This summer, my husband and I flew into Denver for the Summer Outdoor Retailer Show where we had the task of finding new exciting brands to bring back to our store. Our store, The Woodsman Company, started in 1985 with my husband and his parents and a small cigar box. It has grown over the years and we have prided ourselves in presenting new and relevant brands that meet our customers needs. My husband is the visionary who continues to see a future in our locally owned brick and mortar store, when so many others are struggling or giving way to Amazon and Big Box Store’s that are depleting our communities of customer service and expertise.
As we flew into Denver, I was feeling a little overwhelmed and exasperated with the necessity of attending yet another show. Outdoor Retailer is an exciting event, with new technology and trends that hosts amazing athletes and supports a lot of causes, I should have been excited. But for me, I was thinking of all the orders that would need to be written, then all the boxes unpacked, merchandising the store, and inputting all the invoices…I was seeing a lot of work. But out of my despair, I saw something that caused me to take a deep breath and breathe, the Rocky Mountains. It was then that I knew we had to push hard to be able to get a few days of freedom and get on some trails.
At 6 a.m. we were off to Rocky Mountain National Park to hike Sky Pond via the Glacier Gorge Trail. Sky Pond is an 8.1 mile out and back trail that is rated as difficult. We wanted to take the opportunity to push ourselves, since we were without our 4 and 2-year-old, since they tend to drastically lower the number of miles and elevation. We knew we had to get there early as parking was an issue and we had to take the park shuttle to the trail head. The base of the trail leads to Alberta Falls, a 30-foot waterfall surrounded by boulders and beautiful outcroppings. The first 2 miles of the trail were filled with boulders and sagebrush and then quietly led into a beautiful aspen grove with their white bark shining in the sunlight. As we pushed through, we were stopped suddenly by a string of girl scouts that had spotted an elk on the trail. We took the opportunity to catch our breath and adjust to the elevation, which was about 10,000 ft at this time. The trail took a turn and switch back up a steep gorge for another mile and a half. At the top of the gorge and out of breath, we were rewarded by the most beautiful scene, the Loch Vale. The beautiful alpine lake is surrounded by pines and cliffs and is the most spectacular blue that I have ever seen. We took the opportunity and inhaled the smells from the pine trees and alpine flowers, not to mention a protein bar and apple, and soaked up a little sun.
We continued on the Sky Pond, not wanting to waste this opportunity, and pushed forward to what would be the most difficult part of the hike. After meandering along the bank of the loch, we continued to climb up the mountain until we reached a waterfall. Catching our breath, we stood in amazement as the girl scout troop came scurrying down the waterfall from above. The sky had begun to cloud up and it looked like a massive rain cloud was about to open up and pour. The girl scout leader had decided it was too dangerous with the potential lightening and they were headed back down. As highly experienced outdoorsman we looked at each other and said, “Why not, we here” … We pushed common sense aside and crawled up the waterfall, embracing thoughts of freedom and time at the top of the world. When we got to the top, it was still dark and stormy, but we pushed on to see if we could make it to sky pond, it was only another ½ mile. With rain jackets out and prepared for the worst we continued through the granite boulders that led to Sky Pond, and then suddenly, the sky opened up and the sun radiated through. We embraced the warmth and enjoyed the beautiful alpine bog of cattails and flowers galore. After a short scuttle on the board walk, we arrived at Sky Pond and it was magnificent. The lake, elevation 10,900 feet, is surrounded on three sides of sheer cliff walls and granite spires called The Sharkstooth. The water is a beautiful clear turquoise, so clear that you can see the trout swimming and eating top-water bugs several yards away. We settled down on a boulder and had our lunch and just enjoyed the moments of peace and tranquility. No sounds, no phones, no urgent situations to deal with, just us.
And that is when we looked at each other and said, “You know we are so blessed. How many people get to work with their family, how many people get to have these adventures, how many people get to have the freedom to determine where their business is going and what they are going to do?” At that moment, we stopped looking at how hard it is to be a Specialty Outdoor Retailer and discovered what freedoms we were fighting for. This moment taken had been enough to fill us up, to continue pursuing our dream and pushing for excellence.