Courage at Twilight: Icy Ruminations

December 4.   Twenty-seven degrees Fahrenheit.  I am hiking to Bell Canyon Falls.  I had to get out of the house.  As I climb, leafless gambel oak give way to fir and spruce, and one perfect tree sports Christmas ornaments.  Wild boxwood and wild Oregon grape and aromatic sage, all perennially green, poke through the snow.  A young woman passes me on her morning trail run, then stops to change her podcast (she explains).  I tell her my podcast is just the ruminations in my own head, and she approves.  They are my prayers, in the absence of the more traditional kind.  Preparing to leave the house, Dad bird-shot me with questions: Will you be warm enough?  (Yes, I am wearing five layers.)  Do you have a hat and gloves?  (Of course.)  Do you have water, and food?  (Always).  Do you have good boots?  (Yep.)  Will there be snow and ice?  (Undoubtedly.)  Will you take my hiking poles?  I am making good use of Dad’s red-and-black hiking poles, the same poles which a month ago helped me climb the flagstone paths to Pico Ruivo, the icy top of the banana-clad island of Madeira.  Now they help me keep my footing on the ice and help me make my way up and down the boulder-stepped trail.  My quadricep muscles scream with soreness, still recovering from four games of bowling with Hyrym, the equivalent of eighty left-leg lunges.  I wonder if this is a hint of what Dad suffers when he rises in agony from a chair.  Once again, I am hiking in the wilderness alone, and I am tempted to feel sorry for myself.  But any number of people would have come with me if I had asked, if I had not been too shy and afraid to invite them.  Therefore, I am alone by choice.  I try to pray more formally as I walk the snow-packed trail, false-starting with piths like “help me not be sad.”  Then I remember that Jesus’ modus operandum is not to rescue me from hardships.  Indeed, I am in this world to experience adversity and to choose my way through it.  Adversity is my teacher.  How I confront adversity is entirely my choice.  God will not take away my hardships or make my choices.  Instead, He will help me see truth.  He will offer strength and comfort.  He will be near me even as I struggle.  But he will not take away the struggle.  To do so would rob me of my chance to choose and grow and become.  A pretty, middle-aged woman with a wide mouth and a wider smile hikes past, and I am momentarily sad that I am hiking up and she is hiking down.  Foolishness.  I see splashes of red through the trees, and hear giggles, and four female Santas amble incongruously by, costumed in red tights, white-trimmed red coats, and red stocking caps.  Okay, I did not expect to see that in the Lone Peak Wilderness Area.  Two and a half miles up the mountain, the trail grows steep and my desire to see the frozen falls plummets, so I turn around.  I lean heavily on my hiking poles to ease my knees down the boulders, and a young woman jogs past and calls out, “You should get some spikes,” and I see the spiked chains around and under her shoes.  “Sixty bucks at Scheels.”  Indeed, I should.

A mountain maple bowery.

Boxwood.

Oregon grape.

Sagebrush (with a bit of mitten).

2 thoughts on “Courage at Twilight: Icy Ruminations

I would enjoy hearing from you. Please drop me a line.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s