Why Hike the Colorado Trail

The Colorado Trail is the perfect culmination of all we have been doing to keep ourselves active and will certainly challenge us across the board, a challenge we gladly accept and look forward to completing.

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People are taken back when we tell them we are backpacking the Colorado Trail as a thru-hike. Once we describe the terrain, altitude, distance and time involved, then the confused facial expressions coupled with the concurrent question of “why?” soon follow. Although, in their defense, the question does beg to be asked, “just why are we doing this?” It is an honest question and certainly deserves and honest answer. While we cannot answer for everyone, we can at the very least attempt to explain ourselves.

The Colorado Trail is nearly 500 miles of rugged terrain. To say the month long trek is enjoyable after considering what is involved might have some questioning our sanity. Big temperature swings and exposure to the elements are a constant battle. Having to carry not only gear and clothing, but food and water, can be quite the burden. The day in, day out, getting up and out of a warm sleeping bag to walk an average of 15 to 20 miles can be a mental fight. Lions, tigers and bears are certainly the least of our worries. So, just what is the draw and why would we put ourselves through such a test of mental and physical endurance?

Years ago we decided to challenge ourselves to hike every week throughout the entire year, regardless of the weather. We encountered rain, snow, mud, extreme winds, hail, lightning, intense sun and temperature swings that would have a thermometer throwing in the towel. However, for every inclement or sweltering weather day we encountered, there were times that would stop us dead in our tracks leaving us speechless at the immense and pristine landscape before us. The Colorado Rocky Mountains have a way of captivating those who explore its vast wilderness areas. But that is only part of our reasoning. Even the worst weather days we found absolute beauty in our surroundings.

The calming effect the Colorado wilderness has on us is indisputable. One can’t help but stare into the face of the age old craggy peaks that have witnessed countless explorers over time and wonder what stories they left behind. Walking through endless fields of wildflowers atop open benches high above treeline is akin to a 4th of July grand finale fireworks display. At the end of each day, finding ourselves camping near a babbling brook deep in the forest of an elongated valley while listening to the sounds of nature serenade us to sleep is music to our ears. All of these things are nothing short of a symphony for our senses, an invitation, if you will, for body, mind and soul to experience tranquility.

Personal endurance challenge? Perhaps. We do like to push ourselves physically as well as mentally. Again, going back to our goal of hiking every week, we want to keep moving and keep ourselves vibrant, healthy and strong to the best of our abilities. Hiking and backpacking is a great avenue to do just that. Complete with good and balanced eating habits we are able to nourish ourselves in all aspects, physically, mentally and spiritually. The Colorado Trail is the perfect culmination of all we have been doing to keep ourselves active and will certainly challenge us across the board, a challenge we gladly accept and look forward to completing.

Are our expectations to have a seamless blue sky day surrounded by Bambi and all his friends of the forest? No. We expect nothing short of all Colorado mountain weather has to offer. We do anticipate clear blue skies, wind, thunderstorms, frost and even snow. We also anticipate that any or all will happen on the same day. Bambi and his friends will be there, along with Bullwinkle and a few others. Mosquitoes and other biting nuisances will be plentiful as will trail challenges like downed trees, snowfields and mud. All of which are just part of what keeps the wilderness wild and untamed. For every difficulty there is also a silver lining, a moment of awe, that negates the hardships of being in a natural environment with nothing but the clothes, err, backpacks on our backs.

Just like the Colorado Trail itself travels up and down, climbing high atop the Continental Divide and down low into fertile valleys, so too will our thru-hike be. Full of highs and lows, physically and emotionally. It is, after all, life, our life, on the Colorado Trail. Experiences and memories, full of grand stories, perhaps embellished at times, to be to shared with generations to come of how two high school sweethearts walked side by side through life and one day set out on the adventure of a lifetime.

Peace,

MAD

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DAM Hippies

“We are nothing more than two people, two love-struck teenagers, who finally found each other and discovered how we complete one another in a magical and mysterious way that we will always be very grateful for.”

Miller and Debbie Harrell, Running Away Was Not an Option

Who do you think of when you think of a band? Many generally will name the lead vocalist first. After all they are the ones up front singing the songs, interacting with the masses, putting a face with the name. But, as we all know, there’s much much more going on behind the voice.

The music, the harmony, the energy and the beat all drive the song. Everything coming together to create the music we all hear, feel and yes, see. It is a team effort coming together in one singularity creating the chemistry that will produce the music we all love to experience.

That same premise exists within MAD Hippies Life. One stroke of the pen could easily have put an ‘ on the end of Hippies, giving the notation that it is our life. As many of you already know, there would be no MAD without the M or the D. Read more on our About us page if you haven’t already and you will quickly see what I am saying. For 37 years it has been MAD, it will always be MAD in the simplest of terms, as it began and is today, “We’re MAD!”

Why the clarification? Sometimes people just need to know. Sometimes they need to be reminded. Sometimes they just don’t know. Well, here it is. A duet if you will, making music in our own way, sharing it with the masses. We are two working together through life as one.

I wrote Debbie a letter several years ago that spelled out something in my heart that not even she really knew. That same letter holds true to this day. If I were to add to that letter today, it would include the gratification I have for someone that always goes beyond what is necessary and gives that extra helping of quality to a job done with the most thoroughness a person could possibly give. Debbie is always working to make sure everyone is taken care of, even the most menial task receives the highest of treatments. She always puts herself last, if at all. She has made more sacrifices than many would have made in several lifetimes to make sure her family was taken care of. Goals, dreams, aspirations always on hold for someone else’s needs.

When you ooh and aww at our photos, remember who it was that brought that imperfect exposure back to life, remember who it was that brought out the unseen details and who it was that gave the colors back their life. When you read this post, remember who it was that made changes making sure it is presented properly versus the grossly misspelled and erroneous grammar in which it was penned. When you see our rough edges becoming more refined in the details of who we are and what we do, remember who worked diligently to research the ins and outs of how we should move forward.

There is no doubt we are a team, I’ve always appreciated how well we meld together as a couple, as friends and in general as two people meandering through life together. I love how Debbie challenges me to be better. When you ask one of us anything, when you say something to one of us or when you speak about one of us, you are effectively referring to both of us. If you are in need, you don’t get one, you get both.

Yes, we are MAD. What I would like to let everyone know, see and understand is that just like a band, there is much more than the person holding the microphone. There is much more going on behind the voice. There is an incredible person, woman, friend, wife, mother, grandmother, photographer, editor and so much more who is not just behind the scenes, but equally in front working diligently to make everything succeed. Her name is Debbie, the D in MAD.

It could have been just as easy to be the DAM Hippies! Alas, we are where we are and love our lives together. Left to just myself, doubtful anyone would see much of anything. I’m not that sensitive of a person, I don’t really give attention where attention is due. One thing is for sure, if not for Debbie I’d have found myself either six feet under by now or lost in some lifeless abyss without a notion of what life really is. She completes me, completes MAD and makes us both better people.

In the end it will be just as it was in the beginning, an eternal proclamation that “We’re MAD.” Simple, to the point and as it should be. We are nothing more than two people, two love-struck teenagers, who finally found each other and discovered how we complete one another in a magical and mysterious way that we will always be very grateful for.

Peace,

MAD

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Letter to My Best Friend [Wife]

Debbie asked me the other day why I think we’ve been married for over 30 years. As I did when we first met, I went speechless. I spent most of the next day thinking about it and composing a letter to her…

Debbie,

We’ve had some pretty cool conversations lately, with all that is going on and the life changes we’re evolving into, empty-nesters, reverting back to being teenagers and now grandparents! What a journey. But then you stumped me when you asked if I could explain how we’ve been together for 30ish years after being married so young, and all my mind could do was conjure up a whirlwind of memories. I sat speechless and helpless reeling for an explanation, the words did not come, only memories of what we were, what we are and what we want to become. All I could think of was for you to jump into my mind and see, experience and relive all those memories, but through my eyes…my perspective…and maybe then you’d understand. Alas, you’re not Spock so I will engage to find an answer that I hope will satisfy.

I’ll try to keep this “appropriate” though let’s be real, it’s what I feel, it’s who I am and it needs to be said. I see little difference in my feelings for you since day one, if there were a change it could only be positive growth in an evolutionary grasp of what love truly means to me and how you have helped me understand that over the years. Find a comfortable position, read on and please don’t laugh at my raw and unfiltered feelings.

I’ve often wondered if you felt what I feel, the sensation of electricity exploding across my body when you touch me. I want you to experience the journey through the cosmos you send me on when we’re intimate. I want you to feel the warm summer breeze that wraps around my heart when I catch you staring at me. When we were teenagers and would be apart, I would ache to be near you. When we were newlyweds, my body and soul were ablaze with an intensity of being able to have you all to myself. As young parents, I wanted to parade you all over town with pride. And now, as empty-nesters, I want you to know what you’ve done to me, what you mean to me and why I even bother getting out of bed every morning, that my life would be worth so much.

And yet I sat speechless in front of you, unable to answer a simple question, if that were true, and express to you how you’ve made our existence [our lives, our children, our relationship] on so many levels an eternal commitment that I never would have realized could be a reality. It’s truly unfathomable to me that I would be so lucky as to have someone in my life that is more precious than my own life, than life itself. How do I pour out my feelings to you and retain in some sense of clarity what only my heart, mind and soul have known all these years? Love is just a word, but my feelings for you are pure, erotic and primeval energy.

My vision of us being somewhat abstract, I keep it all hidden inside. Who would understand? Who wouldn’t laugh? And yet, it’s all so real to me. When we met two worlds collided and a whole new world was formed from the cosmic collision that now has expanded into a universe surrounding the light of our passion and all that we’ve created from the essence of our beings. You were hauntingly familiar to me when we met. The closer we became the more I felt the sensation that this was not the first time. You were exotic, cosmic and strange, though somehow familiar as your soul – my soul – our soul was reunited. I could bore the world with what an amazing person you are. I could go on and on about the friend, mother, wife…you are. I could go on and on about all that you do, seen and unseen. And still I would sit here, no words forming in my mouth, just flashes and floods of memories and the smile of an afternoon daydream on my face.

How exactly has 30ish years come and gone and we’re still two love struck teenagers deeply intertwined and living out the dreams we would speak of back in the day, before marriage, talking on the phone till the wee hours of the morning? I don’t honestly know. It just seems to me that it works. Each day has brought something new and we embraced it together. Even those days we didn’t see eye to eye, those days we’d love to forget, but they happened and here we still are. Seems to me we just grew together, experienced together, choose our lives to be together and never apart. While you might be technically categorized as my wife, you’ll always be my best friend, and who doesn’t want to be with their best friend 24-7?

I still get weak-kneed when you kiss me. My body still shudders when we are close. I can’t explain it. I love your body as much as your mind. Your heart and soul become more and more attractive each passing year. I still love watching you put on makeup, and still wonder why you cover up what is already beautiful. Your energy and compassion for others captivates me, and though I become jealous, I know you must, it’s who you are. I love the way you smell, without perfume. I love the way you look, without makeup. I love the way you think, unscripted, raw and unapologetic. I love that your adventures are my adventures. I love that your dreams are my dreams. I love that when we’re alone and the house is quiet I can still hear music. I love catching you looking at me. I love watching you perform menial tasks knowing you’ve always got my back. I love that you challenge me, and indeed asked me this question and making me contemplate all these things. As the Emerson, Lake and Palmer song says, “…still you turn me on.”

And yet, here I sit, with all my colourful words at a loss, stumped for a clear and concise answer. To my defense, I’ve never needed a reason, I’ve never sought a reason nor have I ever wanted a reason why, 30ish years later, we’re still here living out our lives together. You’ve taught me about love [and a plethora of other things]. And although my layers and walls might have me presumed as a very internal, quiet and stoic person, I am very much alive inside and ever so grateful for, not only the gift of life, but that I would be so blessed to spend it with you. Did I answer the question, I doubt it. One thing is for sure, I can’t imagine being anywhere else in life than with you and am looking forward to an additional 30ish years of raw and unfiltered adventures, experiences and life as we live it. 

Remember the poem I wrote a while back? It still stands…

When we speak without words…
When we embrace without touch…
When we get lost in the moment…When our souls ache to be near…
…I’d walk to the ends of the earth to find you