I’m back in Colorado! It just so happens to be the land of my birth. But it feels like home for many different reasons. My family has made many special memories here. God has spoken to me here. And on the purely quantitative level: this will be my fourth summer in six years that I get to spend back in Estes Park. So it just feels familiar. I’m the weird inverse of the classic Ohio ”snowbird,” staying in the Midwest during the cold-and-snowy winter months and then traveling to Colorado (and its snow-capped Rocky Mountains) during the summer months! Suffice to say: Estes Park, Colorado feels kind of like a second home to me.
I’m out here helping to staff the Collegiate Church Network’s Leadership Training (LT) program in Estes Park. And the first week of LT is usually pretty intense. Like, a 70-80 hour work week. This week, however, we got slowed down by a significant weather system that pushed through the area right around the time when LT was supposed to be starting.
Temperatures plunged into the upper-teens and lower-twenties… we got a foot of fresh snowfall (some forecasts suggested it might be as much as three feet, which would have made an even bigger impact)… And with the winding mountain roads plus relatively-inexperienced drivers, we decided to postpone the start of LT by twenty-four hours.
So, I got an unexpected, serendipitous day off today. And it felt like such a special, unexpected gift from God. It started with a far better night of sleep than either of the preceding two nights (almost none hours of uninterrupted rest). I woke up ten minutes before my alarm clock went off, so I still had time to get ready and scrape the snow and ice off of my car. And then I drove to pick up my friend, Clay.
Clay and I drove past herds of elk as the sun rose. We found a parking spot at the Cow Creek Trailhead (a notoriously small parking lot). And then we hiked to Bridal Veil Falls as the canyon brightened upon a beautiful scene of meadows, forests, and flowing water. I appreciated the opportunity for quality time and conversation with Clay. And I appreciated the beauty of Bridal Veil Falls (which has been on my bucket list for some time).
After returning to the car, we drove down to Glen Haven for some of their famous cinnamon rolls and had a lovely breakfast bundled up on a picnic bench, while hummingbirds flitted overhead.
At his request, I dropped Clay off back at the YMCA of the Rockies. And then I checked my messages (just to make sure that my services were not required for the LT program). But after some very brief communication tasks, I discovered that my next scheduled activity was not until 6PM. So, I decided to see what was happening up around Bear Lake. It’s one of the most crowded parts of the Rocky Mountain National Park. And next week, the National Park Service is implementing its new timed, ticketed entry system, which will make access even more challenging. But since it was early in the season, I decided to gove it a try.
The parking lot at the Bear Lake Trailhead was only half-full. So, I started with a quick solo hike around Bear Lake (which I had actually never done before). I had so much fun at Bear Lake, though, that I decided to continue to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake. It was spectacular, with all of the fresh snowfall!
It was so refreshing! Even though I logged about ten miles on trails through the Rocky Mountain National Park, my soul was lifted by the experience. It felt like the purest form of worship. And now I feel even more ready to start this summer of Leadership Training!