Life on the Edge…(Chapter 26-Serpents and Scorpions)

I didn’t do any hiking for about two weeks after I returned from Yosemite.  It wasn’t because I was sore; I had very little soreness, which got better after about a day or so.  I didn’t hike because I had reached a goal that I had spent months preparing for.  It’s very difficult to motivate yourself to do things when you don’t have a goal or a purpose.  I had grown complacent and didn’t want to exercise at all.

Do it again.

I heard the voice of God speak to my heart.  What?  Again?  Why would anyone want to put themselves through that kind of torture another time?  Then, it came to me.  I would start training to do the hike again the next year and purpose to finish in less time.

It took me about 13 hours to finish the hike, not including the time spent at the summit.  For most people, it takes less.  I decided that I was up for the challenge.  I got up one morning, put on my hiking gear and went on one of my favorite trails: a five-mile hike in Santa Clarita.  I went during a weekday, so I hiked alone.  Sometimes I do that.

It felt good to be back on the trails again and inhale some fresh air.  Of course, the air wasn’t as fresh as it was at Yosemite, but it was better than breathing in smog.  I noticed that I fared much better on the uphill than I had on that hike previously.  I didn’t have to stop as much to catch my breath, which was a good sign.

When I had made it almost to the top of the ridge, just past a fork where the trail split, something in the middle of the trail caught my eye.  I almost stepped on it as I thought initially that it was a big stick.  When I realized it was a snake, I immediately stepped back a few feet.  At the time, I didn’t know what kind of snake it was, but it didn’t matter.  To me, a snake is a snake, and they are all ugly and disgusting creatures.

Although the snake didn’t move, I knew it was alive.  Thankfully, it didn’t lunge at me.  I took a picture of it and went back to the fork in the trail and took the other path.  The trails converged later, so it wasn’t a big detour.  That was enough excitement for one day.

I didn’t necessarily fear the snake.  I just didn’t want to have to deal with a snake bite, especially while I was out in the wilderness alone.

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
Luke 10:19 (New International Version)

Life on the Edge…(Chapter 4)

I got up from the top bunk where I slept and began quietly putting on my hiking gear. My roommates woke up to wish me well and see me off. We hit the road shortly after 2:30am. The drive took us longer than an hour because of road construction. We got to the trailhead around 4:30am and began the hike shortly after that. It was dark and very cold. We actually started out on the wrong trail at first because we couldn’t tell where we were going. All of us had headlamps, but it was easy to lose one’s sense of direction.

Prior to this hike, I had never hiked in the dark where I had to use a flashlight or headlamp. I wasn’t afraid, though, because there were about 12 or 13 of us and all but one were in the same boat, having never reached the summit of Half Dome. I had hiked a big portion of the trail a few months before with a friend of mine when there was a lot of snow and ice, but we didn’t go anywhere near Half Dome, although that hike was quite an adventure as well, as you can see below.

Hiking through a Snow Field on the John Muir Trail - April 2010

Once we realized we were going the wrong way, we turned back to the parking lot so that we could figure out which way to go. Somehow, I ended up in the lead and everyone was following me. I had gained back my sense of direction, so I was confident that I wasn’t leading them wrong. However, I knew that my lead would be short lived because once we started the incline, which was not too far ahead of us, I would begin to fall further and further behind.

I don’t do very well hiking uphill for a long period of time. I usually have to take frequent breaks to catch my breath. I noticed that I had gotten better over the past few months since I had pushed myself to do more challenging hikes, but I wasn’t where I probably should have been to successfully complete the hike to Half Dome. I probably had no business attempting this hike as I had several physical ailments that made the hike even more of a challenge.