take a hike

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I can hike all day.
And in Colorado it is what I would rather do than fish or ride horses or even shop in town.
I especially like getting to destinations that are slightly off the beaten path.
If we can find the path at all. Which is the case more often than not.
Going high and far and seeing pretty views.
Snow capped mountains, a tucked away mountain pond and maybe even an elk.
I like the crunch of gravel and twigs beneath my shoes and the rush of the stream nearby.
I even like the burn in my calves after a long hike and eating a peanut butter sandwich for lunch in a tucked away spot.

But I am always a bit distracted.
I spend much of the time afraid.
Walking fast.
I am closely eyeing the tracks in the ground or large piles of poop more than the people around me.
I am constantly scanning ahead and in the bushes.
And when I finally do get to my destination, I am anxious to go back to the jeep or the house as soon as possible.
I try to soak in the beauty and sounds and the smells.
But I am constantly on the lookout.
For snakes. And bears. And mountain lions.

Some of you might think I am being paranoid.
But I am talking about the mountains and those things are there.
The week before in New Mexico we ran into a cute little bear just a few hundred yards from the house.
I said some words I won’t repeat here and start running.
Which is exactly what you aren’t supposed to do when you see a bear.
Fortunately I think the cute bear was more afraid of me than I was of it and it just hissed and me and quickly scurried up a tree.

The other group we were staying with in Colorado spotted a mountain lion on their first day out. And a few more were spotted down by the pond close by. So these aren’t made up fears. They are legitimate ones.

And at dinner we swap stories and photos about the wildlife we saw. The bigger and the closer the better.

And this place we go year after year is beautiful.
Wild and lush and green.
And we almost always see something.
Elk, mule deer, butterflies, big horn sheep, foxes, llamas and marmots.
And sometimes even bears.

And this place that is so big and wild and beautiful isn’t really safe.
And I can’t help but think of Aslan.
The lion in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
When asked if Aslan was safe, this is the response:

Mrs. Beaver says, "If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly."Lucy asks, "Then he isn’t safe?"And Mr. Beaver says this famous line about Aslan: "’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you."

If the mountains were safe, something about their appeal would be gone. I might as well take a walk around my neighborhood and hope to see a pigeon. Instead, they are wild and should be tread through with respect and a bit of fear.
Kind of like our God. He isn’t tame. He isn’t little. He isn’t a city block to walk around. The trail isn’t always well marked. He is mighty and majestic and occasionally walking with him is hard and scary and you never know who might cross your path.

But it is beautiful. And I am going to keep hiking. Even if I might run into another bear.


Stacia said...

I'm the same way when we go hiking. Constantly on the lookout for everything. And debating in my mind whether you're supposed to run or freeze when you see a bear, or maybe back away slowly, or maybe ...