What to Wear Hiking in Colorado

When you’re spending time planning a hiking vacation in Colorado, pouring yourself into the details, you’re envisioning everything goes right. You’re picturing smiles and laughter, time unplugged in nature, and memories made – whether by yourself or with your family. However, there’s a relatively easy way for things to go wrong. 

Being unprepared for Colorado’s weather patterns can not only put a wringer in your vacation – it can compromise your safety, too. We’ve put expert advice together to compile this informative overview of what to wear hiking in Colorado. You can also check out our other post on Hiking Safety in Colorado

Typical Weather

Before you can decide what to wear hiking, accommodate yourself with Colorado’s climate

  • Spring: Spring weather in the Colorado Springs area means pretty drastic temperature shifts from day to night. Highs can be anywhere in the 50s and lows in the 20s. 
  • Summer: Summer in the Colorado mountains is definitely warmer than spring. However, with highs in the mid-80s and lows in the low 50s, these significant shifts in temperature from day to night mean you’ll still need to pack more than just a t-shirt and sunblock. 
  • Fall: Highs in the 60s and lows in the 30s is just about perfect weather for hiking in Colorado, but it doesn’t mean you don’t need to bring plenty of layers – just in case you are hiking later in the day than you planned. 
  • Winter: Temperatures in Colorado Springs hang out in the 40s in the day and high teens at night during the winter.
Photo by Reymark Franke on Unsplash

Layering

Wearing and bringing extra layers with you is crucial when hiking in Colorado’s mountains. At the very least, your basic hiking outfit/packed extras should contain the following:

  • Moisture-wicking base layer.
  • Moisture-wicking undergarments.
  • Insulating layer. In summer, this may be a warm fleece, depending on the weather forecast. In winter, this needs to be a heavyweight insulated synthetic or down stuffed jacket, like a “puffy.”
  • Rain jacket
  • Wool or fleece hat
  • Extra socks. We prefer wool.
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The Problem with Cotton

There’s a phrase in the outdoor world that warns us, “Cotton kills.” While this sounds extreme and is not the case in every climate, it should definitely be kept in mind when hiking anywhere in Colorado. 

Cotton is hydrophilic, which means it loves water; the plant fibers attract moisture and hold onto it, so it dries out very slowly. It’s highly absorbent and can hold up to 27 times its weight in water. This means our bodies must work extra hard to heat ourselves along with the cotton fabric in an attempt to dry it out. This can be dangerous in climates such as Colorado’s that have major temperature shifts from day to night and storms that seem to come out of nowhere. 

Unsafe Cotton Scenarios

Imagine you’re hiking in any season – you’re working hard and exerting yourself physically, so naturally, you work up a sweat. Your hydrophilic cotton shirt is absorbing every drop of sweat your body generates as you’re hiking up and over mountains. 

Now, imagine you’re wearing that sweaty cotton shirt, and it’s getting late in the day, and the temperature is dropping fast. You’re going back down the mountain, and although the descent is brutal on your knees, your body temperature is dropping quickly because you aren’t using much energy hiking downhill. With strong winds that can decrease your body temperature in seconds, things can take a turn for the worse very quickly from here.

However, the good news is that this scenario is entirely avoidable with knowledge, good preparation, and mindful packing. When packing for your hiking trip in Colorado, it’s best to keep the phrase “cotton kills” in your mind.

What to Wear Hiking Instead of Cotton

Head to any outdoor gear store, and you’re bound to see the term “moisture-wicking” on dozens of tags. Moisture-wicking fabrics like synthetic and wool fabrics are the opposite of cotton: they are hydrophobic, meaning they resist water penetration. 

Polyester and nylon are top contenders among synthetic moisture-wicking fabrics, and wool is the leader (and my personal favorite) when it comes to natural fibers. Whether you get soaked in a downpour or sweat profusely on your hike, your moisture-wicking shirt, pants, and socks are going to dry super quickly and not leave you cold and clammy like cotton will. 

Additionally, wool is a superb natural insulator. This makes wool the leader in fabrics that transition from daytime to nighttime hiking in areas where temperatures shift dramatically, like Colorado. 

But isn’t wool too hot for summertime hiking?

You can purchase 100% wool hiking attire that is lightweight enough to wear while hiking in the summer in Colorado. Just look for base layers – they can be pricey but incredibly versatile and suitable for all of Colorado’s seasons.

Things to Remember

When considering what to wear while hiking in Colorado, it’s important to think past just your clothing. 

  • If you have sensitive skin, make sure you bring sunscreen to apply on all exposed skin, following the bottle’s directions. 
  • Sunglasses and hats can protect your eyes, neck, and face from the sun.
  • Bug spray will help keep the gnats at bay.
  • Colorado is home to over 27 types of ticks and 20 tick-borne diseases, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. To prevent ticks from crawling onto your skin, opt out of the shorts, and wear long pants tucked into your socks. Even if it’s hot, your moisture-wicking pants will keep you cool enough to hike. Also, remember to learn more about Colorado tick bite prevention, dangers, and bite protocols.
  • Footwear should be closed-toed and provide adequate ankle support for optimal safety. 

Conclusion

Safety is the most important thing to consider when planning what to wear hiking in Colorado. If you’re unclear on how to hike safely, consider coming on one of our Guided Hiking Tours in Colorado Springs. We’ll make sure you’ve dressed appropriately, show you around Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods, and keep you safe!

Top 5 Outdoor Tours in Colorado Springs, CO

Colorado Springs, located an hour south of Denver, CO, attracts many outdoor enthusiasts, families, and thrill-seekers to explore and play in its rugged wilderness each year. The city sits at the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains and is home to some of the state’s most iconic sights, such as the Garden of the Gods. The area is ripe with opportunities for outdoor adventure. So ripe that when planning your excursion, you may be wondering which Colorado Springs outdoor tours to experience.

Luckily, there is no shortage of premium tours in the area to match its diverse opportunities for outdoor recreation. Outdoor tours are a unique way to experience wild places and activities through the eyes of a seasoned guide. Regardless of one’s experience level, partaking in a guided tour is a gratifying and fun experience. On a tour, you can expect to learn a new skill, meet new people, and gain firsthand knowledge that you will carry with you long after it ends. 

So whether you’re planning your first or thirty-first trip, check out these Top 5 Outdoor Tours in Colorado Springs, CO.

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Guided Hiking Tours

Guided hikes are an enriching and memorable way to explore new trails beyond simply following signs, maps, or apps. Based out of Colorado Springs, Broadmoor Outfitters provides top-of-the-line guided hikes on the city’s most iconic trails. Visitors of all ages can explore Colorado Springs’s breathtaking mountains in small groups of up to 12 people.

For those who would like to learn about the Rocky Mountains’ flora and fauna while immersed in it first-hand, Broadmoor Outfitters also offers the option to have a naturalist as your guide! Tours take place daily at 9:30 am and 1:30 pm and last about 3 hours, with the opportunity to extend the hike’s duration when booking a reservation. Visitors are encouraged to let the staff know the kind of hiking they’d like to experience so that the guides can curate an itinerary aligned with each group’s wishes. This tour has something to offer for anyone looking to explore the Rockies on foot, regardless of if you’re a solo traveler or a family of four.

The Broadmoor Hunt

If a mild hike that combines problem-solving and a bit of history sounds like a blast, then look no further than the exciting and one-of-a-kind Broadmoor Hunt. The Broadmoor hunt is not your typical outdoor tour but instead a thrilling app-based scavenger hunt. During the hunt, individuals will put on their metaphorical Indiana Jones hat to learn about the historic Broadmoor Hotel while solving problems as they explore the hotel grounds and surrounding landscape.

This tour is open to individuals of all ages but is the perfect fun outing for families with children looking to stretch their minds (and imaginations). The tour runs daily from 10 am to 3 pm and lasts 1.5 to 2 hours. Broadmoor Outfitters also offers a corporate version of the scavenger hunt for businesses looking to strengthen teamwork among coworkers.

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Image by Beverly Lussier from Pixabay

E-Bike Tours 

If the idea of cruising down scenic roads with the wind in your hair and mountains to your left and right sounds like a dream, but steep inclines and never-ending hills sound like a nightmare, then Colorado Springs E-Bike Tours are a perfect happy medium. E-bikes are gaining popularity as a fun and accessible way to experience the thrill of conventional bike tours with ease and speed.

This tour takes attendees on a 5-mile ride through the Garden of the Gods on Trek Rail 7 E-Bikes. The 3-hour tour runs daily at 9:30 am and 1:30 pm and is open to individuals over the age of 10. As a heads-up for any mountain bikers (or purists) reading this article, you can also find epic guided mountain bike tours in Colorado Springs.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding Tours

Our Stand Up Paddle Boarding Tours in Colorado Springs are the perfect option for individuals looking for an aquatic adventure despite being 1,200 miles from the nearest coastline. Stand Up Paddle Boarding developed as a relaxing and fun sister sport to surfing in landlocked areas. During this 2.5 hour tour, individuals of all ages will glide atop Colorado Springs Lake as the Rocky Mountain ridgeline reflects along the water’s edge. Seasoned SUPers know that the sport can have a big learning curve, which is why joining a tour your first time is essential for learning proper technique and form.

Tour guides will teach attendees foundational skills, such as paddle strokes, footwork, self-rescue, and how to get on the paddleboard (which is more challenging than one might think). Tours run daily in groups of 8 at 9:30 am and 1:30 pm. The tour is open to all ages, but individuals who love sports that involve balance and coordination and being on the water will likely enjoy this tour the most.

Image by Gero Birkenmaier from Pixabay

Fins Course Zip Line Tour

Last but certainly not least,  Fins Course Zip Line Tour is the perfect option for adventurous souls looking to experience Colorado Springs from the sky. You will zip through the crisp blue Colorado sky, surrounded by high peaks, and soar over Seven Falls Canyon as the waterfall roars below. This tour is not for the faint of heart. The Fins Course Zip Line consists of a staggering five zip lines, 250 to 1800 ft long that reach heights of 500ft, two rope bridges, and a 180 ft assisted rappel.

Due to its technical nature, this tour is rated intermediate to advanced and is only open for individuals aged 10-80. Tours run hourly each day from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm and last a total of 3-4 hours. So if you’ve ever looked up at the sky and wondered what the mountains looked like from the perspective of the birds flying overhead, this tour is your chance to finally find out. 

This list only covers the Top 5 Outdoor Tours in Colorado Springs, so make sure to check out all of the other outdoor tour offerings in Colorado Springs to find the experience that is right for you.

Safety Tips for Hiking in Colorado

We’ve all heard horror stories about accidents happening in the wilderness. Most of us are familiar with the novel and film “Into the Wild,” which recounts Christopher McCandless’s beautifully tragic and fatal story that takes place in the depths of the Alaskan wilderness. We’re painfully aware of notable accidents because they make for great television. However, the reality is, these tragedies are actually few and far between; there are exponentially more “successful” outings than tragic ones. The key to avoiding accidents altogether, and mitigating risks when they occur (because nature is nature, after all), is being prepared and knowledgeable before hiking in Colorado

These safety tips will cover important points you need to remember when exploring Colorado. So read on, and they’ll prepare you so that your stress is minimized and fun is maximized.

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Share Your Plan

Planning and communicating that plan are both key components of hiking safety. You should never head out for hiking in Colorado (or anywhere!) without first telling someone. Whether you’re planning to hike for only one hour, overnight, or a couple of weeks, let someone know the ins and outs of your trip. For example, tell the person when you’ll be leaving and returning, where your car will be parked, and which trail(s) you’re planning to be on. Furthermore, let that person know if you change your route or any aspect of your plan. That way, if you get lost and need to be found, people will know where to look.

Be Prepared For Bad Weather

Two words: no cotton. Even if there’s no rain in the forecast, weather can change fast in Colorado. If you’re hiking during the day and get sweaty and are still in the wilderness when temps drop at night, you don’t want to be stuck in a wet, cold cotton shirt. From head to toe (or hat to socks), all of your hiking clothing should be made out of a moisture-wicking fabric such as wool or any synthetic fabric blend that’s marketed as quick dry. Bring a raincoat, an extra shirt in case of a sudden temperature drop or rainstorm, and an extra pair of moisture-wicking socks. Wear good-fitting, broken-in hiking boots that provide ankle support. Lather on the sunscreen even if it’s cloudy. 

Look over the National Lightning Safety Institute’s resource on lightning safety protocols. Better yet, print it out to have with you in case you need it.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 

Bring Water and Snacks 

A good rule of thumb is to bring one liter of water for every hour you plan to be hiking. This is a great standard, and it’s also wise to pack a trustworthy water filtration system such as a Katadyn or Life straw, in case you are in the wilderness longer than you planned.  Bring snacks, too, as hiking burns a lot of calories. High-calorie foods like peanut butter, candy bars, granola, beef jerky, and trail mix are all great and easy options. Don’t just toss your food wrappers on the ground, however. Follow all Leave No Trace practices out of respect for nature, wildlife, and future generations of hikers to come. 

Keep it Realistic

We know how thrilling it can be to push ourselves and have new experiences, but staying safe, smart, and within our personal limits is the number one hiking tip we can offer. Plan your trip according to your experience. For example, if you’ve never been camping overnight, it’s probably not a good idea to head out on a week-long camping trip in the backcountry. If you’re not experienced at reading maps, stick to a well-marked trail, or even stay in cell phone range so you can use your phone’s GPS in case you get turned around. Finally, unless you’re in great shape, don’t embark on a ten-mile hiking trip as your first adventure.

If you would feel more comfortable hiking with a professional wilderness guide who knows the lay of the land, then stick to these Colorado Springs hiking tours for beginners.

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Stay Updated

Know what’s going on in the area you’re planning to hike. There will often be signs at the more popular trailheads informing hikers of recent wildlife sightings and how to behave if you encounter a bear, mountain lion, or coyote. Don’t worry – these animals are usually more afraid of you than you are of them! Check out Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s page on handling conflict with wildlife to stay safe and prepared.

In addition to staying updated about the wildlife, also acquaint yourself with general trail rules and alerts. For example, a gust of wind can make a simple campfire spread out of control during exceptionally dry periods. If you plan on having a campfire, use this comprehensive, up-to-date list of current fire bans in Colorado counties to avoid any fines, or worse, wildfires.

Our best recommendation is to visit the park website that manages the trail you’ll be hiking before heading out. There, you’ll learn about current trail conditions and potential hazards.

Bring a First Aid Kit

It’s wise to have an intentionally stocked first aid kit when you head out on any length of hiking trip. The American Hiking Society is a great resource for hiking tips, including how to stock your first aid kit. Depending on how much time you plan to spend hiking, you may also consider taking a Wilderness First Aid course, where you’ll learn how to handle accidents such as broken bones and allergic reactions. 

Bringing it Together

Hiking is a great way to get exercise, spend quality time with family, and enjoy Colorado’s stunning scenery. It’s important to do so safely, however. Even though accidents are rare and mostly avoidable, the chances of them occurring increase dramatically if you’re unprepared. So, use these hiking safety tips while you’re hiking in Colorado to stay safe and stress-free. Remember to tell someone your plans, prepare for bad weather, stay hydrated, learn about Colorado’s wildlife, and pack a first aid kit. If you’re prepared, you’ll have nothing to worry about!

Remember that you can always join us for guided hiking in Colorado Springs and enjoy all the knowledge and experience that our team has to offer!

How to Hike With Kids

The trail is where many of us have formed strong bonds and a loving connection with our friends or family. But sharing this space with your children or any group of youth means getting over the mental roadblock of figuring out how to hike with kids. First things first, take a deep breath. Kids can be as stressful, intimidating, and overwhelming as they are cute, fun, or adventurous. Doing this right will end up relieving your own personal stress and create an activity for the kids to tug at your sleeve to do over and over again. 

Before you head out on the trail, take a moment to remember what it was like to be a kid. Everything was exciting, full of mystery and adventure. You were figuring things out for the first time and making mistakes along the way. Try to apply that mindset to the trail now. Hiking with kids won’t be about putting lots of miles under your boots, but it will be about exploring the outdoors and your imagination. 

Now that you’re ready, let’s jump into some more kid-friendly hiking tips that will help you and the youth you are with foster a growing love for the outdoors. And remember, you can always join us for family friendly hiking tours in Colorado Springs for a stress-free adventure.

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The Basics

No matter your age, you need your basic comforts to have a good time doing anything. Watching a movie while soaking wet, cold, and hungry will make you hate that movie forever. In order to not do the same for hiking, take care of the basics.

Weather

First off, don’t pick a cold and rainy day to be the first time you go hiking with kids. Not only does it make most adults turn into grumpy children, but it also has the potential to make hiking unsafe. Pay attention to the weather forecast. If it is going to rain, bring rain gear. Remember layers for cold days, and perhaps plan on a lake-side hike if it’s hot.

Clothes

Most weather can be appropriately managed with the right clothing and gear. So, once again, planning ahead is key to make sure you bring proper clothing and layers. Pack a bag full of extra socks and a couple of other layers that will help the kids stay warm and dry. As soon as anyone starts to mention that they are cold or wet, offer some extra clothes to get them comfortable as soon as possible.

Food

Never start a hike on an empty stomach. It would be like going on a road trip without any gas in the car. It won’t work, so don’t expect it to. Have some quick and healthy snacks in the car to fuel everyone up before you even hit the trailhead. 

Kids are so incredibly influenced by food. It can be used as a reward, fuel, or quick break in the day when you need to slow everything down. Also, as all adults learn, hunger can seriously influence our mood. If you notice anyone starting to get a bit grumpy, break out a snack, and it’s guaranteed to bring some positivity back. 

I like to follow a general rule that the kids you’re with are at or below your own level. If you are hungry, they’re hungrier. Cold? They’re colder. If your feet aren’t dry, their boots are puddles. Take care of the basics before they become a problem because that’s when moods start to turn sour.

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Create Fun

The idea of hiking in Colorado appeals to almost any outdoor enthusiast you can find. There are tons of trails that bring you into a wide variety of terrain and challenges, all the while surrounded by beautiful mountains. But the idea of appreciating nature’s beauty isn’t always at the forefront of a ten-year-old’s mind. To make hiking memorable and enjoyable for younger kids, you need to create fun – perhaps the most important aspect of how to hike with kids.

Terrain

One of the first things you can do to make hiking with kids fun is to choose the right trail. Chances are good that a long flat walkway will bore almost any kid out there. On the other hand, a trail that snakes through the forest and follows a river to a massive waterfall opens up the possibility of exploration and naturally finding fun within the landscape. The forest can be a playground where trees become jungle gyms and creeks become waterslides. You just need to find the right trail.

Encourage Imagination

Don’t be afraid to let your kids run a little wild. Their imagination can take them into worlds where they explore the trees looking for Narnia or digging for buried treasure. Just remember to also teach your kids about proper hiking safety and the rules of the trail.

Not every child has the natural spark of imagination, so you may need to encourage this with different activities. Building a fort is a great way to bring fun into the hike. Or you take the time to see how large of a teepee you can build. The hike becomes an adventure and a challenge when you include a little imagination. Forests are also natural spaces for massive treasure hunts that will bring the excitement of both competition and exploration to everyone involved.

Bring Friends

We all want to be our kids’ best friends, but it isn’t always the case. Kids want to hang out with other kids their own age. Turning a hiking trip into a group activity will make your kids want to come back and do it more often.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Be Intentional

Going out into the forest and having fun while hiking with kids will take a little planning. However, being intentional with the hike will go a long way with the kids you go hiking with. Ten minutes of forethought can completely change the experience you have out on the trail.

It’s Not Hiking

The word “hiking” can get a bad rap with some kids. It sounds difficult and often unpleasant. You may not even need to label the hike. You can get the kids in the car and head off to the woods. Call it an exploration, an adventure, or anything that may have appealed to you as a small child. If you make it sound like work, it will end up being more work for you.

Goals

Very simple goals allow for kids to feel successful during a hike or afterward. Little things like “I want to see a fish” or bigger things like “I want to make it to the top of a mountain” can give kids something to look forward to or challenge themselves on. 

Remember that goals are going to change for every child. For some kids, making it a mile down the trail will be a huge accomplishment. Others may just want to swim in a river or find the biggest, slimiest, scariest bug that they have ever seen. Tailor the goals to each kid and work with them on finding out what they want to accomplish.

Responsibilities

It may sound ridiculous, but kids love having responsibilities. Of course, this excludes when it’s taking out the trash, cleaning their room, or doing dishes. But on the trail, responsibilities can give kids a sense of ownership and control over what they’re doing. 

If your kids are a bit older, you can trust them to carry important pieces of gear or lead the way with a map and compass. For the younger kids, you can have them keep an eye out for any interesting detours, hold the dog’s leash, or be in charge of finding the coolest lunch rock that anyone has ever eaten lunch on.

End on a High Note

After you get done hiking, always end on a high note. Entice your kids with the thought of ice cream in town, a movie back at home, or any reward that gets them excited. Discover other family friendly activities in Colorado Springs that you can let your kids choose from and create their own vacation fun. 

Hiking with kids is one of the most fun things you can do outside. They will naturally push you to see the world differently. No matter what you do, enjoy yourself, and the kids will often follow your lead. Smile, laugh, and become a kid again. Even if you aren’t an avid outdoors person, look for family friendly hiking tours that will take you all on a fun hike. You can pick up some hiking tips and learn the basics of how to hike with kids for your future adventures.

Taking a rest while hiking in Colorado SPrings

6 THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN HIKING IN COLORADO

The state of Colorado is a western state with a diverse geographic area. From mountains, plains, ranges, peaks, and western shores, one can find a place to hike in Colorado.

These regions of Colorado also come with some dangers, therefore these six things to remember when hiking will help you potentially avoid them.

1. Fill up the Water Jug. Whether you are hiking a rugged mountain top in the Rocky Mountains or along the Arkansas River’s shores, drinking water is a must. If you do not hydrate well, then altitude sickness could set in. Dehydration is also a concern, especially during those hot, dry summer days. A good rule of thumb is to carry more than you think you will need.

2. Pack the Navigational Tools. Even the best hikers can get lost during an adventure. A compass and a map are great to help you find your way. Should you bring a map, make sure you can read it. To aid in not getting lost, always stay on the marked trails. Marked trails are there for your protection and the environment. Another resource to use is a trail map. This map can be at a district office of the forest ranger or in a state park, at the entrance or visitor center.

3. A Fire Source. Should you, unfortunately, encounter an emergency, you will need to start a fire. In keeping your pack light, throw in a pack of matches or a lighter. Do not forget to keep them in a waterproof container.

4. First Aid Kit. No matter if you are on a day hike or a three-day excursion, you will more than likely need a first aid kit. Hazards such as roots of trees, branches, and rocks will ruin your day when they give you a sprained ankle or cut. Colorado is full of dangers and cannot be avoided.

Some items to keep in your first aid kit are bandages, gauze, pen and paper, blister treatment, and disinfecting ointment. Should you be in a group, everyone needs their own if they get lost from the group.

5. Food. Hiking just an hour with a lightweight bag can burn more calories than you could imagine. One can quickly burn 500 without blinking an eye. Hiking can lower your sodium level quickly. After all, when hiking, you will sweat! Salty foods are great to help curb this when that sick or tired feeling comes on.

High energy bars, candy, and fruit are other sources to help with hunger. Fruit does get heavy, so consider some fruit trail mix or dried fruit.

6. Rain Protection, Sun Protection, and Shelter. Colorado gets afternoon thunderstorms that pop up rather frequently. Having a waterproof raincoat or tent is a great way to help battle the potential hypothermia that may occur should you get wet.

While in the Rockies, the summer thunderstorms are more prevalent, they do occur elsewhere. Being prepared for anything will make your return to the trailhead a pleasant adventure.

Do not forget a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. You can get a sunburn from cooler temperatures in high elevations. If there is snow on the ground, your sunglasses will help you. The sun does reflect off of the snow.

Do not forget to factor in frequent breaks and pace yourself during your amazing Colorado hiking adventure. Remember also to respect the environment, wildlife, and beauty surrounding you.