Tag Archives: Psalm 119:105

Superior Hiking Trail – Day Three

The night’s rain was still dripping from the trees as I stirred from my tent. A thick fog covered the beaver pond and surrounding forest. Though it was not raining at the moment, its threat would be my constant companion.

IMG_20130530_065714_527After a hurried breakfast and fast packing, I was on the trail by 6:00 am. I was glad to have a trail since I could only see a few yards in any direction due to the thick fog. The guide book described the trail as having several scenic overlooks but I could see nothing except grey mist. I scramble up and down the ridgeline, wondering what was ahead. The hike had a surreal feel to it as I moved through the wet forest.

I was reminded of a sermon I heard in seminary. The preacher was describing a similar experience, driving along a foggy highway in North Dakota. He had to trust the road since he could not see very far ahead. He described our faith in God like that drive. God rarely gives us long-range vistas of how our life will unfold. We see only a short ways down our path of life. Our call is to daily trust in God’s presence as our guide for each step along the path.

I was also reminded of a sermon (do pastors always think in terms of sermons?) based on Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” The lamp of the Psalmist was not a searchlight that could cast a brilliant beam for miles, but rather a weak oil-wick lamp that helped you see a few feet so as not to stumble at night. God does not give you a google-map direction printout that shows every twist and turn in your life, but a promise to be with you even in the fog.

IMG_20130530_091848_204Later that morning I reached the Beaver River. It was roaring full of water. There was a tent at one campsite, but no campers around. I continued on through the fog.

I reached the trailhead by Silver Bay about noon. Though it was misting, it felt like heavier rain could happen at any time. I had a choice. I could either continue on the Superior Hiking trail towards Finland MN over a section of the trail described as the most challenging in the region OR hike down into Silver Bay and check into a motel for the night.

My ankle was sore, my gear was wet from last night’s shower, and the cloud cover threaten heavier rain. I turned towards Silver Bay and the Mariner Motel. An hour after I checked in, a large thunderstorm dropped buckets of water and I was glad I had made this choice.   After all, God had given me a brain to use as well as strong legs and back.

IMG_20130530_160347_421Still I had one more day of hiking before heading home.

Lord Jesus, guide me through the fog and the rain of life.

Wilderness Journey – Day Three – Morning

North Fork of the Big Thompson River

At dawn’s first light, I was up and on the last portion of National Park trail. I passed Lost Lake and quickly found a place to wade the North Fork of Big Thompson River (more like little Thompson creek at this altitude).

From here on, I would be off-trail, but I was above timberline and the slope was not too steep. I took my time, enjoying the unfolding view and relishing the challenge of finding my own route (which was no challenge at this point.)

By 10:00 I was on the wet plateau between Mt Dunraven and Mummy Mountain and I stopped for an early lunch.

Looking south towards Mummy Mountain

At this point I debated whether to climb Mummy Mountain, 13425 feet in elevation. It would delay me from climbing off the ridge and thus expose me to possible storms. However I figured I may never again have the opportunity to climb the peak and, like John Muir, I hungered for some mountain adventure. Just below the peak, at about 12,300 elevation, I dropped my pack near a large boulder and started hiking straight up.

Can you spot my pack?

As I climbed, I kept looking back to see where my pack was. I was glad I did, since after a while every boulder looked like another and I could have easily lost my pack.

I took my time, stopping to rest several times. The climb was challenging and I began to wonder if I might be one of the first people to climb Mummy Mountain this summer because of its isolation. Perhaps there would be climber’s log at the summit that would answer my question.

Looking West from Mummy Peak at Crystal Lake and Fairchild Mountain

At 11:10 I reached the summit. The peak has a spectacular view to the south and west. I could see Lawn Lake, Crystal Lake, the Saddle, Fairchild Mountain and even Ypsilon Mountain. I found the climber’s log in a plastic plumber’s pipe and discovered that I was the fourth climber that week! I realized that there must be an established route (directly up the ridgeline from the southeast?) and that I might be able to use a portion of it later on.

My pack remained a thousand feet below me so I decided to continue my original plan: to contour around Mummy Mountain, remaining in the West Creek basin until I came to the ridge above Tileston Meadow’s. The ridge was at 11,750 feet so I figured I could gradually lose some elevation as I hiked around the mountain side. I scrambled back to my pack and continued on.

The terrain remained mostly meadow with many large boulders. Occasionally I encountered large clumps of boulders that I had to go over or around. I generally chose to go around, dropping to a lower elevation.

Contemplating which path to take

As I picked my way along the slope, I reflected on what a seminary professor once regarding Psalm 119:105, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.   He said, “Remember that the lamps of ancient Israel where not blazing maglite flashlights by which you can see the path for hundreds of feet.  Rather they were flickering oil lamps which gave you visibility of only a few feet.  But that is all you need.  The text reminds us that God does not reveal the whole path at once, but just enough to show us the way.”

As I worked my way around Mummy Mountain, I thanked the Lord for each small section of path that I could see.

Lord Jesus, show us our path for today.

Next: a stormy afternoon.

Hiking with Suzanne and with Jesus

I am looking forward to my two-week vacation, starting next Monday. The second week will be traveling out to Estes Park, Colorado, to bring daughter Suzanne home from her summer job as a pastry chef at Lane’s Guest Ranch . I am going out early to do some hiking and camping. The mountain trails in Rocky Mountain National Park stir my soul and challenge my heart, lungs and legs.  Mountain hiking is true Body/Mind/Spirit exercise for me.

Suzanne Climbing the Path

I often associate Suzanne with Rocky Mountain National Park, not only because she has worked there the past three summer. In 1996 my wife’s family had a reunion at nearby YMCA of the Rockies. Most of the week was cool and cloudy with frequent rain showers. One afternoon Suzanne and I took a special hike together. We climbed a small prominent peak near the camp and contemplated the vista. I remember the hike well, because I marvel at Suzanne’s ability to hike in spite of her open heart surgery five years before. She was a trooper and celebrated the climb with a shout of victory and a granola bar.

Climbing a mountain is one of my favorite metaphors for the Christian life. Our path in life is often uncertain and challenging. We may only be able to see the next few steps. We persevere through blown down trees or muddy streams. Life in Christ often has its challenges. The path may be steep and long. Still we trust the path will eventually lead us to our goal. As we climb higher our vista opens and we experience the joy and wonder of God’s creation and majesty.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:7). The psalmist sang, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path” (Proverbs 119:105).

How would you describe your recent path with God?

Lord Jesus, be my guide this day as I seek to follow your path for my life.