Second Stop: Colo(rad)o Pt. 2

Family and friends mean the world to me; as I’m sure they do for most. This is what my entire Colorado trip was- family and friends. The second part of my trip led me across the entire southern area of Colorado. On the way, passing through my Grandmas hometown and the places she grew up in, along with my dads, aunt, and uncles hometown and life-stops along the way. I ventured over Wolf Creek pass, which brought tears to my eyes. The entire, extremely thick forest, once miraculous, pass was now complete beetle kill. The once beautiful, lush, green mountains now looked as if large sticks had been put in place of the pines. Heartbreaking, but life.

The drive was diverse, going over mountain passes (both lush and dead), and high plains. I️ am always in awe of the giant windmills that circulate by wind for the making of energy. They’re pretty amazing.

I️ was greeted by my Grandmas basset hound, Louie, and precious mutt dog, LC, when I️ arrived at my Grandparents house a few miles outside of Kit Carson, Colorado. Soon I️ was sitting at the dinner table with my Grandma sipping a cup of green tea, discussing my trip, and catching up on all the new, and old, news. My Grandparents always inspire me with their stories and wisdom. They push me to be wise, patient, positive, and loving, and I️ aspire to be equivalent to my Grandparents in all of these areas.

The next couple of days were spent helping Gram and Gramps out around the farm. Feeding cows, chickens, cats, and dogs are the morning and nightly routines. As well as, all of the tasks throughout the day. I️ love going to my Grandparents and reliving my childhood. Memories are abundant along the fence lines of my grandparents property.

I️ was only able to stay at my grandparents for about a week, I️ had to be back before school began. Leaving the farm and my lovely Gramma and Grampa was so hard. Goodbyes are difficult when you rarely get the opportunity to see the people you miss so badly while you’re away. But I️ plan and hope to go back as soon as I️ can!

My next stop was Colorado Springs, CO, where my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins live. I️ only have one cousin who is near my age, my other cousins are many years older than me. But that never stopped us all from being best friends growing up. We were wild.

My time in Colorado Springs was very memorable. I️ was able to attend a celebration with my Aunt and Uncle at a beautiful country club in Garden of the Gods, where I met the mayor of Colorado Springs along with many other influential people, and listened to them speak. The celebration was a thank you to the committed donors of charities. It was an inspirational experience, to be in a room filled with selfless people who genuinely care about the well being of others. Plus, on a side note, I got to dress up a little. I always enjoy attending an event that allows me, and/or is required of me, to dress nicely. “You’re not allowed to wear jeans in ‘The Club.'”- A quote by my Aunt when she informed me I had to wear a dress or skirt. I got a kick out of “The Club”!

I took a hike around Red Rock Canyon in Co Springs during my visit. It was so amazing to hike in a very wild place, yet just outside of the city. Colorado Springs is a hot-spot for outdoor lovers. Hiking, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, mountain biking, fishing, hunting, trail running, etc. are all common, hobbies to the people of Springs. Colorado in general is big in outdoor adventure, and it has good reason to be; it’s a miraculous state. Red Rock Canyon was ravishing. It was so diverse in wildflowers, shrubs, trees, and grasses, while, at the same time being rocky. Gigantic rock formations towered randomly throughout the area. I hiked to a rim road that was moderately high in elevation, the view from that road was striking. I looked out over the entire Red Rock Canyon, and gazed upon the giants that where the rocks, placed so preciously around the vicinity. Beyond that, I could see the entire city. I couldn’t help myself but imagine how astonishing it would be to stand where I was standing during the night. Stars would shine so magnificently over the canyon, along with the twinkling lights of Colorado Springs. Maybe one day I will be able to fulfill the need I have to see that view.

I left early on my departure back to Oregon. The normal route my family and I always used to take was to turn off of I-25, and go north west through Fort Collins on up. I wanted to switch it up a little bit this time, so I stayed on I-25 going north and I turned off right before Cheyenne, Wyoming, onto I-80 west. These white lines led me home.

Driving through different states is entertaining to me. They’re all so unique in their own ways. I stopped in Wendover, Nevada and spent the night, before awaking early and driving the rest of the way home. 1,245 miles later, I made it back to Klamath Falls, Oregon. Lucky me, I know.

This trip taught me to never stop longing for adventure and wisdom. I have a long way to go before I would consider myself to be a wise person, but I would love to achieve that title one day. I truly believe solo trips, camping solo, hiking solo, along with, hikes and trips with company, makes one a wiser being. Nature alone can teach wisdom for those who listen, appreciate, and have a need to learn. The difference between the sounds of tires on asphalt and tires on dirt, the sentiment of having a cup of tea and sharing a laugh with missed loved ones, the appreciation of a single wildflower, small blades of grass, or the warning of a rattle snake, and the humble pride of giving and sharing, are all aspects of life that lead to the brightest of wisdom.

Happy Hiking. Happy Days.

Nettie Pitman

grammsporch

Gramma’s Front Porch

sunrisefarm

Sunrise on the Funny Farm

cows

Eyelashes.

Advertisements

Second Stop: Colo(rad)o Pt. 1

There is a reason why the word “rad” is in Colorado. It’s such a plentiful, amazing, beautiful state! I was lucky enough to be able to explore many different areas of Colorado during the second part of my end-of-the-summer solo trip. Colorado has been my second home away from Oregon my entire life; half of my family live there. So I have been able to experience the wonderful state for years, but this time was so much more fulfilling! I was able to explore practically the entire southern area of the state, west to east, and then some.

When I left Moab, UT, I pointed my wheels toward Marvel, Colorado. The tiniest, little town, with population, roughly, 50. There is one elementary school, a post office, and a church. So one could say Marvel is possibly the most interesting town in the U.S.! The best part about this sweet little town is Sheridan Packer lives there and this is why Marvel was my next destination. Sheridan has been one of my best friends since high school, and it had been too long since I’d seen her, so it was an anticipated drive!

The drive from Moab to Marvel went from desert and canyons, to rolling plains, to mountains and pine trees with a side of open plains. The little towns I drove through gave off the vibes of serendipity, and were spotted with the arts and crafts of the Navajo and Southern Ute Native American peoples. It’s absolutely amazing to take the time to drive through different areas of America. The cultures, societies, and landscapes flow in a change that’s so subtle and different from the last. Yet, at the same time the change is so quick and sometimes even dramatic. It’s so compelling to experience. The drive was about three hours long and I arrived in Marvel around two in the afternoon. Sheridan called me prior to my arrival to give me directions and to tell me to meet her at the post office because her house is tricky to find, and can you believe it?! I couldn’t find the post office. Being practically the only thing in the entire town and I drove right by it. I had to laugh at my blonde self for that one because it was too ridiculous. But alas! I found Sheridan and she found me and we were once again reunited. I parked my car in front of her adorable farm house and was greeted by all  her precious fur babies. Her dogs were a definite highlight in my whole trip.

That afternoon Sheridan and I drove into Durango, Co and walked around downtown. Durango is absolutely enchanting and gorgeous. It’s tucked down in a valley with mountain ranges and plateaus on either side. Highly recommend everyone take a visit to the cute little, old railroad town. The next morning we left around 8 and were on our way to Albuquerque, New Mexico. My visit overlapped with a family gathering Sheridan had to attend there, so I just tagged along! When we arrived in Albuquerque, we went to Sheridan’s grandparents. Awaiting there for us were homemade pie cookies and an endless amount of food Sheridan’s grandma had prepared. Talk about living the dream! After lunch, we set off to explore Albuquerque. Dressed up in dresses and sandals, we decided to go on a hike. Naturally. We took just a short drive to a trail head where we parked and set off on our fancy dressed, hiking escapade. The scenery was stunning, with different species of cacti, wild flowers, deciduous trees, and pines dispersed thickly throughout the area. We hiked along the well groomed trailed for only about 3/4th of a mile before we decided to turn around. Both Sheridan and I have it set to go back to that trail one day and hike to the peak of the Sandia mountain. We returned to Sheridan’s grandparents and left to the family gathering party where we shared lots of laughs and indulged in more delicious food. After the party Sheridan, her sister, Alyssa, and I had plans to drive to the peak of the Sandia Mountains (there is a paved road that leads up to the peak) so at around 11pm we set off to find the road. It took a good hour to figure out where the correct road was, but after a couple phone calls, and some U-turns, we found the correct path. The view from the top was stunning! The lights of Albuquerque stretched far and wide and shone so extravagantly. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a big-city kind of person, but experiencing sights like looking out over all of Albuquerque, New Mexico from the top of a mountain in the middle of the night really makes one appreciate all a big city has to offer.

The next morning we parted ways with Sheridan’s grandparents and we headed over to the New Mexico state fair. We explored the ginormous gathering of people, animals, food, old cars, and carnival rides for a few hours until we had seen everything there was to see, so we slipped away and pointed our wheels back toward Marvel.

We awoke that morning to me asking, “Do you want to go get tattoos?”. Yes. So that’s what we did. We left the tattoo parlor and headed straight to a trail head. Probably not a very sanitary idea considering our new tattoos were on our feet and lower legs, but that didn’t seem to matter. We hiked to the peak of Engineer Mountain, which over looked Durango. I very clearly remember the wind being so intense it almost blew me over a couple times, but besides that, it was stunning! Durango is so adorable.

The crazy adventure Sheridan and I went on the next afternoon was adrenaline filled, to say the least. Being the brilliant beings we are, we came up with the clever idea to drive up Kennebec Pass. Sheridan’s Jeep did wonders on the moderately sketchy dirt road leading up to the peak of the mountain. However, we thought the road we were on was bad…. little did we know it would not even compare to the road we so intelligently decided to drive up to get to the very top of the summit. When we reached the top, there was a parking area with informative signs that discussed the wildflowers, trees, and wildlife of the area, but there was a road that veered to the right to drive to the very peak if any one wished. We wished. And we very much regretted. The road was a one way, thin, dirt lane, with a straight drop off off one side and a wall of jagged rock on the other. All was well until we got about 10 feet from the itty bitty turn around that lived at the very top; the road stair stepped. It’s nearly impossible to paint the picture of complete, absolute fear that filled the Jeep within the 0.2 seconds when we both laid our eyes on the literal rock stairs that zigzagged up the face of the mountain. With the Jeep becoming so quiet one could hear Sheridan’s hand bones breaking from gripping the steering wheel so tightly, we slowly inched our way up the dreaded, horrific stairs. It wouldn’t have been so horrifying if there wasn’t a straight drop off, off the side of a mountain a foot away from the side of us. I have to admit, the view from the top made seeing our lives flash before our eyes worth it. It was ravishing. Driving back down the stairs? Not so ravishing. But with at least three wheels on the ground, we intricately teetered back down the road.

That night we went into Durango and tapped into our teenage selves again. Laughing, riding bikes, and long-boarding down the sidewalk at 10 at night with a group of friends really puts what “living” is into perspective. That is exactly what living is.

The next morning I would be leaving Sheridan and Marvel and Durango and going to Kit Carson, Colorado. Another little “population, 50” town where my grandparents live. My time spent with Sheridan really bettered the both of us, and lifted us into a state of pure happiness, if not only for a couple days. The memories and pictures we now share will last us a lifetime, and so will our friendship. I am so thankful to have such amazing people in my life to share such phenomenal experiences with. I began this trip with the intent of it being purely solo, but I discovered no matter where I go or what I do, even if I am by myself, I won’t ever be alone.

Find people who you can be your real self around; people who accept you and appreciate you for who you are. Find people who you can be wild with and who won’t question or snark at you when you want to go dance in the rain; but who will gladly dance with you.

Happy Hiking. Happy Days.

Nettie Pitman

S1S2S3S4S5

Sandia Peak overlooking Albuquerque, NM

S12S6S7

Engineer Mnt.

S10S11S9S13

Kennebec Pass La Plata Canyon, CO

Conquering Life’s Mountains

Hiking to peak of a mountain. Every person in this world can relate. This may be physically and mentally engaging oneself in the motion to conquer one of earth’s land bubbles, or it could be picking oneself off of the ground to conquer one of life’s strenuous, uphill climbs. Mountains are part of life and no one can escape their steep slopes. However we can all get to that glorious peak. The peak is really what we’re all after; it is the ultimate goal. We all have that one special object, person, idea, event, that we long for and we climb for. Once we conquer the slopes, the rocks,  the sweat, blood, dirty hands, and scraped up knees, and we reach that peak where we finally get to bask in all of our hard work and glory; that is when we truly understand ourselves.

The first mountain I hiked was one of life’s fabulous uphill climbs. I was twelve years old and I held the hand of my father as he left this world. Cancer is the fastest uphill climber I had ever witnessed at that point in my life, and twelve year old me had no idea where I even was in my forest. I was lost. I couldn’t find the trail I had been on my entire life, and I couldn’t find anyone to lead me back to that trail. I wasn’t the only one standing lost in a forest, my whole family was lost in their own parts of the woods. My mom was just as lost as I was, so we were both alone, with not even each other. Of course, I was only twelve and grieving was not something that came naturally to me, I got over the death of my father moderately quickly at that time and I began carving my own trail. I went off the beaten path of what I was used to and hiked my way through school. I graduated in 2015 and ventured onto the University of Oregon where I decided to work toward a bachelor’s degree in environmental science. I wish I could say that the college life was the life for me and that I was a normal college kid, but alas, I hated college. Since I am still a nerdy little college kid, I guess “hated” should be present tense. School is just not my cup of tea, probably because I would rather be on a trail than studying for an exam… but that’s beside the point! Anyway, I transferred to Rogue Community College to complete my generals (for wayyy cheaper, might I add), and I am more into the smaller college. But ever since I began college and started this new chapter of my life, the unfinished grieving over the death of my dad made its unwelcome return. I couldn’t seem to get past the fact that my dad will never be able to watch me grow and graduate college and walk me down the aisle, or just be here for me in general. I was rolling down the slope of the mountain I was working so hard to climb and I couldn’t seem to stop myself. I knew I had to do something before I hit the rock bottom, so I decided to take on an actual mountain.

Nature is very powerful and healing, and I was done being beaten up and pushed around by my own self. Without a second thought, I threw all of my hiking gear into my small Osprey hiking pack, laced up my Ahnu hiking boots and threw my middle finger up at myself in the mirror because I was done with my old self. Okay, the last part didn’t actually happen but it makes me sound like I’m a badass, so we’ll pretend it did. I was on my way to hike Mount McLoughlin. This “little” mountain packs a big punch, let me tell you. But it is one the most rewarding hikes I have ever been on. It’s mysterious, beautiful, and cleansing for each soul that makes it to it’s amazing summit. However, it’s a hike for sure, and in some parts it is not easy. For me, once I made it to the lava rock switchbacks, I had to tell myself sweet little inspirations to keep going. Those things are worse than climbing a hundred flights of stairs. The stretch leading up to the summit is pure sand. So I would walk for five minutes and remain in the same spot, which was the best! But all of this hard work of climbing uphill didn’t mean one thing when I stepped foot on the peak of that mountain. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking, and I was standing on the top of a freaking mountain! It is such an awesome, rewarding feeling to look around and know you’re standing on the top of world, practically. It’s almost unreal.

It was at this point, on the peak of this mountain, that I had a revelation. Life isn’t meant to be lived grieving. Life isn’t meant to be lived sad or mad or anything other than happy. Happy and excited about every single thing. Life is precious and we are only given a specific amount of time to fulfill ourselves in the moments, people, and things that we love, and to live our individual lives to the absolute fullest. I’m not saying never be sad, be sad. Be sad and be mad. Be pissed! Feel all of your feelings as deeply as they come, but don’t hang onto them. Feel them and then let them go. Let go of what makes you anything but the happiest you can possibly be. We are meant to be one with nature, and nature wants us to be happy and confide in her. Watch sunsets and get up early to watch the sunrise. Go on hikes, pull over every once in awhile to get out of your car, pause your hectic life, and just breath. Look at some flowers, hold a cute bug, find a cool rock, listen to a river, look out over the ocean. Nature wants us to be happy and feel loved. She wants us to love ourselves, and she wants to help us all achieve just this.

If you’re ever feeling lost and desperate, go into nature for just a minute and you will be healed just as much as you will let her heal you. We all have a wild side, stay in tune with it.

Happy hiking. Happy days.

Nettie Pitman

ml