The gang at LiteraryCO.com wanted to know our favorite Colorado athletic activity. Probably cards, double solitaire and the like, since hiking, biking and skiing in Colorado is no fun. Because you have to stay on the path. We enter the wild lands to get away from life’s rules and rigidity, for the freedom and the thrill of adventure. Yet everywhere you go—exploring the forests around Grand Lake, skiing the slopes at Winter Park, climbing Pike’s Peak—there are trails. Sometimes with guardrails! As if Colorado was a giant amusement park! Controlled, safe, and worn. You shuffle along on the designated path, while acres of wild, wonderful country surround and beckon and taunt you, accessible to Authorized Personnel Only.

Yes you can go off the trail. But then the going is hard and slow. The footing is uncertain. And it’s dangerous. Is it reasonable to want to shortcut two miles of sedate switchbacks and just down-climb a sandstone cliff? Of course, look how much time you’ll save. But Harris Gray will never shake the memory of that ledge, snapping like a perforated graham cracker, and the really long pause before the unmistakable sound of impact, and some moaning. Healing would come, but only after medicinally-consuming a weekend’s supply of beer in an evening. Gone too soon (the beer), we mourned.

Yet there is a part of Harris Gray (half to be exact) that loves to go off the path. This provides wonderful story material, while the other part of Harris Gray stays safely on the trail, behind the guardrail, enjoying the spectacle, recording, writing. For safe, reckless adventure, nothing beats hiking, biking and skiing in Colorado. And double solitaire.