Monday, October 20, 2014

Blood and Rain

The blood trickles down my leg, mixes with the rain, and seeps into my dirty sock.

I pause and reflect for a moment. This is the 100 Mile Wilderness.

This is Maine. 

This is the AT. 

Challenging but fulfilling.

Beautiful but brutal. 

Blood from the fall but rain to wash it away. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

ROMO 2014

Another season at Rocky Mountain National Park.

I cannot believe how quickly it went by!  May through September felt like five days rather than five months.  We'll see what the next five months have in store for us.

Thanks to everyone for all the fun and adventure that we shared.  And to Aaron and Ben who were present during my two separate concussions.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Soukkala Life circa 1950

The past few months I've been in the process of transferring all of our family's old home movies to digital format.  It's been such a trip seeing all of this old footage of special occasions and daily life.  I'm so thankful (so, so thankful) for all the footage my parents took just of our daily life.  I find it absolutely fascinating and precious.

The other night I was reviewing some older footage (from my grandparents) while listening to music, and a particular piece of music came on that just seemed to fit so perfectly with what I was watching.  I had to share my experience with you guys.  The following is a snippet of Soukkala (my mom's family) life circa 1950 in Warrenton, Oregon.  There is so much more awesome footage, but I just added the music to this particular clip and left all the original editing alone.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

White Russians & Golden Aspens

Really had a great time with my Mom & Dad last week.

Monday night bowling.
Dark beer.
Onion rings.
Golden aspens.
Frigid alpine water.
Red wine.
Bugling elk.
Pink sunsets.
Kind Coffee breakfast.
Trail Ridge Road.
Alpine tundra.
Sprinting moose.
Ice cream.
White Russians while looking for moose.
Movie night with Chinese food.

I'd call it an awesome trip.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sky Pond with the Friddles

"What?!" I shout over the howling wind.
"I said, this is the most adventurous thing I've ever done!" Micah repeats as he clings to the edge of Timberline Falls, wind and rain pounding our faces.  Sarah's poncho flaps uncontrollably as she descends the precarious cliff, step by careful step.
"Awesome!"  I shout back.

Music to my ears.

I'm so happy my sister (Sarah) and brother-in-law (Micah) were able to make it out to Colorado for a few days of adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park.  It was so much fun hanging out with them.  I'm glad they were able experience a slice of the Rocky Mountains.

By the time we made it back to the trailhead, we were all soaked to the bone.  It was definitely time for a hot meal and a cold brew.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


The stars are the only light as I pull into the Bear Lake parking lot.
I click on my headlamp.
Hiking past the eerily quiet black water of Bear Lake, I begin my ascent to Flattop Mountain.
The rocks and dirt and twigs feel welcome beneath my boots.
A faint orange light begins to appear through the trees on the horizon.
The stars begin to fade away.
I stop for coffee at treeline just as the orange fireball bursts over the horizon.
The squirks of a thousand pikas fight to be heard over the howling wind.
I climb higher into the alpine tundra.
A lone bull elk watches me from afar and trots down the mountainside.
The wind tries to push me over as I approach the top.
There is no other sound but the howling in my ears.
Alone on Flattop with the howling wind.
I pause.
And join in the howling before retreating back down the mountain.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Uncle Wes

As I type this, I’m flying high above the mountains and clouds with a deep blue sky and brilliant sun.  Back to Denver after an unexpected trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Being back in Oregon for my uncle’s funeral was extremely bittersweet.  I have so many happy memories from our annual family vacations growing up.  The last time I visited was in 2011, and it was so happy.  The most recent of a long list of wonderful trips out West.  It helps to have these happy memories during difficult times.

I did not imagine the next time I’d be in Oregon would be for a funeral.  When I heard the news of my uncle’s passing, I was in shock like the rest of us.  It was unexpected and difficult to accept.  It still is.  And will be.  I knew I wanted to be there with the rest of my family.  To comfort and to receive comfort.  It was great seeing all of them again.

My uncle was a huge part of my life even though he lived thousands of miles away.  His overflowing generosity and loving encouragement were and still are an inspiration to me on how I should live my life and treat others.

We said goodbye, and his legacy lives on, and I’m so thankful for the memories I have with him.  And for his encouraging words over the years.

Below is a comment he left on my blog shortly after my visit in 2011 and just before I began my career with the National Park Service.  I can’t read it without crying.


July 17, 2011

I had no idea, well some maybe... that you were so John Muir like. No wonder you felt cheated when I reduced your "Fort to Sea" trek by half a mile by dropping you and your family off on the trail at a spot that mostly just us locals know about without reading a brochure.

Ken Burns perhaps is right. The NPS could be "America's Best Idea." You'll fit right in with their purpose. God's greatest handiwork is in such areas and dedicated people such as you need to keep them secure.

Your Mom told me of your blog spot here. I'll check in from time to time and see what you have posted.

God's blessings on all your adventures.

Uncle Wes*


Obituary: Wesley Soukkala