Should I go? Is it even possible? No way. I could never get off work on such short notice! I guess… it wouldn’t hurt to try…?
Could the stars align so beautifully to allow me to go on this road trip with my boyfriend and some of his family out to Colorado?
Why yes. Yes they did. And I went!
Hours before they were due to leave on a hunting trip out to Colorado I requested off from work and it came back approved. Within two hours I was packed and ready to go. I grabbed my backpack, my safepac, and went to my mothers house to pick up her hiking boots and my brothers duffel bag to prepare for a week long trip! This wasn’t just some trip either. Or a simple camping trip. We were headed out to the mountain tops of a ranch where my boyfriends grandfather (from here forward known as Pop) used to live at as a boy. The goal of this trip was for Pop to teach my boyfriend how to survive in the wild and hunt an elk. My boyfriends little brother and father were going too, but they brought their luxuries to keep them feeling comfortable. I wanted to know what it would be like to survive it rough-like, though. So that is how I packed. Brought only what would keep me warm, toothpaste, toothbrush and wet wipes to keep me clean. You would think that wouldn’t require as many bags as it did, but I packed for a cold ride.
Even with all the “warming” things I brought it still didn’t prepare me enough for the cold winter nights up in the mountains. Two layers of pants, 3 layers of shirts and a hoodie, wrapped under a large blanket and a sleeping bag under a fastened tarp used as shelter and still chattering my teeth. As I laid their freezing and shivering all I can pray for is to get an elk tomorrow and praise for its sacrifice so we don’t have 4 more nights of this.
After waking up several times and going to the camp fire a couple times to rewarm myself, it was time to get back up and prepare for the hunt. Just me, my boyfriend and his pop. I brush my teeth, put on the required orange vest and hat and we’re off.
It was a different world up there. Its hard for me to explain. I was more vulnerable and at the mercy of nature. It put me in my place, if you will. I was awakened to a whole new appreciation of nature and it humbled me.
We trekked. Stopped. Listened. Trekked again. Followed the animal tracks and repeated the whole thing over. Before I knew it we were 2 miles out and the sun was coming up and we hear guns shots firing a few miles to our right. We are on top of another large hilltop and I could sense their shots were going to lead “game” our way (and in now way was this a game to me. I took this very seriously. Our purpose was to hunt an elk and that meant an animals life was going to be taken because of our intentions).
Sure enough Bang! Bang! Bang! These other hunters are trigger happy! Next thing we know we see a fleet of elk stampede from the direction of the shots. Pop get his gun ready and we are booking it as best we can down the other side of this steep hilltop trying not to slip on the snow and fall down. Pops loading his gun, stops and takes aim, but we missed out. The crowd of elk have already run out of sight.
Until another bunch comes running behind. Again the chase is on! Pop runs closer, yanks off his gloves and throws it behind him. I pick it up and follow close, he takes aim, fires, and misses. About 4 bunches of elk pass and another glove tossed we are short on a kill. Until one last group of elk come through. This bunch is very confused with all the noise bouncing from the mountain tops. A few stop to listen in the direction of the danger, but unfortunately one of them bravely didn’t make it. Bang! Pop lowers his gun and my boyfriend informs us the elk has dropped.
Pop stays behind to catch his breath and control his adrenaline, but we both go up the other hill where the elk lays. We find it, but he is still breathing and alive. As I watch him lay there inhaling hard I can feel the strength in his breath and his confusion. Or maybe it was just me. Because next thing I know I begin to hyperventilate and tears come streaming out uncontrollably. I have to go another direction. Any direction. Just calm down and collect myself. I then realize that this may be in no way helping this elk feel any more comfortable. I don’t even know how the elk is feeling! Or if he is even bothered! Or if he was okay with this ending. All this made me more upset, but if it were me, I would want my hunter to show more respect instead of walk away and wait for me to die. So I turn back and go to the elk. I thanked him the night before and this morning for his sacrifice before we even met him personally, but now I thanked him again face to face.
By this time Pop is up the hill with us and takes aim for the kill shot. I wont bother describing that part to you, but I will say it was completely different than what we think it would be or what we see in the movies. Pop then shares some words of wisdom about how strong these animals are and that they feel pain differently than humans. He says they can have a broken bone in their leg and they are still moving around and keep up with their herd, unlike humans if we broke a bone in our leg we wouldn’t be able to do anything. This bit of info made me feel a bit better about the whole thing, and the entire experience gave me a whole new found respect.
We skinned the body and took the meat back to freeze overnight. After one more chilling night we packed our things and drove our way back home to civilization. About half way home, though, we stopped at a motel so we all could take showers and freshen up for the remainder of the drive. I slept like a baby the rest of the way.
As I mentioned the entire trip was something I had been asking for for a long time. I wanted to be able to just take a trip on a moments notice and stuff some bags and be off on my new adventure! I did just that and I learned so much more about myself and how there really are two different worlds here on earth. There is the one we live in everyday, with conveniences everywhere we turn and then there is the wild where you have to work for everything and there is nothing convenient about it.
This Thanksgiving I am Thankful for the opportunities I have been blessed with this past year and being able to move forward with all the new knowledge I have gained
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving this year and share with others what you are thankful for. No matter where you are I hope you have a great time and a safe trip!