White River National Forest

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. 

On with October

Once again I seem to have been blindsided by the arrival of a new month, and a new season! In true October fashion it has been a complete surprise as to how fast the new month has snuck up on me. Spooky. 

Only a tad delayed in getting this post out to you, I was off adventuring in the Colorado Rockies for a few days right at the start of this already crisp fall month. It’s another escapade I obviously can’t wait to share with you all, but I must focus on one task at a time. 

September was one for the books, taking my first ever trip over to Manhattan (Kansas, as much as I would love to also return to the Big Apple) to paint the town and throw some hiking into the mix with my sweet and long-time friend Virginia.

The past month has also been one of struggle. Struggle to regain footing within my new routine to upkeep my personal health and wellness, to work on the blog, to remain focused on my needs not my wants, and to find the time to still pursue my passions while I work. It has been a very tough month for me in terms of finding the resolve to stay away from unnecessary spending and the right balance between work and “play."

But I feel I can only go up and onward for the next month. This October I am really putting a focus back into throwing myself into my personal pursuits while also being mindful of the fact that I do not need to go one hundred miles per hour every day. I want to be able to produce my best work and strive for quality not quantity and meaningful, not meaningless, actions.

What is up to bat for October? 

October will be all about focusing on being mindful of spending, and taking each day as it comes. It's all about living life with intention. I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of October because for me it symbolizes the true beginning of the fall months. Quite so, if I had to pick a favorite time of the year, fall is at the top of my list. Cool days with warm comfort foods that call us to tuck in and snuggle up indoors have been catalogued as some of my most cherished memories. Not to say we stay indoors for the entirety of fall and winter! There are also many adventures bundled up outside our home, pumpkin patches, trips to the cider mills to quite literally scarf down the delicious apple cider doughnuts. Walking through crunchy leaves that blanket the ground in falls own version of winter snow. It's no wonder the poets and literary masterminds loved writing about fall. It's hard not to love. 

FAITH- I have settled into a routine, and while on some occasions a routine can be quite beneficial; in ways of faith I believe if I am comfortable in my routine then I am not doing my best to challenge that faith and make it stronger. Faith in Christ is never meant to be a comfortable place we are called to be bold with our faith! While I have been focused on mending my relationship with Christ, I have been keeping my newfound joy and praise to myself. Going to weekly Adoration to have an hour of uninterrupted conversation with God has been one of the best ways to finish (and begin) my week. I believe Christ is currently calling me to not be afraid to share my joy with others-after all that is what it's all about- others! I am currently discerning a journey I feel God is calling me to and while I don't feel it is the time to disclose what this journey is, I will continue to ask for support and prayers in throughout!

CAREER & WORK- This has been the tough area of focus for me. I am very fond of the jobs that I hold. The people I work with everyday are extremely inspiring and easy going, it makes my long days far more enjoyable. This last month of September however, I have felt like the jobs I hold, which are also means to an end, have taken precedence over my passions. Like a focused on writing above, my most important focus this month is learning to put a priority on developing my passions and my skills so that I may be better equipped for the future I aim for but to also learn to be a kid again when it comes to my creative endeavors, making sure I do not put such a high emphasis on perfection. That being said I am taking courses to better my knowledge in the fields of brush and script lettering, watercolor, LightRoom, an adobe application that is made for image editing, and a composition course so that I may hone my creative eye to make better images for your viewing pleasure. 

HEALTH & WELLNESS- My personal health and wellness had taken a huge backseat in September. I haven't been treating my body with the respect or care that it deserves. That is to say, I had neglected to fill it with the nutrition it needs to not only properly function, but to also function at its best and healthiest. Continuing on with October's theme of mindfulness, the month will be spent listening to my body's needs when it comes to nutrition and exercise. I have started regularly planning each day as it comes with my fitness goals and nutritional plans and to remember it's not about deprivation but rather, feeling at my best!

PROJECTS- Since majority of my projects did not get off the ground, or not very far in September, I'll be working on them full speed ahead. The new blog is so close to being ready for action, and as always I am thrilled to give you all the big reveal! The design and layout have been completed, as well as a fresh new logo. I worked with two very amazing and talented women to develop both and am excited to have you all see how that work paid off!

The room renovation is coming along slow and steady, I have complied images of inspiration for the new space and am gung-ho on getting moodboards put together to give everyone an idea of what I am shooting for when it comes to my "new abode."

JOURNEYS- I have already been there and back on an excursion to the Colorado Rockies with my dear Dad. I feel overly blessed to have been on such a wonderful trip and to have a Dad that is so thoughtful to take me on such a trip. Blog post to come soon! I have no further trips planned for this month, but there will be a much anticipated journey to Chicago, one of my favorite cities, to visit two of my favorite people, Kelsey and Anthony (you may recognize them from this little post) during the first weekend of November. I of course have many more trips planned but majority of those are still in the early stages of planning and piecing together. 

All the love and joy, 

Haley xx