The Colorado Sisterhood

When I first moved to Colorado 13.5 years ago, it took me a while to adjust. I’d left a thriving career and fun social circle in Salt Lake City to a place where I knew no one apart from my new husband, whom I was still getting to know. I didn’t fit in with the women my age in the ward who all had children, it took me a few months to find a job and I spent a lot of time on my own hiking and [sad confession] watching the entire series of Dawson’s Creek. I don’t really mind being alone–in fact, I quite enjoy it–but I definitely felt lonely as I struggled to carve out my existence here.

Six months after getting married, I got pregnant with Hadley. It wasn’t until after I become a mom that I finally started making friends, the first of whom was my dear friend Tina through our hiking group, Colorado Mountain Mamas. When we moved into our house, I hated the Arvada 2nd Ward–it was the smallest in the stake and struggled a lot. My now-friend Lisa decided to do something about it and formed a dinner group with couples who have now become our very closest friends.

As the years have passed, that circle of friends has grown. I have gone from feeling like an outsider to being the includer–organizing events and gatherings for anyone who will come. I love that this group of people we are blessed to call friends are so involved in each other’s lives. My children have grown up with their children, I thought they’d be teenagers together and maybe even date and marry. I envisioned going to lunch as old ladies with Lisa, Eva and Jenn, sharing all the minute details of our grandchildren’s lives.  These friends have become part of our DNA and that has been, hands down, the most difficult part of leaving.

I started an informal hiking group a while back and it has become a come-if-you-can weekly adventure.  In May, I vowed I would finally do a hike that has been on my bucket list for years: we would hike the entirety of the Mesa Trail in Boulder. It’s a 14-mile round-trip trek and, though I’ve hiked numerous portions of it, I’ve never hiked it straight through. And as much as I love hiking, 14 miles is a beast so I decided to cut it in half by parking a car at the end of the hike and then circling back and planting another car at the beginning, the South Mesa Trailhead.

I put a call out to friends to see who would be interested and six answered the call on that Thursday: Debbie, Jenn, Lisa, Sheree, Tina and a new friend, Melissa. It wasn’t an easy hike and by the end, I was limping but the time flew by during those 3.5 hours as we hiked, chatted and marveled at the sheer majesty along the trail that day. Chautauqua Park has been a special place for me since my early days in Colorado and I’ll never forget my first hike there with my hiking group as I was blown away by the stunning terrain and historic cottages and Dining Hall heaped in history.

We laughed at the memory of when, earlier in the year, we’d hiked a portion of the trail when it ran into an unnavigable river. Or so we thought until Debbie insisted we bushwhack downstream, find a rickety log to cross, and it was Debbie who ended up falling in.

Fortunately this time, there was a new passage in place across the creek.

When we finally arrived at Chautauqua nearly 8 miles later, we were tired, dirty and sweaty but that didn’t stop us from eating lunch on the Dining Hall’s gorgeous patio overlooking the Flatiron Mountains and a torrent of flowers on the expansive lawn. For two hours, we laughed, ate and certainly didn’t disagree when Debbie strongly suggested topping off the day with peach and huckleberry cobbler. When we weren’t looking,  she covertly slipped the waiter her credit card to cover the bill and I felt like smooching her right there if I hadn’t been covered in dirt and berries.

Sitting on that deck in the most gorgeous settings with women who are numbered among my dearest friends (and knowing there are so many more who couldn’t join us), I just felt gratitude for this life I have been blessed to live for 13 years. I know new friendships will develop in Utah but I need to remember it will take time and that what I have here will never, ever be replaced.

I couldn’t help but think how far I’ve come…and how far I still have to go.

And how darn grateful I am to have shared this journey with so many wonderful people along the way.

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