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{walking story} a walk from Golden to Denver

three images with two showing the beginning portion of our Golden to Denver walk and one at the top of South Table Mountain

Some arrive by train. Some get dropped off. Some take the 16 bus. Some carpool. Some take a Lyft. I have hosted groups on this unique Golden to Denver route for years. The photos in this story are from last Saturday's event co-hosted with my dear friend, Naveed Heydari. Whether this is the first time or fifth, waking up at 5:30 am to walk, roughly 18-miles at 7:00 am can be, well, daunting. The early morning moments often come with plenty of edges - showing up to a packed cafe with mostly strangers, lines for two restrooms in a tight hallway, swirling doubts in body and mind.

A map showing our route for the Golden to Denver walk

As we start our first introduction circle, everyone stares up at South Table Mountain. There is a mix of being too cold for introductions while embracing meaningful connection. We start to hike up as the sun continues to rise. These early steps nurture the whole experience. Moving the body. Opening the senses. Side-by-side relating. Sharing uphill stomping, breathing, sweating, and, perhaps, '"what did I get myself into?" eye-rolling. Sometimes we see resting deer tucked under rocks and trees. The spiraling seeds of the Mountain Mahogany are bright reminders to move - as we are - with all of our twisting, non-linear experiences.

Some of our participants standing at the rock top facing the mountains

photo by participant and longtime Golden to Denver walker, Meredith Turk

Once we reach the top, most are out of breath. A warm sun is usually quick to find our skin as we shed layers. We have our second introduction gathering, which is more of an intention circle. Our theme was Healing, Grief & Movement. We shared stories. We listened. We felt the cool texture of earthy rock under our hands and legs as we sat together. We witnessed a wide range of experiences rooted in personal loss, relationship/family heartbreak, global genocidal violence, body pain, seeking joy in sorrow, and much more.

Showing people and plants walking on the plateau of South Table Mountain

Walking on the plateau of South Table Mountain in quiet reflection. I am always so grateful for this portion of the route - moving in compassionate silence with others.

Naveed helped guide our group into a spacious, forgiving, and accepting container around grief and healing. He grounded our journey in movement itself - inviting us to release any pressure to increase the charge in our hearts, minds, and bodies. He encouraged us to not push ourselves into feeling anything, doing anything, or performing anything. If it feels natural to cry, cry. It is okay not to cry. It is okay to just be where you are, as you are. Before making our way down the rock top, I invited everyone to choose an ink art print and pick a coastal "intention stone". I had collected the stones from my walk in the Pacific Northwest this last Fall. I invited them to consider how they were shaped by the waves, sand, and centuries of change. I encouraged them to hold it, rub it, lay it down along the route, launch it, take it home.

Grasses from South Table Mountain and participants hugging trees

Golden grasses and a really good tree hug. Thank you, Laura for capturing this moment.

We had long segments of encouraged inner reflection. One of my favorite practices in WALK is "Nature Sees Me". There is so much room for us to protect intentional time to be more available and unhurried with trees, grasses, big skies, flowing streams, and all the animals we share this planet with. Can we try to believe and feel that the natural world actually sees us? That natural world is big enough, spacious enough, and loving enough to witness all of us? To help us carry all that we knowingly or unknowingly lug around?

Participants resting by Clear Creek and an ink art piece that shows woman resting by flowing water. Artwork has words that say "Oh, sacred waters, help honor and carry my grief"

There is nothing like resting by or moving slowly with flowing streams, creeks, or rivers. Giving yourself to it. Allowing it to take things, nurture things, and witness things. Feeling the rush and coolness on your feet. Letting the flow and story of it all cleanse the journey. I handed out poetry booklets and a sacred waters print to everyone as we took a long, gentle break by the Clear Creek.

Three photos showing participants waving, smiling, and enjoying the walk

As we navigate the last third of the walk, most of us begin to feel fire in our hips, lower backs, toes and arches. We get outright goofy at this stage. Our shared movement journey has connected us in ways beyond words. Many bust out in song and dance. Many lay flat on sidewalks or front yards for immediate relief and rest. Some of our walkers hopped into the home of a friendly neighbor to use the restroom. Things open up more when we move this way. It won't solve everything. It won't give us ultimate clarity. But it will connect us. It will teach us. It will help ground us in such nourishing ways. It happens every time. The deep medicine living in unhurried movement, alongside one another, is something I will probably try to weave into every email newsletter as long as I'm alive. I'm grateful for yesterday's write-up on this topic alongside WALK book by Diamond-Michael Scott.


Two photos celebrating our arrival to downtown Denver

Some of us made it part of the way. Some of us made it the whole way. Exhaustion is always spilling out the sides. There is also plenty of Pedestrian Dignity seed planting along the route. I try to very intentionally connect our shared connection AND exhaustion with a collective invitation to better support and nurture people who walk, use a wheelchair, and take transit as their primary form of transportation.

Arriving in downtown Denver after seeing it so tiny in the distance from South Table Mountain is always a gift. We finished with a closing circle at the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. We left with loud goodbyes, deep hugs, and gratitude for everyone's story, company, and shared movement. Events like this always warm my heart in the midst of swirling grief and pain.

Walking Story: in us, between us, beyond us.

By Jonathon Stalls, Walking Artist at Intrinsic Paths


I have also shared a new pen art piece below, "in us, between us, beyond us", that very much connects to all the aches moving in the story above.

New "in us, between us, beyond us" art piece that has a large tree, galaxy themes, flying birds, and more

in us, between us, beyond us


new ink art piece by Walking Artist, Jonathon Stalls

10x10 & 5x5 prints available (100% recycled card stock) see shop here 

Would you like to be the first to see new artwork

while directly supporting Intrinsic Paths & Pedestrian Dignity? Learn more.


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