The summer before your senior year is always depicted as one that should be full of memories, action, and the last glimpses of childhood. Nothing less than that describes this summer for me. Instead of beaches, hotels, passports and famous landmarks, I was taken down a much different path in Colorado. Since I was young I have been surrounded with stories of the Ragged’s Mountain Wilderness Area and the animals and adventures that lurk around every tree. My Dad makes yearly hunting trips to the Gunnison area to hunt for bear and elk and to experience the outdoors at its most raw disposition. Some of his most memorable adventures came to life in my mind as I read the journal he had written over the years and presented to me as a Christmas gift the winter before our trip. As I read the journal, I began to form opinions and images of the place where all of his adventures had unfolded. So as the summer of my senior year arrived it was my time to experience the Raggeds of Crested Butte.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
As we pulled out of the driveway we left Oklahoma and civilization behind. My own journalistic adventure began with conquering the raging white water rapids along with our guide “Mr. Clean” of the RiverRunners rafting company in Crested Butte. Later that week we journeyed to Gunnison National forest where we set up our base camp. We prepared our four-wheelers for a three mile ride to the base of the mountain the next morning. From there we would soon embark on a five mile hike that would take a grueling six hours to complete. However, throughout the hike visions of my dad’s journal came to life before my eyes. As we approached a small cabin up on the mountain my dad reminded me of Jacob, a young man who had approached him during his first big hunt in the Raggeds. As we continued we came to a small camp clearing in the higher mountains known as “Frank’s Camp”. This was the very spot that my dad had camped on his first Colorado expedition nearly 20 years earlier when he killed his first cow elk and black bear that are displayed in our living room to this day. The trip continued in the same fashion. My dad’s adventures came alive as the scenery changed with elevation. From the Munsey Creek where he had a close encounter with a momma bear and her cubs, to catching cut throat trout at the unknown mountain lake, the trip was full of connections to the past and paths of memories leading to the future.
As we spent the week hiking, fishing, cooking over an open fire, and sleeping under the stars, Colorado made a home in my heart. Sadly however, just as I had finally become accustomed to the altitude change, it was time to go home. As my senior year of high school comes into focus, so does the memories I made that week with my dad. I had the opportunity to see into that wondrous place that he has been telling and writing about for years. In today’s society there seems to be a feature film for just about every book you can find. Many people often complain that one is better than the other. The opposite is true for my experience. My dad’s journal connected our memories. Now we can share some of them together.
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