Camping Away the Homesickness

Living in Colorado has its perks and the Rocky Mountains are definitely one. The University of Denver has incredible access to all things outdoors from hiking to camping, mountain biking and skiing. You name it, Colorado has it. Lately, I’ve been exploring all that these mountains have to offer. I’ve been to Great Sand Dunes and Arches National Parks in two weeks. I have spent days in a tent and hiking all over the place.

Being from Baltimore, I didn’t have too many opportunities to really hike or camp. Don’t get me wrong, the Appalachian trail is one of the hardest trails in North America, and Maryland contains one of the easiest 40-mile stretches of the nearly 2,200-mile trail through 14 states. Maryland also has many state parks and they all have great trails, but in my years there, I have exhausted the state park trails that are now run down and poorly kept. Colorado is a complete 180º from those parks.

Camping has helped me fall in love with Colorado all over again. Even though Arches is definitely not in CO (it’s in Utah) I’ve learned to love what Colorado has to offer. My first few months at DU were hard, I was so far away from home, but the prospect of hiking and learning how to ski helped me get through the homesickness.

This year, I finally Opted Outside™, as REI’s latest campaign says, and embraced nature. It wasn’t a hard sell. I’ve never been camping before a few weeks ago and have always wanted to go. When my friend suggested the idea, I jumped on board.

Camping also helped me form deeper bonds with some of my friends, spending so long on trails and in camps together. We stayed up late around a fire and chatted. Having such close friendships really makes a difference when you’re so far from home.

If someone would have told me that in a two week period of time I would be in two different national parks camping, I would’ve told them they’re crazy. But here I was, packing and unpacking from my expeditions feeling better than ever. I had found a new bond with nature and Colorado that made CO feel like my new home. It took a while, but I found my way through trial and error and sand, lots and lots of sand. Trust me, that sand is never leaving any of my stuff.

I definitely would opt outside again. Any day, Colorado let’s see what you’ve got.