5 Things That Made Me Decide To Leave The City And Move To The Mountains

Are the mountains calling?

By: Mollie Carberry

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Last summer, after being in education for basically the entirety of my existence, being neck deep in countless essays and then finally holding my degree in my hand, I was forced to stop and look around. I had finished. And instead of a few more years of seminars about literary analysis stretching out in front of me, there was a huge question mark. I decided with unwavering certainty that I wanted a change of scenery. Thus began my move from the midlands of England to Denver, Colorado.

1. I wanted to live by the sea.

This sounds extremely contradictory, and like I’m absolutely terrible at geography. But my favourite place on the planet is the southwest coast of England, and every spare second I have I want to spend in the calming presence of the ocean. So in my mind, I had ventured to move over to America to live by the sea, ideally in Florida or California. Colorado never even appeared in my peripheral vision when I spent hours meticulously planning my seaside future. And yet, here I am. My goal to live on the beach led me to live the furthest away from the coast I have ever been, and I never knew I could feel so comfortable being completely landlocked.

Through this swift and unexpected change in direction, I have learned to relinquish control and accept that the place I’m at is exactly where I’m supposed to be. Just like the ocean stretching endless and deep blue as far as the horizon, the Rockies stand, steady and unwavering and constant as far as the eye can see.

Hike Torrey’s Peak via Kelso Ridge | Photo: Jeff Richards

2. I wanted to climb a mountain.

A cliché, perhaps, but definitely a valid and crucial reason many people make the move to live in Colorado: to conquer some fourteeners. I went through a phase where all the literature I read was memoirs and biographies written by mountaineers and explorers. Wild, 127 Hours: Between A Rock And A Hard Place and Into The Wild were my favourite go-to books for inspiration. Although Cheryl Strayed, Aron Ralston and Chris McCandless all ventured into the wild with different intentions and left with differing results (some more brutal than others), they had one thing in common: they left everything behind and set out to attempt hugely challenging feats in the natural world.

The mental and physical strength and adaptability possessed by people who choose to attempt to tackle a mountain has always inspired me. And where better than the Rockies to dig deep and try to find such admirable qualities within myself?

3. To remind myself how stunning the natural world is.

Cities can be truly beautiful places. With striking architecture, the palimpsest of different eras and cultures layered within the buildings, and the bustle of constantly active city life, I can totally understand the appeal. However, it can be very easy when faced with the glistening glass and steel grey endlessness of skyscrapers to forget the grandeur of the natural world.

I lived in Nottingham and Sheffield, and although both are lovely cities a short drive away from the beauty of the Peak District, I craved to live somewhere that would daily remind me to always be in awe of nature. In Denver, no matter how stressful your day or how much traffic you’re stuck in, just look to the West and see the formidable wall of rolling foothills with the snowy white peaks jutting from behind and remember how much of it truly matters.

6 Reasons Why The Manitou Incline Is Colorado’s Holy Grail of Cardio | Photo: Brian Lewis

4. I wanted to see if the belief that Americans are obese and ignorant about health is true (spoiler: it’s not).

One of the main images that springs to the minds of many Europeans when picturing America is what the media constantly feeds us - greasy, sugar-laden food, fast food shops and diners on every corner, and grossly obese Americans. To some extent this isn't inaccurate; there are an extensive array of diner chains, cheap unhealthy food available in abundance and yes, some people are overweight.

However, the image is obviously an exaggeration, and Colorado has been a breath of fresh, clean air for me. Denver is ranked as one of the USA's healthiest cities and it is certainly clear to see why. There are numerous health-food stores and farmers markets, independent vegan cafes selling homemade food, easy access to gyms and exercise classes, and supermarket shelves stacked high with nuts, seeds and protein bars.

And it is undeniably down to the powerful influence of the mountains. When you strike up conversation with a stranger, instead of talking about the weather or the traffic or any other mundane topic, you always end up talking about the Rockies. Whether you ski or snowboard, whereabouts your favourite spot is, when you're next going hiking. The pull of the mountains is constant for everyone and it is clearly reflected in the city's refreshingly clean lifestyle. So although I have admittedly indulged in many stacks of pancakes since arriving here, the mountains are enough to make anyone want to ditch the rubbish and live healthily.

5. It was almost by accident, really.

My new job brought me to Colorado without me knowing really anything about it, other than what I had read about the fourteeners and the striking red rocks. Since being here, I’ve seen some of the most unforgettable and remarkable sights, most of which I didn’t even know existed. One day last week, my friends and I drove down to Colorado Springs to hike around the Garden of The Gods, and then drove east for forty minutes to Paint Mines Interpretive Park to explore. In under an hour, we went from the striking burnt red rock formations basking in the presence of Pike’s Peak, through rolling grassy plains to the bizarre bright moon-white, egg yolk yellow and coral pink clay spires and hoodoos.

Sometimes it’s quite by accident that you stumble across something or somewhere that will change you entirely. And as comforting as it may be to rigorously plan out every aspect of your future, it’s the accidental places that are the most fun. The mountains’ constant and immovable nature has taught me that I need to let go of anything constant, to allow myself to move and bend.

Cover photo: Annie Rumbles

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.