The Switzerland of America

Summit Semester Zac Curtis 2016As week three of our semester here at Snow Wolf Lodge came to a close, we all greatly anticipated the day trip to Ouray, CO, nicknamed the Switzerland of America. All the stories that the staff would tell about the beauty of the landscape caused a desire to drop everything and leave right then and there. The Friday before the trip, we had our first snowfall. This came as a surprise because it was only late September. We have yet to receive the gift of another white blanket as we did that day. This snowfall, however, produced a landscape for the trip ahead we had not dreamed of.

The day of the trip, a small group departed early to enjoy a small hike to take in the painted landscape and eventually an overlook of the quaint town. The views were spectacular. The colors popping all around with the beginnings of autumn. Cliffs and chasms as a surprise gift and finally a picturesque view of Ouray being cradled by the towering mountains all around. However, being the lover of sleep that I am, I chose to get a little more shuteye and join the group leaving a little later in the day.

We woke up to a layer of frost covering everything in sight. After departing, we quickly realized that the true beauty of this trip was not the town of Ouray (while in its own right gorgeous) but rather the drive through the mountains on the Million Dollar Highway, as it’s called. White-capped peaks all around, mystical fog weaving in and out of the valleys and one small two-lane highway navigating through it all, giving a front row seat of God’s magnificent creation.

We took as many stops as we could, we took as many photos as humanly possible, and we took our time to enjoy it all. We also created a strangely diverse playlist to give our journey a soundtrack. It consisted of everything from Michael Bublé to Europe, Enrique Iglesias to Mumford and Sons, and just for fun a few Disney classics. That is what happens when you get students from all across the country packed in one fifteen passenger van.

Once we arrived in the quaint little town of Ouray, everyone split off in small groups to shop or find food. As per Summit tradition, a group made their way to a local burger joint and proceeded to write “Summit Semester 2016” on the ceiling. This was not an act of vandalism, as the restaurant actually invited that kind of behavior. This fulfilled yet another of Summit Semester’s many traditions.

We eventually all made it back to our designated rendezvous spot and loaded back into our vans. We were sad to leave the beautiful town but happy to return to our new home at Snow Wolf Lodge and sleep after our long day of travel. However, just when we thought the trip couldn’t get any better, God pulled out his paint brush and got to work.

Over the course of the day the sun had melted away the snow and pushed out the mist, revealing even more autumn colors. On top of that, everything was illuminated by the setting sun. It felt like we had entered a new world. It looked nothing like the road we had driven that morning. The landscape was glowing. The trees had more life. The mountains seemed to reach higher. Our trip to Ouray was a perfect example of enjoying the journey rather than focusing on the destination.

Zac Curtis, the third of his family to attend Summit Semester, joins us from Tampa, Florida. Four years ago, he picked up a guitar…and never really put it down. He has had the opportunity to use his musical talents in Young Life, as well as serving on the worship team at his church. Zac has a heart for youth ministry, and hopes to be able to volunteer his time in ministry on the side while pursuing business. He is also interested in photography and men’s fashion. Around the lodge, he can usually be found playing his guitar, playing foosball, unintentionally making people laugh, or eating.