Hike to Nowhere

Hike to Nowhere, Rocky Mountain National ParkSometimes the best outdoor adventures have no goals, no expeditions to high mountain peaks and pristine alpine lakes. Sometimes the best adventures are found deep in the forest, off trail with only the sound of silence to reward you. Sometimes the best adventures are nothing more than a hike to nowhere.

We took a hike just such as this. With no goal in mind and no destination planned, the rule of the day was, just hike until it feels right. The trail had no real defining features. A well blended forest of alpine fir, lodgepole pine and aspen opening here and there with an occasional glimpse of snow-capped mountain peaks. A gentle rolling creek trickling alongside on our left fed by a high alpine lake in the far distance. Steep slopes rising to the right and dropping to the left, leaving just enough room for the trail and our unknown destination of a hike to nowhere.

We meandered our way up the canyon, stopping here and there, taking a non-aggressive pace and enjoying the quiet of nature.

At some point the trail turned away from the creek and headed uphill. We, on the other hand, did not. Following the creek, off the trail, we made our own way. Our trail to nowhere brought us to a small outcropping overlooking the creek, surrounded by dense woods and the perfect place to call it a day.

Hike to Nowhere, Trail FoodThere we were, all alone, despite the wildlife who possibly hadn’t seen humans for quite some time, if ever. We coexisted well with them and enjoyed each other’s company. For us, time didn’t exist.

While preparing lunch we looked up at a lone aspen tree that sat on the edge of the outcropping and were dumbstruck at our finding. Perfectly carved in its aging trunk, a peace emblem. Indeed, this was the spot we had been looking for. Perfect in so many ways, and yet, perhaps, unimpressive to anyone else.

Sometimes the best outdoor adventures have no goals, no expeditions to high mountain peaks and pristine alpine lakes. Sometimes the best adventures are found deep in the forest, off-trail, with only the sound of silence to reward you. Sometimes the best adventures are nothing more than a hike to nowhere.

Hike to Nowhere, Peace SignBirds singing, a gentle breeze winding its way through the trees and the creek running gently below us, we sat front row to a natural symphony while a flood of memories of our lives together danced through our heads.

Our hike to nowhere had indeed taken us to a very special place.

Peace,

MAD

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Backpacking Eccles Pass

Backpacking Eccles Pass, Eagle's Nest Wilderness, White River National ForestBack at camp, we carried out our duty to do nothing. Breakfast and the inevitable to follow, a walk in the woods with a small shovel. Funny how mundane tasks in the city become something of an art form in the high country. Backpacking Eccles Pass will always remain an experience to remember.

What a beautiful late summer outing, backpacking Eccles Pass. Heading up into the Gore Mountain Range near Frisco, Colorado can be some what of an uphill battle, especially with a full backpack. Though, once out of the gulch the trail levels into picturesque meadows surrounded by mountain peaks. Simply put, the hike up is lush and quiet. Aspen groves give way to mixed pine woods with fresh running streams and a much more laid-back environment versus the hustle and bustle of city life.

Arriving in the high valley, you’ll find open meadows thinning out to rugged peaks and big open skies. Wildflowers abound here, while gentle creeks flow from snowmelt high above bring life giving waters to the valley below. There’s room for everyone and everything here, that is, man, nature and wildlife enjoy the pristine unmaintained landscape of the beautiful Eagle’s Nest Wilderness, just the way it should remain.

We camped just below Eccles Pass, somewhere around 11,500′, out of touch and out of time with nowhere to go, no place to be, relaxing and allowing the natural flow of things to overtake our minds. A room with a view, if you will, positioning our tent to face west at the mountain range, prime for sunset and sunrise and a hopeful moose having dinner among the reeds.

Backpacking Eccles Pass, Marmot Tent, Backpacking TentThe nights were quiet, so much so you could hear a mouse chewing on a pine cone fifty yards away. Shadows danced all around the meadow under an almost full moon. We were alone with only nature as our cohabitant. We would drift in and out of sleep with anticipation of first light and exploring further.

“What was that?”

“A bear”

“What!?”

“A rabid moose”

“What?!!”

“An alligator…”

The next morning we would wander, aimlessly, exploring fields of wildflowers, cool running streams and eventually up to Eccles Pass for the view of a lifetime. From our vantage point the whole landscape disappeared into further untouched lands waiting to be explored. Trails winding in and out and over further mountain passes. If only we had more supplies we could just walk on in any direction letting our imaginations lead the way.

Back at camp, we carried out our duty to do nothing. Breakfast and the inevitable to follow, a walk in the woods with a small shovel. Funny how mundane tasks in the city become something of an art form in the high country. Backpacking Eccles Pass will always remain an experience to remember.

Does a bear sh*t in the woods? I know we do! Finding that “spot” where you need to relieve yourself can be tricky at times. You obviously don’t want an audience, hell, we don’t even want a chipmunk watching, nor do you want someone to find your, well, you just don’t want someone finding “it.” Privacy, secrecy and no mosquitoes coming up behind you is what it’s all about.

“How deep should I make the hole?”

“I don’t know, how full of sh*t are you?”

After breaking camp, we fueled up, loaded up and began our decent back to city life. How we would love to just stay and never go back. Backpacking Eccles Pass, much less anyplace in the Colorado High Country, just seems to sit well with us. We always feel at home and as if the weight of the world and all its frustrations just lift off of us. Perhaps one day we’ll just take that one last look behind us as we disappear into the wilderness for good.

Peace,

MAD

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The Mountain Fought Back

The Mountain Fought Back

Lack of sleep and a 3,000′ ascent with the wind blowing in your face is not an idealistic adventure. But, in our defense, we’re stubborn. Mt Audubon is still a nemesis to us, always fighting us as we make our way to its summit, yet somehow, the relationship we share with the mountain seems to work. As expected, the mountain fought back.

We were overly eager to get back in the Colorado high country after having taken a week off from hiking. We set the goal of heading to one of our all-time favorite areas, the Indian Peaks Wilderness, to pay a visit to a nemesis of ours, Mt Audubon which sits at 13,223′ above sea level.

The trail is fairly aggressive, up hill all the way and mostly above treeline. Seems every time we attempt this strenuous alpine adventure the mountain always finds a way to fight back! This outing would not be an exception to that rule.

Once again, we had a fight on our hands. Our plan was a three in the morning wake-up call. Somewhere between seven the night before and two the next morning we were able to get about two or three hours of sleep. We’re blaming that on the full moon.

For some unknown reason, we got ourselves up and out the door and were on the trail by 4:30 in the morning. Headlamps on, bear spray in hand and a less than desirable caffeine level we wandered off into the dark woods awaiting the first light of day.

Amazingly, we broke treeline just as the sun came over the horizon. Wow, what a sight. We began to awaken with the dark now giving way to light.

The night before our hike we looked up the weather for the region and summit of Mt Audubon one last time. Mild temperatures, little to no wind and clear skies were in our favor. Anyone who knows mountain weather will feel our pain on what came next. As we approached the cutoff for the trail that lead to the summit, the wind came vigorously down off the peak and hit us smack in the face! Little to no wind? It would stay this way throughout the duration of our hike, well, until we got back down anyway. We’ve grown to understand that Mt Audubon also has a sense of humor.

Still somewhat half asleep we opted to bypass the summit trail and head off into an area we had never explored. Off trail exploration is something of a comedy act with us, we’re always surprised at our findings as much what those findings lead to. We followed the Beaver Creek trail for about a mile and then headed for a ridgeline to get a view down into the valley where Upper and Lower Coney Lakes sit.

It wasn’t long and we found ourselves navigating a snow field, scree and thick alpine scrub brush. And we thought we were alone! Once again we were looking at each other with that awkward stare of, “what now?” We were surrounded by bear scat and had just about wandered into a den when we found ourselves in quick retreat!

The conversation went something like this, “What’s that? Bear scat. It’s everywhere. (twig snaps followed by grunting sounds from bush) Was that you? No. We need to go…now!”

Back on the trail and laughing at ourselves, we did an about-face and made our way back towards Mt Audubon. Little sleep, certainly not enough coffee, and now full of adrenaline, we were deliriously hiking along. “Hey, you know what, the summit really isn’t that far and we’ve dealt with the wind before.” What is far? It was an additional two miles and another 2,000′ to the summit!

Stubborn, determined or just insane, we made our way up. Loose scree and talus fields are no fun when you are half-asleep. The debate is still out on the actual amount of oxygen at 13,000′ and we are still not sure what grumbled at us earlier. Suffice it to say, we had another incredible day in the Colorado high country and can’t wait to go again.

The views (see video below) were amazing to say the least. What followed as we made or way back to the trailhead can only be described as a sad, yet graceful, fall off the mountain. We must have appeared drunk.

Lack of sleep and a 3,000′ ascent with the wind blowing in your face is not an idealistic adventure. Mt Audubon is still a nemesis to us, always fighting us as we make our way to its summit, yet somehow, the relationship we share with the mountain seems to work. As expected, the mountain fought back.

Peace,

MAD

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Between the Lines

Between the LinesHave you ever just sat back and considered the detail of your life? Have you ever tried to read between the lines? No doubt if you have you’ve seen many coincidences that have made you think about your life all the more.

There’s no secret that we tend to filter everything through the mystical, hence we tend to read between the lines. Though we’re not overtly religious, and would probably be deemed irreligious, there’s more to the story than face value. Yes, there is a G-d. Yes, there is an intelligent design to the cosmos. No, we don’t feel a four-walled organized religion is the way to go [for us].

There are many aspects to all religions that seem to have the fingerprint of a moral compass, and that’s a good thing, they also seem to have man driven ideologies that can equally impact in a negative way. We listen, observe and consider, from a distance. For us it’s the mystical observations found in between the lines.

Of late we have been looking at patterns, physically and spiritually, that would give us further insight into our relationship. Why, you ask? Well, if we had to explain it would come in the notion that we do accept that our relationship is almost too good to be true. Not that we’re complaining. But, it just doesn’t seem to be the norm. Allow us to explain through our observations from a somewhat eclectic approach.

Spirituality, mysticism, astrology, kabbalism and numerology all seem to get a bad rap from the naysayers. Relating them all in the same mind set on the other hand can be quite a mouthful full of complexities that take time to evaluate, understand and even accept. That being said, pull up a chair and be patient.

In Judaism there is a practice of reading through the Torah [Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers] each year, the cycle repeating each year thereafter. In a nut shell, each day of the entire year has a corresponding assigned portion to read. As well, the Psalms are also read alongside in like fashion. If one approached this from a rote mentality there would be a likelihood of missing out on a deep spiritual impact.

Here is where we get off the religious wagon and walk down the path less traveled. We have approached this same reading schedule with an interesting question. Is there something between the lines here, something that somehow corresponds to us, say a major life event as the day we were born or were married? We think so. For the purpose of this writing we’ll focus on our marriage.

We were married on March 27, 1984, that being the Gregorian calendar. On the Jewish calendar, Adar ll 23, 5744. It was a waning moon, three days before the new moon. The Torah portion for the day we were married was Par Tazria, or Leviticus 13:18 – 13:23. At first glance this just seems like some Jewish religious practice. And while that is true, there’s more to it. Just reading those  passages alone probably won’t tell you much either, unless you’re into leprosy and how it was dealt with in the Torah. Not a popular topic to say the least.

However, once we begin to read between the lines, a rather interesting pattern begins to emerge that has much more to say than dealing with a disease. Looking at the letters, words and phrases, in the Hebrew alphabet, has enough to chew on for several lifetimes. Hell, the numerology, or gematria, itself is perplexing. To simplify, if that were so, we’ll focus on the “hidden” content.

A bit of history about us. When we first me, even before that, and soon thereafter, we were already questioning everything. We trusted no one. Sure, we were fragile teenagers dealing with our own issues. A relationship is not something we wanted or were looking for. But it happened. It wasn’t long before we figured out we were both in the same boat and that we both felt familiar to each other. We both wanted away from the world and to be left alone. We needed a fresh start from the norm.

Back to the Torah portion. Examining the afflicted person, “The Kohen shall look at it, and behold – the affliction has changed to white, the Kohen shall declare the affliction pure; it is pure.” (Leviticus 13:17). The color white has long been understood as meaning, clean and pure. Even in cultural memes, white is used in many ways to designate something good, holy and undefiled. The idea of becoming pure, clean, moreover, the moment just before becoming pure and clean occurs, is a notion found in between the lines in that this would be the time the Messiah would come, at the climax of the greatest intensity. This would be the unveiling moment when destiny is revealed.

The Talmud (Sanhedrin 97a) describes the Messiah as coming only after the governments of the world become totally heretical, come to a climax. Again in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 98a), it speaks of the generation when the Messiah will come, “a totally deserving, or totally guilty” generation. A generation at its climax.

Our point being, we were at a climax in our lives. The intrigue is that the Torah portion is associated with the day of our marriage when we were at the apex of change and went a whole new direction in our lives with the energy of change, the same energy the Torah speaks of. Thirty-four (at the time of this writing) years later we are still moving forward in that energy, still connected to each other, if not more, than ever before. There is something to be said about destiny, connectivity and the energy that binds it together. Understanding such evidence is not necessarily vital, but sure does help us understand just what our lives are about and how our unique relationship has had an impact on us.

If that were not enough, interestingly, on the day of both of our births the Torah portions for those days also describe new beginnings, receptively fitting to both our own personalities at that. Debbie being the role of sacrifice, offering and teaching future generations (Leviticus 1:1-13). Mine being yet another beginning, another apex if you will, where man was moved from the Garden of Eden to work the soil of the earth as he strives forward to go back, knowing both good and evil (Genesis 3:22-4:18).  Coincidence? The references don’t end here, are certainly not tied only to religious content and have become overwhelmingly too numerous to put in this one writing.

Are you curious about the patterns in your own life? Start researching and be amazed! Need help? Drop us a line and we’ll try to share some resources with you.

Peace,

MAD

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Love is in the air

Love is in the Air

Love is in the airOn Valentine’s Day love is in the air, Letters Say Words Too Honest To Be Spoken. “In their senior year, the young couple eloped — then came back to school to finish the year. Letters, they say, help express feelings that can be difficult to say out loud.”

We were interviewed on CPR by Michael de Yoanna for a Valentine’s Day piece on the radio show Colorado Matters. Indeed, love is in the air! He asked us to share our story and some memories for the show. You can listen to the interview and read excerpts from the show here, Letters Say Words Too Honest To Be Spoken

Peace,

MAD

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Macro Photography

Divine Destiny or Happenstance

Divine destiny or Happenstance

Was it divine destiny or happenstance? Could it have been just a chance meeting of two young kids who found solace in each other’s presence?

OK, so here we go again. Valentines Day is back and it’s time to tell that special someone how much they mean to you. Sure, it’s a silly money making campaign that millions indulge in every year. But hey, why not, winter is slowly exiting, spring is around the bend and we could all use a little fire in our hearts, right? Hell, it helps the economy too, and who doesn’t love a good economic stronghold!

Not that we ever go out of our way to celebrate this love-fest, as certainly everyone should be telling the love of their lives on any given day how much they love them. Besides, this might just be the right moment you’ve been looking for to take that relationship to the next level. Go for it!

For us, after 34ish years, the fire still burns hot. It’s crazy, every day, month and year that passes, we just seem to grow, better yet, meld together all the more. The picture above is of our wedding bands, the lettering is in Hebrew, “Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li” which in English states, I am My Beloved’s and My Beloved is Mine.

That being said, this year for Valentines Day we’ll be honoring each other not with candy, flowers or even a good strong Russian Imperial Stout, but by looking back at all the little details of our lives together.

It’s quite strange once you put your mind to it, but there really are a plethora of tiny little intricacies that got us to where we are today. Take any one of them away and things could be quite different around here. Scary thought!

Was it divine destiny or happenstance? Could it have been just a chance meeting of two young kids who found solace in each other’s presence?

That’s where the details come in. The details of divine destiny, happenstance and chance meetings all woven together to bring two love-struck teenagers into one place at the same time where lives would be altered, love would explode and the energy of it all would catapult us into the future to arrive at such a place as this.

Who really knows how it happens. We’re just glad it did. Maybe we read too much into it, maybe not. We’ve certainly experienced the following.

  1. It is said of twin flames and soul mates that they find that time just seems to stand still. That goes two ways, when we’re together it’s just us, the world disappears and we get lost in each other. When we’re apart, we cannot wait to be together again.
  2. When we first met, it was odd, we didn’t have those uncomfortable feelings and awkward moments new couples go through, it just felt normal and comfortable like we’d done this before.
  3. We share everything in common. It is as if both of us could just switch places and be comfortable in the other’s place.
  4. Our experiences and values were seemingly the same. We wonder at times how we didn’t meet sooner.
  5. We accepted each other at face value, day one and continue to do so to this day.
  6. To that point, and mostly because of that point, we helped each other mature and grow over the years. Complementing each other’s weaknesses and strengths.
  7. Lastly [to keep the list short], no matter what we’ve come up against in life, struggles inside and out of our relationship, we continue to desire to be together to the nth degree.

Taking this to an even deeper level, as we tend to enjoy reading about the more mysterious and mystical side of life, we found many intriguing details of our personal selves that complement each other in some fascinating ways. From a metaphysical, kabbalistic, religious, numerological, physical, astrological, physiological, logical and illogical standpoint, there are many signs that we have discovered over the years that tell us we are indeed meant to be together.

Was it divine destiny or happenstance? Yes, and perhaps a few other things. One thing is for sure, we both agree we found our other half and became one.

Peace,

MAD

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One of those days

One of Those Days

Broken Toe, Dislocated Toe, Foot XrayWe’ve always taken a deep breath when someone comes up to us and asks. “have you ever had one of those days…?” Well, it was only a matter of time till we did.

Here a quick reminder to be careful during the winter months when ice can be a hazard! That being said, take your deep breath, sit back, hopefully laugh and perhaps even cringe at the notion of falling flat on you ass and heading to the emergency room.

It was a nightly routine, lock up all the doors and head to bed. Unfortunately one of those doors was outside, the garage door to be precise. Just a few steps away from the front door at that. Don’t they say most accidents happen near home? Well, it’s true.

Out the front door, a few steps and the next thing you know I’m off my feet, nothing touching the ground. Funny, in those few seconds while you’re suspended in mid-air that seem like an eternity, I somehow learned fluent French and how [not] to fall gracefully after slipping on ice. Barefoot, attired in shorts and a t shirt, 15 degrees outside and laying in a mangled mess of attitude and pain, I slowly picked myself up off the concrete steps and hobbled into the house. The only English I seemed to possess was, “I need to go to the ER!”

My little pinky toe bent 90 degrees in the wrong direction, awkwardly reminding me of the old nursery rhyme, “This Little Piggy,” although mine didn’t go wee, wee, wee all the way home, it spoke French all the way to the emergency room. That was the least of my issues, I wasn’t walking in the door looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame for nothing. To cushion my fall on the concrete steps I landed on my back. I’d like to go on record and say that that is not a great place to land!

The ER doctor and nurse were great. “On a scale of one to ten where is your pain level?” Seriously, who came up with this scale anyway? I’m generally tolerant of most pain, but this was off the chart. I politely told them that the pain I was having would reinvent the chart system, “let’s start at 100 please!”

At some point in the ordeal the doctor said my toe wasn’t broken, but dislocated, and that it would have been better if I would have broken it. Gee thanks doc, that makes me feel so much better. His laughter in response sounded a bit sinister as he explained he would have to reset the toe and it would probably hurt a little. Again, where do they get their pain scale? A little!?

My toe was the least of my worries. What I didn’t care for was the red-hot iron that kept piercing through my lower back and side. “On a scale of…” Save your breath doc, their is no scale here. Either start an IV now or hit me over the head with something, STAT!

Long story short, I wake up the next morning to colors of blue, purple, yellow and blended versions of all three. My toe looked like one of those freakish fingerling potatoes, while my back felt like an over-inflated hot water bottle. It will take some time, but I’ll heal up. For now I’m enjoying one of my favorite past times, Debbie being my full time nurse. She’s amazing and has quite the bedside manner, for now anyway. All I can remember for the first 24 hours was, “take these pills and sleep dear,” I’m thinking she’ll catch on eventually and start some painful physical therapy.

We’ve always taken a deep breath when someone comes up to us and asks. “have you ever had one of those days…?” Well, it was only a matter of time till we did.

Peace,

MAD

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