Western Slope 2014

Carbondale, what a place! You know when we started this trip I took the time to plan out several stops and more or less a proper itinerary. I reminded myself though, not to become too attached to the outcome of the schedule. That’s the true adventure; the unknown, excitement, without expectations around every bend. Setting an intention – 4 months, 4 different states – and allowing the ‘river of life’ to navigate your travel. I’ve been totally mind-blown at the possibilities when opening my sights up to faith in the phenomenon of ‘random occurrences’. This was Carbondale! A stop… one single stop, along with hundreds of others but a stop that would prove to stand out more than any we had imagined.

Great friends: Bear, Beverly and JR live in Carbondale along with their furry clan; Dirt (black lab), Buddy (chocolate lab) and Steve French (wild kitty). Their house may as well be taken out of a fairy-tale story, Robert Frost could not give a proper illustration of its magnificence. A cedar(?) home with high pitched ceilings and vast skylight windows to appreciate the deer and other wildlife grazing for food in the backyard. During the day, Mt Sopris as well as the Maroon Bells and other peaks in the distance keep a watchful eye over the back porch. And at night the sky lights up as the Milky Way leaves a glittery trail from one end of the yard to the other. Steve runs a tight shift on the chipmunks and other critters as Buddy sprints and dives for the tennis ball one last time. When Dirt isn’t getting her beauty sleep, she’s surely ‘milking’ at least one neck rub from you. A family you feel apart of as soon as step foot through the door.

Our plan was to hangout for the weekend around Carbondale – hiking up to Thomas Lake at the base of Mt Sopris our first day in. The aspen’s fall leaves were stunning and the hike was so much fun as we shared stories and watched the dog’s play. The following day we drove to the small town of Redstone discovering the huge red-rock cobbled boulders scattered throughout the trails. Doing a little climbing in the process as Bev conquered her fear of heights.

I’ve had my sights set on Mount Elbert for quite sometime so on Monday, Casey and I made moves through Aspen and Independence Pass, enjoying the sights and a climb as we continued towards the tallest peak in the state. Hitting a snowstorm on the backside of the Pass towards Leadville, we reluctantly pushed forward doubting our decision. Faith, courage and humbled spirits topped us out together the following day on one of our most accomplished days. We returned to Carbondale on our way to Rifle just in time for a gracious homecooked meal – a secret slow cooked Lasagna, Bear’s been keeping on the down low for awhile.

We spent two amazing days in Rifle running from classic route to classic route. Overhangs, slabs, crimpy faces, laybacking cracks, techy footwork and the list goes on. A natural training facility in the heart of a limestone canyon, this place will get you STRONG! We returned just in time for the Marble Fall Festival. A small town named for it’s smooth white marble discovered mostly in the surrounding rivers, Marble brings together a fantastic community event sponsored by the delicious Slow Groovin BBQ. After our bellies were full we rocked out to bluegrass pickin’ Whitewater Ramble and Particle, all the while being sure to take notes of JR’s funky dance moves! Bonfires and a full moon lit up the sky as we called it a night back to the house. After a day of rest we returned to Rifle to continue climbing and work projects before hitting the road to Grand Junction.

Amazing food, tons of laughs and fond memories – all within miles of Carbondale, Colorado. Thank you Bear, Bev, JR, Dirt, Buddy and Steve for all of your generosity. Couldn’t of asked for a better experience!!

JH & CF 10/18/14

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