541.787.4395 (Pacific Time Zone) kristen@kristenoneillart.com

The Shortest Hike of My Life

by | Nov 14, 2016 | Hiking Stories | 0 comments

Golden Colorado hike Kristen ONeill

The golden hour in Golden, Colorado

Attending a conference in Golden, Colorado, I spent three days surrounded by other professional artists learning about our other craft: business.

You get asked, “What kind of art do you make?” at a conference like this. Then you get asked another 80 times by people who haven’t met you yet. You get a lot of practice explaining what you do and why you do it. I discovered I can explain my art practice in three words. Ready? I paint hikes. This super short explanation is usually followed by longer one. What does this mean? Do you paint your hikes (yes) or someone else’s (also yes)? Do you work from photos (almost always)? Would you like to paint on location (sure, how do I get a 2 year old to sit still that long?)?

The hike


Right behind that rock is the snake. I am the blissfully unaware shadow.

After this amazing conference was over, and I had spent several days with a gorgeous view of the mountains around Golden, I figured I better take a hike, right? (Like the hiking police are going to show up and get me if I go all the way to Golden and don’t hike…) After looking up the nearest trail head and I over to it late Friday, and reached the top of the town and the middle of the mountain during that beautiful golden hour where the sun light is perfect. I started my hike.

Did I mention I am terrified of snakes?

Like, throw up my hands and do an awkward dance while shrieking, scared?

Did I mention that I am ten times more scared of rattlesnakes than any other kind?

I stopped to take a photo. I walked about 8 more feet and heard the grass move. There, coming down the hill, was a GIGANTIC rattlesnake. I did shriek/dance thing, then started running away back down the trail. I got about 8 feet before I had the fear that the snake was right behind me. Chasing me – about to bite my legs. I turned and looked back. The snake was calmly slithering across the path, ignoring me completely. I later compared the experience to seeing a celebrity. You totally freak out and have this epic story: they are just heading home after a day of work and didn’t even notice you.

I ditched the rest of my hike idea, after all, what if there was 10,000 other rattlesnakes heading down the mountain after a nice warm November day? I took my now super-paranoid self back down the mountain.

It was not the hike I planned. But it was the hike I went on.

Back in the safety of the hotel patio, comforted by my new artist friends, and a glass of wine, one woman said that rattlesnakes are a sign of transformation. I like this idea. You never really know what experience you are going to get when you start out, at a conference, on a hike, or in a new direction in life.

Happy hiking (and listen for snakes – even in November).


Me after a successful retreat!


At the time I wrote this post I had no clue about the changes that this conference had sparked in my life. It was “Art Biz Breakthrough” conference by Alyson Stanfield. At this conference I signed up for her elite level of coaching, which was called the Inner Circle. I had one year of amazing coaching (while suddenly going through a divorce – man oh man was that snake a sign of transformation). Then I was invited to join the Art Biz Success team, and now am an Artist Mentor. Find out more about Alyson and her programs at ArtBizSuccess.com (She didn’t pay me to write this, I just know how much she helps artists on their journey!)