Friday, June 11, 2010

Mountaintop Experience at the Bottom of a Canyon - Part 2


- Story continued from last week's blog -

So there we are, my friend and I, at the bottom of a 300 ft. canyon in Blackwater Falls State Park marveling in the beauty of the hidden falls we had discovered and not wanting to leave so soon. However, it was starting to get late. Our tired muscles were aching from the climb down and the thought of climbing back up was not a happy thought, but we knew it was necessary if we were to get to the top before it was too dark to see. So we began our ascent.

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.



LESSONS LEARNED:

God will provide a way through any life circumstance. It may not be pleasant or easy, but he will guide me through it each step of the way. When I am faced with an overwhelming task, I need to tackle it by taking one step at a time carefully placing my feet in his footprints. When crisis hits and it seems that the ground under my feet is giving way, I just need to reach for the Rock of Salvation. No matter how far I slide away from the path he has set for me, he will always be just in reach when I look to him to pull me up and give me a firm foundation to stand on. This path through life is not a path traveled alone. Often, I will need to rely on a brother or sister in Christ to help me along the way or I will be there to help them.

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)

4 comments:

Green Grandma said...

Amazing photos, Maureen! I would love to see you put your posts and photos into a book. They're worthy of more than a blog!!

Anonymous said...

Yes, it was a rough climb back up - my muscles were quivering so badly from the strss of the climb I didn't even try to take pictures on the way back up - but what a gloriouslesson in trusting our Savior!! I'd do it agin in a minute, just for the experience. J

Common Household Mom said...

That is a glorious photo, and quite a story to go with it. Bravo to you and your friend for taking the "impossible path."

Anonymous said...

What an experience! How thrilling and what a wonderful lesson! God is so good. He will reveal the way if only we are patient.