I was spectator-ing a Tough Mudder, wearing the backpack with insulin, snacks and extra clothes and just trying to keep up with the 3 on the team actually doing 10 miles of mountain punctuated by obstacles like climbing over muddy inverted walls.
It was in Snowmass (think Aspen, skiing country), and pretty steep going with high altitude. Challenging walk, even for the non-competitors like myself. I had toughed it up the incline and managed to get some great photos of the obstacles and was headed back down to capture the finish. I was grumpy, my toes were hurting from the steep decline, sweaty and grumbling to myself about how I wasn’t even the one who signed up for this shit, etc. I stopped dead in my tracks as a wind blew threw and looked up. The aspens are just at the start of turning and they shimmered in that beautiful way that they have, and one tree just let got a bunch of leaves. It was a perfect, magic, Colorado moment.
Just minutes later I passed a group complaining to each other about the fact that there was no spectator bus to haul them up and take them down, how last year it was better because they didn’t have to work as hard. I had to bite my lip from saying, “Y’all aren’t from around here, are you?”
Everyone I know living in Colorado has these moments where they put themselves on a fourteener, bike path, or run and want to quit. But universally, we’ve all taken a look around, found that insane magic in the mountains, thought, “This is so worth it,” and kept walking with a smile.
I hope this photo essay shows the level of grime, pain, beauty and of course, fun we all had.