Monday, August 8, 2011

Patience on the Mountain

This weekend, my dad and I took a little hike on Mount Rainier. About 4 hours, 5 miles, and 4,600ft above where we began the snowy trek, we took a rest at Camp Muir.

I tend to have a difficult time being patient.  Someone once told me it’s like I have no internal governor telling me when to slow down; I just go as fast as I can until I can’t go anymore. There was plenty of time to think about that on Saturday, as we plodded up the mountain, many times getting in line behind long chains of hikers loaded with heavy packs.  My initial reaction was to race past them and get to Muir as fast as possible.  When I learned that getting off the trail to pass (and blaze my own trail in the deep snow) exerted a ton of energy and didn’t pick up much distance, I got in line once again, and told myself to just enjoy it.

Patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit, and I’m so glad the Spirit was working in me!  Slowing down just a bit gave me the chance to enjoy one of the coolest days ever!  There was everything to love about being there…perfect weather, the company of my dad, breathtaking scenery.  And pacing ourselves was definitely a must for the successful round trip!  If you read about the Camp Muir hike, phrases like “use caution”, “strenuous trek for hikers in excellent physical condition”, and “substantial snow travel” may just come up.  I can say now that these are words to take seriously.  I offered up all but just a little water I drank on the way up to my dad, who began struggling a bit on the way down (“my tongue is swelling”… those words scared me!), so by mile 9, muscle fatigue was setting in and I just repeated “one foot in front of the other” for the remaining trip.  It was then that I thanked God for giving me the patience to enjoy our seemingly slow hike up.

I did learn a few valuable things on the mountain:
  • Frequent sunscreen application is no match for the reflection of the sun’s rays off snowfields, and yes, you can get sunburned through clothing.
  • Hiking poles, when not positioned properly, can assist in catapulting a human body from the seated sledding position when moving downhill at a rapid pace.
  • The sight and sounds of an avalanche nearby can make one feel very tiny and powerless.
  • For those used to breathing at sea level, holding your breath in a solar outhouse at 10,188ft long enough to get in and out can be quite a challenge.
  • When weighing out the dangers of dehydration or Giardia, the potential stomach problems seem worth the risk.
  • Looking down on Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Mt. Bachelor, and Mt. Adams from where you stand is a very, very cool thing!
 Since I was a little girl, my dad has been telling me that one day we would summit Mt. Rainier together.  This year was going to be our year to do that, but a number of unexpected things changed our plans, and now we’re aiming for next summer.  With Camp Muir under our belts now, I’m sure the remaining 4,500ft climb to the top will be a piece of cake! J

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