Trekking through Herman Gulch

Winter has tightened its death grip around the throat of Colorado's vast wilderness and its showing no signs of letting go. As someone who never grew up skiing or snowboarding, being raised in central Missouri meant winter always harkened a season of trying to manage my paper route on a frozen bike, digging my car out of the snow bank the street plows buried it in and eating chili on a weekly basis. Mix in a few shoveled driveways for your elderly neighbors and you've all the makings for a deep seeded hatred for the powder so many Coloradans dance around a fire every October and make sacrifices to the gods for. Winter just isn't my thing. But heading into my second season of a proper rocky mountain winter, I've figured out how to make the most of it. So when my new friend Steven asked if we wanted to hike around in the frozen forest until our extremities go numb, we said "hell yes". 

Can you spot the tiny human? 

I don't think I've ever experienced wind as cold as we did up there near 12,000 ft. We huddled in the last clump of trees for a quick snack and a few sips of water. My hands took a long time to warm back up but the peanut butter cup trail mix that Jen brought and shared made the temporary loss of feeling temporarily worth it. 

The weather couldn't have been more bipolar. From gusting winds that sting any sliver of exposed skin, to fleeting rays of sunshine, mother natures kept us on our toes. 

It may not be as glamorous as skiing, and there were certainly times I wished I could slide down the hill I just struggled to crest, but snowshoeing has quickly become our favorite winter outdoor activity. Its certainly aided in curing the ails from memories of midwest winters past.  

A vlog.

I know the last thing the internet needs is another vlog. but when did I start caring about the needs of the internet? 

I'm really fascinated by the format of vlogging (late to the party, I know) and thought I'd see if my normal life could be made into content that someone might actually enjoy. So, here's my first attempt. More to come. 

plan b

2am Sunday September 4th. 

I rolled over in my sleeping bag, groggy and not in the mood for what I was about to discover. One of the main poles on our tent was snapped in two. The tent was now a main sail, catching every gust with vengeance and slapping us in the head with what remained of the aluminum and fabric. The winds that night were abnormally high, and were only magnified by the confines of our tiny little temporary cloth home. After about 8 hours of trauma, it met its breaking point. 

"I think we need to get out of here" I said. 

So we started packing gear, with headlamps on, and the deafening sound of air rushing through the mountains egging us on to move faster.  It only took 15 minutes to get things packed, and we headed back down to tree line. Only about 1/4 of a mile. Pitch black, clear skies, and wind with enough force to constantly knock you off balance. I had eyed a campsite on the way up that looked promising and thats where we headed. Only to find it occupied by someone admittedly much smarter than I. We knew we were going to be sleeping without cover, so we found some space cushioned by a lush bed of pine nettles and confronted our new reality. I slept with one eye open that night as I was sure the wind would snap the top of a tree off and come crashing down on us. Hello plan b. 

The Wild Weminuche - A 24 hour escape

Desk jockey. Cube farmer. Pencil pushing corporate drone. These are just a few of the things seemingly just about everyone in my generation is trying to avoid when it comes to lifestyle. Every day my social media feeds are filled with articles selling the same idea in a litany of different ways. Van life, dirt bagging and year long National Park road trips. Sell your stuff and hit the road, NOW!  I'm sure there's merit to those things, and the experiences they bring are undoubtedly profound.  But those things aren't attainable for everyone and thats just the sad reality. Does that mean you should give up on doing something adventurous because you don't have a Westfalia and 100 thousand Instagram followers? Absolutely not.  For most of us, all we've got are the roughly 60 hours between 5pm Friday and the wet blanket alarm clock bringing us back to reality on Monday morning. And most of the time, that window is cut short by time spent in the car just getting us where we'd rather be. 

So what can you do with 24 of those precious hours? I think it will surprise you and I hope it will inspire you at the same time. My wife and I took our dog Parker on an 8 mile loop through a small part of the Weminuche Wilderness for the weekend and when I added up the time we actually spent in the back country, it totaled just over 24 hours. But in that time, we stood beside roaring waterfalls, caught brook trout from lakes at 12,300ft, watched the aplenglow of a chilly sunrise and took enough mental pictures to carry us through next weekend and then some. Don't waste your time envying every vintage rooftop tented land cruiser that appears to be living the dream. Figure out what's in your own backyard and go live your own dream, only if its just for 24 sweet, memorable hours. You'll be glad you did.