"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11
About a month ago, I told my oldest daughter Hannah, that we were all going on a vacation to the mountains. Excitedly, she asked, "Wichita Mountains???" I looked at her funny...and just chuckled. I told her, "No...we are going to real mountains!" She looked at me funny.
I have been fortunate enough to be able to take my girls, Pia (5) and Hannah (7) to really cool, great, and beautiful outdoor spots. They have hiked and camped the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma, climbed in the Ozarks of Arkansas, and have visited the Hill Country in Texas on numerous occasions (family lives here).
But Sarah and I have never taken them to a "real" mountain or mountain range. They have never seen the Rockies or Sierras. They have no clue how beautiful, big, and special these places are. Hannah's idea of a big mountain is just really a hill in Southwestern Oklahoma.
So as I began to explain to her about the height, depth, and scope of these mountains...the range of flora and fauna...the lakes, rivers, and waterfalls she was going to get to see, it dawned on me...I was more excited than her about taking them to the Rockies.
As her father, I knew they have never seen what was ahead. And though they had an idea (on a smaller scale) of what was to come..THEY HAD NO CLUE! This made me gitty. To know I was taking them to a better place...a place they have never seen...experienced...or dreamed of...Well, as you can imagine, it made them excited. But as a father who was making this happen for them...this filled my heart with pure joy and excitement. I could not wait...wait to see them enter this place.
As we crossed state lines, and made our path towards Rocky Mountain National Park...I started thinking about the joys and pleasures that our week in the mountains would bring. Every mile we gained, my anticipation and excitement grew more and more for my children. And once again, something dawned on me...Our Father's anticipation and excitement for all of us.
Our God is not just a God. He is a Father! A Father,...Think about that. We are children...He is Father. Better yet...He is our Heavenly DADDY! In other words...He understands our excitement for our children, because He too experiences the same for us. Except...He is anticipating something much much greater for us than a set of mountains. He knows what's ahead for us. And though we think we have seen or experienced many things...what lays ahead for us are things we cannot even imagine! He does...and this is why He is so giddy for you and I.
What our Father has in store for us in the short term, long or the eternal...that I cannot speak of. For I am like you. I have no clue. But I am certain of this, He has shown us the path. He wants us to take it with Him. And if we do...He promises that we will be in His presence. It is a place full of joy; at His right hand, exactly where a Daddy and child want to be...where pleasures are forevermore.
The thought of you and I holding His hand...This makes our Father unbelievably, incredibly, joyfully excited. Now stop and think about this...The thought of you...Yes, YOU! Makes God excited! If nothing else...just think about that!
(Twin Sisters in RMNP-Photo Cred: Jess Gilbert (JG))
What: Family Summer Vacation
Where: Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP or The Park), Colorado
Who: 4 awesome families...bunch of great troopers!
When: July 3rd-7th, 2013
July 3, 2013
So we started this trip opposite from most of my trips in Colorado...Usually when I head into the mountains, I spend a few days in the backcountry and finish off a hike or climb with celebratory drinks at a local microbrew. This time, we started off the celebration before we even got started. We went to Pumphouse Brewery and Restaurant...enjoyed good food and good drinks.
Sean and I decided the Shockwave Scottish Ale is the winner...overall, the food is good...the drinks are better...and the atmosphere is great. Stop in if you are in Longmont, CO.
July 4, 2013
On Independence Day, we celebrated the day by hiking up Lily Mountain in RMNP and enjoying the fireworks in Estes Park.
Lily Mountain Trail is a 1000' gain of elevation hike to the top of Lily Mountain at 9,786'. Supposedly, the hike is 6 miles roundtrip...but it didn't feel that long.
When you get to the top...you get a 360 view of RMNP. Not all summited this day...It was our first day in the mountains and a few kiddos felt dizzy. But some did make it to the top!
Pia and I on Summit!
Major on Summit!
Hannah, Christopher, Glenda, and Hugo on top!
Pia and Hannah enjoying the views to the West...It was awesome watching these little kids get to the top!
And of course the Gilbert kiddos made it...Elly and Mariyah)
Jennifer and Addy
One evening, our kiddos all started yelling in excitement...to our surprise, a mamma Elk and her baby walked right behind our cabin. The kids loved it...
After dinner on the 4th, we all headed towards Estes Park lake for a fireworks show...
We've all been to a fireworks show...but if you have never been to a fireworks show in the mountains, YOU NEED TOO! The acoustics are incredible. The boom that sounds off the mountains from miles away sounds incredible. I would describe the sound as apocolyptic sounding...Sounds like nukes are being fired all around! It's amazing!
July 5, 2013
Following morning, I woke up early (before 5 a.m.) and drove into RMNP. I headed up Bear Lake TH to take a few pics of the Park. I had the entire trail to myself. No another soul around! It was quiet, serene, and incredible. The picture above is Bear Lake...
A view East...towards Estes Park.
Shot of Glacier Gorge...
One of the many cascades from the Dream Lake drainage on Dream Lake Trail...
Hallet Peak on the left and Flat Top Mountain South Ridge on Right...
Lily Pads on Nymph Lake...
Long's Peak...RMNP only 14,000+' peak...
(Pia, Hannah, Mariya, Elly, Hannah P, and Major...Photo: JG)
After spending a few hours in the Park by myself...I went back to cabin, and we all headed back to the same trail so we could allgo up there together. The plan for the day was to hike up to Dream Lake, set up a spot to picnic and let Sean and Rod do a little fly fishing.
Sarah and Pia
Rody and Elly (Photo: JG)
Addy and Sean (Photo: JG)
Real adventure. Sun turned to gray skies...followed by rain, lightning, and thunder. Typical Colorado Mountain Summer afternoon right? We thought we would ride it out...we set up shelter, put on rain jackets, and hung out. After nearly an hour...it continued to storm and the temperature dropped 15 degrees into the low to mid 50's. Kids started getting cold and the barometer was holding steady. We decided it was time to get going...We got all the kids across the stream...packed up our gear and headed down the mountain as fast as we could. On the way down, rain led to small hail, lightning and thunder all around, and cold, wet kids. When we finally got down to the TH and shuttle bus pick up...I looked at all the kids and they were loving it! They had their first true real mountain adventure! My Hannah was so excited...she had a huge grin from the rush down! Though the afternoon didn't go as planned...it was definitely memorable. I know my daughters will always remember this hike! I think this was my favorite moment of the trip.
Later that afternoon...Some of the guys went to the lake to fish...Jess, Glenda, and I went back to Lily Mountain and found a small crag to climb:
Jess (Photo: Me on Glenda's gear)
July 6, 2013
Jurassic Park Climbing Crag...Lilly Mountain. We spent the entire day climbing. There's not much to say...it was awesome, scenic, and weather was great. I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story:
Jess, with Long's Peak in the background...
Reyes Ortiz Family
Gilbert Family (Photo GR)
***We dont have a family Moore's photo!!!***
Sarah and I
We had the best time. We loved our time in Estes Park and in RMNP. But I can say, we loved being with the people we were with much more. For all of you who joined us...THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH! You made this experience even better than we dreamed of. We love and adore every single one of you! Sarah and I pray for you and your family. I want you to know, that the Lord is excited for you...He loves you. Trust in Him! Our fellowship together is only a fraction of what He desires for us! I am excited for our friendship, and more importantly, becoming family! Thank you!