Mount Columbia Trip

My name is Josh. I have been in recovery for over two years and I am now a leader in my church and working through our ministries to help reach the people who are now what I used to be. Earlier this summer my mother went on a Wild Hearts adventure with Paul and his ministry. She had an incredible time and came back with incredible pictures and stories. She decided when she got back that she would like to bless me with an opportunity to go. At first I was hesitant because it was such short notice and because I had a lot of things going on. But after I had no valid excuses left, I was on a plane to Minneapolis. I arrived a day earlier and was blessed to have Paul pick me up at the airport and allowed me to stay at his house for a night to avoid hotel expenses. That evening we got all of the gear ready and talked about exactly what I should expect. I came unprepared regarding the clothes I would need, but Paul was able to provide me with a good base layer jacket and hiking pants. Both of these were a huge blessing when we got to the trails and setup camp. I'm really not sure I can adequately explain how incredible this trip was, but I'll give it my best shot. We left Minneapolis and drove about 15 hours to the mountains in Colorado. It was a lot of driving, but Paul made it a fun time. We stopped (as per Wild Heart tradition) at an awesome coffee shop in Ames, Iowa. We also stopped at some really good restaurants on the way. Paul really knows the good spots! We arrived in Denver the night before we hit the trails and spent a night in a hotel room. Wild Hearts overed all of the expenses. The next day we started out early and arrived at the North Cottonwood Trailhead in the San Isabel National Forest. We got all of our gear ready (all of which was provided) and began hiking. Around 4 PM we picked a spot and setup camp. We were close to a peaceful stream and surrounded by God's beauty! We setup the tents, built a fire and Paul cooked dinner. I believe the first night was a delicious beef enchilada meal. We had so much food! Paul also gave everyone a big snack bag with power bars, dried fruits, trail mix, candy and a few other things to last the duration of the trip. That night we sat around the fire and had some really deep talks about life, our churches, our ministries and addiction. Paul has family who have struggled with addiction and his wife runs a ministry to help families of addicts, so as a recovering addict it was wonderful for me to have these talks with him. Every night we sat around the campfire talking, I learned a lot from him. I am currently working to start a clothing ministry for the homeless through my church, and this was something Paul had experience with himself so he was able to give me a lot of ideas and support. This was such a huge blessing. We hiked further towards the mountain each day and would set up camp in a new spot. Each one was absolutely beautiful beyond words. I took so many incredible pictures to serve as a reminder of how amazing this trip was! The day we decided to summit Mount Columbia, we woke up early. Paul is always up with the sunrise and we started the day with a good hot breakfast and lots of coffee! Then we made day packs with everything we would need for the summit hike. Going up the mountain got tiring at times, but Paul is very patient. He moves at the slowest persons pace and makes sure everyone is safe. It took us hours, but eventually we reached the summit. It was a surreal experience. The view went on for miles and miles and was the absolute most incredible thing I've ever seen! I have never felt as close to God as I did on this trip! His beauty and splendor was everywhere and with all of the quietness on the mountain, I could hear God speaking to me constantly! The trip was so amazing that I plan to do one every year! The day we left the trail, we drove for a while and then spent another night in a motel. We arrive back at Paul's home in Minneapolis the next day. Because of my flight arrangements, I ended up spending two more nights at Paul's and was blessed to meet his family. What an honor that was! His wife Pam is an amazing woman and I was blessed to be able to share my testimony with the parents of addicts struggling with addiction. The best thing I could tell them was to never lose hope! We do recover! I'm a walking testament to that! His kids are also very wonderful! One of the things we did was help prepare for a canoeing trip that his son was guiding the following week. He told me all about it and it sounded pretty amazing as well. I plan to check one of these out in the future. We also ate some really good food and visited the Mall of America! What a mind blow that place was! The day I had to fly home was bittersweet. I was excited to get home and back to my life, but I was also sad because I had to leave. The bond I formed with this family was incredible! I will never forget this ministry, this family or the memories made! I am so grateful for the opportunity to do this!

Share Your Thoughts