I traveled without the luxury of staying at a five star hotel. A hot shower was jumping in a lake 3000ft above sea level, a comfy bed was under a tent, gazing up at the clear night sky, and bathroom tissue was the foliage around me. To call this travel would be an understatement. A more appropriate word is excursion, a noble quest through the Rocky Mountains filled with wonderful adventure! OK, I’ll admit it was just a hike, but a hike to be remembered.
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The hike I embarked on was through Younglife, a Christian organization that works through high schools. We left Indianapolis June 29th and drove twenty-four hours to a small mountain town named Creede, Colorado. We stayed the night at the Bluff Lodge Hotel nestled between two large hills that gave us an expanded view of the town. After getting adjusted to the drastic climate and altitude change at Bluff Lodge, our group boarded the charter bus and continued deeper into the Rockies.
The drive was astounding. The tiny mounds of dirt we call hills back in Indiana were put to shame by the magnificent mountains that seemed to engulf us as we drove to base camp. My group and I couldn’t stop looking up. Our eyes followed the slopes until mountain and cloud became one. I’ve never seen so many “falling rock” warning signs in my life.
After driving on what was probably the only paved road for miles, the bus arrived at the Wilderness Ranch Base Camp. We were greeted by music and a very energetic work staff who took our luggage to each group’s packing station. There, my group of about fourteen high school guys met our two trail guides for the week. We couldn’t help but to continue commenting on the steep and enormous mountains that surrounded us. “We just use those as decoration around here” is what one of our guides said aloud. Our awe was suppressed.
Hours later, my group and I were standing at the trailhead halfway between civilization and wilderness. We prayed for safety on the trip and then entered into the curtain of forest. It took only minutes for the surrounding trees and mountains to have their full effect on me. The aroma of pristine forest was palpable. I could hear the water rushing through a nearby stream, drained from a high peak and untainted by human hand. I was in Nature’s domain.
On the third day, we peaked a mountain. For only a few moments the steepness of our climb was minimal. Soon, a soft and grassy trail transformed into jagged and inclined rock. After one final push up what might as well have been a 90 degree incline, we made it to the top. I will never forget what our eyes beheld. The peak was a meadow in the sky. We looked down on numerous valleys of other mountain chains each filled with clouds like bowls of cotton. My group and I ate lunch on that mountain, well nourished on top of God’s magnificent creation.
My group and I hiking through the Rockies was a testimony of perseverance. It was an exhausting ordeal but encouragement took us to the top. Everyone knew each other before, but the Colorado wilderness made us closer, one unit that conquered a mountain. From the beginning of the trip, I wanted an escape. I wanted somewhere away from civilization and the worries of everyday life. This trip offered just that and more; a group of close knit friends that offered another escape, even back home.
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