Progressive Patterns

Around Glacier Peak, part 3

We have prophetic time of a day for a year, but how about nature time of a day for a week?! This trip felt like it started with a forest green sunrise that ushered in a day of wide open grandeur and now was drawing to a close with a forest green sunset. The trip started at 5000 feet, took us above 7000 feet, now it was quickly dropping us below 2000 feet at the end of our journey. Ahh, the rhythms and cadence of nature!

to Hemlock Camp

It was now Sabbath morning and it dawned clear and blue like all of the other days. Today was a slow day. I wanted to do as few miles as possible, otherwise the trip would finish too soon. Reaching the shoulder of the ridge above Miners Creek, I entered smoke territory once again. I was able to get a shot of the peak above the smoke before it became hazy for the rest of the day. Sitting on a rock looking southeast towards the smoke and sleeping under a bush, I waited for Abel to catch up. A little Bible reading and contemplation was perfect for the soul. Nothing like a Sabbath in the middle of the wilderness with no deadlines and no need to get back to the car before dark! This was truly a taste of heaven.

The peak of Glacier Peak

Sabbath morning contemplations

The trail gradually turned from its eastward circuit around Glacier Peak to head northward to the Stehekin River and ultimately, Canada. We began the long, gradual descent that would bring us to High Bridge the next day.

Entering Agnes Creek valley

A peak above Agnes Creek

Tried to capture the smokey sun rays

Down down down into the thick, green forest

My thoughts and our discussion that day centered around journey and destination. You have heard the saying, “It’s all about the journey.” But I’m not so sure. It seems to me that the destination gives meaning to the journey and the journey gives meaning to the destination. After all, if we journey without a destination, then we are going in circles. How long would we continue hiking like that? And if it is all about the destination, then why not fly from Mexico to Canada?

I conducted this thought experiment. One person starts hiking at Campo on the Mexico border. Another person starts at Rainy Pass on highway 20, the last highway only 60 miles from Canada. They both reach Monument 78 at the same time. Which person invests more meaning into that piece of metal on the border? The journey gives meaning to the destination and yet the journey is meaningless without the destination.

To be fair, my example is oversimplified. What if the person starting at Rainy Pass is a first time backpacker and the thru hiker has completed the trip 3 times already? What if the Rainy Pass person is also really old, and recovering from injury? Perhaps, this is why it is best for all of us not to compare ourselves to each other and just HYOH–hike your own hike.

I see a natural application to life in general. LYOL–live your own life. We each have our own God-given talents, personalities, resources, responsibilities, and opportunities. Where ever we choose to get on or off one of the many trails of life doesn't matter. Whenever we are together we can walk side by side and enjoy each other’s company, learn tips and tricks from one another, and help each other when we inevitably stumble or run out of resources.

to High Bridge

Sunday was our last day and it was only a half day. We didn’t want the hike to end, but we also did not want to miss the bus and wait hours for the next one. With a rapid, but not rushed, pace we continued down the Agnes Creek valley.

Deluxe bridge with handrail!

The peaks looked higher as we got lower

Notice the steep rock walls on either side of Agnes Creek

At last we crossed two bridges at the junction of Agnes Creek with the Stehekin River.

The Stehekin River flowing south to meet the north flowing Agnes Creek

The park service makes several bus runs a day from High Bridge to Stehekin

We waited about half an hour for the bus to take us about 10 miles down to the town of Stehekin on Lake Chelan, but not without a stop at the famed bakery first.

I am happy with my backpacking food, but happier with bakery food!

And so our hiking came to an end. Abel completed his last miles to fill in the gap on his 2650 mile backpacking trip on the Pacific Crest Trail. We sat on the deck of the restaurant that evening and the next morning overlooking the lake. We ate and talked with other hikers, shared stories and memories, and planned for the next trip.

Reflections

In some ways the trip was only a week, not a month or a season. In other ways, it was a whole week, not a day or a weekend. Either way, for a little while, life was simplified down to the essentials: food, activity, shelter, relationships (except for family). Wake up. Walk forward. Enjoy. Sleep. Repeat. Simple! And I think it is in that simplicity that I most easily taste Infinity. The edifices of human scheduling and structures fall away into memory as my present is captured by green and blue, flora and fauna, earth and sky. And all of it on a scale vastly larger than anything we can build, and it is full of life which we are utterly unable to give. Nature–no, God through nature–gives life to me and all who seek respite from the steamroller of “civilized” survival. Throughout the journey over ridges, along lake shores, and around mountains I kept saying, “I don’t deserve this, but I am grateful for it.” Indeed, however time is measured we can all be grateful for the moments we have to escape into the great beyond where beauty thrives, freedom rejoices, and the soul exalts in wonder.

 

by Ed Lyons, 10/20/17