My nose lay plastered against the back seat window of my family’s old gray mini van, and my big blue eyes slid from left to right, following the stubby juniper trees disappearing over the horizon. I was only six years old and to me it was just another family camping trip, but this time instead of going to dry, sandy Chaco Canyon in New Mexico we were heading north to green, mountainous, northern Colorado.
The dust and junipers were slowly being replaced with giant pine trees and grass that covered every hill as far as I could see. Although there was a change in environment, it didn’t make the trip any shorter. After a full day of driving, my younger sister and I were getting fussy. The last couple hours of the trip turned into an “Are we there yet?” every half-hour, and the annoyed response, “We’ll be there in four more showings of Barney.” (The stupid purple dinosaur seemed to be our only method of time.)
Finally, we turned into a tiny secluded campground tucked into the Rocky Mountains. We had reached the end of our long trip. I squiggled in my seat until the side door slid open and my mother’s soft hands reached in. The seatbelt clicked, and she pulled me out of the car. Excitement flooded my veins as I jumped out and danced around in circles. The cool evening breeze blew my short brown curls behind me. A sea of purple, dark blue, and pink oozed up behind the tall, jagged, mountains as the sun sunk behind them. Dark, thunderous clouds swirled around the tops of the mountains, only adding to the picture.
With little preparation, the tents were pitched, a fire was lit, and my sister and I were tucked into our sleeping bags. As tradition, we both turned headfirst into the bags and climbed downward to see who could get to the end first. Having expended our last bit of energy, we curled up and were both asleep instantly.
As the night drew on, the wind beat progressively harder on the tent and the cold began to creep in. When we woke up the next morning, there was half an inch of water covering the bottom of our tent. In the middle of the night a freak storm had blown in and left us a morning present of an inch of snow. I was upset at first, thinking that it had ruined our camping trip, but I soon realized that instead of swimming in the river we would be able to build snow forts and have snowball fights. There is something positive hidden in every situation; the trick is looking deep enough to find it.
These early childhood adventures have helped shape my love for the outdoors. As I grew older I was able to explore this relationship even more through backpacking, which brought me even closer to nature. I have had the opportunity to swim in high mountain lakes that few humans have seen, and sleep under the stars on top of an isolated mountain. Most will never feel that unique feeling of cool tranquility, accomplishment, and happiness. Never do I feel so small and insignificant compared to nature as when I am outdoors completely alone. I also spend a lot of time in the outdoors doing community service. I’m an active member of Grand Canyon Youth Service Organization, often help the Stewards of Public Land, and volunteer at the Forest Service and Grand Canyon Trust. Last summer, I had the most amazing experience working on a trail crew in Arizona. I learned so much and gained a real connection with the people and places that I worked.
I would love the opportunity to further my love and knowledge of the outdoors by working for the Parks Service in Rocky Mountain National Park this summer. It would be a dream come true to work on a trail crew again, on a fire crew, or as a backcountry ranger. I am eager to conquer any task that is laid in front of me and I am a hard worker that doesn’t give up if something is challenging.