Blown Away

Blown away. At first by the views, then by the wind, we were nonetheless blown away by the incredible journey to the high peaks above.

The Indian Peaks Wilderness in Colorado have long been a favorite of ours. Thick, dense forests teeming with wildlife, abundant clear running streams fed by snow all give way to high summits as you cross into the high alpine wilderness in a world far above the forest floor. There is no doubt in our minds, this area hold a special power and energy.

On this outing we would head for the 4th of July Trailhead behind the lazy town of Eldora tucked gently away beneath our goal, South Arapaho Peak {13,397′] and Glacier.

blown away, south arapaho peak and glacier

The trail swiftly moves upward through dense woods, across several streams, a waterfall and soon above the treeline. A well-deserved break on a high shelf where remnants of days gone by litter the land with old mining equipment. After some exploring and a well needed break, it’s back on the trail and more climbing.

And the wind…oh the wind…blowing ferociously down from the high mountain pass daring would be hikers [that’s us] to continue on their path to the summit if they dare. Blow as it did, moving back and forth on the trail like drunk sailors, we pushed on, fighting harder and harder as we went in the face of it all as our destination neared and the goal would be soon at hand.

South Arapaho Peak [as well North Arapaho Peak] sit high above the Boulder watershed holding ransom the snow and ice of winter within the Arapaho Glacier, only slowly releasing it as an offering to the populace below. Once upon the shoulder of South Arapaho Peak, the land that drops below your feet into the Boulder watershed is an alien landscape of jagged peaks and relentless boulder, scree and snow. Known as the ‘forbidden fruits” climbers and mountaineers alike can only sit at the edge and enjoy the view as this place is off limits to any and all.

blown away, south arapaho peak and glacier

Alas, for the thrill seeker, the journey between South and North Arapaho peaks should be enough for any adrenaline junky. The passage from one to the other is not for the faint of heart!

Blown away. At first by the views, then by the wind, we were nonetheless blown away by the incredible journey to the high peaks above.

Peace,

MAD

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When the Earth Sleeps

When the earth sleeps, Backpacking, indian peaks wilderness

When the earth sleeps. In between summer and winter there lies the short and delicate season of fall. Time seems to stand still, the air begins to cool and the colors explode once more before their long winter nap.

On this outing we chose a special place of solace for us, a hidden lake high in the Indian Peaks Wilderness that we have named Lake Shira for our eldest daughter born still, Shira Rose. It is a peaceful lake, surrounded and protected by the outside world just below the Continental Divide.

Our trek took us from deep in the woods, across streams and up high into the sub-alpine terrain of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Pelted with rain and snow, we forged on knowing full well that fall can bring all four seasons in a day in the high country.

camping, backpacking, indian peaks wilderness, when the earth sleeps

Once at base camp we set up camp. Following our traditions of naming the various places around the perimeter, we easily found our bedroom and pitched our tent. Next on the agenda, a kitchen, bear canister for fridge, we soon had a place for our meal preparations. And yes, a living room came next, surrounded by mountains peaks, Lake Shira and even a view towards the distant plains where we would see the sun rise in the morning. Everything was set, we had a place to call home for a few days. All that was left to do was relax and explore.

The evenings and mornings were quite crisp and the daytime cool. We awoke each day to the sound of coyotes running through the valley below, marmots and pikas chirping in the early morning light and the occasional stellar jay looking for a handout. Indeed, this was a special place.

Backpacking, indian peaks wilderness, when the earth sleeps

Heading home would come too soon, though the hike back down would be full of the sweet smell of fall and blanketed in color as the aspen trees were putting on quite the show. Streams running full of late snow melt, it was as if the earth was cleansing itself before going to bed for the winter.

When the earth sleeps. In between summer and winter there lies the short and delicate season of fall. Time seems to stand still, the air begins to cool and the colors explode once more before their long winter nap.

Peace,

MAD

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In the High Alpine Wilderness, Man is a Visitor

Chasm Lake

Every now and again there comes a day when you have to take advantage of epic weather conditions. In the high alpine wilderness, man is a visitor.

Snowshoeing in the high country of Colorado comes with its share of dangers and discomforts, all of which we prepare for and deal with as a trade off for being able to enjoy one of our passions, hiking.

Years ago, we both made a promise to each other that no mater the conditions, we would make an effort to keep exploring all year, in all conditions. However, there are days, few and far in between, where all things come together for an epic day in the outdoors. This day just happen to be one.

Chasm Lake Alpine Wilderness

Chasm Lake [11,800′] sits in a small granite walled cirque in Rocky Mountain National Park at the base of Longs Peak [14,259′], Mt Meeker [13,911′] and Mt Lady Washington [13,281′] high above the hustle and bustle of daily life. An unforgiving environment, even for the brave at heart, ascending to such a place in the dead of winter is breathtaking, yet dangerous.

And then it happens. The weather clears for a small window of opportunity, the clouds part and the wind clams. We stare at each other knowing, this is it. Gathering our winter gear together with excitement we soon find ourselves on the road well before the morning light.

The trek up to Chasm Lake is a relentless uphill battle through thick forests to the sub-alpine and finally above the treeline where weather and nature rule the ecosystem. This place was not meant for human survival, rather a place to respect, visit and retreat in humble awe of the dangerous beauty.

Chasm lake Rocky Mountain National Park Alpine Wilderness

Snowshoes on our feet, we set out on an amazing snowshoe outing to experience the wild and raw beauty. Every now and again there comes a day when you have to take advantage of epic weather conditions. In the high alpine wilderness, man is a visitor.

Peace,

MAD

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Who Do I Think God Is?

Who Do I Think God Is

Who Do I Think God Is

Who do I think God is? Honestly, I don’t know. What I do know is what others say he is. In my humblest opinion, God is bigger than any of us will ever know.

I’m not one to follow the crowd, memes and the like. I’m not a religious person. I test everything, I question all and I do not regret doing so. I have never felt sacrilegious about my decisions, nor any negative discomfort from them. To me, God wants us to challenge him, he wants us to figure him out and by and far he wants us to come to an understanding on our own and not by someone else’s views or opinions.

Evolution? Sure, we’re evolving one day at a time. But seriously, something can’t come from nothing. So we’re left with an intelligence far beyond our own.

I don’t care for four-walled organizations, I’m not a fan of structured religions and by and far I have no place in my life for anyone who claims to know it all and tells me it’s either their way or the highway, hell, purgatory or oblivion.

I approach this all too complex issue from a rather simplistic and rudimentary angle, God simply is. One piece of evidence struck a chord in me many years ago, a somewhat reoccurring theme within a wide range of texts ingenuously states that we will know God by his creation. Simply put, open your eyes, ears and mind to the natural world around you and patterns emerge, human nature reveals and the vibrations of life proclaim his essence.

Though seemingly complex, it’s rather simple, humans just seem to complicate it all to the point of a legalistic dogma that leave no room for interpretation, no place for contemplative thought and certainly no place for honest and open debate. Sad, but we all just seem to back into our own corners of the religious market and raise our camp flags.

Indoctrination is a dirty word with far more negative impacts than many of us are willing to admit. Albert Einstein puts it all too well, “If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.”

If I had to explain myself, perhaps the best way to express my eclectic and ever evolving beliefs, for lack of a better word, would have to be a mystic influenced by the spiritual blur between the lines. I’ve been told I am a critical thinking INTJ. I look for patterns in vocabulary, in numbers, in equated complexities of adding them together to form words, sentences, paragraphs and beyond. I learn from history and do not repeat it. I look in the recesses of places I’m told are taboo. I journey spiritually in my sleep and awake times. My mind constantly drifts in thoughts of the unknown and how to get from here to there. I listen to all and repeat few.

If you ask, I’ll say I’m Jewish. But then I’ll ask you what you think Jewish is! Too many times we surmise what we think someone is by a title, a title man has created and given meaning to based on human ignorance.

I love Kabbalah, Gematria and Jewish mysticism. I want to visit Safed, Israel and not Jerusalem where too many fight and argue over their right to the sand. I don’t have a problem with Jesus, Muhammad, Buddah or the like, I don’t know them either. What I do have a problem with is what people have made them out to be, much less their religious claims on any given doctrine. One thing is for certain, one day we’ll all know the answer. Question is, in the interim, how much time will we waste arguing and waging war when we could be collectively exploring God and not our egos.

Who do I think God is? Honestly, I don’t know God. What I do know is what others say he is. In my humblest opinion, God is bigger than any of us will ever know.

Peace,

Miller [The “M” in MAD]

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To the World Their Baby Never Existed

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, Baby Loss, MAD Hippies Life, Miller Harrell, Debbie Harrell

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, Baby Loss, MAD Hippies Life, Miller Harrell, Debbie Harrell, to the world their baby never existed“They left the hospital, never to mention their baby again. Their tears were shed in private, and they had to bear the burden of their grief and their pain silently. To the world their baby never existed.”

In October Debbie and I went to a Remembrance Walk for our daughter Shira Rose. We had no idea what we were walking into or the experience we would have…we can’t even begin to express our gratitude for the support and love we have felt since, and during, the Remembrance Walk. It wasn’t until this year that we had even begun to “allow” ourselves to discuss Shira and do something after 33 years in her honor. We began writing, started our blog and talking [perhaps for the first time] with each other about our hidden feelings that had been kept at bay, deep within us, for so many years.

We went to the Remembrance Walk unprepared to grieve, to feel and to somehow be those young parents we were so many years ago who had just lost their daughter. It was all so surreal. Cheryl Haggard, co-founder of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, gave a speech that day which hit a special place within us, we couldn’t help but think to ourselves, “thank G-d we came.” Seeing Shira’s name on signs along the route, hearing her name read aloud and releasing a balloon to the heavens was like coming home. Our daughter has a name, she is our daughter, she lives on and will always be a part of us.

Our experience and story was recently shared on the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Facebook page

“Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Co-founder, Cheryl Haggard met Shira Rose’s parents, Miller and Debbie Harrell after speaking at the NILMDTS Remembrance Walk on October 3rd, 2015. Miller walked up to her and in a hushed tone, voice breaking, he simply said, ‘It’s been 33 years for us…

She had asked the audience to look around them that day.

‘Most likely the person standing next to you experienced the death of their precious baby recently. Within the past 5 to 10 years. They probably left the hospital with a beautiful care package lovingly assembled by other bereaved parents. And hopefully a photograph. Whether that photograph was taken by a professional photographer, a nurse or taken by the family themselves, they were encouraged to, and knew it was ok to create those memories of their baby. They left the hospital with empty arms and a broken heart, but they left with something tangible to remember their baby by. Something to hold onto. They have been told about or ‘googled’ support groups and resources nearest to them. They have shared their baby’s story with family and friends and possibly even the world through social medial. They have found acceptance and support by a beautiful community of bereaved parent’s online and right here, today.’

She then asked the audience to look around them again, and this time to look closer…

‘You could be standing next to a mother or a father whose baby died 20 or more years ago. They might be hesitant in telling you about their baby, because they were told it wasn’t appropriate to mention their baby. If you ask them questions, they might share with you their story of how they were never allowed or discouraged to hold or even see their baby. How they were told it wasn’t worth naming their child, and told to move on…try to have ‘another’ one. Forget about this one. They left the hospital, never to mention their baby again. Their tears were shed in private, and they had to bear the burden of their grief and their pain silently. To the world their baby never existed.’

That is, until now.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep has given parents a safe place to share their baby. Share their story. And even share their photographs. Whether they were taken by themselves or taken by a professional. These parents have read our stories, and seen our photographs. Our babies have given their baby’s a face, and our stories have given these parents a voice. Some parents have given a name to their baby…and they are looking for ways to honor their baby’s memory.

Please share with us, especially, if you are a parent that has experienced a loss 20 or more years ago, your experience and how you think grieving and remembrance has changed between then and now. Was there a certain moment in time, when you decided enough was enough? How did you break the silence?”

Peace,

MAD

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