Hiking with Vets: 

Garden of the Gods

Just a few days ago I was able to get outside and do a little hiking around Garden of the Gods with a friend and fellow veteran, Thaddeus. We had connected through social media and spent nearly two years getting to know each other, so when he told me he had returned back to Colorado Springs due to a career shift, I decided it was finally time to meet in person. He had been on two deployments since I have known him and had mentioned not getting out much to socialize since being home, so I planned a day for us to get out and explore.

We met at the Garden of the Gods and adventured along the trails, taking in the incredible scenery while engaging in great conversation surrounding our recent adventures, mental health, and military service. He shared stories with me about all the cool wildlife he saw in Africa on his latest deployment, and we laughed constantly at each other’s jokes. 

As a brewery enthusiast and non-Colorado resident, I even convinced him to hit a couple breweries, one of which happens to be veteran owned. Red Leg Brewing was hosting photos with Santa and had some festive beers, where I opted for an Oktoberfest. The brewery had plenty of outdoor seating to enjoy a view of the Mountains, with seats and benches made out of retired skis and snowboards. They also had several food options which were similar to food trucks, but inside shipping containers with windows cut out for ordering. It was a unique place with a very laid back and family friendly vibe. Dogs are welcome too!

We explored more of Colorado Springs and settled for some pizza while watching the Army/Navy game. Go Army! All in all, it was a fantastic day and we parted ways being grateful for the other's companionship. Doing something you enjoy is always better with great company, which is what Vet Rec was created for. Our goal is to help veterans find a passion for recreational activities in the outdoors that they can utilize as positive coping methods while connecting with others and bolstering strong lifetime friendships. We're getting close to releasing the 2023 calendar and really getting out there, but in the meantime I'm super thankful for small opportunities like local day trips where I can get to know fellow members of the military community.