Backpacking Through The Rockies

Senior Adrienne Parks jumps for joy on peak day of her hike through the San Juan Mountains. A group from Lindale First Baptist Church spent a week backpacking in Colorado.

Brilliant pink rays of setting sun cast themselves across the wide expanse of the Rocky Mountain sky. We gathered together atop a cliff overlooking the winding stream of bone-chilling snowmelt in the ravine below us. As we unbuckled the straps which helped us support the weight of packs half my size, we were taught by our guides how to set up camp for the night. Stars began to emerge one by one, and we huddled around the fire to share our first meal on the trail together.

 Normally one might think that taking a group of teenage girls up into the mountains for a week without phones, makeup, or hair products wouldn’t end well—or at least one might assume it’d be a little rocky.”

— Adrienne Parks

In my experience, however, trekking through the mountains would not have been the same without that group of teenage girls who far surpass their label. One of our trail guides by the name of Hannah then introduced to us the way in which we would all come to know each other so very well: life stories.

Starting with Hannah, we shared our stories one by one throughout our week of hiking through aspen groves, leaping over boulders, bushwhacking above the treeline, sleeping next to alpine lakes and scaling the side of a plateau. We shared meals together in a variety of breathtaking settings, all seeming to be from different parts of the world, yet all belonging to the same mountain range. During those times spent enjoying trail food together at meals or stopping to rest while admiring the beauty around us, we shared the stories of how we became the girls sitting with each other in the Rocky Mountain wilderness.

A dancer with a superhuman ability to manage a fashionable appearance even after spending days living out of a backpack in the mountains was adopted from a faraway land as a child. I had no clue. An athlete endowed with geniality has endured the loss of friendships throughout her life that took an emotional toll on her. I had no clue. An artist with a kind demeanor, yet occasional propensity to dish out sassy comments to those she’s most comfortable around, struggled with significant health issues for a year. I had no clue. A sweetheart with a tendency to shy away from center stage, yet with the ability to converse comfortably with anyone willing to approach her, suffered through pain concerning family members that changed her life forever. I had no clueuntil life stories.

And those are just a few.

I knew their names and was familiar with the small piece of their existences that is their lives at school until we were miles from civilization, sharing in complete vulnerability the experiences of hardship and happiness that molded us into the teenage girls who are so much more than friendly faces in the hallway.