I almost posted an update a couple weeks ago but a miss placed cell phone caused a major change in plans. I hate to admit it, but I am extremely dependent up on that little electronic device. The whole time I was in Canada it was only a camera and alarm clock for me, but when I crossed into the US it became a GPS, phone, and internet to plan my path. So, I stopped at a little park for breakfast on my way to the coast from Mount Saint Helens and was trying to get my phone to pick up reception. An hour down the road and I could not find it anywhere. I actually drove back to the park and tore apart everything in my car looking for that silly little electronic device. At one point I was actually going through my dirty laundry in the parking lot, thinking that maybe it had somehow fallen into that bag. It was a tiny little town, but I managed to find a park manager and found out that park had been cleaned in the time between when I left and returned to the park and nothing was found. All logic told me that it had to be in the car, but I could not find it anywhere. I started to realize that I hadn’t backed up pictures for ages, all of my Mt St Helen pictures were on the phone, it had all of my contact information for people, I was feeling totally lost. In the midst of this, I had just finished reading a book about how people finding Jesus is ultimately what matters most, but all that I could think about was this silly little phone. I actually inquired to what the cost of a new one would be, and was driving to Portland to make an expensive stop, when I reached down in the gap between the drivers’ seat and console one more time, but this time I felt something that didn’t match. I was so relieved, I had looked there about 18 times, but in one last attempt it showed up. So, that was half a day, intended to be spent in a coffee shop posting an update turned into a frantic hunt for a phone.
I’m a bit disappointed in myself to be so dependent on technology. I thought that the fact I hadn’t used it in Canada meant that I was doing all right, but that all changed in a heartbeat. I have been traveling using both GPS and a map, but am still too dependent on this little device. Are you overly dependent on technology? What would you do if your phone or laptop were suddenly taken from you?
With that side note I’ll get back to the fun adventures.
The journey has continued back into the good old USA. Since the last time I wrote I spent a bit more time in the Canadian Rockies then made my way south into eastern Washington. The day that I crossed back into the US proved to be memorable. In the morning I decided to check out the skaha bluffs rock climbing area and see if I might get lucky enough to climb a route or two. It was a fantastic crag with routes that looked like fun all over. I hung out most of the morning, but people didn’t start rolling in until around noon (I should have known better than to expect climbers in the morning). I climbed one really easy route with a couple and was about to give up. I am really bad at asking for anything, especially when I know that it’s inconveniencing someone else, particularly a stranger. But I wandered a little farther and came across a mother daughter pair who were in over their heads. I watched them climb for a while and when they had given up I “offered” to finish the route so they could get their gear back. It was a fun little climb, and gave me the chance to try a route, but was a really a copout of me asking for help. Due to the lifestyle I’ve chosen I am going to be in this type of situation more, so I need to give up my pride and be willing to ask for a favor.
After the morning at the climbing crag I made my way back into the US. My plan was to travel to the North Cascades national park. Unfortunately it was storming out and I was probably 40 miles away when I was stopped and told that a mudslide had blocked the road and it would be closed for at least a day. So, I changed directions and headed south to Wenatchee. It was a crazy night in eastern Washington as they were fighting both fires and mudslides in the midst of the storm. I eventually found a place to park for the night and held tight until morning.
After that I headed to Seattle to meet up with a couple friends that I hadn’t seen in ages. It was great to be able to just hang out and catch-up, as a lot had happed in all of our lives. I was also very appreciative of a hot shower and a warm bed for the weekend. I’ll probably write more about that someday, but they are definitely things that I no longer take for granted.
From Seattle I took the ferry to Olympic National Park. I think that this is probably the most diverse national park that I have been to. It is really segmented, but it has mountains, glaciers, forests, rainforests, beaches, and a spit. I didn’t even know what a spit was, but now I’ve walked on one. My first couple days there had beautiful weather, I drove to obstruction point to go for a scenic hike. It was fantastic, I even got an excellent view of Mount Olympus. What I didn’t know is that that was the only view of Mount Olympus that I would have. As I made my way around the sound visiting different regions the weather was much more overcast. This is probably more a function of my location than a true change in weather, I enjoyed the exploration either way.
On my obstruction point trail I met a couple local guys who were giving recommendations and they told me about hiking Mount Saint Helens. I didn’t know much about it, but they told me I could drive near the top, then hike the last couple hundred feet, but needed to buy a permit. So, when I had internet I looked up the permits and bought one, then looked at the trail. I’m not sure what they were talking about, the hike was 5 miles with 4000ft of elevation gain. I don’t care who you are, that’s a lot of elevation FAST. It was broken into three sections, 2 miles of forest, 2 miles of “boulder field”, and 1 mile of sandy ashy stuff. I camped up at the trailhead and woke up early, so headed out on the trail a little before 6. It turned out to be fantastic timing because I got to watch the sun rise next to Mount Adams at a clearing near the top of the forest. It was a slow path to the top, and it felt like I was hiking above the clouds, because I was. That day had low level clouds, so I had a view both into a crater and of the surrounding volcanic mountains. It was excellent.
After this, it was Labor Day weekend. What does a person who’s traveling for life do for a Holiday weekend? After a fair bit of contemplation I decided to hide in the woods. I visited a couple more angles of Mount Saint Helen, and was very glad I had climbed on Friday as it had the least clouds, but in general I hid in the woods with a couple books.
After my cell phone mishap I made my way to the Oregon coast and spent the next 4 days stopping at various beaches along the way. Along the way I saw beaches, lighthouses, rock formations, whales, seals, sea lions, birds, and more. It really is fantastically beautiful all along that coast. It was slow progress because I didn’t want to pass by any of the beaches without seeing them.
Next came a meander through the giant redwoods in northern California. It’s pretty phenomenal to think about the fact that these trees are up to 2,000 years old. That means that some of them may have been seedlings when Jesus was walking the earth. It’s amazing to think about all of the things that they have survived, and humans have destroyed more of these giants than anything else. A lot of the park was actually information about logging and all of the trees that were harvested.
I’m a bit nervous about the next part of the journey. I am approaching Yosemite and which point the trip will change from wide open random travels to a much more focused climbing adventure. I am glad that I’ve taken this time to reset my mind in these wanderings but I’m also looking forward to being a bit more settled and focused during the next phase. I think that if I had gone directly to Yosemite I would have treated climbing like a job. As it currently stands, I’m not sure what it will look like, but I know it will be very different from this past month and a half.
Random Thought: Matthew 7:13-14 is an often preached text about taking the narrow road to get to heaven, but what if we think of this as a trail? At times I’ve been following a path and I didn’t know where exactly it was going. I didn’t know where the twists and turns would go, or where I might have a steep climb, I just hoped that it would open up to something grand at some point along the way. And the length of the path was not necessarily linked to the magnificence of what I saw along the way. I have been down trails that were miles long, and were a bit disappointing. I’ve also be down short trails that were fabulous. I went on a 500ft trail to a really beautiful little waterfall. I think that in a way the trail can represent God’s path for us. He doesn’t give us a full map, we don’t know the topography of when we’ll be going up and when we’ll be going down. We just know that if we trust him and believe in him, he will eventually take us to the most magnificent place, heaven.
Random Thought 2: I am currently fairly disconnected from the current events of the day, but I have read a little about ISIS and the persecution that is occurring. The pastor at my church in Fargo wrote an article about how we as Christians should respond and suggested that we all pray every day at noon. So, I programmed an alarm in my phone and the first time that it went off I happened to be on a trail and the memory verses I was reviewing at that moment were on the topic of being steadfast.
1 Cor 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
Hebrews 12:3 “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
At that point I realized that I didn’t know how to pray for the persecuted church, but those verses sounded like a pretty good prayer. I have kept that daily alarm in my phone and continue to pray both for a reprieve for the persecution and for the Christians to remain steadfast.
If you’d like to read what Pastor Matthew had to say, here’s a link to his blog post. http://www.pastormatthew.net/responding-to-isis-prayer-care-military-action/