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Going Nowhere Fast

August 22, 2011

Jumping off the cliffs at Gem Lake

I have never spent 5 days hiking through the wilderness by myself before, but it was awesome.  However, I didn’t find this trip refreshing.  Rather, it was exhausting.  Even so, I really enjoyed the challenges I had to work through: heels rubbing raw on the first day, jumping off a cliff into really cold water, getting lost and navigating with my map and compass, killing billions of mosquitos, climbing thousands of feet in altitude, not stepping on rattlesnakes, sliding down snow chutes and hiking around 50 miles.

As fun as it was, I didn’t get out of it what I was looking for.  I would walk all day, set up camp, cook, pass out, wake up, repeat.  I had been hoping for more time to sit and relax and just “be,” but my hopes of getting close enough to Yosemite Valley to climb Halfdome pushed me.  I didn’t spend as much time with God as I had hoped.  I was more concerned with where my feet were stepping next, how much further to the next trail head, where my next source of water was, making it to my campsite before dark, etc.

Marmot... nasty creatures, but very cute.

Reaching Halfdome wasn’t why I ventured into the wild, it was just a possibility in the back of my mind when I began.  I went there to be with God.  Going places isn’t difficult for me; it’s sitting still that kills me.  That’s the lesson I got out of this week.  It’s what I’ve been dealing with since I returned from Burundi.

On the cables, heading up the side of Halfdome

I can be so ambitious to get out and go that I neglect time with God; I would even venture to say I often use that time with God to manipulate my next marching orders.  I have an agenda and he sees right through it.  My challenge is to come to him without the agenda in hand, just to be with him.  I can climb all the mountains I want, but what does it matter if God isn’t at the core of it?

On the other hand, I don’t feel like I’ve done very much since I moved back to California.  I’ve weeded out a bunch of options for training, made connections and explored a host of different ideas, none of which have gone anywhere.  Still, I began to wonder whether or not I even had it in me to accomplish anything without someone kicking my butt.  On the third day of my hike, I walked about 17 miles because I wanted to.  It was hard work, but I enjoyed it.  Hiking as far as I did in so little time showed me that I can get things done, and I’m not doomed to never leave the vortex of Corona, California.  There is a time to move on, but also a time to stay put, to be patient and to trust that I won’t miss the opportunity to go when I am sent.

Almost stepped on this Sierra Garter Snake... more preferable to step on his tail than a rattler.

I’m always amazed to see how cool God is in spite of my own shortcomings.  My descent from Halfdome almost changed from a journey by foot to my next campsite to an airlift to a hospital when I nearly planted my foot 8 inches away from a giant rattler.  I’ve never seen one of those in the wild before, but it was pretty alarming.  The ranger hiking down the mountain with me said I should have gotten bitten, but the rattler didn’t strike.  I’ve never flown in a helicopter before… would have been exciting I think.  I didn’t get to fly, but I’m stoked that God keeps me safe from all kinds of dangers.

couscous and chicken + pili-pili sauce from Burundi.

Another thing that was really cool happened on my second night.  Earlier that day I asked God to show me his beauty… “what does that even mean?,” I wondered.  I had hiked 14 miles that day, dehydrated and exhausted.  I climbed 2000 feet as the sun was setting, and set up camp just before my light source hid behind a series of jagged peaks for the evening.  I was so tired that I couldn’t drink much and I nearly vomited up my meal, but I made myself eat it because I knew I needed the nutrition for my body to recover.  I went to bed not long after.  I woke up a few hours later having to relieve myself… I hate that.  I seldom sleep through the night when camping, mainly because I have to pee.  I went outside and saw the moon illuminating the landscape.  Amazing!  It was cold, so I went back to bed.  A couple hours later I begrudgingly emerged from my sleeping bag yet again to tinkle.  This time the moon had gone elsewhere, and the stars, THE STARS!!!  You would never believe the stars out there!  I tried to take a picture to capture them so I could prove it to you, but it looked like crap in comparison.  I just decided that the host of small twinklies were put there for me to enjoy that night.  But it was cold, so I didn’t linger too long, though I wanted to lay down in the grass and stare at them all night.

Halfdome from Yosemite Valley

Though I didn’t necessarily feel close to him on the trip, he never left, and he never will.  What a faithful God, who never leaves me or forsakes me, though I often forsake him.  There really is no one like him out there.

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