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Posts Tagged ‘Wheeler Peak’

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Winds in the east, mist coming in.
Like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin.
Can’t put me finger on what lies in store,
But I fear what’s to happen all happened before.
*

Once upon a time, in a land far away, I dreamed of things being different. “Once upon a time” was both long ago and possibly and unfortunately not so far away. Perhaps it was only yesterday. As the family and I sat down the other night to watch a few minutes of the movie “Saving Mr. Banks”, I was reminded of that and so much more.

Not so long ago, in a land much farther away, some friends and I climbed a mountain. But, things indeed were different: different from my prior experience, different from my visions of the moment, and different in the result. You see, you can’t escape the winds, no matter how hard you try. And, to quote another song, the funny thing is “It’s OK”.
IMG_1889I had been on this mountain before, but the chosen path was changed. In fact, were it not for the winds of change, we would not have been on this path, this day, at all.

It was just about a week ago that my friends were nearing the summit of our climb. I say “my friends were”, because I had long ago lost sight of them, and was beginning to wonder if I would ever reach the summit myself. The path was steep, I was likely not fully prepared, and there was the wind. As I hiked alone, knowing those friends had gone on before me to reach the top, the wind became suddenly and painfully strong.

The gusts were powerful. The sensations were cold. My mouth was dry, and my tongue was numb. It felt as if the wind would fill the very jacket I wore for protection and would sweep me right off the side of that mountain to an unfortunate landing below. I thought I wanted to quit, to sit down, to give up, and to hope my friends would be back for me later, having experienced the summit without me.

But, it didn’t. Quit, that is; the wind didn’t quit.

I didn’t, either. Quit, that is. I pressed on towards the summit, finally reaching it to the buffeted sound of cheering from my friends as they endured that very same wind.

As we descended the mountain later that morning, I reflected on what we’d just experienced, and was reminded about how life can be. Windy, that is. But, enduring the wind makes for a great story. Sometimes encountering that very wind makes the story possible to begin with.

As I said, I’d been on this mountain. My son and I have traversed its slopes twice prior, and the mountain has taught us to expect the unexpected. Fog, snow, lightning, hail, and rain from a sunny sky have all accompanied our experience here. Wind had, as well, but nothing like the wind this day.

Two of my friends from this day were supposed to have climbed a different mountain with us just a few weeks ago, but winds of change prevented that moment. My father entered his last days of life in the very moments that we were to embark on our journey with these friends, and we had to say no that day. But, you see, enduring the wind makes for a great story.

Sometimes, I might suggest, encountering that very wind makes the story possible to begin with.

Those friends went on to plan this most recent adventure, and they brought two new friends with them. Had it not been for one of life’s windier and most uncomfortable moments, we would not have found ourselves together this past week, nor would I likely have been inspired by the outcome.

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As we all drove home together, life’s winds continued to blow, this time in the form of car trouble. It blessed us yet again with the reminder of how other people will go out of their way to help when you need it the most and expect it the least.

Which brings me back to the inspiration from “Saving Mr. Banks”. Long ago I used to dream that life could be simpler, and wished that my days could be more like the 1950’s, when it seemed that life had fewer distractions, fewer interruptions, and maybe fewer hardships. But, as I often learn later in life, I was wrong to feel that way.

Mr. Walt Disney himself even had hardships back in the 1950’s. The demands and fast pace of today have only replaced the equally demanding world of yesterday, and there are things we have learned and overcome today that could not be said of a prior “simpler time”.

Winds in the east, mist coming in.
Like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin.
Can’t put me finger on what lies in store,
But I fear what’s to happen all happened before.
*

Indeed. Let those winds blow. Life’s outcomes lie ahead, and I’m sure some great stories are right there with them.
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*lyrics from Disney’s Mary Poppins

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Let’s get one thing straight: I am not the Man from Snowy River. I don’t always know what to expect from the unexpected climate that is the mountains. And yet, even the mythical legendary Jim Craig, aka TMFSR, had his limitations, and he learned them the hard way. Which brings us to today.

As my family sleeps nearby, I am left to reflect on yesterday’s ascent. By one account, it was a failed attempt, but by another it was a great experience, with one left wishing for more of the same.

There’s a song that goes “oh Lord, I need a mountain to climb on: just a quiet place to go and know You’re there“. We can relate to that, and we plan accordingly.

It was Robert Burns’ poem “To a Mouse”, which gave us the phrase: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men often go awry“.

Such is my experience with this mountain. My first time here, we planned, we prepared, and we came, not knowing what the experience would be. We reached the summit that day, with some fear and trembling, but also with a clouded view of all that was around us. A fuller experience called us to return.

Fast forward a few months. For our return, we planned, we prepared, and we came, not knowing what the experience would be. As we made or reservations, I was advised that our earlier in the year planned hike would require the use of snowshoes. “OK”, I thought, “I’ve never used snowshoes, but how hard can it be?”

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Suffice to say, we did not reach the summit yesterday. My young companion was stronger than me on this day, and my stamina and my stomach said “you can’t go on”. As I listened to my companion’s logic and his pleadings, and I stared up at five miles of snow covered switchbacks up 2,000 feet of additional elevation and added risk, my oxygen starved brain said “change your plan now, while you still can”.

There is a great analogy for life in there. Maybe there are several, if you look hard enough. Even in the most painful situation, whether it be self imposed physical stress, or simply enduring the harsh elements life throws our way, there is hope for making and pursuing new plans.

Jeremiah 29:10-14 This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

We may not find ourselves in literal captivity today, but the harsh moments of life call us to stop and reflect on where we are and how we got there, whether in our relationships, our career, or on a snow covered trail at 11,000+ feet. As we were arriving a few days ago, only to see temperatures twenty degrees lower than that day’s forecast and unexpected heavy snow falling, my wife began singing “to face unafraid, the plans that we’ve made…”

Amen to that. We faced those plans, we had a challenging yet wonderful experience, and we changed our objective from summiting that day to living to tell about it, and to make new plans.

Hear what I’m saying. I love this mountain, and I may not climb it tomorrow as I have in the past, but I long to continually labor up its trails and share the stories as we climb together, unafraid.

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Well, here we are, and, there we were. The buildup seemed to last forever, as did the days while on the mountain, and now we are back and ground level and back to brass tacks. Life goes on. Accordingly, if you are so interested as to read more about it, I want to share just a few reflections while they still are on my mind and in my heart.

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

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You plan, you prepare, you plan some more. You count calories: you need more. You count pounds: you need less. It is a conundrum. You need all this gear, this “stuff”. You want comforting conveniences. You need essentials. Which is which? Who determines, and where do you cross the line? You continually think of that one extra thing you need, then you try to take something else out of the pack to compensate. Finally, it is time just to give in and go. Life is kind of like that. I think there is a theme in there somewhere.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. And I have promises yet to keep. And miles to go before I sleep…

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It is early: too early. And, it is raining. Why are we doing this? Because, we made a promise, to ourselves, and to each other. My son and I are taking this trip together, and alone. We want the experience. We need the time. We crave the thin air. I know that sounds odd, and it is, but you have to experience the mountain to be hooked on the feeling. It was the poet Robert Frost who penned the title section above. It could not be any more fitting for the experience we shared.

Take a hike

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You’ve made the long drive. You’ve reached the base of the mountain. The experience you crave awaits. So does the pain you fear. It is time to shed a few more “non essentials”, to worry some more about what you don’t have in your keeping, and to strap on the pack and go. Life is kind of like that.

It’ll do, Pig, it’ll do…

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That is a great quote from the ending of the movie “Babe”, which is a personal childhood favorite of my hiking companion. It also well describes the site we chose to camp. It was ideal, only it wasn’t as high up the trail as we had hoped to make it the first day. Maybe we had started too early that day. Maybe we had driven too far. Maybe we had not acclimated to the altitude before starting our ascent. Maybe it was some of all of that. Irregardless, we found a home that worked for us, and we enjoyed it to the fullest, warts and all. Life is kind of like that.

Acclimating. And, re-acclimating…

Sometimes, you just need to stop, and to breath, especially when the air is thinner.

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We could stand to do that at lower altitudes, as well. Sometimes, you just need to stop and talk, especially when. We could stand to do that more at all altitudes. Getting a little nutrition along the way never hurt, either.

Face down with the LA curbside endings
With the ones and zeros.
Downtown was the perfect place to hide.
The first star that I saw last night was a headlight
Of a man-made sky, but man- made never made our dreams collide,
Collide.

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain,
We’re awakening
Here we are now with our desperate youth and the pain,
We’re awakening
Maybe it’s called ambition, you’ve been talking in your sleep
About a dream, we’re awakening

Last week found me living for nothing but deadlines,
With my dead beat sky but, this town doesn’t look the same tonight
These dreams started singing to me out of nowhere
And in all my life I don’t know that I ever felt so alive,
Alive

I want to wake up kicking and screaming
I want to wake up kicking and screaming
I want to know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating,
I’m bleeding
I want to wake up kicking and screaming
I want to live like I know what I’m leaving
I want to know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating… it’s beating…
I’m bleeding

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain,
We’re awakening
Here we are now with our desperate youth and the pain,
We’re awakening

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