I LOVE mountain climbing. There is something so healing and thrilling about standing on top of a 11,000 or 12,000 ft peak, and knowing you walked every step to get there. I love being on top and looking out across the variety of surroundings, seeing other peaks, tiny houses, lakes and a multitude of clouds. For me, it is so healing.
I was lucky enough to grow up in a family who was constantly climbing peaks. I began climbing local peaks around my family's home in layton in elementary school, the Middle Teton at age 12, and haven't stopped since. I think what I enjoy the most about climbing, even more than summiting, is a moral lesson I always learn somewhere along the trail.
Two weeks ago, my husband and I, along with my parents, decided to climb Lone Peak, via the Jacob's Ladder trail. I had been somewhat warned before hand, that this trail was steep, and it was steep for awhile. I don't think I truly understood what this warning was all about until the easy trail branched off into an intense almost vertical trail up the side of the mountain, the Jacob's Ladder part.
My calves and quads and lungs were all burning, screaming at me "Oh please, please stop doing this to us!" "Why are you even doing this?" The breakfast I had eaten at 6am was now long burned off, and I could feel my blood sugar dropping. I felt myself wanting to give up, and saying along with my burning muscles, "why am I even doing this?" "Is it even worth it?" I think I even said, "I hate this."
But, giving up isn't in my nature. So we pushed on, and eventually made it past the really hard steep stuff. Then the climb became quite fun and adventurous for me, scrambling over big boulders up cliffs and along beautiful gray and green granite. I fell in love with the mountain. And oh, I cannot even say enough about the view from the top. It's a skinny rock on top, but a fellow climber convinced us (I required no convincing) to take jumping pictures from the top. I found myself thinking, "This is the best hike ever."
It wasn't until the following Sunday that I found the moral lesson I had been seeking from the Lone Peak climbing trip. It came as I pondered my mission, and the time that has elapsed since. On December 1st, it will be one year that I have been home. For me, that is so hard to believe. It seems like just yesterday, but also, like a lifetime ago. So much has happened, so much of me has changed.
After reaching the top of Lone Peak, coming back down was quite fun, and equally beautiful. I found myself noticing so much more beauty that surrounded me, that I had so easily missed on the way up. How did I not see these beautiful leaves? How did I miss that exquisite meadow? I was too focused on the pain, too focused on how much I hated what I was going through. As I thought about this, how I walked through the meadows and the changing leaves the first time, not even seeing them, I realized I had also done this in my life since coming home from my mission.
After returning home, I kicked and I fought and I cried and I pleaded for all of those bad experiences and feelings and pain to just be over. I didn't understand why I was going through what I was, or why anything had even happened. Mentally and physically I just wanted to give up, I was exhausted.
But giving up is not in my nature. So I kept pushing on. Now I am at a place, walking through the changing leaves and the beautiful meadows and realizing how easily I had missed God's hand in my life this whole past year, leading me to the beautiful place I am now. I have been richly blessed with experiences that have changed me. I have been showered in an abundance of love from my family and people around me. I have had many opportunities to reach out to others who too were struggling. But I was too focused on the pain to notice the small miracles. Too consumed with the dark to appreciate the overflowing of light. Sure, the path was very difficult, as was Jacob's Ladder, but there is so much beauty in the uphill. And if we are not careful, we will miss it all.
Now, I am not saying I have reached the top of my peak. I am sure there are MANY more peaks, many more hard experiences and difficult situations to come, but I have learned a powerful lesson. God is so aware of us, and He loves us enough to sometimes give us trails that go straight up the mountain. It may be more than we think we can bare, and without Him and his love, perhaps it would be. But I know he can and will help us push on. He can help us open our eyes and see the beauty that surrounds us, even when the trail is steep.
Don't give up. Even though the trail seems endless. Keep pushing. You are surrounded by love and beauty, even in the uphill.