- Story continued from last week's blog -
If we had prepared for this trek down the canyon wall, we would have at least had water, hiking boots, and flashlights, but as you read in last week’s blog, we just stumbled into this adventure, so we were completely unprepared. While our cameras were neatly tucked away in our camera bags, my friend had brought her tripod which sometimes left her one hand short in climbing back up the canyon wall. Slowly and carefully, our feet found the next rock or tree root to step on and our hands found the next branch or rock to grab hold of to pull ourselves up. We took turns leading and following - The woman in front keeping her eyes open for the next little yellow tape marker while finding secure footing and the woman in back watching closely so as to place her feet in the secure steps of the other and in readiness to push if necessary. When we got to a place where both hands were needed to pull ourselves up to the next spot, we took turns holding the tripod so the other could make it.
About one-third of the way up, I reached a patch of loose dirt and rocks and began to slide down the hillside. I was helpless to do anything but stay close to the ground and try to dig in with both feet and hold on with both hands. I’m sure I didn’t slide more than a foot, but when you're dangling 100 ft. up on a canyon wall, a foot is a very long distance to slide. Once I stopped sliding, I looked for a way to pull myself up and saw a rock protruding out of the dirt about 2 ft. out of my reach. If I went for it and didn’t make it, I might possibly slide down a lot further than a foot, but I also couldn’t stay there. My friend was below me trying to secure herself against a tree in case I slipped further. She was actually going to risk her own safety to try to stop me from sliding further down – Did I mention she’s a little crazy and the best friend I ever had. I think I closed my eyes as I lunged for the rock and found myself holding firm to it when it was all over. I pulled myself up to a more secure place and then helped my friend up the slippery slope.
A little further up the path, we came to a rock that stood over our heads. I found a smaller rock to step up on and then pulled myself up half-crawling onto the rock. My friend tried to do the same, but her plastic knee (knee replacement) wouldn't cooperate so she wasn’t making it up that rock without some help. So I put the tripod down, braced myself on the rock, and pulled her up. Both tired, but both very well aware that darkness was coming, we pushed onward and upward.
Though we were tired and sore, the last leg of our ascent seemed easier. Maybe because we knew we were so close to the top or because we had made it to the fairly easy, more recognizable path, we knew we could indeed make the rest of the trek before sundown. When we emerged at the top, we were ecstatic and very thirsty. We wanted to know the distance we had climbed, so later we asked a couple of lodge employees how far down the falls were from the observation point at the top of the canyon and their response was that we couldn’t get down to those falls because there was no path. The next day, we saw three park rangers and asked them the same question. They also told us that we couldn’t get down to the falls because there is no path. When we explained that we had already been there the day before they reiterated that there is no path down the canyon wall and that they knew nothing about the yellow tape markers.
The most important thing I gained from this experience was confidence in God (and maybe in myself as well.) If we had been told before we hiked down that canyon wall that we couldn’t get to that waterfall, we wouldn't have even tried. But not knowing that we couldn't, we did what everyone said was impossible. That's what happens when I trust God to lead me and bring me safely home no matter what the world would have me believe. Our trek down and back up the canyon wall that day may have seemed foolish and even a little dangerous to the casual observer, but never in my mind was there a moment of doubt that God would bring us safely through. The next time anyone, including myself, tells me I can’t reach out in the love of Christ or that a ministry I'm passionate about is doomed to fail or that I can’t do something I feel the Lord is leading me to do, I’ll just smile and let God prove the world wrong once again. I can do all thing through Christ who strengthens me because nothing is impossible with God. (Philippians 4:13; Luke 1:37)
About the pictures:
Blackwater Falls State Park (May 2010)