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14-ers

GC Mountain Retreat Weekend

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GC Mountain Retreat Weekend

We recently hosted our gospel community {{also referred to as GC}} at our family's cabin in Fairplay for our seasonal mountain retreat. This weekend is designed to be a time of fellowship, game playing {I mean A LOT of game playing}, laughing, resting, & relaxation, as well as, exploration & adventure! I am so grateful to be in this community of believers that surrounds me with love, acceptance, joy, authenticity, & just all around fun & fellowship! I used to pray, and I must admit even just beg, for God to introduce me to friends that liked to play board games & card games, loved to do new things together, & enjoyed talking & laughing into the wee hours of the morning. God not only answered those prayers but he far exceeded fulfilling that desire. This may sound silly but I am not kidding when I say I like to play games.... I mean a lot of games for hours & hours. I have truly met my match at least 4 times over in our GC on those who love to play games! Anyways back to the GC Mountain Retreat Weekend --

Friday:

As everyone arrived, we unpacked cars and giddily talked about what lay ahead for the weekend!

We ate Christi's delicious chicken & sausage jambalaya (See the recipe here.) & talked about our activities for the next day! There were going to be three different groups doing fun things on Saturday which consisted of:  The Hikers, The Fishermen, & The Town Explorers.

We played Uno for hours {it only took us 20 minutes to explain all the rules since it had been a decade or more since some people had played.. aka Justin.} as well as B.S, also known as Boyscouts per Jack. hehe. I didn't want to stop playing games but since The Hikers were going to be leaving the house at 4:40 AM to hike Mount Quandary, we decided it was time to begin preparation for the morning & get ready for bed. 

We made assembly lines and took sandwich orders from the whole crew, made our bladders of water, and packed all of our lunches & packs. Finally we all got to bed a little after midnight! I felt like it was Christmas Eve I was so excited. I woke up at 2 AM convinced it was time for me to turn on the coffee and get ready. Thankfully I checked the time before I was too far in this plan.

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Friday Dinner
Ben + Jack + Trig

Saturday:

To get a full account of The Hikers journey to hiking a 14-er check out the post here.

After our hike which totaled about 8 hours with stops, snacking, potty breaks, etc. - we headed back to the cabin. On the way back, I texted the Town Explorer crew and they were at High Paw Pet Supplies meeting Andre! I convinced The Hikers to go meet up with them. {This consisted of me begging to go and no one having the guts to oppose.... I have such sweet friends! haha} Andre is a large cat that was rescued by this pet store and has since gained QUITE the Instagram following. Check out @andre.giantcat to learn more about Andre. We all just had to go get a picture with him! See these priceless photos below.

Chelsea + Andre
Jack + Andre
Anna + Andre

When we arrived back at the cabin, some of the crew napped {in hindsight - I should have joined them but anyone who knows me, knows I am not a napper and I do NOT like naps haha. I am personally just such a grumpo when I wake up, I feel worse or groggy the rest of the day, & I just don't like to waste daylight or miss out on the fun times!} and some of the crew talked and became delirious, I must add.

 
Ben + Trig
 
 
Jack + Trig
 

Shortly after a quick mountain rain storm, The Fishermen crew arrived back at the cabin to tell us about their adventures! They caught 25+ fish, hiked part of a 14-er, saw a buffalo or was it a bison? anyhow they thoroughly enjoyed themselves! It was so cool to see our seasoned veteran fly fisher teach a new fly fisherman what he knew and see them bond over their common interest in fishing!

 
Fish
 

Saturday evening consisted of cooking over 6 lbs of fried chicken, frying up the 7 trout the boys brought home, making homemade cauliflower mac & cheese {I will share this recipe soon!}, & hearty salad! I love cooking meals together at the cabin. There is something so sweet about the whole process. Some people gravitate towards cooking {me, Jack, Cole}, while Christi & John are great choppers & preppers, and some of the boys are our clean up crew {Edward, Ben, & Justin}, and everyone else who helps set the table & take drink orders. It is just one of the most fulfilling earthly experiences topped off with eating family style. Our presentation isn't fancy & it isn't perfect but it sure is made with love & absolutely delicious.

 
Saturday Dinner
 

Sunday:

After we had breakfast, we spent some time in God's word as a group and just reflected on on the weekend in the basement. During this time, Cole spotted a moose walking across our property! It was majestic. We immediately all started running up the stairs trying to snap a photo and get a better view. Here is the only good image I have of this moose. You can see that his hind legs are TALLER than our friend's Jeep Cherokee! It was amazing but don't be fooled. Moose are very aggressive and dangerous so do not approach one in the wilderness!

 
Moose
 

When I come back from a weekend like this I come back rejuvenated, filled with encouragement & joy, and thankful for the body of Christ in community. Community has changed my life over and over. If you are not in community - my prayer is that you would seek out Godly community that will continue to challenge you to live as Christ calls you to. Community isn't perfect but it is essential to our sanity & growth. Isolation can overwhelm you and suck you in before you realize what is happening. If you have questions or would like to know more about biblical community - feel free to message me in the Contact section or leave a comment below!

Full heart -

Chelsea
 

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Mount Quandary

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Mount Quandary

This summer, I am excited to say Ben & I successfully hiked our first 14-er!! A true Coloradoan right of passage! We took our gospel community group up to the cabin for a retreat in July & 5 of us decided to take on Mount Quandary near Breckenridge, CO. 

Our crew consisted of Ben [my husband], Jack, Anna, Christi, & myself. We woke up on time [which is a big feat for this group, let me tell ya!], made coffee, ate breakfast, finished packing our packs, & were out the door only 5 minutes behind schedule! That is a win if you ask me. Our goal was to leave the cabin by 4:40 AM. We expected the drive to take us about 15-20 minutes. We had some slight GPS problems, aka we would rather follow Google Maps than take the signs that read "Mount Quandary Trailhead" at face value.

We made it to the trailhead at about 5:40 AM and began our trek. To give you some background on our experience level, Jack hiked Mount Quandary sometime in the last decade and told us that 1) If we were to get lost we had bigger fish to fry and 2) it was the "easiest" 14-er in Colorado [Anytime someone uses the words "easy" and 14-er in the same sentence is crazy!]. Anna hiked another 14-er like 4 years ago before she moved to Denver & also claimed it was pretty easy. Ben, Christi, & myself had NO previous 14-er experience. whatsoever. To sum it up - this is no group of professional hikers! 

The first quarter mile or so is quite steep. We got to a stopping point and I am like what? I thought this was "easy"!! I had noo idea what lay ahead of us. Our first 1.5 hours or so consisted of hiking in the treeline, taking layers on and off, taking pictures of the sunrise, laughing, talking, & eating snacks. 

Quandary - Sunrise
Quandary - Sunrise 2
Quandary - Group
Quandary - Girls
Quandary - Ben Morning
Quandary - Anna Morning
 
Quandary - Ben + Sun
 

We hit the top of the treeline and everything changed. We went from dirt & soft ground in the trees to all ROCKS. Loose rocks. Boulders. Everyone talked less & stopped more to catch our breathe. We eventually reached a certain point where the girls broke away from the boys and forged on. We were convinced we had some good momentum going and wanted to keep that up. Above the treeline there are several mountain goats that roam.  This provided some welcome distraction!

 
Quandary - Goats
 

So one thing to know about Mount Quandary is that there is mini peak that seems like it is the summit, but its not. My heart dropped when we realized that there was a whole other mountain to climb to reach the summit! See picture below. I was like "You want me to climb that? The snow capped mountain? You must have lost your mind!"

 
Quandary - Summit
 

This is where Anna and I decided that we were going to keep our own paces so that we wouldn't lose steam and give up. At some point on this last 2.5 miles, I started asking every single person coming down the mountain how much further I had. I had a variety of responses {One person would tell me I needed to stop focusing on how much further, its not that hard, & I should pick up the pace #rude and had one person encourage me and tell me exactly what the last part of the climb would be like and that I could do it!} but mostly encouraging responses. There were a few people on the climb that I would like to point out:

  • A kid, yes an 8-10 year old kid, passed me on the way up and then was coming down the mountain right as I was about to summit. Yeah - that will make you feel really good.
  • One guy was rogging (run-jogging) up the mountain..with no shoes on..yep that is right just barefooted.
  • There was a guy maybe in his mid 40s (the positive encourager I previously mentioned) who summit-ed in 2.5 hours - which is 30 minute miles! That is really hard to do. He seemed not even phased by the physical exertion!

Somehow, someway Anna, Ben, & I all made it to the summit of Mount Quandary! We were ecstatic. As we all trickled in, we could not stop talking about how hard it was & just completely in awe of the views & our accomplishment. It took me 4 hours to summit.

Quandary Summit - Chelsea
Quandary Summit - Anna
Quandary Summit - Ben
Quandary Summit - Anna + Chels
 
Quandary Summit - View
 
 
Ben + Chels at Summit
 
  • God's Plan to Cross Paths: We are at the summit when someone yells "Chelsea Garner!" Anyone who calls me by my maiden name, probably knew me from Texas or Georgia so I know its someone that I am not expecting at all! I yell "Who is that?!" and come to find out it is one of my community group girls from Watermark in Fort Worth, Texas!! There were four of us who were in community together for a year. During this time span we all got engaged & married. This was such a sweet, sweet season and I am forever grateful for these girls and how God orchestrated putting us altogether in a time where we really needed each other. I am still shocked that I saw Emily at the top of Mount Quandary!
 
 

On the way down you would think that it would be easier but it brings on a whole other set of difficulties. Your toes jam up against your shoes over and over again & your knees really start to hurt. Stay tuned for a future post about our 14-er tips! We wrote these down in our cabin log book and I think they are great tips to share! 

Quandary - View on the way down
Quandary - Clouds

There is something about being in nature and truly taking in God's beautiful creation that is almost indescribable. I never knew I would be one of those people that felt so close to God while surrounded with trees, blue skies, high elevation, & so many rocks! But there is just something about the wilderness that brings you to your knees and lets you know that you are so so small compared to God. That might sound scary but it is so comforting. I don't have to have it all figured out. But over the last few months of living in Colorado, I am seeing God's beauty all around me in a new light. This is not just in his creation of mountains, clear blue skies, clouds that cannot be real but also the beauty in community, friendship, and marriage. I am so thankful, so so thankful for this life.

Shout it from the mountains!

Chelsea
 

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