Traversing the trails of life together

Esther Noe
Sometimes you just need to take a hike. That is how Mikal and Colleen Lewis got to know each other. Today they still enjoy hiking together, and they recommend that young couples do it too. 
Mikal grew up in Ohio and moved to the Hills in 1973 shortly after the Rapid City Flood. He worked as a salesman on the road selling caulking, silicone and adhesives and had four children from his “first life.” 
Meanwhile, Colleen grew up in Keystone and went to high school in Hill City. She later got married and lived in California and Japan before moving to Hill City in 1972. She had two children in her “previous life.” 
Mikal and Colleen met through mutual friends in 1983 when they were both single. They had known each other through school activities for several years before that, and their children knew each other. Mikal’s children are Faith Lewis, Mike Lewis, Rusty Lewis and Eric Lewis, and Colleen’s children are Dale Crisman and Angela McNamara. 
As first impressions go, Mikal said, “She was a doer. She wasn’t afraid to work. She thought out of the box on a lot of things.” 
“And Mike got things done. If he said he was going to do it, he was going to do it,” said Colleen. “We just kind of grew together.” 
“We were both active in hiking and things, and for dating we did a lot of backpacking up in the Harney range,” said Mikal. “That’s how we got to know each other.”
Dating was interesting according to Colleen because it was hard to find time when they were not surrounded by children. Mikal’s job also kept him on the road Monday through Friday. 
“That’s why we went hiking and backpacking, and we found out we had similar thoughts and ideas and everything,” said Colleen. Along with this, she thought it was fun to meet somebody from the East.
Mikal asked Colleen to marry him on a hike in September of 1985. A few months later on Dec. 21 they got married on Harney Peak, which is now known as Black Elk Peak. 
The day before, Mikal snowshoed up to make a trail. Then, on the day of the wedding the minister, Larry Peterson, their children, Mikal and Colleen hiked up. Although it was 40 degrees in town, there was three feet of snow at the top. It was also very windy which made it difficult to hear. 
Colleen made flowers for everyone out of pine, spruce, kinnikinnick and sage and carried them up in her backpack. Their wedding attire consisted of parkas, and Carol Wiederhold made Colleen a veil with earmuffs. Mikal was 39 at the time and Colleen was 32.
“That’s why I married her so when I got old, she could be young,” Mikal said with a laugh.
After the ceremony, the group hiked back down for a reception where they were joined by family. The reception was held at the Alpine Inn. They had Hungarian goulash soup, German sandwiches, chocolate cake with green rabbits on top and red and green M&Ms. 
Mikal promised to take Colleen on a honeymoon to the Hawaiian Islands at some point, but for the time being they drove to Rapid City for an evening at a hotel. Mikal was going to carry Colleen over the threshold of the room, but there had been a party there the night before and the room was a mess. 
“I thought, ‘This is a good way to start a marriage,’” said Mikal. 
They got a new room, Colleen took a nap and then they went to the mall to do Christmas shopping. The next day they went back to Hill City to start life together right in the middle of the holidays. 
Mikal and Colleen finally made it to the Hawaiian Islands on a cruise 20 years later. 
For the first couple of years, Colleen said they had to keep their schedules straight. 
“You had to know what you were doing when and what everybody else was doing at that time,” she said. 
Mikal added that they bought Post-it Notes by the case and left notes all over for each other. 
Together they had four children in high school at once with one in each grade. All the children were in band and involved in sports. There were also four graduations, four proms and a college graduation to juggle. 
Along with this, Mikal said, “Not long after we got married, I became part of the Hill City Fife and Drum Corps. I was the drum major for that for 10 years. So she and I were very busy with that sort of thing. So we started off right away with chaos, but it was good.”
The children were involved with the fife and drum corps as well. This added travel time and concerts every Monday night during the summer. 
Meanwhile, Mikal was still on the road and only home on the weekends. As a result, all the children had to be off the phone by 8 p.m. so Colleen could talk to him. At the time, Colleen was also working at the sawmill weighing in logging and lumber trucks. 
“It was busy,” said Colleen. Mikal added, “It was a working family, it really was.”
“After that many years and with that many kids, it’s a stressful deal,” said Mikal. “I’m just thankful everything’s worked. But boy, for anybody going to get married, they have to understand that it’s not a Hallmark movie.”
Colleen agreed saying that blended families do not always blend smoothly because everyone is different, and “It’s give and take. You’ve got to compromise.”
Mikal and Colleen have served in many different jobs and roles since those early days and are still actively involved in the Hill City community. Today, they have 20 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. 
Some of their favorite memories are the Christmases they spent together as a family. Colleen’s daughter would help her wrap presents. Everyone had to have the same amount, and each child had different colored paper. By the end, presents were stacked as tall as the Christmas tree. 
They said another favorite memory was on Sunday afternoons their children would come back to visit, and Colleen would make homemade pizza. 
“We did that almost every Sunday so they could come, usually with their dirty laundry,” said Colleen. “But that was nice. They knew they could come anytime on Sunday.”
Along with this, “Hiking and that sort of thing has been a big part of our life. She hikes every day. I of course snowshoe, mountain bike, and all that,” said Mikal. “Every day we do something. It’s been good for us.”
Colleen said if two people are thinking about getting together, they should do some things together. She also said they need to talk to each other, learn how to work things out, figure out what works for both people but also do their own thing. 
“You still have to be who you are,” she said. 
Mikal said you have to respect the other person even when you may not understand them. 
“You’ve got to be honest with your partner,” said Mikal. Colleen added, “Respect them and love them. That’s who they are.” 
Mikal said, “When you love a person, you may be upset with them and at times steamed off, but…” Colleen finished the thought, saying, “You go for a hike.”
She said it is sometimes better to walk away for a while and come back with a better perspective. 
Valentine’s Day will be simple for Mikal and Colleen this year, but they will spend it together. 

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