Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ~John Muir
Isn’t that a great quote? It is exactly how I feel about the hikes we’ve been on this summer. I love the dry dessert air of Utah and Idaho. Hiking in it makes you feel alive and invigorated (rather than hot and sticky like summer hikes in New England).
Every year at Bear Lake my brother Tal and I have a tradition of sneaking off early to go on an early morning adventure. We go up a mountain (usually four wheeling, but this year all of our 4 wheel drive vehicles were out of commission so we hiked) and we talk about our goals for the year ahead. It was Tal’s idea and I’m not sure exactly when it started, or why I got to be the lucky one Tal picked but I’ve sure loved those mornings. A mountain top, slanted morning sun, crisp air and a remarkably perceptive, motivational brother is the perfect recipe for clear thinking. We talk about far we’ve come in the past year and what we want to focus on for the year to come. Some years I’m better than others at actually following through with all the ambition I feel on those mornings. But pausing the pace of my life to see the big picture always feels right and gets me a little closer to who I want to be.
This year we hiked up to “single tree.” This is the only tree on the sage brushed mountains for miles around. It is stunning.
This picture doesn’t make that mountain look nearly as steep as it felt. I think I’m a pretty tough girl, but I was whining like a baby while trying to follow Jeff up this mountain. We were walking on the four wheeling paths below and suddenly he got the urge. The urge to go off the trail and make it to the top of something. The urge to move his body in the same ways he did while serving his mission in the jungle of Guatemala. And, as worried as I was about twisting an ankle or getting back to the kids, I didn’t want to get in the way of that urge. I’ve felt that kind of raw urge to do something hard before and it feels pretty amazing to indulge it. So we went straight up. Off the trail. And this is what awaited us on top:
You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know. - Rene Daumal
My third hike of the summer was just a short little jaunt Charity and Charlie and I took up Toll Canyon by my parents place in Park City. We walked slowly, finding meadow upon meadow of brilliant wildflowers (see my collection below). This hike made me want to pack up my home in Boston and move to Utah that instant. Nothing can beat those dry summer days. Toll Canyon is bursting with beauty, around every bend. Wild flowers, brooks, clapping quakenasps, vistas. I have so many memories of that canyon. Sledding down it in the winter with friends, horseback riding up it with my dad and our horribly obstinate horses. I feel surrounded by God’s love there.
I love the beauty of the big picture and the details. God is great.
The natural world is such powerful evidence of God’s love for us, his children.