Before I even begin writing a recap on a journey, I always take the time to reflect on the events and details of the adventure as a whole. There is always something much more important to me than recounting details and facts about a trip. Anyone can do that. What I aim to do is give more than just a play by play of what occurs each day. I want to capture the feeling, the ethos of each journey I find myself on. I want you, my readers, to feel as if you are experiencing each journey with me, and I want that to inspire you.
Just because this is my aim, it doesn't make writing each piece any easier. Quite the contrary, it makes it rather difficult because I want to recount and relive it with you in the most genuine way, and often it is challenging to find the right combination of words to bring the adventure to you at home.
A few weeks ago (I can hardly believe it has been that long already!) I was given the wonderful opportunity to venture to the Colorado Rockies with my equally, if not more, wonderful Dad.
After spending an entire month anticipating our mini in length, but big in memories, adventure the day finally arrived to pack up our hiking boots and cool weather gear and begin the ten hour journey to take on the mountains for a couple days.
After a layover at the halfway point in Hays to visit my Grandparents and have some of my Grandmum's infamous rhubarb crunch for sustenance, and recollection of years past for cheer, we were quickly on our way bright and early the next morning.
We rolled in to the rockies–windows down with the cool, crisp mountain air whirling around and ruffling our hair as John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" spilled forth from the car's fifteen year old speakers.
Waisting no time hitting the first trail, we pulled into the narrow and dusty roadside parking lot of the Gore Creek Trailhead. Due to a little traffic delay we were already an hour behind our planned schedule, but knowing things never do go quite as we plan them, we did not let that deter us in the slightest.
Not sure whether to pack for rain or shine, Dad, being more concerned with possible cold weather than myself, was convinced we needed to bring snow pants with us (what a typical #dadmove). He did however, eventually convince me to stow an extra layer in case we did end up caught in a mountain storm, snow pants not included.
Luckily, we were met with balmy conditions as we trekked our way up and back through the forest, following the river and our determined feet.
Taking pause every so often to not only catch our breath, having become shorter with the new altitude and gradual climb upward, but to also turn around and take in the view, reminding ourselves it's quite easy to forget to look back on the path traveled on the way towards the end goal, a ritual that quickly became omnipresent throughout the trip.
We were constantly surrounded by patches of Aspen trees and their harlequin colors that contrasted with the deep hues of the evergreen and varying coniferous trees that inhabited majority of the mountainside. It made for quite an ethereal setting as we trekked along the pathway and watched as the bright leaves fluttered to the ground after being pulled from the trees by the soft winds.
We weaved and traipsed through the forest, occasionally stopping to test out a promising spot for catching some mountain salmon, to no avail, despite my Pop's best efforts the fish were just too sly this time around. That didn't stop us from encountering a couple deer on the way down however!
The journey was cut shorter than we had hoped due to the impending sunset, therefor we turned around after hiking as far out as we could. The climb down the mountain was spent with heads down watching our feet and making sure we found the proper footing amidst the leaf covered and recently rained on path. As peaceful and challenging on the way up, we made record time while the soft drizzle and gentle wind followed us back to the base of the mountain.
That evening was spent prepping for the next day's 9-mile hike through the Fancy Lake trail by buying provisions at the local supermarket (we can't live without a couple turkey sandwiches and Cliff Bars to get through a day-long hike).
After slightly oversleeping we packed up the car and jetted off to the (far) backcountry of the mountains to begin a morning into afternoon hike up to the top of the pass and back down. A momentary period of unfamiliarity on the drive up was no match to stop us as we pulled in to the parking lot outfitted with warmer gear than the day prior, as there was now a light dusting of glistening snow covering the mountainside. Adjusting to our surroundings Pop's and I headed off, trails a blazing, on the uninhabited pathway (a large bonus to getting up before the sun, a whole mountain to ourselves).
The trail looped, escalated, and had plenty of switchbacks to keep us on our toes, all while being followed by the climbing sunrise as it flittered through the thick canopy of trees.
There was never a shortage of wonderment as we beheld the freshly fallen snow that grew more abundant the further up we climbed.
Accompanied with the challenge of a steep and slippery slope up, it was far worth the view that greeted us on the other side of the mountain. The day was about trusting our footing, and trusting the path ahead, not behind, and taking in all the natural, untouched beauty of the Earth and how it, quite literally, took our breath away.
A late afternoon fishing stop at a few of the lakes along the way–Dad fished, I lunched–and watched as the fish teased him by nibbling on the lure and then quickly darting back to the darker, less reachable parts of the lake.
After a lengthy time-out from the rugged trails, we set off once again to begin our slightly less steep descent back to the base of the trail. Keeping an eye out for the occasional marmot and deer (or in Dad's case, his much sought after heard of mountain goats—he remains unsuccessful), only to instead catch the melodic chirping of the odd bird, and an intermittent ruckus made by fellow weekend hikers hoping to catch some fish of their own.
Later that evening, we packed up the car and were rolling our way down the mountains to get home before the work week began anew on Monday. Although, not before stopping for some burgers and craft beers at a local mining town and to capture the moment the mountains decided to reflect our general moods as we puttered out of town. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to capture the mountains in their moody state, shrouded in a thick blanket of fog, as it had evaded me all weekend.
Ultimately our adventure, though short in duration, will last far longer than any span of 48 hours. I can't begin to recount the sheer feeling of gratitude and love I have for my sweet Dad; for being so incredibly kind and thoughtful as to have made time in his equally busy schedule to take a trip into the mountains with me. I came off those mountains revived in spirit and enthusiasm, and with a new appreciation for my Pop's unfounded patience—having said this to me as we were beginning our first hike (after I expressed great concern of slowing our journey down for stopping to take an array of photographs): "You don't have to feel like you need to rush or skip taking photos, I hope you know that the whole reason we are on this trip is so you can take photos and feel inspired again."
Escaping into the cover of the forest, even for a brief moment in time, provided me with a new sense of wonder of everything and everyone Christ places in our lives. It showed me that sometimes, we don't always need fancy trips or exhilarating weekend-long excursions. Sometimes all we need is to be surrounded by people who believe in us and our wildest dreams and aspirations, even if our dreams aren't ones they resonate with. Because sometimes the days, the weeks, and even the months and years, will be tough. But we are tougher. Tougher than any situation life can throw our way, so long as we remember that we have Christ to hold us up and the people we love to get us through even the toughest of times.