Our 24th Bonfire brought us to the Colorado High Country where we enjoyed the crisp air, blue skies and starry nights of Rocky Mountains. Our group of Purple Heart recipients took advantage of the great outdoors in and around Granby enabling them all to enjoy the brotherhood and, as always, a ton of good food!
The group met at Solid Grounds in Littleton, CO to grab some smoothies and big cookies before the journey to Granby. Once everyone was settled in our mountain house and the kitchen was stocked with groceries for the weekend, the team loaded up and headed to Winter Park for a dinner feast at De Antonio’s. As he does every time the Bonfire visits the Fraser Valley, Frank De Antonio prepares a yummy Italian banquet for our Purple Heart recipients. With everyone’s stomach full, the group headed back to Granby Ranch for some bonding and a good night’s sleep in the cool mountain air.
Friday morning Team Bonfire headed down to the lodge at Granby Ranch to get fitted on mountain bikes and headed up the chairlift for some mountain biking in the woods and on the slopes at Ski Granby. A mix of experienced mountain bikers and newbies made for a fun ride and opened the ever present “No Man Left Behind” comforting feeling we find at every Bonfire event. We took in beautiful scenery and views of the mountains, rivers and alpine meadows. Of course, some were left a tad sore from the bike seats and bruises from a few tumbles, but the biggest bruises you can imagine were the egos! After lunch, the team headed to Grand Lake for a pontoon boat ride hosted by Rudy Perez and Darrell Herk. Rudy served as a great tour guide of the houses and land along the lake and this group will never forget Rudy’s infectious laugh! After the boat ride Team Bonfire headed to Hot Sulfur Springs to soak in the hot springs pool which felt great after biking. That night at the house it was Brats, Burgers and Bonding! A key part of these weekends is the ability for everyone to open up, get the issues, emotions and frustrations they find that every one of them deals with off their backs. They are safe in a small group and it creates real healthy change.
"Thanks for getting me out of my comfort zone. The mountain biking, horseback riding and telling my story"– Purple Heart Recipient John Cushman
We woke up Saturday for an early horseback ride through the meadows, along with some mud, and headed up the mountain. What a great view from the top! On the way down we were rerouted as some “llamas” were loose. Our guide Matt read llamas as a bear. After grabbing some food, we headed into Rocky Mountain National Park and a ride up Trail Ridge Road. What a beautiful view from up high and a chance to touch the snow! Along the way we saw moose and elk, took a short hike to tour Holzwarth Ranch. We were reminded to slow down and take in the views a bit more, when one of our leaders (not mentioning any names) was stopped for driving too fast (thanks to Ranger Michael Eastman for not issuing a ticket). Saturday night, we had our bonfire and a steak dinner to complete Bonfire #24.
Special thanks to our Veterans and Soldiers that participated on the trip; Jered Whatcott and Taylor Foss for their assistance; and our supports – De Antonio’s, Granby Ranch, Sombrero Ranch at Snow Mountain Ranch and Rudy Perez & Darrell Herk. Without the support of these great people and companies, the Colorado Outdoors Bonfire could not have happened. See all the fun photos here!
"I had to do something extremely hard for myself yesterday at the bonfire that very few of us can understand. But I gained 5 new Brothers that are dealing with the same thing. Thanks to the Warrior Bonfire Program for what they do." Purple Heart Recipient CR Patrick