We “awoke” in darkness to surprisingly dry weather. Wind pushed against us but we were hopeful, prayerful and feeling thankful for this opportunity to climb this giant peak. The leader, Stan Busby, and his team of expert climbers (from Climbers for Christ), had patiently outfitted us with equipment the day prior. We circled up and prayed, committing this time to God and thanking Him for this day and this opportunity.
In my heart and mind doubts had begun to bubble up. I pushed them down focusing on the job ahead. “Focus on the next step,” was the phrase going through my mind.
We left the Mt Hood parking lot around 2am. (In my mind, an hour behind schedule!) The dirt path contained bits of larger rock mixed with finer rock. My boots slid and crunched into the volcanic path.
The first thing I noticed was the brisk pace. When I had hiked through the Austrian Alps as a 19-year-old, our seasoned leader (and principal of Tauernof Bible School), Gernot Kunzelman, always started the pace at what, initially seemed, a painfully s l o w rhythm. But later we were all thankful for his measured steps.
Breathing heavily, I began to think, “I can’t do this. It’s too fast for me!” I again struggled to push down panic thoughts.
People around me were having wonderful conversations. I longed to participate but had no breath for that. I had to focus all my energy on going up.
We rested as a group. Adjusted ourselves and our equipment. Hydrated. Snacked. And began to hike again. It was during the next section, I was pretty certain I could not do this. It was just too fast, too steep.
So I finally blurted to my husband that I didn’t think I would be able to do this.
As we made it to the next stopping place, the leader came to me and asked if I wanted to continue. I said I did, but I felt, “out of gas”. He responded that this was a common feeling. I should sit, rest, drink water and have a snack.
He spoke to the group, “Who will carry her pack?” I quickly blurted, “I can do it.” I didn’t want someone else to bear my burden.
But Busby insisted. My son, Nathaniel, wore my pack on his front while his own pack rested on his back. The remaining gear was carried by Norm and Noah. I felt uncomfortable burdening others with my load. But driven by a desire to be a part of a team that works together to achieve the goal. I wanted to keep trying.
This experience was challenging me because it was different than my previous climbing experience. Doubts filled my mind. But I had the benefit of support. I was privileged to have expert guides and an encouraging team surrounding me and offering practical help.
What new challenges are you facing? Do you have expert guides? An encouraging team to support and help you? Whose helping you carry your load?