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Jenn Fields
Hikers enjoy cool air in late June atop Mount Audubon, in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

It was disappointing to look up the symptoms of heat exhaustion — faintness, dizziness, weak and rapid pulse, for example — and realize I had none of them.

Well, I did have the headache.

The heat this summer has me beat. I know it’s not helpful to wish for things that don’t exist, like a doughnut shop in Boulder (actually, this will exist soon!), or a unicorn that rides a tandem bicycle (awesome, right?). But I’m wishing for highs in the low 70s.

Heck, I’m even wishing for snow. Why not dream big?

Amid the triple-digit heat a couple of weeks ago, seeking an escape, I headed out early to hike up nearby Mount Audubon. I figured it wouldn’t be hot as blazes at 13,000 feet.

In the parking lot, I exalted in the cool air. The early morning breeze had me in a jacket as I headed up the hill with a friend. On the summit, we took shelter in one of the many wind breaks, and I pulled my fuzzy hat out of my pack with child-like delight that I was cold enough to need it.

We hung out on the summit for a good 45 minutes, just chilling in the chill. Glorious!

But you can’t escape the heat forever, and sure enough, we’d only descended to about 12,000 feet before the wind disappeared and the sun, now much higher in the sky, started baking us.

“If it’s hot at 12,000 feet, what’s it going to be like down there?” I asked, gesturing east as my pal zipped the legs off her pants. I tried to hang onto that exalted feeling I’d had earlier. But treeline was awfully far away.

The following weekend, I didn’t plan an escape to the high country, or anything else. My motivation was exhausted by the heat. On Saturday, I had no plans and hadn’t done anything all week…unless you count sitting on the sofa and complaining that it had “cooled off” to the upper nineties while eating ice cream. (One morning I’d set my alarm for an early run. When it went off, I remembered that I hate running in the summer almost as much as I hate getting up early and discovering it’s still hot outside. I went back to sleep.)

I’d thrown in the towel for the weekend when Erika texted me about going for a Sunday ride.

Left to my own devices, I would have spent the weekend on my couch with that ice cream and my other July joy, the Tour de France. Erika’s text was just the kick in the pants I needed.

I donned a too-snug jersey (gah ice cream and inactivity!) and pedaled out to meet my friend. As we climbed toward Jamestown, I realized that while I was hot, I wasn’t dying. I wasn’t melting into a puddle on the side of the road. In fact, I was even enjoying myself, despite the heat.

Higher, I pulled around a corner into a shady stretch, and a gentle breeze from some cooler place up the canyon hit me. Wonderful! Then something else hit me: Thank goodness Erika asked me to go for a ride, because my attitude has been awful.

At the bottom of the canyon, I thanked Erika for getting me on my bike. She surprised me by thanking me in return. 

“If I didn’t have to meet you out here this morning, I wouldn’t have gotten out the door,” she said. It was too hot to hug her. Instead, I confirmed our Thursday cycling date and rode home, toward the ice cream.

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