Perseverance is a group endeavor.
Our vacation consisted of a lot of hiking – 26 miles worth. It has always been a dream of ours to take the kids to Yosemite. We waited until they were old enough to remember the trip and to endure some good hikes. In our opinion, the only way to see a national park is by foot.
We planned our hikes. Our goal was to do two major hikes: a fourteen mile and a seven mile. The fourteen mile is intense. It involves getting up at 4 a.m. in order that you can return before it gets dark. It is considered one of the most dangerous hikes in America. Yet, this is how we generally approach vacations – go for it. Our plan was to tackle this hike first while we still had the energy. Our daughter infused some wisdom into us by saying we should build up to it. We decided to start with the seven-mile hike. It actually turned out to be a ten-mile hike when it was all said and done.
We packed up for the hike the day before. Cliff bars, cheese, crackers, sausage, and six bottles of water each. The rangers recommended three liters of water per person for this hike (yes we went through every one of them). We woke up at 6 a.m., ate a quick breakfast, and hit the trailhead by 7 a.m. It was a perfect day – cool and sunny. We attacked the first part of the hike with ease. We stopped occasionally but everything seemed to go as planned. At the half way mark we reached the base of the Upper Yosemite Falls. Gorgeous. Breathtaking. This was definitely worth the hike!
The second half of the hike proved much more difficult. It was 10:30 in the morning. The next hour and a half involved a series of switchbacks in the direct heat. By this time, it was in the high 80s. We started an intense climb at roughly a 45-degree angle. The guidebook warned us that we would climb what amounted to two Empire State Buildings over the course of the hike. They were not joking! I think it was more like three! We found ourselves stopping every ten minutes. We would rest for five minutes in the hope that our energy would return. Then, we would start again only to find ourselves tired after two to three steps. We are not inclined to give up on anything. Yet, this hike nearly beat us. Our son began calling it the “death hike.”
At this point, we began to encourage one another. We checked on how each person was doing. We make sure everyone was drinking ample water. We would find a shady place and rest whenever we could. I began to create a fictitious story with my son to keep his mind off the fatigue. We kept reminding one another that we were almost there – a few more steps. It became group survival.
During the first part of the hike, we were together as a family but leisurely walking as individuals, not necessarily dependent on another person to move forward. It was a different story during the second half. We needed each other!
In the end we finished the hike. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the summit. Then, we made the easier trek back downhill, making sure to encourage those that were coming up behind us. Spent, we wisely decided to only do the first half of the fourteen mile hike the next day.
It is easy to do the Christian life alone. We live in community but not deeply. We see people but do not depend on them. We are walking through life at a leisurely pace without true need for the other person. It is the American way – independent and self-sufficient. Yet, it is not enough. Christ wants us to live in intentional, life-giving relationships. Relationships where we are in it together encouraging and spurring on another. It is these relationships that help us through the challenging times of life. Christ loves these connections. He resides in the midst of them. Ironically, it is the very relationships where we are most dependent that we are the most strong. Strong because we are depending on Christ and one another!