I don’t think faith is a foreign subject around here. I would like to think that I post about it often, because it is an area where I have strength.
(But now with saying/typing that out loud, there will be some huge test to that statement..)
Or maybe I post about it because I am strengthening it.
Either way, I had an experience that took place when I was a teenager, I was reminded of it this last summer. I thought then, “I should record that experience.”
So I am now.
I was 15. It was the August before I started my sophomore year in high school. My parents would go camping just about every Thursday evening as soon as dad was off work. Being employed by the government, he had the 4-10 work week, and it worked out fantastically. He was also bishop of our ward at the time, and there was little time to actually get away.
They almost always took my younger brother Kevin. Sometimes I went along. We have always enjoyed camping and hiking.
We would go to a campground on the other side of the mountains from us. It was a pretty nice place, unless partiers showed up. It was also an area where there was lots to go and see and do on foot.
(Okay, so there still is..)
We decided on this particular trip, that we would hike to Ben Lomond Peak. It was just intended to be a day trip, hiking to the peak from the North Fork trailhead about 8 miles in each direction.
Wish I had my own photos of Ben Lomond.. here’s a nice one though:
Ben Lomond is the highest peak in the middle there. Willard, the one to your left, is actually higher by 52 feet. Snow is usually still on the north-facing side for the most part of the year. It was when we were this particular summer. We even had a snowball fight on the way down, even skied in our hiking boots.
(That was dangerous though.)
In preparation for our hike, we ate a good, hearty breakfast, packed up our day packs with lunch and snacks and lots of water.
We knew we couldn’t possibly pack enough water, so we had to count on a water source being along the way to refill our bottles and canteens. My dad and brother brought along water-purifying pumps and iodine tablets (my favorite!) to clean whatever water we would find to use. My dad also studied his topographical map to find whatever water sources were available. We estimated that we would have enough to get to the skyline arm of the trail, and we would need to refill for the last bit up to the peak and again, for the hike down.
He found Cutler’s Spring on that map right there along the skyline trail. We said a family prayer and we left confident that we would be okay.
The climb up was amazing! The views were terrific and only continued to be increasingly more awesome as we continued to ascend. We saw so much wildlife, and just enjoyed being together. We’d stop for snacks of grapes and drink our water and continue on. We got to that skyline trail, needing the water. There was only a few swallows left among all of our canteens, and we needed more for the rest of the way up the peak, and the trip back to camp. We set out to find Cutler’s Spring.
We searched for quite a while. When dad started to get worried, we did too.
We stopped what we were doing, gathered together as a family in that beautiful, most humbling place, nearly on top of the world, and my dad offered a prayer.
It was a simple prayer. It was a prayer of thanksgiving.. for our safety, for our being able to spend this time together, for the beauty of all that surrounded us, for all of God’s creations. Then he asked that we would be able to find water. Simply stating that “we need it”. We knew it was there, somewhere, and we needed help to find it.
*Just a little side note on my dad, when he speaks, we listen. When he prays, we especially listen. There was no doubting in me, ever, that Heavenly Father wasn’t listening to our prayer, and there was no doubt in my mind that we would find the water.*
As he ended the prayer, I remember opening my eyes, my head still bowed, seeing all of our feet there in a circle, and the first thought that came to my mind was: tracks.
We had already seen a variety of wildlife, so we knew there were creatures there. Animals leave tracks, animals also need water.
Kev and I started looking for tracks.
Soon we found some broken grass off the mail trail and started to follow it. Soon it turned to dirt and there were deer tracks. We followed them. They were still, just in the dirt at first, then the dirt slowly turned wetter and wetter. We were hot! Then there was mud, and before we knew it, there was water, springing from that mountain.
The water we needed.
We filled our canteens, offered our prayer of gratitude, and continued on to that peak.
Once at the top, it was beautiful. You could turn in any direction and see views of the entire valley. Ogden, Logan, Huntsville, even into Salt Lake. It was gorgeous!
We ate our lunch, signed the book that hides in a metal pulpit of sorts at the peak, found small rocks for our souvenirs, and headed back down the mountain to camp.
For a long time, that is what I remembered the most, that incredible view! It was quite an accomplishment to hike it all, to see it all. It was a great experience.
We also ran into a moose butt. Like literally RAN. Kev and I were running down the trail, rounded a switch-back and there was this gigantic moose peeing in the middle of the trail!
I will never forget that!
But then a different memory was brought to mind as we sat around the campfire that one night this last summer. We sat there as a family, in the shadow of that peak, my dad sharing stories, and just listening to him speak in this setting, I began to recall that great story of faith.
Water is such a basic, essential thing. Something that sustains our very life. We needed it. But we needed to have faith to find it.
How many other things in life do we need to exercise our faith in order to find and to obtain?
From now on, along with all the other memories of that trip, I will remember what I learned that really matters.