Friday, December 5, 2014

Just me and Hollin and a Fallen Pine

A few days after the Williams family and our family stuffed our faces full of yeast rolls and glazed ham, we decided a nice long hike was in order.

This is partially because we had all over indulged and partially because the upper mountain trails are slowly being overtaken with glistening, crunchy snow. We knew if we wanted one last shot at a hike at high altitude in the Pikes Peak region, it was do or die.

And at the risk of sounding overly dramatic, it was all of 40 degrees and we had four kids all under seven.
One of which was still nursing, so the phrase "do or die" took on a more serious tone when we knew every mile in meant that same mile out.

I joked that most people in our position, with three small kids, two of which have to be carried, one of which needs mama's milk every little bit, and two of which are still in diapers might be better suited staying home over Thanksgiving break.

But, we've never been big on passing up adventures, especially in the great outdoors, so we packed the kitchen sink, strapped babies to our backs, and took off!

Though it was frigid and windy, we tried to take some family pictures along the trail.

As we left the trail head, the path slowly became more and more dotted with patches of fresh snow.

The Aspens, which once reminded me of yellow dandelions and Kansas sunflowers, were barren, the "eyes" on their trunks watching us as we huffed and puffed with our heavy loads.

But, with good conversation, our company split easily into the "boys" and the "girls" which left Melissa, Hollin, and I lots of time to chat.

Hunter and Harbor
{All "H" names and yelling them deep in the forest became problematic as they all started sounding the same}

After we crossed this wooden bridge, which thankfully carried us safely over the icy water from Rocky Mountain melt off {brrr!} we found ourselves on a new trail we had never taken.
The pines and aspen created a dark blanketed sky, blocking out the rays of the sun, and incidentally, the warmth of it, also.

As we ventured deeper into the forest, we all offered up our opinions on the scenery, finally settling on Twilight and the Lord of the Rings as the best suitors for possible movie landscapes.

And if an elf had appeared at that moment, it would have been fitting.
The trees were old with roots crossing and jutting out of the earth like shoe laces.

Harbor tended to fall the farthest behind, and I took a series of probably 50 pictures like this, him drinking his Camelbak alone, carrying a stick, looking small and bright against a drab and dreary background.
Pure bliss for this little boy.
My camera ate him up.

At one point, we found a rendezvous point and unloaded our packs.
The kids chowed down on beef jerky and granola.
Henry followed Harbor and Hunter around as they played
 in waist high grasses and threw rocks into mountain lakes.

I experienced the coldness worst of all as I left the group to hike alone up into a clearing to nurse Hollin.
I found a fallen pine which created a nice level bench and readied Hollin to replenish herself from the lack of humidity. I climbed high enough where I lost the voices of my company, but could occasionally see their brightly colored shirts through the tree cover.

She nursed quite eagerly despite having to remove her snow bibs.
The air was biting cold on my bare skin, but I find being alone in nature to be anything but uncomfortable.
With the bright snow reflecting light from openings in the tree canopy, to the occasional rustle of some small winter animal, no doubt scrounging for replenishment himself, it will go down as one of my favorite moments ever with Hollin.

Just me and her and a fallen pine deep in the mountains.

There is something so necessary, to me, about leaving the busy concrete jungle and escaping to the woods.
And if the woods are deep in the Rockies, lightly covered with fresh snow, then I'm totally in my zone.

We decided to turn around at that point and start the trek back.
The temperature was dropping and my light was changing from a warm and golden hue to stark white with underlying tones of gray.
We knew the setting sun might catch us if we doddled too long.

I mean really.
Just look at that view.

I wish you could smell that pine.
The sap coming off of it was rich.
Harbor, incidentally, was covered and sticky by the time we got home.

Sometimes when you are tired with an aching back from a long hike, you fail to see what your eyes find.
It is only after a few days of being home that you see these pictures and realize what you failed to process.
Just gorgeous.

I shared this one on Facebook and said that God must have been really showing off when He created Colorado.

Amen and amen.
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