South bound from Cheyenne, Wyoming and headed to Colorado Springs, I was soaking in every moment of the drive. It was my first time to spend more than a weekend in Colorado and I was so excited.
The plan was to visit my good friend Tim Jones, his beautiful wife Charity and their friend Luke Paris, whom I had met earlier in the year at Tim and Charity's wedding! We knew we wanted to do some exploring but no specifics were to be nailed down until I rolled into town.
My time in Colorado Springs could not have gotten off to a better start. I pulled into a long dirt driveway with wooden fences and trees on either side. As I reached the Jone's home, my buddy Tim was outside in the yard, shirtless, shoeless and greeted me with a great big hug. He immediately told me about his plan to make DIY SUPs (Stand Up Paddle-boards) and go out on a camping trip near Blue Mesa.
He had purchased some foam from a hardware store and some gnarly adhesive, and the goal was to craft paddle boards out of them and use some bits of scrap wood and tree branches for the paddles. I was completely on board. (Pun intended)
Tim is seriously one of the most incredible individuals I've ever met. He is a loving and caring friend, an extremely passionate and brilliant teacher... and makes me lattes. I could go on forever though. He pours into every relationship in his life, mentors those younger than him and seeks council from those he respects. The little time that I have spent with Tim has made me into a better man. We also share a love for the mountains, so the drive to our destination was just an absolute treat.
It took about 2 seconds on the water for us to realize that this was going to be a very different experience than we had anticipated. Though it doesn't look like it, the water was rough! It took us all a few minutes before we were even able to stand up on the boards, which we also realized were MUCH shorter than standard paddle boards. We all fought the lake waves for about twenty minutes until one of us (I can't recall who was first) screamed that their board was breaking in half, followed quickly by a splash. All of our boards snapped or came unglued around the same time. There we were, three dudes in the middle of a lake in Colorado, laughing our balls off as we swam back to shore in hilarious defeat.
We drove a bit further and met up with another friend, Susan Williams. Click her name to check out her website that catalogs her "sue-batical." She has travelled the world, constantly and intentionally attempting to live a life that will reflect Jesus. We showed up to a park-area where there was one state-park ranger that looked like he was closing up for the night. There was no camping in the direction we were walking with our camping gear and I was a bit nervous the ranger would ask us to leave and find an official camping area. But as we passed, he gave us a nod, and though he was a ways away, what I assume to be a smile, which we took as a bit of an approval to head off into the wilderness.
We hopped the fence just past the parking area and began what would become one of the most peaceful and beautiful hikes of my entire life. Because you don't want to end up at a camp site after dark, you usually plan a hike early enough to set up camp before the sun goes down. We, however, got a bit of a late start, resulting in our entire hike being lit by one of the most spectacular sunsets. All of the photos below are straight out of the camera... no editing. It was breathtaking and such a wonderful experience all around.
This entire trip and every aspect of it were planned pretty last minute and we had no idea what the outcome would be. The paddle boards ended up failing, we ended up not finding an official camp ground, and I would not change a thing. These are my favorite kinds of adventures, shared with friends who are psyched no matter the outcome, and the night ended up being better than I could have imagined, even waking up in the middle of the night to a large animal sniffing around my feet. Yikes! Get out there and do something awesome this Labor Day Weekend!
Thanks to Tim, Luke, Susan and Charity for making my stay in Colorado so amazing.