A Metaphor for Life

This Summer I had the privilege of hiking, backpacking and camping in the Chicago Basin. The Chicago Basin is the upper portion of Needle Creek which is a subrange of the San Juan Mountains and the San Juan National Forest in Colorado.


Besides an occasional overnight in a tent next to a bathroom and running water when I was in college I have never really camped.


Let me first say it is truly God’s country and the beauty can’t be described by my photos. Second, I am going share a list of takeaways from the trip:


  • Never buy hiking boots the week before you’re going hiking and not train
  • Soap, shower and shaving are over-rated
  • Who needs toilet paper
  • Water from a mountain stream tastes delicious and it’s cold (we filtered it)
  • A two-man tent really means ONE small human
  • It’s hotter than you expect
  • Its colder than you expect
  • It’s harder than you expect (especially if you have never been) aka ~ ME!
  • You burn up an obscene amount of calories
  • There is poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac ~ poison poison
  • Fly’s, mosquitos, bees and ants live at 13,000 feet ~ even the trees don’t live that far up
  • The only way out is the way you came in: hiking!
  • You don’t have an endless supply of bottled water and food
  • You don’t miss the noise, the phone, the internet, and the daily grind
  • Everything you bring in with you, goes out with you (including used TP)
  • God gives you a show every evening at sundown and lights up the mountain tops
  • Everyone goes to bed at sundown which is 8:15 ish because you can’t light a fire and it’s too cold to do anything else,
  • AND… there are bears

Now that we got those out of the way let me also say it was an experience of a life time. I was truly able to feel at peace and one with nature. I pushed my physical limits as far as I could and was beyond proud of myself.


We took an old steam locomotive from Durango to Needle Creek and started the hike around 8,000 feet. We hiked a little over 6.5 miles to our campsite which was over 12,000 feet and it took about 5 hours. It was hot and I was sucking down water but had to be careful because we were not sure how far it would be before the next water source. When we finally found a place to camp (you literally just walk around and look for a flat surface next to a water source) I was overcome with emotion. I was hot, tired, hungry, thirsty and had push myself physically in every way possible and I felt so accomplished.


The next day we hiked from 12,000 feet to about 13,500 feet up one of the mountains to a beautiful lake that was surrounded by snow. I was not able to summit the mountain at 14K but that did not matter to me, what mattered is I tried, I did it and I was okay with where I landed. I pushed myself as far as I could go at that moment and the next time I go, I will be better prepared, train and I know I will summit the next mountain I hike!


When tragedy struck my life 16 months ago it completely derailed me, it knocked my world off its axis, and it took me to a dark place with thoughts of suicide. To feel so alive and part of this world was an exhilarating experience.


In walking along the trail, I had an AHA moment and an epiphany. The trail was scatted with boulders and fallen rocks, trees that had fallen, streams, and bridges. You had to walk over some of the fallen trees, under some of them, over and on the boulders, around the rocks, across the bridges and along the winding path. And it was a true Metaphor of life!


Life is this path laid out before you and you have so much hard work to get from one point or season to another and eventually it will end. You have to go over those bridges, under those fallen trees, around those giant boulders and sometimes on them, all the while the path is winding and tedious and hard but when you stop and catch your breath you can be witness to the true beauty that surrounds you.


I know we are not promised tomorrow, I know we only have this moment in time, I know I want to enjoy life, embrace it, and experience it in every way possible. I know what a blessing it is to be alive and for whatever time I have left on this I will meet it head on and genuinely embrace it.