High Lonesome to Devil’s Thumb

Making our way across the high open tundra, we felt as if we could touch the sky. The High Lonesome to Devil’s Thumb is just that, a high altitude trail to be alone with your thoughts in an ever expanding environment. The trail always aiming for a horizon that blurs, where earth and sky are one and the imagination is left with thoughts of danger, beauty and intrigue.

Leaving Denver, we made our way to Berthoud Pass, a good early morning stop to shake out the predawn cobwebs and give our bladders a much needed break from the coffee sludge we had ingested a few hours before.

Over the pass and into the  sleepy ski town of Winter Park, we found our turnoff on to the less traveled Corona Pass Rd, a road full of Colorado railroad history! It was a good thing we had stopped at Berthoud Pass, the dips, bumps, holes and rocks had us bobbing up and down, side to side and all around the cab of the truck like a bad carnival ride. Something our bladders probably would not have tolerated! Several hours of road torture gave way to views of the alpine as we finally pulled up to the trailhead.

On the border of two wilderness areas, James Peak and Indian Peaks, we couldn’t help but admire the incredible beauty of this place. Adventure options abound here. While a wildflower lined trail lead down to King Lake, Lake Shira and Bob and Betty Lakes was inviting in and of itself, today our adventure would take us up the high road, the High Lonsome to Devil’s Thumb.

Late summer snow, wildflowers, low clouds and a wind that brought a sense of an early fall soon to arrive met us as we began our ascent. Our path today, a section of the Continental Divide Trail that averages 12,000′ and very exposed to the elements. Full of big views in each direction, we kept a close eye, and ear, on the weather churning above us.

Making our way across the high open tundra, we felt as if we could touch the sky. The High Lonesome to Devil’s Thumb is just that, a high altitude trail to be alone with your thoughts in an ever expanding environment. The trail always aiming for a horizon that blurs, where earth and sky are one and the imagination is left with thoughts of danger, beauty and intrigue.

Leaving the High Lonsome for Devil’s Thumb was an exciting event. A year ago we had planned to be here on a multi-day hike only to cut this portion of the adventure out due to lack of water in one of the lower lakes, a planned overnight stop. This time water was aplenty, we were charged with the anticipation of seeing down in the valley where Devil’s Thumb, Devil’s Thumb Lake and Jasper Lake reside. Serenaded by Marmot and Pika, we stared ahead in awe of the alpine landscape we had come to visit. Plush, teaming with life and unexplored, the valley below calls to the weary high alpine traveler, “come down and rest.”

Peace,

MAD

Follow MAD Hippies Life is on Facebook and Twitter

Mount Saint Vrain

The question begs to be asked, can you be in two places at the same time and still benefit from both? Absolutely! However, you need to know where such a place exists and then be able to get there.

Anyone who has a love for the outdoors in Colorado will tell you, the Indian Peaks Wilderness and Rocky Mountain National Park are two of the most iconic places to set out on an adventure in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. But, can you be in two places at the same time?

Both sharing a border, much less the jaw-dropping landscape they have each come to be known by, it is no wonder that at one time Enos Mills proposed both wilderness areas were on the table to be known as Rocky Mountain National Park. Suffice it to say, local mining interests put a hold on those plans and eventually the Indian Peaks, thankfully, were protected under their own wilderness boundaries.

Call them what you will, Rocky Mountain National Park, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Roosevelt, Arapaho or Routt National Forests. The fact remains for anyone who has ever explored within their boundaries, this is a land of immense imagination filled with wildlife, clear running streams, dense forests and high alpine peaks where snow can linger all year long.

The question begs to be asked, can you be in two places at the same time and still benefit from both? Absolutely! However, you need to know where such a place exists and then be able to get there.

Nestled in a high meadow, perhaps overlooked for the popularity of Estes Park and neighboring Rocky Mountain National Park, sits the little known mountain “village” of Allenspark in the shadow of a well kept secret.

While many will make the trek to RMNP and the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, few will find their way to the small trailhead for Mount Saint Vrain nestled deep in the woods behind the small town of Allenspark, Colorado. There you will find a small parking area with no real distinguishing attributes for the dense forests. One must begin a rather unforgiving and relentless climb from here, climbing up and above the timberline on a quiet, though demanding, hike.

Once above it all, the answer to the question, can you be in two places at one time, becomes quite obvious. Absolutely. But, be prepared to pick your jaw up from off the ground. While one can see amazing beauty in both Rocky Mountain National Park and the Indian Peaks Wilderness, the old saying, “can you see the forest for the trees” applies. It’s one thing to be among these iconic wilderness areas, while it is a whole different experience to see them both in their grand expanse, first hand and at the same time.

The trail to Mount Saint Vrain might be strenuous, but the reward far outweighs the effort as you climb above the dense forests and find yourself standing in an alpine saddle surrounded by, perhaps, one of the most incredible views one could dream of. But don’t stop there, exploring further in this area will only spark the imagination further, deepening one’s appreciation for the great outdoors, the Colorado Rocky Mountains and an alpine environment seldom experienced.

Being in two places at the same time is not always something we want to do, but in cases such as this, you will not want to leave.

Peace,

MAD

MAD Hippies Life is on Facebook and Twitter

Save

Save

Save

Eccles Pass

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.

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.

The 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

Follow MAD Hippies Life on Facebook and Twitter

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Love is in the Air

Love is in the air

On 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

MAD Hippies Life is on Facebook and Twitter

Windows in the Cosmos

The loss of a child is heart wrenching. A personal hell that those who experience it suffer in silence and alone. And yet, there is healing, healing that comes from the unseen and hidden world. Windows in the Cosmos.

There are things in this world that go unseen, we were lucky enough to open our eyes and catch a glimpse of what was, what is and what possibilities are out there.

Windows in the Cosmos allow us to see clues, patterns and sometimes answers to what our souls constantly reach out to.

Science, religion and philosophy, to name a few, have only scratched the surface. Detoured by their damned determination to know it all and be right all the time has kept them at bay.

Sometimes it’s better to just stand still and take notice of the events that are unfolding around you. One never knows what they might miss in the midst of the busy ongoing world.

December of 1982 was a trying time for us. In the midst of our own chaos of losing our daughter Shira, much less many factors around this soul wrenching time of our lives, there was a spectacular celestial event taking place we were not attune to. And, while we lived out our own personal hell, many watched in awe as a Super Blood Moon eclipsed fully before their eyes, unbeknownst to our situation.

Early this year, 2015, Debbie and I began a process of healing. Ironically, and perhaps sadly, it took us 33 years to get to this place. But here we are, slowly evolving and processing the most horrific experience of our lives, the loss of our daughter Shira.

In an interesting turn of events, last night we stood under the stars anxiously awaiting that same celestial event that happened so many years ago. Unfolding as it does, slowly before our eyes, along with the memories of our daughter, we anxiously awaited in awe of its beauty, but even more so, an energy of hope and cleansing. Perhaps we have come full circle, and after all, here we are, a bit older, a bit wiser and by and far, still together living life one experience at a time.

The intriguing notion here is not necessarily the Super Blood Moon eclipsing, although that is very cool, it’s more, so much more, it is a personal invitation for Debbie and I to not only experience something larger than life, but resonate with it, come to an understanding, heal and most notably, understand we are not alone in our loss.

Many don’t put much into astrology. We find it fascinating. We also tend to research things down to their very core and take notice of the obvious. The factors surrounding the event 33 years ago have once again surfaced. And, like it was then, we found ourselves dealing with the past without understanding that something else was at play here.

Way too many details to get into, needless to say, they are obvious to us, then and now, and we have taken them to heart and mind and feel the soul connection within ourselves and our daughter.

There are things in this world that go unseen, we were lucky enough to open our eyes and catch a glimpse of what was, what is and what possibilities are out there.

Peace,

MAD

MAD Hippies Life is on Facebook and Twitter

Why We Are MAD – Our Keepsake Story

Miller and Debbie Harrell

This is our story, the story that made us MAD. It is very special to us, and we feel honored to have Project Keepsake share it, please read Why Are They MAD? A Keepsake Story.

Peace,

MAD

Follow MAD Hippies Life on Facebook and Twitter

How We Made it 30 years: A Letter From My Husband

how to make a marriage last

It seems that everyone else knows the secret to making marriages last—everyone except for us.

It seems that speculation abounds as to which relationships and marriages will last for any length of time, and for how long.

Everyone has ideas about what it takes to have lasting lifelong love, and what should and should not be taking place in a couple’s life for a relationship to be healthy.

But, what does it take to keep love and a marriage strong?

Now, I know there are a plethora of helpful books, articles and blogs written that discuss just this topic. I should know—I have been reading these since the beginning of our marriage. Well before that, if I’m being honest.

Countless references, I couldn’t even begin to guess how many, from every angle and perspective—religious, spiritual, psychological—and from couples that want to share how they made it to 10, 15, 20, or however many years. I have really appreciated all that they had to say, and I still read them, but from a very different perspective—one where I look to see if we live or have applied any of the suggestions they have made.

It’s dizzying to keep up with it all.

Yu know how it goes…the proper way of conducting yourself during the dating phase, best types of premarital counseling, making sure to stay in shape, always looking your best, saying I love you, not going to bed angry, having date nights, keeping sex alive, developing your own interests, having time apart to miss each other, learning each other’s love languages and so many other dos and don’ts.

Some of these things we’ve done and some we haven’t, and I know that some would definitely not work for us and that we understand some concepts entirely differently than another couple who reads them.

As I sit here, 30 years into a marriage with a man that I adore and love more than I adequately know how to put into words, I can’t honestly give an answer as to how we have been together all these years. All I know is that I love him with every fiber of my being: body, soul and spirit!

Love is more important to me than anything else that this world has to offer, it will be all that will matter to me in the end.

I asked my husband the same question: How have we been married 30 years after marrying so young? His response brought me to my knees, though I’m not sure it provided any clear answers. I’ll let you be the judge.

Click here to read the letter my husband wrote in response [published on Elephant Journal]

Peace,

MAD

Follow MAD Hippies Life on Facebook and Twitter