My maternal great-grandfather was a sheep herder on these mountains and my grandmother grew up following the sheep barefoot through the foothills.
My earliest memories involve fishing in the creek behind the family cabin with my paternal grandfather, my dad, and my brothers.
I remember trailing behind my grandparents finding arrowheads and visiting the cemetery at the bottom of the mountain to see many ancestors' graves. My mom has taken me on countless hikes along the red cliffs and up to the meadow to watch deer graze.
My dad taught me to ski, and then snowboard, here, trading gloves with me on the lift when my hands got too cold.
Bringing my kids to this place is more then just a fun outdoor activity. It is teaching them a part of their heritage and rooting them to people they may have never even met. It is showing them to respect this God-given gorgeous earth.
It is giving them a home they can always return to. I grew up a short 2.5-hour drive away from this sanctuary, and was able to visit it many times in my youth.
However, I am raising my children as a military family. We move often and we move far away from this place.
I make an effort to return, though. I know that although they may not know it yet, these mountains are in their souls. I will do everything in my power to remind them of that.