I love the outdoors. Always have and always will. I think you can take the most beautiful cathedral in the world and it can’t hold a candle to the magnificence God paints in the wilderness, especially the Rockies. I’ve always felt closer to God the farther I get from civilization. When you are able to stand out in the middle of nowhere in the dead of night and see billions of stars, it can be overwhelming to the point of terror. It does make you realize how small and insignificant you are. To me, however, it gives me a sense of peace knowing that an infinite God that created each one of those stars knows me, loves me, and has a plan for my life. It puts things in perspective for me and helps to drown out all the noise of the world, if only for a few moments.
I’ve been wanting to take a stab at backpacking again for a few years, but haven’t been able to make it happen. The last time I put a pack on and went “camping” was in the Marine Corps over 25 years ago. So when my friend Dave suggested I tag along on his yearly excursion with him, his cousin and his two boys, I jumped at the chance. Initially, it was just going to be me, but it worked out that Matt was able to go as well, and I’m glad he did.
We were extremely fortunate that my Father-in-law lent us his jeep, as that knocked about 3 miles of relatively ugly hiking on a 4×4 trail. After 2 trips up and down the trail to shuttle everyone, we got underway. We immediately started the ascent up Music Pass. It was a difficult climb, but certainly doable. Matt and I had to make a few adjustments to our packs, but once we reached the top, the view was spectacular and quickly made us forget about the hike up. We descended into the valley with the intention of crossing a creek and hiking up to the lower lake. Well, with the unprecedented amount of snow this year, the runoff turned what was typically a little creek into a roaring river. Our fearless leader donned his sandals and braved the frigid water (twice) to try to find a crossing, but with youngsters in tow, we decided against it. So we kicked out a friendly herd of mountain goats and camped in the nearby valley. We had a good dinner, a nice little camp fire, sang “Happy Birthday” to Matt to celebrate his 13th birthday and then called it a night.
The next morning, we decided to hike to the upper lake as Dave had never been up there. We grabbed our fishing poles and started the trek. We were able to cross the creek on a makeshift log-bridge. Almost immediately, we were greeted by snow; lots and lots of snow. The 2-mile hike to the lake took us almost two hours as we had to contend with snow drifts, muddy conditions and constantly losing the trail. Once again, the views were spectacular, but unfortunately, the fishing was not. With at least 3/4 of the lake still frozen, the fish were having none of it, so we gave up after about 30 minutes. We talked with several other people who said they were having no luck either. We hiked back to camp, grabbed lunch, watched the mountain goats play a little, then packed up and headed to Dave’s family cabin for dinner and a night’s rest before heading back home on Sunday.
All-in-all, it was better than I expected. We learned a lot about what should have brought and didn’t, and what we brought that should have stayed at home. Matt had a great time, and even though he struggled at points, he was able to push himself and I think gain more and more confidence. Anytime I see my kids grow stronger, gain confidence and realize they are capable of more than they think, it makes my heart swell with pride. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to continue doing this. I’m already planning our next trip and can’t wait to explore some of less-visited areas of this beautiful state!
I put together a little YouTube video slideshow of our adventure which you can find here: