Certain moments in life should remembered forever. 5280' or mille passuum (ME-lay PA-soo-em) is one of them. We meet and greet one another in the mile high city of Denver, Colorado before heading off to Great Sand Dunes National Park, a top outdoor and adventure spot. Here we acclimatize, get to know one another, and spend the day exploring the park’s 39 miles of trackless sand at the edge of the snow-covered Rocky Mountains.
When we are done saucer-riding down the pure golden sand dunes, we move south to spend the next four days volunteering at Mission: Wolf, a peaceful sanctuary far away from civilization. Here, wolves roam freely, safe from humans. Gazing into their untamed yellow eyes, we are moved with respect. As the sun sets, we fall asleep to the howls of these magnificent creatures.
From Mission: Wolf, it is on to the upper Arkansas River Valley and the Collegiate Peaks. This area has few rivals. Wide U-shaped valleys open onto utterly breathtaking mountain scenery. Dozens of alpine lakes sparkle at the feet of striking rocky cirques and startling, glacier-sculpted high mountain splendor. The area is home to the Arkansas River and from the riverbed we can see how time and the elements have shaped the earth. We break out our rafts, and for the next two days, we splash and roll down the first 125 miles of the 1,400 mile trip to the Mississippi -- a wild ride of pour-overs, standing waves, sharp turns, and narrow chutes that soak us all with exhilaration.
We head to San Isabel National Forest where we all learn the basics of rock climbing, ropes, knots, and belaying. Before our journey ends, we immerse ourselves in hot springs that were used by Native Americans, explore the local ranching culture, and hike the Continental Divide. We enjoy our last moments together sharing a hearty meal and memories as the sunlight paints the peaks above in brilliant shades of red and orange.