The day is icy cold and my breath puffs elongated clouds with every exhale. My breathing is even more labored than when I hike the same EL’s during the summer and fall season. I figure it must be the laborious snowshoeing, because I can feel tightening muscles in my thighs already and I’m only an hour into the hike. Thankfully the snowshoes’ mountain bar under the heel of my boots assists my uphill climb; I can’t imagine how my calves would be right about now if one hadn’t been provided.
As I continue to climb, the landscape is showing quite the snow-influenced difference. The surroundings are softened, cushioned. From the snow-flocked pine trees, the branches now low-hanging boughs heavy with snow, to the black, grey and copious white of the surrounding forest, leached of color. It’s as though I’m on another planet, it appears other-worldly. Imagine the moon, this snow-covered landscape looks something like what we see when we star gaze and imagine “faces” on the moon on lazy summer nights. And, appropriately, I almost look like I’m wearing an astronaut’s moon suit, with the added layers and down-tufted dry wear and gear.
Not many people tracks on trail, which makes sense considering the lack of vehicles in the parking area. But every track is snowshoe-imprinted, no ski tracks. Suddenly my footing sinks much deeper into the snow, I’ve wandered into a drift and I’m startled back to vigilant trekking.
Quit daydreaming, snow or no snow, you still need to pay attention.
Oh Lord God, You are most majestic, and greatly to be adored! That I may never forget that I am cleansed from all of my sins, no matter how severe, how insulting my sins are to Your holiness, to Your honor. Yes, You have cleansed me white as snow my God. Thank You, my Lord! Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”
Upon reaching the higher region, mother nature is definitely kickin’ it with high winds. The wind is whipping the snow into a blinding curtain and the snow is becoming like large pellets; stinging cold. I wipe at my goggles, it is getting harder to see. Where’s a windshield wiper when you need one? The snow is now just really falling with intensity; Mother Nature seems to be most serious about dumping a heavy layer.
Maybe I should be turning around; I’m not experienced with snow hikes.
I gave this hike a lot of deliberation before settling upon it. I knew that I would not attempt the same mountain where my friend fell to her death last season, not wanting to make a similar mistake. So I’m on an abandoned fire road which I thought would be considerably safer with the width of the trail, less likely to slip off to the side. Now I’m re-evaluating my decision.
I did check with the Lord these past few days during planning, right?
Even though He approved the hike, He also knew in advance what obstacles I would encounter. But! He also gives me wisdom while on trail, when to press on, when to quit, recognizing and acknowledging my limitations. All I need to do is listen; easier said than done. Acknowledging my limitations is the hardest for me to put into practice. I usually push beyond my limits. Type “A” all the way … but I can’t use that as an excuse.
Despite the thermal dry wear I’m getting chilled. The weather has really turned. So it’s my turn to “turn”. I make a wide U-turn, very awkward in my pink snowshoes, careful not to fall; it would probably take an hour to get back up with all my insulation and huge “shoes” as I discovered at the lower EL. I picture a turtle on its back, its pink-shod feet and gloved hands flailing uselessly against the atmosphere.
Upon looking back at the trail rather than at my clumsy steps, there ahead of me stands a bewildered looking, and very large deer. I hadn’t heard it approach, the snow muffling the sound. And apparently the same for the deer. My gaze flies to its antlers. Big antlers, multiple points.
We stare at one another. It seems to be assessing me and I realize how ridiculous I must appear to it. Short, thickly insulated and with pink, long feet. Is it sizing me up? Which of us will be the first to capitulate? I decide to look at the ground, be as non-challenging as possible; I have no idea if a buck is dangerous or not. I’m going to assume it could be and just disappear somehow. Do I dare go for the camera?
As if it is answering my thought, it snorts, its hot breath fogging long streaks through the crisp air. Then it raises its nose high into the air, sniffing and moving its lips in exaggerated silent-speak. It reminds me of the comedy show “Mr. Ed”. Does this buck “taste” the surrounding odors or the odor of “human”? He stomps one hooved foot, the sound surprisingly sharp despite the cushioning snow. Its posture is jerky, slow-moving, and agitated, and reminds me somewhat of a prancing horse in a parade. It moves a few fitful, tentative steps then in a flash it is gone, more of the typical long, far-stretching graceful-leaps I’ve witnessed before. I mean, that dude was gone in a flash! The power and strength that these animals have!
I consider myself fortunate, and then remember that “fortune” has absolutely nothing to do with it. I am completely protected by my all-powerful, mighty Protector! I have no idea what that buck would have done, but I do know that my Jesus is greater in me than anything that is of this world. I do not possess a “formula”; I have NOT found a secret remedy to hear the Voice of God. It is simply and candidly a fact of: time spent with Him, building relationship, getting to know Him. As His word states: “My sheep know My Voice.” How very, very true!
“Come now and let us reason together, says the Lord, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18
Incredible beauty surrounds me, despite the covering of fresh snow. Taking the time to enjoy the splendor of His creation ignites a deep joy and appreciation for life. As I allow Him to take hold of my spirit, shaping the direction for my life, I am blessed with a joy that I never had before. I exist to bring Him love and adoration, glory.
I so thoroughly enjoy God! You can too!