Exploring

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God continues to prove to me that He loves me. And more than that, He knows my name. And more than that, He truly cares about me. Robin had talked to the radiologist last week and of course, the information was realistic. I  guess I was half hoping – No, WHOLE hoping that she would be giving Robin amazing news that the cancer has been eradicated and she wouldn’t even need radiation. Truly, the Lord will provide yet another miracle and give her a clean slate! So the realistic news she received was less than uhmm, joyful.

I had planned on a short camping trip to retreat and regroup. I wanted to visit the top of Bison Peak. It is a 12,439 ft. mountain in Park county,  about 18 miles north on county road 77, before you get to the Taryall reservoir. It is known for it’s unique rock formations at the summit, and it’s secludedness. I guess with all the 14’ers in the state, 12,000 ft doesn’t rate. It was perfect for me on both counts. Taz and  I set out to find rocks, views, and peace. bp1

The Ute Creek trail starts out crossing the Taryall river by foot bridge, then across a meadow and gently slopes up from 8,500 ft. It runs through Aspen groves and Ponderosa Pine, following the Ute creek up to its source, Bison Peak. The trail sign said 4 miles to the McCurdy Brookside trail (a trail that runs north/south across both Bison Mtn and McCurdy Mtn) and 9 miles to Lost Park. The first mile and a half was a very gentle climb. Taz and I barely noticed we were going up at all, except for the creek running the opposite way, down hill. The trail started separating from the creek and soon we found the creek about 200 feet below us and the trail decided to get serious and then the rain set in.bp2 We found two huge boulders leaning against one another and decided to wait out the rain. It was a good opportunity for me to take a break as well. After going up for ever, I finally got a peek through the trees and the view spoke volumes of our altitude. We were finally getting closer to 12,000 ft.bp4 Taz was very good about scouting ahead, then coming back to check on me as I was stopping after every switchback to catch some air. Man, I really have to lighten my pack! We finally reached the McCurdy Trail and decided to camp there for the night. We would have enough  time to follow the trail north into the Lost Park to find water. bp6 I set up my hammock and tarp, then Taz and I set off for water. We only had to hike about 1/2 mile to find the headwaters of Indian creek. We filled up our water bottles and headed home. That night, the temperature dropped to 27 degrees and  left a heavy frost on everything. About 0230 hrs, Taz had enough of the cold and decided to jump in my hammock with me.

We got up the next morning and I got the fire going again, fixed Taz’s breakfast and mine, then we started up the McCurdy trail to summit Bison peak. The trail went up through the bristle cone pines and after two long switch backs, breaks in the trees started opening up to reveal the world around.bp7 The closer we got to tree line, the greater the views got. I could see as far south west as Badger Mtn,  Southeast all the way to Pike’s Peak, The Collegiates were looming to the west, and the Platte and Kenosha mountain ranges to the north. Taz was patient in waiting on me to catch up on several occasions.bp8 The top was so close! Even with the reduced weight of my  day pack (I only took my camera, water bottles, and water filtration system), it was still a chore to climb the mountain. At 11,000 feet and above, you really feel the effects of reduced oxygen. At the top, you could see the  trail marked with cairns, leading you off the summit and south, towards McCurdy mountain.bp93 Taz and I just stood on the saddle and took in the beauty of the  unique rock formations all over the top. I looked across and saw a herd of mule deer  crossing the summit. They moved so fast, and so smoothly. They covered so much ground in so little time.  I  got really jealous, thinking how I had to slog my way up  the mountain yesterday.  bp96

All the while, I  was  talking to the Lord about Robin’s situation. I  KNOW God has been with us every step of her journey. I KNOW God is faithful and everything works together for His glory, but sometimes it just wears on you and like children, we need reminders that we are loved, and we are cared for, and things will be okay. When I saw the deer, God spoke to me “Andrew, how can you look upon all this and still doubt Me? My plan is STILL the best plan and I am in control of all this. I will NOT forsake you, nor leave you.” I fell to my knees and wept and thanked God for loving us so much!

I stayed on the summit for another 2.5 hours, just drinking in the views and God’s amazing handy work.bp94centinelbp95bp97 I found rocks, tons of views, and most importantly,  peace.

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Matthew came over Saturday afternoon and we headed to the “China Wall” trail (forestry service road 212) with Ryan to do some snow “jeeping”. The view of the Taryall valley draped in snow was quite impressive. With the snow falling, no wind, and 22 degrees, the cold was not intimidating or oppressive, but inviting, peaceful. IMG_3689IMG_3696We stopped to prep for the trail ahead, airing down my tires to 14 lbs. We took the trail up to the left and down the other side of the ridge. From the top of the ridge, you could see the snow covered valley and Pike’s Peak off in the distance. With no one else out there, the inviting beauty is deceptive. To get stuck out here in this cold would be a dire mistake. We made our way down the ridge into the meadow, heading towards the river, surprising several mule deer on the way. We made our way to the rocks. The traction was pretty good as the snow was a dry snow. I got out and guided Matt as he drove Wasabi over the first obstacle.  We drove down to  the next and biggest obstacle on the trail, surprising a few more mulies on the way. I got out to ground guide again while Matt drove, and he insisted I “video” him driving, so I only got pictures of the obstacle. We got down close to the river, and decided to put a few rounds down range. We packed up and headed back to the trail head. We capped this short trip off by stopping by “Rudy’s” on the way back home and got some of the best brisket in town. IMG_3695IMG_3693IMG_3708IMG_3704IMG_3700IMG_3701

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Wanting to take advantage of good weather, I went camping this weekend with two friends from life group and church, Chad & Skip. We struck out from the Goose Creek trailhead, which is right on the edge of the Hayman burn scar, and at 8000 feet. This isn’t the most scenic place due to all the barren hills, but the scenery quickly changed as we headed north, up Goose Creek. We came to a typical forestry service bridge built over the creekgoosecreek1 and saw the clear and obviously cold (Ice in the water) water. We could also see where the trail meandered along the river for a bit before the trail and the river split, with the trail going up in elevation and the river continuing north, but down in the bottom of the valley.goosecreek3 We continued on the east side of the river a started going up and up.goosecreek2 I had brought Taz with me and Chad had “Nanook”, his 3 year old Alaskan Husky. They were playing well together, leading the way up the trail. The trail continued to climb in elevation until we had separated far enough from the river that you could barely hear it down below.goosecreek4 We went approximately 2.5 miles in, and found a great campsite out on the end of a rock finger, jutting into the valley. Taz enjoyed the rocks as much as we did. Taz01goosecreek9 There was more than enough firewood just laying around, so  we got our camp together, got a fire started, and settled in for supper.goosecreek8 The next morning, we we woke up to beautiful weather, a little chilly (27 degrees), but the sun warmed things up really quick once it topped the ridge to our east. Chad and Skip made a water run while I watched the fire. We had breakfast, then started out on our hike. We hiked the main trail for maybe another mile, then found the camping spot that Skip stayed at this past summer. We followed it down to the river for some more water and beautiful scenery.goosecreek20goosecreek22 We filled up with water, then decided to follow the deer trail that ran alongside the river back towards camp. We followed the deer trail south, and saw the perfect campsite right next to the river. We grabbed the coordinates for it so we can save it for next summer.goosecreek23 We worked our way back to camp, fixed lunch, then laid out on the rock finger to relax and soak up some sun. I told the guys we looked like a bunch of lizards, sunning themselves. We then packed up camp, made sure the fire pit was cold, then headed back to the Jeep.goosecreek24 What a great trip! Good weather, good company, and amazing scenery.

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I met up with the CSC4W (Colorado Springs Christian 4 Wheel) club Saturday morning to head out to Buena Vista to run Chinaman Gulch. I’ll post the pictures below and let them speak for themselves. This trail was a GREAT trail! There was plenty of technical obstacles to keep you entertained, but bypasses as well for the faint at heart. A word of caution, you WILL scrape undercarriage or body parts on this trail, depending on what line you take, so if the sound of metal scraping across rock intimidates you, better look elsewhere for a trail.
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Saturday, we put a 2.5″ AEV lift on Skip’s 4 door Rubicon. Sunday, we went to Spring Creek, which is right outside of Dumont, Co. This was a really nice trail with some skinny shelf road mixed in with big rocks, mixed in with trees and old mine shafts. Caleb came with me and was my comms officer for the day as well as designated documenter (He got to take the pictures). The pucker factor was about a 5.5 out of 10 with spikes to 7 or 8 in some places. We had to turn around after the old mine shaft and shortly before the 2nd obstacle due to packed snow and the sheer steepness of the trail.  This is one I will DEFINITELY go back to in the summer.tabletbg