Red Mountain in Manitou Springs

Gazette reporter Chhun Sun stands near the top of Red Mountain in Manitou Springs. (Photo provided by Chhun Sun, The Gazette)

I moved to Colorado about four years ago. And not long after, I learned about 14ers.

I inevitably got addicted to this phenomenon.

I spent a good chunk of my paycheck on gas and hiking equipment so I can find myself at a trailhead. Sometimes, I'd wake up super early and spend all day on a mountain. There was nothing like it.

For the first couple years, I was all about hiking the biggest, baddest mountains. I laughed at the idea of doing a so-called "easy" hike because it didn't surpass the 14,000-foot height. In turn, I also did the Incline several times a month.

But, eventually, I got burnt out.

Or maybe I'm a little jaded.

I envy people who can climb a 14er almost every weekend. I, on the other hand, am learning that some of the best views and hikes in the state are well below 14,000 feet.

So my New Year's resolution was simple: To hike as many new trails -- particularly in the Colorado Springs area -- as possible, even the so-called easy ones. And so far, it's been a blast.

I participated in the First Day Hikes event at the Cheyenne Mountain State Park on Jan. 1. It took me four years to get there. And even though it was considerably easy, me and my friends truly enjoyed the experience despite hiking in near-zero temps that morning.

I've hiked trails favored by locals in Manitou Springs, like Iron Mountain and Red Mountain. I've hiked parts of the Intemann Memorial Trail from Manitou and found a stone wheel (think: crop circle) that welcomes hikers via a sign to place a stone of their own on it.

We even once hiked from Manitou to Red Rocks Open Space.

Yes, my body still yearns for 14ers. And when the weather improves, please believe I'll be back.

For now, I'm all about the paths less traveled. So should you.

Editorial assistant

Chhun Sun is the editorial assistant of the four Pikes Peak Newspapers. A Thailand-born Cambodian-American, he joined The Gazette's staff in April 2015 — covering everything from public safety to sports and outdoors to local/state politics.

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