Sunday, September 21, 2008

It comes more quickly than you think...

Sixteen summers ago I was living in an apartment complex just south of Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. I had three roommates, one of whom was a local kid from Alpine, UT (about 45 minutes north of us). One weekend he told us we should all go on this great overnight hike near where he grew up. I called my aunt and uncle Dave and Dian Gibb and asked if I could borrow one of their hiking backpacks and one of their sons (my cousin Jonathan) to go on this hike. So four of us headed up Dry Creek trail towards Lone Peak. I'm still not sure how many miles the hike is, but I do know you ascend two or three thousand feet in about two hours. We end up about half way up Lone Peak. It's a rigorous climb, but one that can be done even by a novice (if he's in decent shape!) We all loved the trip.

Over the years, I've led four or five other groups up to the spot. It's amazingly beautiful. There's a rock outcropping that you can sit on and and look out over Utah valley. You see Alpine and Highland, Lehi and the Oquirrh mountains and part of Utah lake. You can watch the gorgeous sunset and later look up at the endless stars. The place we camp is a beautiful little clearing right next to a river, but it's in a location that you would never find unless you had been there before. You have to bushwhack through the brush. There's no trail, but once you get there, there's a perfect place to put out a tarp and sleep under the stars. The river rushing by almost makes it easier to fall asleep.

The last few times I've gone, I've taken two of my brothers and my dad. Over the last 9 years, every time I've gone up, I've thought how great it would be to take my own sons some day. Well, someday came last weekend:) Christi, Taylor, Parker and I braved the mountain. There were several things I was worried about. First, I knew the boys couldn't carry full packs, so Christi and I would have to carry their bags and sleeping pads. I didn't know how that would wear on us, and I wasn't even positive the boys could do the entire hike even with smaller packs. Second, on every other trip I'd taken, everyone was an adult, and therefore responsible for themselves. On this trip, I was basically responsible for all four of us. I was leading us into a wilderness with no facilities, no running water, other than the river, possible encounters with wild animals, and an area where we had to pack everything in! Third, this was September, the latest in the season I had ever gone. So I was worried it might get too cold. I spent quite a bit of time preparing. I bought some packets of freeze dried food for dinner (Everyone but Taylor liked the lasagna. Nobody but me liked the Blueberry cheesecake:) I bought four new mummy bags rated for 5 degrees. I bought a hatchet and a small stainless steel cooking pot. I bought a magnesium stick (a last resort for starting a fire if you're not too great with the matches. Lets just say it was a GOOD thing I brought it.) And I bought a water filter.

Long story short: my fears were unnecessary. We had a WONDERFUL time. The boys were great sports, and loved the entire trip (although I did end up carrying one of their 7-pound packs in my hand for just about the entire hike. This was in addition to the 25-pound pack on my back. And I won't even go into the 40-pound spare tire around my waist!) In fact, when we were almost at the very top, it was Christi who felt like she couldn't go on. Both boys, but especially Taylor, were so sweet with their encouragement for her. The sleeping bags were great. The food was edible. But best of all is just the experience of being there. It is possible to drive to many beautiful overlooks in the world, and I have enjoyed many throughout my life. But there is something different about viewing something that can only be seen after you work incredibly hard to get there. We enjoyed the view at the top and even had a little testimony meeting under the stars as we looked over the valley. Each of us expressed our feelings about our Savior and His Gospel. It was a really great trip. We hope to make it an annual event.


PS. My favorite quotes from the trip:
Taylor: "Look! A lizard. I think it's a Geico!"
(not related)
Parker: "Dad. I think I saw a bear! And heard it! Or maybe it was a squirrel or a rabbit....yeah, there it is. It's a squirrel."