In September of 2014 a couple of friends and I traversed the Grand Teton Mountains on the popular Teton Crest Trail. After the first day of ,snow, rain, and wind, the days were glorious. Nights were chilly but we slept well, I tucked into my brand new zero degree 800 down fill sleeping bag that weighs less than two pounds.
On the morning of our first full day in we heard from a park ranger that a Grizzly bear had been seen in our camp area the previous day. That got our attention. I’ve been backpacking since I was 18 years old but have never had even one bear encounter, either Black or Grizzly. Moose, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, martens,gray jays, and a large variety of lower mammals that have eaten my entire snack cache, we have encountered. But not bears.
As we began our second day in the Tetons it was a glorious day. September 19, 2014 is the day I snapped this picture. I remember because it is the same day I turned 50 years old. I turned 50 in style, out in some of God’s greatest handiwork that few people ever have the privilege of seeing first hand. Why? Because to get to some of God’s most majestic and glorious creativity and beauty, takes an extraordinary amount of effort to get there in the first place. Oh there are some places like the Grand Canyon, that my family was able to visit last year, that are both glorious and public.
But once a year I prefer to go where relatively few have ever been. Standing atop Mount Whitney (in the Sierra Mountains in California) at 14,494 feet in 2013 and gutting out the 99 switchbacks to get there is a feat that few can say they have achieved. Mt. Whitney is the second highest mountain peak in the lower 48 states.
Oh yes, it can be difficult getting to the heights. It is difficult, sometimes painful, blister inducing, occasionally experiencing freak snowstorms, windstorms, rainstorms…and other unpleasantries….so much so that I have to remind myself of why it’s worth it.
It’s worth it for the occasional breath-taking views. It’s worth it for the camaraderie that develops between the trekkers, each year with its own unique script. It’s worth it because when one is out in the wild one forgets about the troubles he has left behind. It’s worth it because I tend to think less of my problems when in the wilderness and think rightly about my family and the precious gift my wife and children are to me. It’s worth it because God’s creation is worth much and not to see it and explore it is to deprive oneself of something inexpressibly glorious. It’s worth it because it recharges my soul.
So as we continue to make plans to hike in Glacier National Park this next summer, I will remind myself again and again why it’s worth it.