As I climbed up from the east parking lot of Mt. Falcon, my headlight illuminated a wedge of trail in front of me. To either side, the shapes faded away into the dark. Behind me, the city lights of Denver and the surrounding area twinkled in the distance, and illuminated the low-lying cloud overhead.
The temperature was cool, at the parking lot, and seemed to be getting cooler as I gained elevation. At about a quarter of the way up the hill, small flakes of snow began to swirl around me, flying through the beam of my light like moths around a summer lightbulb.
But, summer this was not. The temperature continued to drop as I climbed, and the snowflakes got larger, wetter, and more numerous. Above, the clouds seemed to be dropping toward me.
Shortly before the halfway point of the climb, I reached the bottom of the cloud, and entered its cold embrace. The snowflakes clung to my clothes and, with each exhalation, my breath fogged around me like steam in a sauna. I was alone, seemingly the only person on Earth, inhabiting my little cone of light.
Eventually, just below the small meadow at the picnic shelter, I climbed up out of the snowy cloud, into a frigid, starlit night on the mountain-top. I reached the shelter, and leaned my bike on the fence, then sat on the table, facing the trail up which I had just climbed.
The cloud deck stretched out before me, a calm ocean of vapor stretching as far as I could see to the east. Islands of light marked the cities below, and the cold, distant constellations wheeled above as I sat, steaming from the effort, drinking water from my CamelBak.
It had been a long, tough day at work, a day which had left my spirits sagging and my outlook grim. Somehow, I had figured a ride might help.
I'd had no idea how true that would turn out to be.
I got back on the bike, and dove into the billowing ocean, heading for the depths, with a smile on my face.