What’s your mountain’s name? Or do you have a craggy range of them? You know, the looming canyon walls that try to convince you to turn back ? A sneaky one has suckered me in, and as I near the summit, it tries to convince me there is a dead-end with no alternate routes. Little did I know the encouragement I craved would soon climb its way into my path.
Recently two of my daughters (Casey and Misty) and son-in-law (Karsten) rumbled with dreams of climbing Southern Colorado’s West Spanish Peak in a mere morning. Any climber would roll down the mountain, laughing hysterically. After thoughtful consideration, they plotted a trail of 13 miles. This is when I said ‘yes’ to the careless offer from the Three Billy Goats Gruff going on the excursion, explaining Colorado and Kansas miles are pinnacles apart.
“Here is the formula I figure it with. Take this 3.5 mile trail; times it by 2 for the return trip; add the elevation; divide it by 4 — the number in our party–, and multiply it by our decreased oxygen levels…” Their eyes glazed over, conceding to the AARP doorstep troll, twice their ages.
I really wanted to go because 1.) Even when my muscles screamed the next day, the adventure would be worth it, 2.) Because my survivor-man brother and I had attempted this same route a few years back, but had to turn back. How fun to say, ‘Remember that trail, Clay?….” (Insert evil older sister laugh here.) And, 3.) I like truly like my family. Slap me on whatever bronc bucks our way, I’m riding it with them to the buzzer. (Shhh….For back-up, I packed a book in case the road was too much for me.)
Here is what God showed me on Mt. Perseverance.
1. Wear a good attitude like a backpack. Setting your mind to enjoy the journey is crucial including off-key singing.
2. Prepare as much as possible, but pack only the necessary. Sturdy shoes, water, and snacks protected us. Of course, I packed pen, paper, and a camera. Karsten declared himself the Water Boy and carted all our high quality H2O, increasing the challenge for him.
3. Take breaks and check out the scenery. My companions began at breakneck pace. I was not shy about stopping the crew. Not only to catch my breath, but to catch glimpses of glorious view, being passed. Eventually, huffing voices filtered back to me. “Mom, you ready to take a break, yet?—pant, pant.” We’d never make the top if we didn’t take care of ourselves, and stop to look for the blessings.
4. Keep looking up and forward. As we got closer to our goal, the shafts of light increased, spurring us onward. But, don’t forget to expect declines, dips, stumps, and thorns. The farther the path went, the less traveled it was. A sign few had persisted this far.
5. Take whatever help is offered. A walking stick, a change in the group’s hiking order, and encouraging words reassured success for the group.
6. The harder it gets, the more you pray. “Repeating, ‘Oh Lord, have mercy!’ saved my life.,” shares Almost 50 Year Old from Kansas..
7. Laugh as much as possible. If I disclosed even a smattering of the stupid jokes of the Kahn Bus Mountain Rangers, (that’s us) you would think even I, the Elusive Mongoose, had lost it.
8. It’s not a competition. Everyone’s journey is different. About 100 foot from the top our Misty Goat’s back muscles clenched up, grabbing on to the hardware imbedded in her L5 vertebrae. At her feet were stacks of small stone monuments made by someone before us. “Or tombstones’ thundered the heartbeats pounding in my ears as my lungs tried to whirl the crank, hoping to restart potential respiration in the ol’ chest area. Truth be told, if I had known how hard this would be, I’d planted my book and I half-way up the path and knocked out a good 50 pages.
After muscles stretched and the blood pressure calmed, the steepest section of the climb’s tauted us with its severity. But we had come so far. Our flag was ready to be staked and the mountain claimed!
Fatigue left as quickly as a mama’s exhaustion when she hears the first cry of her baby she’s worked so hard deliver. Shouts of victory, mixed with the buzz of robin-sized hummingbirds shook the peak, blaring the theme from Rocky. Pictures engraved this victorious moment for the family archives. But that wasn’t all.
Over the jagged privacy fence of boulders, a secluded valley unfurled its carpet of lush pines, while jolly grasses bobbled on the bottom’s dance floor. What an awe-filled display!
9. Share the story. I scribbled thoughts. The girls scaled extremely dangerous rock outcroppings, causing my if-you-fall-no-helicopter-can-rescue-you-here mom knees to buckle into a sitting position. Karsten honed his Spiderman skills, skittering along sandstone ledges. Down in the valley, a guy with swollen knees, a son with a pulled groin, and the lumbering form of our very pregnant daughter wisely had taken the route of reeling in their own personal fish stories. A time of relaxation and just being. It simply was not their day to encounter our particular quest. Sharing it would be our responsibility. .
That night we feasted on grilled fillets, eight shy from the ranch’s pond. Our fishermen ogled over mountaintop photos, and we imagined as best we could landing their catches. Two different trails with seven different points of view and revelations. As varied as the colors on a rainbow trout.
So, how’s your journey? Are you passing on the experience, no matter your location on the trail? Do you drink in others excursion testimonies and wisdom? Only God knows which of us will end up walking a similar path. Whether it runs through an easy-going valley or ends up struggling to the peak of an arduous mountain, we need to remember He created them both.