Reflections of My Trip to Colorado

Looking back at it, I have to admit that it was quite different than any other trip I’ve ever taken to Colorado. The largest piece of my life wasn’t by my side looking after me. Although I’m 51 years old, I enjoy the fact that my father still treats me like I’m his 12-year-old son. He still takes the time to teach me things. He listens when I need an ear. He offers encouragement at just the right time. He gives me a kick in the ass when I need some motivation. As a parent, there’s nothing he has ever done while raising me that I see as being negative. He has made the most out of his opportunity to be a great father to his son.

I missed him on this trip. There was an emptiness that’s hard to explain. We’ve shared so many adventures in the Rockies, that I can barely remember may of them. We started when we were both young. Dad was 42 years old when he decided to take me elk hunting. He asked me if I wanted to go elk hunting when I graduated from college, and I told him I would love to give it a try.

Last year, we were standing together on a 12,000-foot mountain looking for an elk I had wounded. It was raining and miserable, and he had walked about eight miles to get to the area where I had wounded it the evening before. He never hesitated about making the journey when I came back to the tent that night and told him that I had wounded a good one. We never did find the elk, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

When he and Jason left me and Brian after looking for it, they headed over the mountain to get back to camp. They decided to camp out for a bit and wait some elk out. Dad’s guess worked out, and Jason killed his first bull a short time later. Dad has helped a lot of guys get their first elk. Unfortunately, I tried doing the same for some of my younger friends this year. Obviously, I’m not as good of a guide as my father. I didn’t get the job done.

Dad has worked hard to get back to feeling better, but he has endured many deep, dark valleys in the recovery. I’d like to say there have been a few peaks along the way, but I’d be lying if I said that. We can only hope that things improve and Dad is able to get back to doing some of the things he’s used to doing. Although he is getting up there in age, his heart is that of a young fighter. He’s driven, determined and motivated. Whatever this stuff that took hold of him in Florida is, he is determined to overcome it. We will see what happens as we try to navigate through hunting season in New York.

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