Gratefulness and Birthday Wishes

Clouds moving through James Peak

Last Friday I celebrated a birthday.  In my life only a few birthdays distinctly stand out in my mind.  This year I decided to go on an overnight backpacking trip.  I invited some friends to go along but it didn’t work out with anybody’s schedule.  For a few days I debated about going and then just decided to go it alone.  It’s funny how many people inquired whether that was a wise thing to do.

I’ve spent considerable time in the outdoors but had never done a solo overnight backpacking trip.  I felt the solitude would be a good thing.  I did all the safe things in case you are wondering.  I left a map and itinerary at home with my family.  I left my food in a bear bag hanging on a line away from my tent.  And I even had some neighbors in the vicinity at Rogers Peak Lake in the James Peak Wilderness.

I had trouble sleeping the night before I left.  I love it that I still get so excited like a little boy over some things.  It is like a message that I’m still young in my heart and my spirit.  I hope I never grow old in my spirit.  I left early enough to hit the trail at 5:02 am and I got across the Continental Divide Trail in time to make camp before noon.  Along the way on the trip in I would occasionally stop and jot down some things I was grateful for.  I had decided this year to begin a new birthday tradition.  I would make note of things I was grateful for; one for each year I was celebrating.  I tried to limit it to one or just a few words.  What is on the list is important to me.  Some things represent a life lived.  Some things represent current events in my life.  I’m still not done with the exercise as I am three words short.  I’ll finish it shortly as I think it is an exercise that is cause for reflection and not hurriedness.

In all the trip was wonderful.  My biggest concern was not a bear or mountain lion.  In the real world of wildlife, wild animals like to remain wild and unseen.  I was blessed to see deer, elk, many marmots, a white tailed ptarmigan and a monster of a porcupine.  I was concerned about getting down from the divide before storms set in.  Lightning at 11,500 feet would be unsettling.  I was grateful to be at my camp just before threatening storms.

As I came out on Saturday morning I was content, calm and happy.  It had been an enriching trip.  I was glad to see my family after just a short time away.  Gratefulness is something I often take for granted.  I’ll be curious after compiling next year’s list to see how many of my items match up.  I have discovered that I have very much to be thankful for in my life.  I have very little that I should complain about.


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