We piled out of the car, excited to start our Backpacking trip. We slung on our backpacks, waved goodbye to our tolerant parents, yelling, “see you in a week.” Soon, we were hiking, and realized that, having been birthed from the car, nothing functioned yet. Only after hiking slowly for a miledid our cramped muscles begin to pick up the hiking motion. That night, being adapted to sea level and now having hiked for miles at 8,000 feet, we suffered from ferocious headaches as our bodies tried to cope with this new life.
The next day, we were hiking over a small pass and saw a group of fellow pilgrims. We inquired as to the way. They pointed to a rock wall. We looked up and up some more and finally, up even more. With dread, since it had no trees and no shade, we started hiking, for there was no other way. I broke down the miserable climb to manageable chunks. When I got to the end of a switchback, I could see a tiny sliver of Mono Lake. I turned and went the other direction. Coming back, but higher up, I could see a little more. With each switchback giving me a better view, I was surprised to find myself at the top. Victory!
Like the top of all mountain passes, there was no water. Having come unprepared for such dry conditions, the smartest thing would have been to go downhill to the lake. Therefore, we chose to hike to the top of the mountain. Imagine our surprise, when half way up, we were blessed with a spring. Drinking our fill on our way up and down, and filling our canteens, we proceeded to hike to the lake.
That evening, I tried to help collect firewood. Being still severely dehydrated, all I managed to do was chop a log to drag to camp for sitting on. Without sufficient flowing (living) water, I was not making wise choices. The next day, we hiked and arrived at a stream. In the morning, we decided to swim in it. We were diving into the deep pool, but one didn’t know to check for rocks, dove in and dented her forehead severely. She could have broken her neck and we would have had to deal with a quadriplegic, three days hike from any road.
As it was, a more minor incident was much more dangerous. Walking back from the pool, I stepped on a wasp nest and was stung 3 times. I am highly allergic to them, and we had no medicine. We shouldered our packs and hiked that day to a beautiful large lake. The next day, we decided to have a layover day. Everyone wanted to climb a near by mountain. Since the attack, I felt lethargic and stayed at the camp while everyone else breathed the clean air of the mountaintop. They came back full of excitement to go on, while I wanted to hold them back. Never-the-less, to meet our schedule, I managed to hike the next day. Believing I could do it, and trying, I soon found myself filled with strength to accomplish it.
As we hiked over the next few days, we looked down from the only way and saw a group hiking through a swamp, climbing over deadfall trees. We called down to them, but at first they refused to listen, thinking they were on the right way. Finally, they came up, and we showed them the map. They told us that they had been climbing over the trees for two days and only gone two miles. They were so thankful to be back on the way, and even more when we gave them an extra copy of the map. The last day, as we were hiking, we mat another group. They told us the direction that they thought was right. We consulted the map and said that the way could kill them. They went anyway, saying they were stronger, and we were just weaklings to follow the map. Toward the end of the day, we met a bruised and battered person, the only survivor of the group. Doctoring her up, we arranged for a rescue party, but it was too late for the rest.
Soon, we joined our parents and headed home. The last day was a doozy. The thunderstorms gathered, and soon we could barely see. We slipped on the mud and felt like we walked like old people. Finally, we piled into the car. Arriving at an Inn, rather like a mansion compared to our tents, we were fed a banquet. As we sat there in the mansion, feasting, God said, “Welcome Home.”