My last night on the trail involved one more thunderstorm. This time it was not the lightning that disturbed me, but the rain itself. In the alpine meadow on Mummy Mountain, the vegetation there absorbed most of the water. Here at the designated campsite, the tent pad was simply flat dirt. The rain splattered from the tarp to the ground to my ground cloth and sleeping pad. After a few minutes my ground tarp was splattered with muddy water and debris. I had pitched my tarp too high with too much space between the edge of the tarp and the ground. After the evening storm passed, I lowered the tarp.
I also questioned the wisdom of concentrating all backpackers to a few locations. I realize that many backpackers do not practice “leave-no-trace” camping, and that the national parks are trying to keep the back country as wild and pristine as possible. But the designated campsites create sites devoid of vegetation and wonder.
I prefer to seek my own stealth campsite off the beaten trail where I can create a wonderful sleep space for one night. In the morning I work hard to clear any trace of my having been there. Fortunately a hiker can use such techniques on the Pacific Crest Trail where I plan to hike a section next summer.
My last morning on the trail was uneventful. The sky was partly sunny and my body and mind were ready to leave. It was not that I was tired of the trail, but that I had set my expectations for four days and was ready to go.
My path on the Black Canyon trail was consistently downhill and I gobbled up the miles. My feet and legs were stronger now and I was thankful for my decision to use trail running shoes instead of my heavier backpacking boots. Only in the boulder fields on Mummy Mountain did I have any doubts regarding this decision. My feet seemed light and quick as I strode down the trail and I reflected on a sermon I once heard from Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Seminary. He preached on Isaiah 52:7.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
He observed that most people would focus on the words or mouth of the messenger, but the text reflects on the feet. His observation is that the words or mouth of the messenger have no significance unless the messenger first arrives at his or her destination. Messengers need to use their feet and go.
As I hiked out, I was thankful for the opportunity to be on trail, but also thankful for the opportunity to go, live and serve among the people of Resurrection Lutheran Church. My feet and I were ready to continue the mission of announcing, “Your God reigns!”
Lord Jesus, show me how to announce that your kingdom comes.
Thank you for your reflection on the feet of the preacher. The quoting of this passage by Paul in Romans 10 is very special to Dominicans (OP=Order of Preachers), and is read on the feast of St. Dominic. I appreciate this understanding of action over words through the means of the messenger’s feet. Again I am reminded of St. Francis’s words, “Preach always, when necessary, use words.
And thank you for sharing your backpacking journey here. I have always preferred trail runners to hiking boots for the flexibility they provide. I always figured, if they have enough support for running, they must have enough support to carry 40 extra pounds or so.
Peace and all good.