Author: Mary Willson
As students at Colorado State, we all understand the â€œColorado Blissâ€: this made up, self-titled syndrome is the ultimate pride, passion, excitement and love for the mile high state.
Even if we donâ€™t all fly CO flags in our living spaces, boldly place a â€œNativeâ€ or “Almost Native” sticker on our cars, or Â go on backpacking expeditions every weekend, most of us agree that 970 is an area code not to give up. Part of the infatuation with this place is the way Natives were raised and the way newcomers have found magic in the outdoor hype. The stark contrast between the flat plains and the high mountains of the state create such a large amount of diverse recreation, involvement and adventure that the excitement seems to follow not far behind.
The difference between mountain towns such as Vail, Winter Park and Aspen and Fort Collins is a contrast between daily lives, atmosphere and culture. Yet, that sense for adventure that Colorado produces, no matter the immediate living area, has been cultivated at a young age for many now-Fort Collins-dwellers.
“For me, my dad moved to Colorado when he was young so his connection was really strong, so my parents wanted my connection to be really strong too. Summer camping, family road trips just around Colorado vacations,â€ said Bo Welden, senior environmental communication student, who was raised in Aspen. â€œI donâ€™t feel like I really need to go to South America or somewhere to experience new thingsâ€”thereâ€™s always a new trail or back country terrain to discover.â€
A large draw for caring and exploring around the landscape is the nature of adventure that is pushed through the culture is brought in through meeting others who grew up around different Colorado areas. The changes in terrain between eastern, western and in between state create a recreation hot spot, and therefore create a community for learning through each other’s knowledge. Kayaking, rafting, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking, rock climbingâ€”the outdoor adventures are endlessâ€”and with that comes an endless pursuit for that exploration.
â€œThere are so many people that love the outdoors, we all love the same place, and we all love the same thing, this is what college isâ€”making experiences with people around you,â€ said Josh Lee, a sophomore non-traditional student studying geology. Josh is part of the Outdoor club, which brings together people to enjoy the outdoors in all different ways. â€œI grew up in Michigan, where it is completely flatâ€” I grew up learning to ski on trash dumpsâ€”then I took a trip to Winter Parkâ€”and said â€˜Iâ€™m going to live there one day’. Then when I moved here, I was on top of the world. I just love this place.â€
That cultivation of outdoor love is something that is grown through family outdoor time when young. As students in college have the independence, resources and drive to continue that exploration when older, they learn that exploring the state opens doors that are unexpected. For many students, the social aspect of Colorado recreation is a driving force behind it.
Chris Leiferman, health and exercise science senior, and part of the tri-team experience the overall out-door culture in Colorado first hand when coming to Colorado from Minnesota for school.
â€œWhere I grew up it wasnâ€™t an atmosphere for sportsâ€”here everyone is activeâ€”the social aspect of really pushes you. Minnesota is as flat as flat can beâ€”its coldâ€”you donâ€™t really want to be outside during winter, and the summers are hot and humid. It isnâ€™t good training environment,â€ he said. â€œColorado has more of a life style for [training]. Everyone is doing it so it makes us train harder. It really gets you jazzed up. Its really beautiful.â€ He said that Rist canyon for biking, and Lory State Park for running are a few of his favorite spots around the area.
That connection of falling for Colorado is an intimate experience, between making the experience of living somewhere that you value, as Welden has experienced bringing new people on hikes, climbing and outdoors.
â€œIts amazing to be able to share a new place with new people who may not have know before. A lot of people come to Colorado from all over the place and when they climb their first 14-er, theyâ€™re all just blown away,â€ Welden said.
For many, having a connection with the place they live, the passion for being in that space gives more to their lives than they gain anywhere else. That passion fulfills what many look their whole lives to feel.
â€œFor me, the mountains are my religion. Getting to the top of a 14-erâ€”thatâ€™s god for me. Whenever Iâ€™m having a hard time, I go outdoors and I donâ€™t feel that anymore,” said Anna Wille, freshmen biological science major and member of the outdoor club at CSU.
The Warner College of Natural Resources is one of the largest colleges at CSU, driven by this connection of Colorado spaces and passion.
â€œItâ€™s why Iâ€™m studying natural resources, because Iâ€™m never going to leave this areaâ€”its never going to leave me as a person. We got the environment, lets go use it,â€ said David Shearon, recreation tourism sophomore. â€œI want to be a ski guide, raft guideâ€”my office is going to be the outdoors and taking people to go on adventures. I got lucky being put here. I didnâ€™t choose it but I want to stay here.â€
As spring comes into bloom within the next few months, a new time for adventures and outdoor living comes into view. The love for Colorado is a positive passion felt, lived and experienced. Colorado State is in love with Colorado, and that is the best love story of all.