The other day I was feeling itchy. I needed to get out of the mundane and head for the mountains. I needed to find something beautiful, something a little wild. Which has been hard to find the past few years with a young kid. But the kid is growing up, getting stronger and more able. I don’t have to carry him much anymore.
So I picked a day that looked like it would be good on the forecast. It’s February after all and I didn’t want to be caught out in the mountains in bad weather with a four year-old. Saturday promised to be around zero Celcius and the day dawned sunny so we loaded up the truck with backpacks and boots and coats and snacks and lunch. We peeled out of the driveway with the two dogs in the back pointing their noses to the wind.
Nearing Rocky Mountain House, I could see darker clouds on the horizon and by the time we cruised through Nordegg the weather looked like it was going to close in on us. Low, snow-filled clouds. My spirits sagged some. It was such a long drive and the kid was getting restless and I had promised him and adventure and a ice-fall to boot. So I continued on with one eye on the road and the other on the sky.
By the time we hit the Crescent Falls turn off, the clouds had lifted a little and there was promise of blue sky to the west. Onward we went. I had never been here before and was going off reports from the good ole internet. One site seemed pretty reliable, it had clear information and distances. So armed with that information I made our foray up the un-plowed road.
Thankfully it hadn’t snowed in a while and there were tire tracks to follow. Halfway to the campsite there is a look-out. From here, the site claimed, you could easily walk along the canyon rim for half an hour to the waterfall. Okay. That seems easy enough for a four year old and me, even if takes us a little longer that’s doable.
So I parked the truck at the lookout and unloaded the dogs and kid. Dressed him up in winter coat, mitts, toque, snow boots and let him bounce around, while I outfitted myself. I had decided to carry a single burner propane stove to heat up some hot chocolate for lunch, plus I made sure I had lots of survival gear along—matches, compass, fire starter, flagging tape, knives, wire, string, lighter, water, our lunches, a blue “flinstone” (blue foam pad) to sit on, extra socks and mitts and stuff. I’ve previously been stranded in the mountains in February and it pays to carry stuff, just in case!
The pack was a decent weight, not overly heavy, but I had just completed treatment on the varicose veins in my legs and they were feeling rather weak. However, thirty minutes of walking shouldn’t be too bad.
Off we went. The trail started right on the edge of a spectacularly deep bowl of a canyon. It was a sheer drop off. My mommy heart was tripping a little as I watched my little monkey scamper merrily down the trail without a thought of the hundreds of feet plunging down right beside him. With a few warnings called out he became more wary of his surroundings and carefully navigated the path.
I didn’t carry a watch, but after a while I realized this trail was taking far longer than half an hour and their was no sign of a waterfall ahead. However it was beautiful, with breathtaking views of rocky thrusts of earth sparkling in the sun that was now starting break through the cloud cover.
The kid forgot where we were headed and wanted to quit, but I reminded him that we were in search of an ice fall and it would be worth the trek. So he carried on, one minute merry, the next forgetting yet again where we were headed. So I continued to remind and encourage, letting him stop briefly for a rest every now and then so he could draw in the snow with his stick.
Finally we topped a viewpoint that afforded a grand view of mountains and a valley and as I was snapping pictures I realized that the ice fall was right there in front of us, though still a fairways away. The kid was by now complaining of tired legs and so I asked if he wanted to turn around now and head back for the truck, or carry on to the ice fall. He still wanted to find the ice fall, and I warned him it was still a long hike yet and we would have to walk the entire way back. He was okay with that, so we carried on.
Finally we arrived! Water was still running under the cover of ice and it’s roar, though muted was still strong. We explored all around the top of the falls and could see that there was no place to get down to the bottom of the canyon from there. However the tracks in the canyon below indicated I had missed a turn-off somewhere.
The sun broke free and when I turned on the cellphone and checked the time, I realized we had been walking over an hour and a half. Sure the kid wasn’t that fast, but he had been steady, so either the people on that website are super power walkers or they are really bad judges of time! It was lunch time and we broke out the camp stove for hot chocolate and snacked on homemade sandwiches. It was good to have the backpack off and to laze in the now intense sunshine. Coats came off and we picnicked in our shirtsleeves.
Well it was past two-oclock and now I knew there was a good hour and half walk back—a lot of it uphill—so when the kid finished his sandwich and bounced around attacking trees with his stick sword, I gathered up our gear and told him we were headed back. He put up a strong fuss, but came when he realized he was going to be left all alone in the forest.
On the way back I found the trail that led to the bottom of the falls, it was steep and ice-covered and in my mommy-wisdom I knew we shouldn’t go down. But the untamed part of me urged me to do it. So I put my foot on the trail and then stopped. Nope, I would heed the wisdom and instead I made a note that I would come back another time before turning around and heading back up the trail.
The kid was obviously tired, so I distracted him and told him he needed to fight off all the trees in our path with his “sword”, so that they would let me pass. He did a great job annihilating all the trees in our way. By now I was noticing my old camp dog, Chevy (now twelve years or more old), was starting to look tired. His back legs looked a little shaky, but he still plowed on. He will always be a mountain dog at heart. I could see him come “alive” again when we first headed down the trail, acting like a much younger dog with his tail in the air like a flag. But now he was showing his age. Both him and the kid lagging behind.
Hiking, it’s all in the head and the heart. And I gotta say I’m proud of the kid, because even though his legs hurt and he sorely wanted to sit down and spend the night, he kept on coming. It took some pep talks, it took holding his hand on the up hills near the end, it took some distraction, but we made it! We arrived. I loaded up the dogs, the kid and the gear and headed back for home. Weary but happy. Not five minutes down the David Thompson it started snowing.
I came across a quote the other day, by Kurt A. Richardson, “Here is a sobering truth about the nature of trials in the life of righteous persons, that God allows them to be tested in order to prove their faith. . . . In some ways their endurance proves the Lord’s boast in them.”
When I came across this quote, I was doing a Beth Moore Bible Study on the book of James. We were taking apart the verse “You have heard of Job’s endurance.” James 5:11, which made us flip back to the book of Job. If you’ve never had the chance to read Job, it’s quite the story of a good man suffering terribly and asking God why and it’s worth reading to find out Job’s fate.
Now a lot of us think we suffer, because of something we have done or as something we deserve. However Job 1:8 points out a viewpoint I never really thought of before.
“One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
Wow! God was proud of Job. Like a parent! He was boasting about him! And then he allowed Satan to test him because he knew how his servant would respond. He was confident in Job’s faith.
And as Beth Moore but it, “Consider the even wilder part: God can’t lie (see Numbers 23:19), so His boasts are always based on truth. . . . He boasts in His faithful followers then lets them prove Him right. Sometimes the person most shocked by the proof is the human put to the test. How will we ever know what He’s accomplished in us if He doesn’t show us? And how will Satan otherwise be proved a liar in our eyes?”
This all just made me think of the kid and how I took him on an adventure walk that turned out to be far longer than he was planning on. And even when he was tired and couldn’t see the end and wanted to quit, he kept going, faithfully putting one boot in front of the other, faithfully trusting me when I said we would get there. I’m so glad I pushed him, because I knew he could and he proved me right, and then some. And the delight I took in that! The absolute delight I took in seeing my four year old son accomplish over six kilometers of mountain hiking! It was wonderful and I’m so proud of him!
Just think! This is only an inkling of what God feels when he watches his servants—his children—continue on faithful through the hard times.
Absolute, wonderful, heavenly delight!
Have you ever felt delighted and so very proud of someone for accomplishing something hard, for working through the tough times and coming out on the other side victorious?
Have you ever felt God’s delight in you for being faithful?
“the Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:11 (NIV)