Thursday, August 22, 2013

Life Lessons from Hiking Mount Timpanogos

Last week, I had the excellent opportunity of hiking Mount Timpanogos, 15 miles round trip and 4,000 vertical feet. We started our hike at 1:30 in the morning so we could be at the summit by sunrise. Since we were hiking up in the dark, and there wasn't much to look at (except for the occasional glowing eyes staring us down), I had lots of time to relate the hike to life.

On the way up, Jason and I hiked together and I was mostly in the lead. When we got to the top of the mountain, we had to climb a rocky peak to make it to the summit. There was sort of a trail on the peak, but mostly we had to free-climb. This was particularly nerve-racking because it was so dark out and I could tell that if I made one bad step, I would fall off a 6,000 foot cliff. I'm not afraid of heights at all, but not being able to see very well kind of freaked me out. Anyways, at the top of this last part of the hike, there was a beacon at the summit. Keeping our eyes on the beacon, Jason and I proceeded ahead. Jason went ahead of me for a lot of this portion of the hike. He would get up ahead and help me up by offering me his hand. Sometimes, he would let me get ahead so he could catch me if I fall. At any rate, we made it to the summit, safe and sound, hand in hand. This experience has a strong parallel to marriage.
Sometimes, in a marriage, one partner will get ahead of the other, but needs to help the other partner catch up, just as Jason helped me up the rocks. A marriage is a union of two individuals. A lot of the time, one will progress more than the other, but over time, the other will progress and catch up or even surpass their spouse. However, what really matters is that we keep our sight on the beacon, or life goal, and help each other make it there. I probably wouldn't have made it up the final peak if Jason hadn't stopped to help me. Likewise, in a marriage, each member has a commitment to help each other through thick and thin, no matter what.

The darkness of the ascent made it so that we had to be very careful. Because we couldn't see what was on either side of us, we had to make sure we only followed the trail and didn't stray from it. At the final peak, it was very difficult to determine where the trail was. We would hike for a while on what we thought was the trail, only to find it ended up in a 200 foot cliff. During the last part of the hike, I was extremely dizzy due to the high altitude, and could hardly even stand up straight. If I looked back up at the beacon, I would become re-motivated and have the strength to carry on. Finally, we followed the trail to the top and reunited with the rest of our group. This experience is a lot like the path to our highest good. By "highest good" I mean the very best place we could be at any time in our lives, but especially where we could go at the end of our lives. The trail there is narrow, but can be discovered with a little bit of effort, much as we could tell where the trail was when we shone our flashlights on it. There may be unexpected twists and
turns in the trail, but keeping to it will lead us to our goal. Focusing too much on the sides of the trail or getting distracted will cause us to trip and fall and get lost. If I hadn't paid attention to where the trail was, I could have fallen off of steep cliffs and died, been seriously injured, or just had to have climbed up to the trail (which would have been very difficult if not impossible). Sometimes, we may not be able to tell where the trail is, and so we follow different paths that ultimately stop in a dead end. We shouldn't get discouraged by this; we should just remember our goal and proceed to the right trail. It may be difficult to carry on, as it was when I was so dizzy, but keeping to the right trail will always be rewarding.

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