First and foremost you should know I don't take the most Instagramable photos with me in them. I always look forced and awkward. Trust me, you will see the proof below and it's undeniable. So I try and keep my focus on the main star, planet earth, or my friends, or kids, or brides and grooms. They are the ones who deserve all the attention.
About a year ago Yogi Magee (Natalie Magee)'s signature Telluride Yoga retreat was up for sale. I dragged Jaime and Jenn and said we needed to go. It included hiking, paddle boarding, yoga and the mountains, pretty much all of our favorite things. It was hard for them to tell me, no, but man a year to wait wasn't going to be easy. In the last year, my photography business was fortunate enough to really pick up and keep me quite busy. In fact, by the time the trip finally came around I found myself living, breathing, eating and overall obsessed with photography, reading articles, books, doing workshops, mentoring, editing and shooting. I couldn't get enough, but I also couldn't relax and truth be told I was on the fast track to burn out.
I have never been to Telluride. I've heard it's absolutely gorgeous but the 6-hour car ride has always shoved the trip to the back of my list, but a car ride with my adventure friends seemed like a good idea. We headed up and laughed, sung, almost died as I tried to pass cars, it was everything you wanted in a car trip. We took a detour to the Black Canyon of Gunnison, and Jenn had a heart attack at the $20 we spent to get into the park, earning her the new name of Mavis. But in the end, Mavis felt it earned her $20. We drove around the park and I was so happy about the detour. I will let the pictures speak for themselves below.
As we rolled into Telluride it was in a cloud of smoke, and not like in a Cheech and Chong way. The San Juans were closed due to wildfire and the smoke was heavy. It always makes me so sad, but I also know it's apart of the cycle, as long as that cycle isn't due to some dumb human.
The next day I got up at sunrise (5am) to take some sunrise photos. I was exhausted but the best light is that gorgeous blue and golden hour and I couldn't resist. The smoke had cleared and I was not disappointed.
We got ready, grabbed our yoga mats and rode the gondolla for some mountain top yoga. It was rustic, and there were rocks under our mats, but we were on such a gorgeous mountain I barely noticed.
From here it was alpine paddle board. We decided against it for many different reasons, falling in, it was more than we wanted to spend and we just strangely weren't up for it. It was nice to be able to change directions and not feel bad about not joining the others. I really liked that about Natalie's retreat. She has so many options you can do if you want! We decided we wanted to hike Bridal Veil Falls, but the road was closed so we ended up joining others on the lake.
So this is the point where all hell broke loose for me personally. Suddenly my camera wasn't working. I panicked. As a photographer, not having my camera is like missing my hand. I had a wedding coming up in 8 days and I needed my two cameras and like an idiot, I didn't pack my others. I was mentally in total meltdown mode, and it was at this point that I realized how wound up I was. People were trying to talk to me and I could barely even think let alone have a conversation my head was spinning faster than it ever had before. I think Jaime honed in on my quiet private meltdown and she suggested we head back to the condo where I could get a camera rented in time for the wedding and get things patched up.
Once I did this, (huge thank you to Mike's Camera!) I had to let go. I had to not think about photography, I had to just let go and know it was going to be okay. I had to just be. This was so eye-opening to me as to where I was mentally. I'm glad that my camera broke, truthfully I couldn't enjoy my trip as much as I did because I would have still underneath it felt like I was working.
So from here on, please enjoy my beautifully edited Galaxy Note8 pictures.
The road to Bridal Veil Falls opened up and in the heat of the day Jenn, Jaime and I headed up. Bridal Veil Falls in Colorado's tallest free-falling waterfall. It reminded me so much of Iceland.
The day ended with more mountain-top yoga and for some bike rides. I found the condo's hot tub and called it a day. It was a good day.
Day 3 was the Via Ferrata for Jaime and I. Jenn, being afraid of heights opted out and had a day to herself. Via Ferrata in Italian means, "The Iron Way." Basically, this adventure is two miles across and a 500 feet fall to your death along a narrow ledge of a mountain. I was a little hesitant at first, but after yesterday's camera failure I decided to not think about the what ifs, what if it goes wrong, what if I fall, what if I die? I decided to not think about it and just put one foot in front of another. I thought that I would be clipped into the mountain most of the time, but I found there was only wire about half the time.
There gets to a point where you are so high up it doesn't even feel real and we reached that point quickly. Chris from San Juan Outdoor Adventures was kind, calm and led 4 of us along the cliff. Right before the main event, which is where we are on only iron rods I kicked a small pebble off the cliff and watched it fall....it was still falling....oh, it's still going....damn we are up high. This was the only moment of fear I had was the actualization of what I was doing, but I pushed the what-ifs out, and just concentrated on the now.
The trip was awesome and it pushed me to do things so far out of my comfort zone but I was able to accomplish two feats I was proud of. I finished and I never said, "I can't." I just did. Here are our photos:
After such an adrenaline rush I really enjoyed our sunset deck top yoga session on the other side of Telluride.
So this was the morning I realized I really did love my family and I missed them terribly. Jenn and Jaime were also feeling the same way. The rain had rolled in (and although the weather wasn't adventure perfect, it was perfectly what our fire ridden mountains needed). The next day was father's day and Jaime, Jenn and I decided that maybe we would high tail it back a day early but not before enjoying some coffee on the deck, with the misty rain falling and just enjoying that fresh mountain fall. Also, we had to squeeze one more adventure in. Natalie guided us to a secret hike. It wasn't easy to get to, it involved crossing a river on a soaking wet log and crossing the rushing snowmelt to get there but it was worth every single minute and thus concluded a perfect adventure retreat, full of friends, strong women, adventure, pushing us out of our comfort zone and getting in some serious and amazing girl time.
If you get a chance to attend this retreat, I HIGHLY recommend it!