Learning from the “Hike from Hell”

When the boys were younger we were on vacation in the Swan Valley and a friend told us about a great day hike up to Rumble Lake and Falls, so naturally everyone except me was excited for this adventure. You see I really didn’t like hiking. Walking up a mountain seemed boring, tedious and a waste of my valuable time.  Oh, and did I mention that I thought it was boring?

We loaded up all the kids and our “day hiking gear” and hit the road to the Rumble Falls trailhead. We started out with a sense of excitement – all but me. But I was trying to be a good sport and not ruin everyone else’s fun so we set off on the trail. The first part of the trail was wide and had been well used. It was easy to follow and not to steep or hard, then we realized that we had missed the turn off to go to Rumble Falls and Rumble Lake, so we had to backtrack until we found the marker. By marker, I mean  2 sticks that had been stuck in the ground to form a triangle – no wonder we missed it! That should have been my first clue that this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park day hike. Immediately we started to climb up a steep embankment. We had to reach for grass and roots to pull ourselves up; it was so steep. I was not pleased!!! We soon found ourselves on a trail that had very sharp switchbackks as it climbed up the mountain. Every step seemed like torture, but I tried to not complain and I thought I was being a good sport; although I am not sure the others would agree.


We reached a point where the trail just disappeared. I thought to myself, “are you kidding me, we hiked all the way up here just to lose the trail and have to go back down?” Well, this was not the case. My husband and oldest son, who had extensive hiking experience, decided we were not ABOUT to turn around, they were convinced they could figure out the way to go. “It had to be in that bowl over there between the mountains”, they said, and subsequently struck out across the mountain towards the elusive Rumble Lake and Falls with the other two boys following. I was having NONE of that. I NEEDED a trail…I couldn’t just take off on a mission without something to follow. We had no trail, no GPS, no assurance that we were going to find the lake. And yet they were SURE they knew the way.

I hit a mental road block at this point. I cannot remember a time before that, or since, that I have ever felt so defeated. I sat down on that mountain and just started crying. I was frustrated, I was angry, I was empty and in reality, I was giving up. It was a horrible experience. There had been times that I may have come close to that level of despair and desperation in my life, but nobody….NOBODY had ever witnessed me being so weak. And let me tell you, it did not go unnoticed by my children. You see, I was a single mom for a long time having to hold it all together and be strong for them. I couldn’t let them see me crack because they DEPENDED on me – I was the leader of my family. I had been through some horrible times in my past and not once did I let them see me like this – totally broken.

After a good cry and pretty much a full fledged tantrum of about 10 minutes, I pulled myself together and followed after the others. We bushwacked our way across the mountain and eventually found the trail again, much to my delight! And as we ventured farther along, we were met with some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. We made it to the lake that day and when we arrived I was emotionally spent. I just sat next to the lake and took in the beauty, the wildlife, the peace. I watched my sons and husband fish and explore and I let go of all the anxiety of the trip.


I didn’t know it then and really never realized it until just today, how much I learned on that hike about myself. The memory of that day has always been one of embarrassment. I constant reminder that I was weak… and then I was shown by God what that experience was all about.

I saw that my “Hike from Hell”, was an analogy of life, leadership and reaching for goals. There were so many points along that hike that speak to me about our time here on Earth. How hard and how beautiful it can be all at the same time. How important it is to realize that everything is a journey and that we must not walk it alone.

Our “hike” of life can be on well maintained, wide, well used trails and that are easy and comfortable, but at some point that “hike” becomes steep and hard to traverse. We may find ourselves having to pull ourselves up by the grass and roots, just to keep from falling down. Our trail we follow is hardly ever easy and the way may tire us out and test our strength, but we are climbing to reach a goal of some kind and we are willing to keep trudging forward because we are compelled to….we can’t stop! But…what if we hit a wall; what if we sit down on the trail and give up?

This part spoke to me the most…..In our weakness, God is strong! It is OK to be weak because that is when we surrender everything. We give up all attempts to control our situation and that is when God can come in with POWER and STRENGTH. He can take our messes and turn it into a message! I have always cringed at the idea of weakness – in ANYTHING. I didn’t want to associate myself with anything that was weak because I felt that if I wasn’t strong then the whole world would come down around me. I felt that by showing weakness I would become a victim again. I never realized that God was waiting for me to hit that wall – to actually be ready to surrender it all – to actually let go of control in all areas of my life. Then He could come in and restore me…infuse me with HIS power….HIS peace….HIS strength. Then I would be stronger than I had EVER been and be ready to really go out into this world and make an Impact for His kingdom! Today as I was praying, this story came to me and it was the first time I have played that scene in my head without embarrassment, because it was the first time I could see Him lifting me up to my feet again and walking alongside me on the remainder of that hike. I can now look at that moment as a moment of TRIUMPH instead of failure.

Sometimes our journey is going to be hard and tiring. The road isn’t always easy, but what if you reach the top of the mountain and the beauty that awaits you blows your mind? What if all that hard work means that you are given a reward that surpasses your imagination? Our goals and dreams are worth it! This life is worth it! Keep moving up, use those pieces of grass and roots to pull yourself higher because we are all meant to reach great heights. With God, All things are Possible!


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