefthand Park Reservoir for beautiful views of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. This winter trail climbs 600 feet over the course of 1.8 miles to the reservoir.
For people who enjoy the solitude of snowy singletrack, Sourdough Trail offers miles and miles of pristine winter wilderness. This trail connects to South Saint Vrain and Waldrop trails for a long, scenic route to Brainard Lake.
"When the day is full of potential, being lazy isn't a consideration.."
Throughout human history, people have gone out into nature in search of self discovery, connectedness and transformation. At times when we're feeling most unsure of ourselves and our place in the world, venturing into the wilderness can provide clarity and motivation. In a day and age when we're bombarded with technology, constant bustle and triggering stresses, removing yourself from your immediate environment can reveal the potential for seeing yourself elsewhere in the world.
Someone's perception may shift along with a new vast and calming landscape....
Nature may initiate change help you to abandon your obsession over problematic frames of mind. Through that clarity, unexpected solutions will begin to form....
Mental static will melt away and the attachment to your version of reality will in turn begin to loosen, becoming fluid and neutral...
Join 5 women as they traverse from Daniels Lake to Skwawka Lake in British Columbia. Along the way they discover that the wilderness truly is where they belong, despite the doubts that everyday life can instill. Though they were each hesitant to make such a trek solo, collectively their knowledge and spirit lifted them all up to greater heights.
(Video Credit: Arc'teryx)
"We're walking on the back of history and then it invites us in... We listen to it breathing. What we do is keep moving; we make a decision, we go. This is our real life. This is where we belong."
Nature invites us to open into awareness and discover where we belong - when will you answer the call?
One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again..."
– Abraham Maslow
Countless people operate day to day within their comfort zone; a silent but common ailment. The longer someone stays within it's confines, the less happy they tend to be. Stepping beyond the boundaries of what's familiar is essential to finding happiness, accomplishing goals and discovering your true passions in life. So why do so many of us choose to stay there if it's slowly draining us?
Big changes take lots of energy. Everything in life takes energy, which can be translated into motivation. If we lack the motivation necessary to make big life changes, we as humans find reasons to remain in a state of stasis; after all, stepping beyond our current circumstances could end up being uncomfortable and even scary!
But if you do not journey past all that you know, you're deliberately robbing yourself of 3 beautiful things life has to offer on the other side....
You are not growing
Shawn Achor, a positivity psychologist and author, states that happiness is "the joy you feel moving towards your potential."
We've all heard the saying that if you aren't growing and moving forward, you're really slipping backwards. Progress is a key ingredient to happiness in life! As long as you remain within your comfort zone, you're not growing because you're making no movement towards progress or growth. Remember, growth is about becoming more than you currently are and without experiencing all that is outside of you, you'll never get there.
You're not out there trying new things
What are you passionate about? The luckiest of us discover what we love doing early on in life, and we're able to follow our hearts as we spend our lives mastering the art of it. But if you're anything like the majority of people, you spend the first two or three decades of life searching and testing and wondering what it is that our hearts desire.... And that's only if you're diving into one thing after another, and constantly trying new things.
Your comfort zone isn't about getting out there, challenging yourself and discovering. In fact, you'll rarely try anything new and if you do, it's typically not of your own free will.
You're becoming comfortable with settling
The worst fate of all! We all know those people that had a dream straight out of college and then life happened. They settled for a life that was good enough without being too much; they decided to remain comfortable and unchallenged versus chasing tirelessly after their passions.
And this situation alone isn't the worst of it. If you become conditioned to settle in general, you will fail at recognizing prime opportunities that come along throughout life. You'll reject them out of the fear of leaving what you've always known.
Don't worry - there is still hope! Anyone and everyone can expand their comfort zones and even wander beyond them in a healthy and enjoyable way. The real trick to beating is to make feeling uncomfortable a conscious and constant habit. The more you do it, the less resistance you'll experience to the feeling itself and to the actions associated with it.
The old adage 'one step at a time' truly comes into play here. That first step is the most essential because it's the only one where we're facing our fears directly. Second and third steps are significantly less terrifying, and before you know it you're running from your comfort zone with a smile on your face. The next time around will be that much easier, as your confidence builds.
Here are 3 things you can do to develop the self confidence and strength necessary to step outside your comfort zone regularly...
1.) Make a list of your procrastinations
What are all of the things that you've been putting off and continue to put off? Try to think of everything, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, that you've been procrastinating on for a few weeks or more.
2.) Start checking off things from that list, beginning with the smallest
Don't go chasing the whales on your list; begin with the small fish and work your way up. It's essential that you take that first step and experience success as quickly as possible.
3.) Continue moving forward
It's all about momentum from here. Continue moving forward by stepping further and further from your comfort zone until you feel ready to tackle whatever comes your way!
Your resolve is a muscle - the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Before you know it, spending substantial amounts of time beyond your comfort zone will become the new norm.
Thank you to Pete McBride and Vital Films for creating this beautiful tribute to the wilderness of the United States in honor of the Wilderness Act's 50th Anniversary.
"We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.."
With more people, families and groups venturing into Rocky Mountain National Park than ever before, you may be wondering how park rangers, staff and volunteers do it...
How do they keep all the pieces in place?
What challenges do they face?
And how can I help?
Thanks to Miles Barger, a visual information specialist for Rocky Mountain National Park, you can now learn so much more about the park and all the people who look after it. Throughout his career in park services, he has been constantly reminded of the deep love and curiosity that visitors have for national parks and wild places - but it isn't just about the wilderness itself. When it comes to national parks, visitors develop the same feelings for the people that look after them! With that in mind, Barger and his coworker Hope Ozolins created a team and a structure for a brand new podcast called Rocky Mountain National Podcast.
Listeners will enjoy 10 episodes per season, each one an hour long. The first season's focus will be on different park personnel, starting with some of the most beloved to park visitors; rangers and other educational and interpretive program leaders. He discusses things like why they became involved in national parks, what they do within Rocky Mountain National Park and some of the unique knowledge they impart on others. Personal stories blend with park information, news & updates, and specific information on planning a trip to the park.
"We are always looking for ways to reach other audiences and new tools to give people the information they want about the park," Kyle Patterson, spokesperson for RMNP, said.
Barger hopes to continue evolving the podcast to include a mini-series within the main season; shorter segments that focus on something more specific, like a research project or a current concern. The first 4 episodes are out already - take a listen for yourself!
Ranger Program - Snowshoeing
Season 1, Episode 1:A Love of the Mountains with Kathy Brazelton
Join Kathy Brazelton, an East District Naturalist, in the Upper Beaver Meadows, as she shares her life as a ranger, ranger programs, various signs of spring and more.
Season 1, Episode 2: Chillin' in the Alpine with Cynthia Langguth
Ranger Cynthia Langguth teaches us about the interesting world of the alpine tundra. She'll teach about marmots, pika, ptarmigan and everything else in the land above the tree line...
Season 1, Episode 3:Gettin' Wild on Rocky's West Side
Explore all that the West Side of Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer with rangers Maci MacPherson and Michele Simmons!
What does the Public Affairs Officer for RMNP actually do? Join Kyle Patterson and explore what he does, day in and day out; sharing news and messages, dealing with current issues at the park, and even how you can help keep the park beautiful for generations to come.
Need to make plans for the upcoming weekend? Look no further than Rocky Mountain National Park! There's always plenty going on to entertain those venturing alone, with friends or with the family...
Friday, July 28th
Lily Ridge Hike(2 miles) - 9:30 to 11:00 am - Lily Lake
Join in on this guided hike to Lily Lake and find how trails connect various rocky ridges, forests, meadows, Longs Peak and Lily Lake.
The Great American Solar Eclipse - 10:00 am to 12:00 pm - Kawuneeche Visitor Center
Are you traveling somewhere to view the Solar Eclipse in August? Come by the park and learn how a solar eclipse happens, what you might see and how to view this natural occurrence safely.
All About Lightning - 2:30 to 3:00 pm - Alpine Visitor Center
Learn all about why lightning is so important to know about, and how you can minimize your risk of being struck by lightning.
Exploring With a Camera - 1:30 to 3:00 pm - Timber Lake Trailhead
Whether you have lots of experience with photographing in nature or are just beginning to dive in, this is your chance to learn some valuable tips and improve your skills on a guided photography walk.
Bighorn Basics - 10:30 to 11:00 am - Sheep Lakes Information Station
Did you know that the Bighorn Sheep is the symbol of the Rocky Mountains themselves? Learn about this beautiful animal near Sheep Lakes; a popular place to view them.
Glacier Basic Campground Evening Program - 8:30 to 9:15 pm - Glacier Basin Campground Amphitheater
Various topics are discussed, both informative and fun! Dress warmly.
Holzwarth Historic Site - 10:30 am to 4:30 pm - Holzwarth Historic Site Parking Area
Help the park join Holzwarth Historic Site's 100th Birthday! While you're at it, take a tour of the 1920's-era dude ranch and get a taste of early homesteading.
Astronomy in the Park - 8:15 pm - Upper Beaver Meadows Trailhead
Join a park ranger and the expert team of volunteer astronomers to observe and identify different elements and constellations in the night sky. Make sure to dress warmly and bring binoculars and a flashlight. A 30 minute program will be followed by viewing.
Old Ranch Campfire - 7:00 to 9:00 pm - Holzwarth Historic Site Parking Area
Bring the family or friends and roast marshmallows by the campfire. It does require a 1 mile walk to get to the campfire site, so dress warmly! Bring your own marshmallows and come equipped with campfire stories and songs.
Saturday, July 29th
Hike through History (3 miles) - 9:30 am to 12:30 pm - Colorado River Trailhead - FREE
Make your way along Colorado River on this calm 3-mile hike where you'll discover remnants of mining and ranching history. Bring anything you'd need to be well prepared for a hike of this length.
Sprague Lake Stroll (1 mile) - 9:30 to 11:00 am - Sprague Lake Picnic Area
Managing wild places within Rocky Mountain National Park is the topic of discussion on this guided hike. Enjoy the conversation of a ranger as you make your way around Sprague Lake.
Twilight Walk - 7:45 to 9:15 pm - Sprague Lake
If you love that magical twilight hour just before night settles in, don't miss this guided walk! You'll learn all about what the natural world is going as day transitions into night. Dress warmly and bring a flashlight.
Sunday, July 30th
Beyond the Falls (1 mile) - 2:15 to 3:45 pm - East Inlet Trailhead
Even been to Adams Falls? You'll enjoy this pleasant hike to Adams Falls and soak in the amazing view that lies just beyond it.
Mountain Wildflowers - 9:00 to 11:00 am - Kawuneeche Visitor Center Flagpole
A ranger will lead you & your caravan to see the best flowers that are currently blossoming and teach you all the reasons why they're so special.
Though we love the Rocky Mountains and all of their wilderness, there are many other beautiful places throughout Colorado. But it can be difficult to see them all from the best angle, which is where filming drones come in! A bird's eye view allows you to see things from a new perspective, and sometimes that's all we need.
(Video Credit: DJI Inspire 1 | Chroma 4K)
If you're in need of a perspective shift, there are 5 steps you can take...
What is the challenge you're facing? To make it to the end, you need to know where you're starting from. Visualize yourself in the situation that you're dealing with - hear it, feel it and see it. Conjure up every detail you can to make it more real.
Expand it. The problem with only seeing things one way is that it's limited. Imagine you're going further and further from yourself and your challenge, until you're looking down at it from a complete bird's eye view. Focus on everyone else involved, and try to see it in it's entirety. What do you see that you haven't before? Does your perspective change from way up there?
Leave Earth behind. Imagine you're traveling even farther, past the atmosphere and into outer space. From way out there, what do you notice and how do you feel? What changes are there in your stress level as the challenge becomes further and further away?
Come back home. When you're ready, begin coming back towards the problem. As you return, go into the bodies of others involved before coming back into your own. See the situation from their viewpoint, no matter how difficult it is. What do you learn? Finally, come back into your own self. How have things now changed for you?
Take action. We usually cannot change other people but we can change what we do and how we react to others around us. What will you do next?
"We feel that this stands as a symbol of the insatiable curiosity of all mankind to explore the unknown."
- Buzz Aldrin, astronaut aboard the Apollo, July 24th, 1969
Curiosity is inherent in humans from the time we are very young. Throughout history, those who have made the most significant contributions and lasting marks on the world have been curious to their core - always searching for an alternative path, new ideas and ways to get there.
Being curious throughout life can benefit you (and the world around you!) in many ways. When you're curious, your mind is active rather than passive, which helps it to grow stronger and stronger the more you challenge it to think outside the box. It also leads to an adventurous life in which new doors open everywhere you look. As new ideas emerge, you are more likely to give them genuine consideration if they pique your interest and curiosity. You will also be more open minded to the thoughts and opinions of others, which is never a bad thing.
What if you've grown out of your child-like curiosity? Never fear - there are things you can do to claim it back....
1.) Read diverse material
By reading many different genres, you immerse yourself into all sorts of worlds, complete with characters and circumstances that are unique. Get a subscription to an educational magazine that you normally don't pick up, and get to reading!
2.) Keep an open mind
This may seem pretty obvious, but you'd be amazed at how few people truly keep an open mind in life. By being willing to learn, unlearn and relearn things, you open the door to new knowledge and opportunity.
3.) Don't take anything for granted
When you accept that the world is the way it is, you have absolutely no incentive to dig deeper. Always strive to look beneath the surface and discover more than what meets the eye.
4.) Ask questions
Who, what, when, where and why are ones we all learned in school, and they still apply once you've grown up! Keep them in your back pocket and don't forget about them. They can always be pulled out on a daily basis.
5.) Choose to see learning as fun
This takes some practice, but it is definitely possible. Even the most challenging of things can be rewarding to attempt (sometimes over and over) until we finally succeed. Look at life through a glass that's half full and exciting.