It’s a WILD Colorado: Part 1 – Harry Gates

July 25, 2019

The Wild Women

Oh hey there!

I know, I know… I keep promising that I am going to be more active on here. And… I have great intentions of doing so… but… work and mountains and family and biking and running and dogs and… LIFE! Trying to be gentle with myself for not providing you with the content that I want to be… but at the same time I want you to know that I am working diligently on an updated website, new offerings and all the love I can bring to you. Don’t give up on me!

To start getting back at it though, I want to update you all on my latest WILD Women adventures. I gotta tell ya, back to back weekends of leading adventure retreats is physically exhausting, but OH SO WORTH IT. The women that attended the adventures left lasting imprints on my heart. First, we start with Harry Gates.

WILD Harry Gates: Meredith, Colorado: July 11-14

What do you get when a mom, two sets of sisters and best friends meet up in a remote cabin for 3 1/2 days?… Lots of laughs and a damn good time.

My mom (the WILD women helper extraordinaire), Kim (my best friend turned sister-in-law) and myself had two cars packed with all the food and all the goods for a weekend at the Harry Gates Hut. We met three other women from Minnesota (two sisters and a good friend) in Basalt, CO to caravan up to the cabin. Pam (the good friend) gets wicked car sickness, so she drove my mom’s car, I drove Kim in another car and the sisters, Dawn and Jeanne were in the third car. We navigated up the bumpy dirt road through the sections of pine and aspen forests divided by breath-taking lush green meadows. It was the most “off-roading” these girls had ever done. Accomplishment #1.

The notes for the cabin said to park at the gate and there will be two carts to haul your gear up the dirt road 1/2 mile to the cabin. Sled drags anyone? We piled high bags, back packs, coolers, water, sleeping gear and more. These girls were champs… coming from the flat land and immediately put into 1/2 mile heavy sled drags at 9,700ft elevation in the Sawatch Mountains, we made it to the cabin. Perched on the crest of a hill in a meadow of wild flowers, it was like The Sound of Music. I immediately started singing “the hills are alive.” Accomplishment #2

With a 20 person cabin all to ourselves, the women immediately claimed beds followed by kicking their feet up on the deck in the sun… you could feel the energy of relaxation mode set in. That day was all about acclimation, enjoying a sunset, good food and a fire all while getting to know each other.

Staying in a cabin vs a tent usually results in a bit more “sleep in” time as the brightness and heat of the sun doesn’t wake you up. But, once we were fueled with food and coffee, we set out to climb up to 10,500 ft elevation to Eagle Lake. Trekking through lush, grassy aspen forests, over raging creeks and up steep rocky hills, we made it toward the top when Dawn yells “bear”. Dawn, Jeanne and Kim start walking back toward me (I was in the middle of the pack). I asked my mom to turn around so I could grab her bear spray and saw Pam starting to run down the hill. I grabbed the bear spray, looked up the trail and saw a black flash strutting down the trail toward us. I thought it was odd as bears typically won’t charge you like that, but instead go the other direction. As I looked closer we saw it was big black Newfoundland with its owners. After a good chuckle and sign of relief, we had a little recap of “what the hell was Pam doing”. We had a discussion at the very beginning of camp of proper bear etiquette, which includes NEVER run from them. To give Pam the benefit of the doubt though, she saw my mom turn around to give me the bear spray and that gave her the clue to turn around and start heading down the trail. Accomplishment #3

Shortly after our little scare turned into laughter… we hit the majestic Eagle Lake sitting among snow-capped peaks with reflecting sun bouncing off the water looking like glitter. Enjoying a peaceful lunch, sharing stories and talking about the hardest thing we have ever been through… we were growing as a tribe. I have a rule that every body of water I hike to, I get in. Pam was the brave soul that joined me for our ‘ice bath’ and then we got on our way back to the cabin. My mom led us through a great yoga session that afternoon and then relaxation mode set in again.

The next day, we had to say goodbye to Kim as she continued on her summer journey to see her family before heading back to Ghana (my brother, she and their two boys live there). My mom decided to stay back at the cabin for the day due to a sore hip. The rest of us went on an adventure navigating 3 different options to the same destination – Tellurium lake. After 1 1/2 miles of walking up the road, we found the trailhead and began a gradual climb for about 5.5 miles through pine forests, aspen groves and bolder fields. The trail became faint a few times due to a wet season (lots of grass) and low traffic, but it eventually opened up into an incredible hilly meadow with another climb in the distance. With sore feet and tired bodies, the women decided to turn around rather than climb over the next ridge. A lesson, it’s about the journey, not the destination. Accomplishment #4

Feeling a little stinky and sweaty from our days on the trail, we headed down the road to the creek and took a dip. Pam did a head dip and rinsed her hair (I think the cold shock of Eagle Lake gave her a change of heart…ha!). Jeanne fully submerged with gasps for air (she had to catch a flight the next day and was trying to clean up out of respect for her seat-mate). I think Dawn may have waded her little feet in (but that also may have been wishful remembering on my part…ha!). My mom was bundled in her winter coat handing out towels. I enjoyed a full plunge and lather with Dr. Bronners. Invigorated, cleaner, and ready to relax, we headed to the cabin.

Having the cabin to ourselves for the weekend made it feel like home. So, much to our surprise that evening as we were gathered around the tables with a puzzle out, feet kicked up and our crap sprawled everywhere, we were shocked when the door creaked opened with a man and women entering “our house”. All five of us sat there with gaping mouths for second, with a slight feeling of intrusion, then we realized what was happening. The way back country huts work is that you book enough spots for your party and the other spots are up for grabs. So, we suddenly had new house-mates for the evening. The couple was beyond kind and we respectfully gathered our things and made space for them. We shared a campfire, told jokes and all went to bed feeling happy and content.

As we packed up our gear the next morning, carted it all back down to the car and said our goodbyes, The WILD Women were beaming. Proud of their accomplishments and rejuvenated from a few days of gut-busting laughter and new friendships made, we took off in our separate directions grateful for guidance of Mother Nature once again.

I’m beyond thankful for these women. I began these adventures in hopes of getting women in nature, to get lost in finding themselves, their passions, their strengths, their desires and needs. This definitely happens, but I am always in awe at the amount of things I learn from each woman who comes, shares a bit of themselves and adds so much value to a tribe of Women Interpreting Life Differently.

The next two days consisted of catching up on work, grocery shopping and food prep for the next adventure – WILD Lake City. Trip details coming soon…

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