Neverpictureperfect backpacking and lessons from the Holy Spirit in the backcountry

I took my first backpacking trip in April with my husband and another couple.  Our husbands love to backpack together, and have done it for years. They finally got brave enough to take their wives and we finally got brave enough to go.

We’d been planning this trip for months, but the week came, and my husband and I were still not prepared. I just started a gluten-free diet and was trying to get used to that. My husband just found out his contract was not going to be renewed and he was going to be on another job hunt. We were emotionally exhausted and rattled and needed some time away. After a three hour delay in our start (our fault), we finally got started. It was a short hike to the first night’s campsite (half a mile), which was good since we were so late.

That’s when it got interesting…So we needed to set up the tents, find firewood, hang the bear bag and start supper. Amy and I spent a good time watching and learning the first night. We were instructed in hanging bear bags. Somehow, that parachute cord got tangled in the tree. I mean really tangled. The thing about bear bags is, they’re supposed to be high enough the bears can’t reach and on a branch not strong enough to support the bear, but strong enough to support the food. It was a great bear bag branch, but we couldn’t climb up to get it and we couldn’t get the branch to break. After WAY too long trying to get it down, a pocketknife took care of the problem (so much for the “leave no trace” camping ethic) and we continued our evening: making supper, using the one headlamp between the four of us for the trip to the outhouse.

Not a posed picture–Tim was pulling at the stuck bear bag as hard as he could…

Yes, there was an outhouse and Amy and I were thanking the Lord for it for our after-dark…ummm excursions. The only other incident of the evening was the toothbrush incident, which consisted of me mistaking the athlete’s foot cream for toothpaste, fortunately I discovered my mistake before I treated my mouth to an antifungal washing, but I then had a new addition to the bag of trash to be packed out of the backcountry. Nice. I’m glad my husband offered to share his toothbrush the rest of the trip…

The next day was my favorite part of the trip. The weather was perfect, slight breeze, sunny, no bugs, waterfalls, you name it, plus it was only a four mile hike. We went slowly, stopping to look at wildflowers, rock overhangs and anything we wanted. The geography of Savage Gulch is amazing, and as the resident botanist of the group (really, my only contributions to the trip were breakfast cookies and knowing the names of a few plants), I had a great time looking at everything in bloom. Early in the day, Amy and I rested under this amazing overhang and watched our husbands filter the water and wash up from breakfast. She and I both loved hearing and watching the stream moving along.

Amy and I sat here while the men washed the dishes.

After this stop, we moved on toward our lunch destination. Tim had a place already picked out and encouraged us to press on, and the view was totally worth the hike. He was right. A broad creek above a waterfall was a perfect lunch spot. We took off our socks and shoes and leisurely splashed our hot feet in the water as we ate our lunch. It was so relaxing and peaceful.

As our husbands were looking around, Amy and I started talking about the soothing nature of the water, and how the water was like the Holy Spirit. This creek bed was full of smooth stones on the bottom and the edges strewn with huge boulders. We were marvelling at the rocks, some jagged and rough, others worn smooth. We talked about how rocks’ rough edges had been smoothed out and changed by the water, as the Holy Spirit does to us in our lives. Then He reminded me: it’s the effort of the water, not the rock, that makes the changes.  The rock is simply there, the water, over time smooths it out. The Holy Spirit is in me–I invited Him in and asked Him to take charge–but it is His effort that changes me daily, if I allow. Unlike the rock, I can try to wriggle away or resist the efforts of the rushing waters of the Spirit, to my own detriment. So as the new trials come–and they always do, I’m making a conscious effort to not only allow but ask the Holy Spirit to wash over me, and smooth away those rough edges in my life. 


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Filed under camping, Meditation

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