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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)
The wind was beginning to pick up and it was getting chilly, so Andy, who had taken the lead, suggested that we head down the rock so we could start the 8-mile journey back to the car. After all, we still had a five-hour drive ahead of us that evening.
I changed my socks, strapped on my backpack and got ready to leave. I knew going back down the cables was going to be fun, but I almost forgot something very important. The rock! It was still in my backpack and. I told the others and asked them to wait while I found the perfect spot to leave the rock.
I set it on a boulder and took pictures of it for the memorial. Then, I left it there, along with the painful comment that nearly destroyed my life. I didn’t even look back. It was no longer my burden.
I walked toward the cables with what I had dubbed the “Fellowship,” Andy, Bre, Mike, and our new addition, Ms. Rosemarie, who had decided to ride back to L.A. with us.
I was again first to get on the cables. Going down wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The biggest challenge getting down was the crowd. There were people coming up as we descended and everyone had to stay inside the cables, so it got a little congested. There were occasional weirdoes climbing up outside of the cables and they were pretty much free to do so since there were no rangers present to monitor the situation.
When I reached Sub Dome, I took pictures of everyone as they came down from the cables. The mission had been accomplished and I felt so much lighter.
Although I ate some of the food I carried in my backpack and drank more water, the reason my backpack was lighter was because of the burden that had been left behind. The rock was small enough to fit into the palm of my hand, so it wasn’t very heavy. However, what the rock symbolized in my life was a heavy burden and it was now gone.
To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
Isaiah 61:3 (New King James Version)
After I shared my story with Lynn, she suggested that I do something that had already been revealed to me through prayer. She suggested that I find some stones and let those stones represent things that I wanted to leave behind once and for all, and leave them at the top of Half Dome to serve as a memorial.
Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”
Joshua 4:4-7 (New King James Version)
Just a few weeks before I left for Yosemite, I opened up the flap on a messenger bag that I rarely used. I noticed the flap was a bit heavy and that something solid was weighing it down. There was a zipper pocket on the outside of the flap, which could be used for pens, pencils, etc. I opened the zipper to see what was inside and that’s when I discovered the rock I had found more than a decade ago in my parents’ driveway.
I was shocked to see that I still had that rock and that I was completely unaware of having carried it around for so long. I knew that the rock would be the perfect memorial because, like the comment spoken by my classmate, that rock was something that I had held onto that weighed something down. It was time for me to get rid of that rock and evict that poisonous comment out of my heart and mind once and for all.