Every year when I go backpacking, I take some time to reflect and write down thoughts. Backpacking gives me a lot of time to think; it is one of the things I appreciate most about it. For the last three years, I have shared these thoughts–and this year’s thoughts are here below. Perhaps you will find them inspiring, or perhaps they will convince you I am crazy for backpacking 50 miles in four days.
We had a great drive, and it was so good to get out of town. I enjoyed the drive and fun with the family so much that it was actually hard to start the trail. In fact, on the hike in I had a pretty bad attitude. As I went to bed last night, I started reflecting on this. I’m taking this backpacking trip—which I have wanted and planned—so why the bad attitude? Well the simple answer is that backpacking is hard. But the deeper answer is that God has been working on my attitude for the last few months. A lot has been going on in our world; there is grace for hard days, but sometimes I wallow in my pity parties. This isn’t what Jesus wants for me; He is inviting me to draw nearer to Him and lead well. I can only do this by depending on Christ. As soon as I cut my intake of the news and doubled my prayer and Bible time, I found my attitude changed immediately. It is a bummer that my attitude problem followed me here, but it makes sense because the problem is inside of me. Getting away on vacation doesn’t leave my internal problems behind, but it is a chance for the Spirit to deal with those things in me. Lord have Your way.
The first full day was a really good day. I’m sitting by the side of a creek listening to the sound of rushing waters, as the trees sway in the breeze. Mountains bloom in granite grandeur all around me. I just saw a deer. There’s so much to be thankful for. It is still hard—we went thousands of feet up and walked over 9 miles today—but I have a choice. I can choose to appreciate what I’ve been given or focus completely on the negative. I know things at home are hard, this trail is hard, but God is calling me in both situations to focus on Him. I keep telling myself: Look up…it takes a lot of work to see these things, but it is worth it. Look up! Don’t miss the beauty God is making. The same Creator who made these mountains is making things new in me.
Today I got to go back to Vidette Meadow, a place I’ve been twice and where I had a spiritual encounter with God almost 25 years ago. It was early in the morning, and I had a vision of the Lord descending down the mountains with the sun. The experience has always meant a lot to me, and I know the Lord revealed Himself to me that day. It has shaped me. I didn’t find the exact place the campsite was from all those years ago, but I got to sit down and have a great conversation with my son Ben about experiencing God, hearing His voice, and moving forward in faith. As a dad, this was better than finding the campsite. It takes so long for anyone to be honest about their deepest questions. How can a person hear the voice of God? And how can he or she know it is actually God’s voice? We talked about the certainty of God’s word and how following it helps people get familiar with the way God works. Then I talked about how God can speak through prayer, godly counsel, reason, experience, history, and more—though never contradicting His word. I shared with my son the few times I have heard God’s voice in my head (including the time I disobeyed it), and the times (more often) I had to do my best without total clarity. God wants us to mature, think, and honor Him. He won’t always tell us what to do, but I think He always wants us to ask—this is a relationship with the King. My prayer for all my kids is that they will deeply love Him in their own way, learn to love others with His love, and make a big difference with Him in the world.
Forrester pass was very, very tough. We thought the trip to the top might be 5 miles, or 7 miles at the most, but it turned out being 8. We then had 5 miles to get to camp. We ended the day very exhausted. Still, I am proud of us both for conquering a very difficult pass. It was a hard day, but there will be hard days. And Whitney is still ahead of us.
Gratitude dominated my thoughts this day. As I was going up the pass, gasping for air, I was so thankful there were no wildfires, crazy mosquitoes, dangerous river crossings, snow, hail, or rain—all which we have dealt with over the last two years. There was a cool breeze, the weather was nice, and I was out with my son. Even though it was so hard, I was so thankful. When we crossed over the pass, I thought over and over again about how thankful I am for my wife. We walked this trail together 25 years ago. Though we were teens, I knew I loved her; I loved her even more for her resiliency, strength, and devotion to God. As I walked this trail again, I was reminded of her. When we last walked the trail, I did not think that we would be together ever again. I was going thousands of miles away to college, and we had chosen to break up. God brought us back together, united us in marriage, and gave us an incredible life together. I am so thankful for her.
I did not do well with my food this day. I ate only Pop Tarts and two granola bars the whole way to the top; for the amount of calories I was spending, this was not enough—and I knew it. The lack of caloric energy greatly affected my attitude and stamina. Thankfully my body has some reserves! I ate a lot for dinner. I mean a lot! But I need to remember this lesson for the future: I can’t expect to conquer the heights without taking care of myself.
I will share more thoughts next week. Thanks for reading!