It’s the most wonderful time of the year


Hubby and I both have winter birthdays, and as a kid, I always hated sharing my birthday with the Christmas holiday, but as an adult, that hardly matters anymore. Even though I’ve come to accept my winter birthday, my one birthday wish every year is to at least get snow. Birthdays are already sometimes depressing enough as adults when you realize another year has gone by where you seemingly have accomplished nothing you set out to do, but if you have a winter birthday, it’s such a drab and depressing time of year with dead foliage, grey skies, and pale, dry skin. The least the universe can do is send some pretty, fresh snow to brighten the mood!

Hubby and I often each get this snowy wish for our winter birthdays because we seek it out! We are very fortunate that for the past few years we’ve made it a point to treat ourselves to a fun mini-vacay together for each of our birthdays. In this sense, we actually look forward to our birthdays!

My go-to birthday destination is almost always Telluride, but this past birthday we traveled to Ouray instead. While most people’s ideal birthday might include a relaxing spa day or a party with friends, my ideal birthday is to get away from everyone (except my hubby) and do a fun and/or challenging hike to have something positive to remember the day by.

I picked Ouray as our destination for my birthday this previous year because we would be halfway between some really cool waterfall hikes that we’ve done in the summer, but never visited in the winter. Unfortunately, with winter hiking in Colorado, you can almost always expect your hiking distance to be much longer since the roads to trailheads are often snowed over and not plowed. However, we certainly didn’t let that stop us from hiking, and as a matter of fact, we ended up doing three waterfall hikes for my birthday weekend, with the last one being the most challenging with 9 miles of trail-breaking in fresh snow to get to our waterfall destination. Thank goodness I got that birthday wish of fresh snow, right??

For hubby’s birthday, we traveled to a whole new destination, Bozeman, Montana, where we did two hikes to frozen waterfalls and one day of snowboarding. All in all, we did almost 30 miles of winter hiking between our two birthday trips and saw over a dozen frozen waterfalls, so it’s safe to say, these will always be birthdays to remember.

At each birthday when I look back at the year and reflect on what my biggest life accomplishments have been and whether I’m where I want to be, it’s not the job I have or the home projects I’ve checked off my to-do list or my self-journey to lose weight, eat more healthy, think more positive, drink less, or cuss less that help in my annual assessment… it’s the adventures where I’ve pushed myself to do and see the things I love outdoors. It’s kind of ironic that we constantly need reminding that our best accomplishments in life are to simply do the things we are most passionate and not the things we are taught are accomplishments by societal standards.

As we head into another season for winter birthdays for hubby and myself, I won’t be reflecting in the mirror at the extra wrinkles or grey hairs I’ve acquired or the weight I’ve gained, but instead reflect on our growing photobook of amazing memories together.

Em’s birthday trip to Ouray:

We experienced intense wind on our drive to Ouray that caused snow on the ground to blow across the road, creating white-out conditions on an otherwise sunny day.
On Day 1, we did this short, but scary hike down to a waterfall in a small canyon.
Upside down icicles, better known as ice stalagmites.
On Day 2, we initially set out on this hike to try to reach this waterfall, but there seemed to be no safe way to cross the top of the waterfall in order to get to the trail down on the other side, so we retreated.
While we were retreating back to the trailhead, we discovered this awesome frozen waterfall down in a canyon and we were determined to find a way down to it.
We have visited this waterfall several times in the winter and spring. Normally it’s so icy that it forms into an ice volcano, but this year, it was a tad too warm.
On Day 3 of my birthday trip, we did our longest hike of 9 miles roundtrip to reach a waterfall we had only seen in the summer. In the summer, this waterfall only requires a 1-mile hike!
Waterfalls in the winter are always a big surprise of what you are going to get because sometimes they are so covered in snow, that they aren’t that impressive. As beautiful as this waterfall was, it probably wasn’t worth the arduous hike breaking trail in fresh snow for 9 miles.
Cheers to another fun and challenging birthday trip!

Pie’s birthday trip to Bozeman:

We didn’t get our birthday wish of snow for Pie’s trip to Montana. When we arrived, it was sunny with snow on the ground from a recent storm. We had no idea that not only would we not get fresh snow, but the snow that was on the ground would also quickly melt!
On Day 1, we hiked to this massive and gorgeous frozen waterfall, complete with ice climbers.
By the end of first full day in Bozeman, the snow on the ground had already started to melt, despite the fact that the sun had taken a little hiatus for the day. Our Airbnb had a hot tub outside, which we enjoyed after each day’s activities. Although we knew the Airbnb came with a hot tub, we didn’t know it would come with the noisy moo doggos next door. As it turns out, this was the first time in 16 years that the cows on the neighboring property had hung out this close to the property line during calving season (a time of year when the mommas are particularly noisy).
On Day 2, we did a 7-mile hike that had several waterfalls. Little did we know that the very first waterfall would be the prettiest and most accessible and the others wouldn’t really be worth the long, post-holing nightmare of a hike without snowshoes.
On our way back to the trailhead, we also ran into this gorgeous frozen waterfall at the start that we had missed on the hike in. If we had seen this hike at the start, we might not have ventured as far as we did on the hike to try to reach one of the furthest waterfalls.
On our final day in Bozeman, we snowboarded at Big Sky, which has one of the most gorgeous peaks on the terrain, similar to Crested Butte.

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