Monday, August 10, 2015

Life Lessons from Wilderness Trek

Twenty-three years ago I climbed Mt. Elbert in Colorado.

View from top of Mt. Elbert, summer 1992

It's kind of weird that I now have enough life experiences to state that something occurred twenty-plus years ago.

View of valley while hiking up Mt. Sherman, summer of 1994

Anyway, that particular trip was my first true backpacking experience, but certainly not the last. I have written about Wilderness Trek before, and it truly was one of the most influential experiences of my life.

Hiking up Mt. Sherman, summer of 1994
 
At the ripe age of twelve-and-a-half, I was exposed to grandeur beyond my comprehension and the principle that when life is difficult, it is always best to reach out and encourage, or help someone else.

Mt. Antero, summer of 1996

On Wilderness Trek every person carries not only their own essentials for a five-day trek into the wilderness, but also various items for the crew you are assigned to. Everyone is carrying weight beyond what you might think you can endure (35-50 lbs), and regardless of your fitness level, it is a tough trip. Obviously the more fit you are, the easier it is, but it isn't easy. 

Rapelling on the Mt. Antero trip, summer 1996

The thing that made the experience of climbing a mountain more bearable (besides the amazing views) was to try to motivate someone else who was struggling to keep moving.

My sister, Angela, and I on the Mt. Antero trip, summer 1996

When I could dig down deep and encourage another to keep plodding along, one foot in front of the other, it allowed me to forget my own difficult journey. If I could take a moment to encourage others to look up from staring at the ground and breathe in the beauty that we were all enveloped in, it allowed me to take in the moment myself.

 On the trail. Mt. Antero, summer 1996

Last week I was reminded of that principle. I was in a funk, in the midst of my very own pity party, focused on myself and some of my own frustrations. It was all I could think about as I drove to the Y for a midday pick-me-up.

 On the trail. Mt. Antero, summer 1996

Working out helped to lift my spirits and clear my mind. I felt less alone as I let the endorphins take away my frustrations. But it was after my workout that I was reminded of this lesson from my youth. 

Summit Day, Mt. Antero, summer 1996

As I spoke with a friend, I learned that another mom with a newborn was walking through a difficult valley right now. The cliff notes of the situation broke my heart and I felt ashamed of my pity party.

My sister on our "summit". We had to turn around before the actual 
summit because a storm was moving in. Mt. Antero, summer 1996

At that moment I shifted gears because I really believe that when we slow down, and move our focus from ourselves to how we can support others, it changes us for the better. It makes us better humans.

The girls on our "summit" as a storm moved in. Mt. Antero, summer 1996

I learned so much from Wilderness Trek, and even 23 years later I find that I am still applying those lessons to my life.

 Angela and I on our "summit" as a storm moved in. Mt. Antero, summer 1996

This is just one of the many lessons and experiences I had on Wilderness Trek. Those trips had a profound impact on me and I hope that someday my boys can have similar experiences.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 
Philippians 2:4  
...You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.
Luke 10:27

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