After a few weeks of persuading parents, saving up money from summer jobs , and finding the cheapest backpacking gear possible, the time came to hit the road.
Ignorantly unprepared, the three of set out from Des Moines in my 2000 Subaru Outback. I might add that this behemoth boasts over 250,000 miles, but we believed in her. The drive to Aspen takes about 13 hours, so our conclusion was to leave at 7 p.m. and drive through the night in order to get there in the morning to start our hike.
If you’ve ever been on a distant road trip with your best friends, you know that there aren’t many things that compare. Driving west, the sunset suspended over the outstretched highway for what seemed like hours, until the tiger-striped sky finally dipped its way into infinity.
Further into the night we strolled down the infamous stretch of I-80. It’s so empty that the speed limit is pushed up to 75 just to push people through, but we were in no hurry. When the moment was pressing, we would pull over, blast the music and dance in the middle of the road, then fall on our backs and watch the sky until it was lit up by another set of headlights.
I know how cliché this all sounds. Trust me, it makes me just as sick as is does you. But the thing is when you’ve had this feeling, it isn’t cliché to you. There is nothing mundane about experiencing life with other humans, really experiencing it. and we hadn’t even reached our destination yet.
Almost as if we planned it, the sun began to emerge just as we began to pull into the Aspen area. We found Aspen, now we just had to find the trail. Day 2 had begun.