Bruce and I did another hike last week. We hadn’t been to the Indian Peaks Wilderness since last summer.
We figured, if we don’t go now the weather will change and prevent us from hiking our favorite trail around Long Lake for another year.
The place is about ten thousand feet above sea level.
We got there just before seven AM to ensure a parking space. It was cold—about 34 degrees—but after the sun rose above the mountains the temperature promised to rise into the sixties.
On the trail, we saw a man standing very still, shading his eyes. We greeted him as we passed and he whispered that a bull moose was just then moving across a field on the other side of the river.
Sure enough, there he was, walking nonchalantly through the tall grasses and shrubs, tall, dark brown, and magnificent.
Moose are not beautiful. But their sheer size and rarity make them a prized sighting.
After the moose disappeared from our sight, Bruce and I continued on our hike, hoping we’d sight the animal again. Or even see another moose.
Just a couple of years earlier we’d nearly run into four young bulls on this trail. They’d been as startled as we were and had moved off quickly.
But our hopes of more moose sightings were dashed when several parties of noisy hikers came through and passed us. Most of them were college age, more interested in talking than seeing. More interested in getting there fast.
They were talking so noisily that I’m sure they missed the stellar jay up in the spruce, the squirrel chattering a warning at our presence, the sound of the wind through the trees, and the distant roar of the river before it emptied into Long Lake.
Perhaps to the college hikers, the purpose of hiking is simply aerobic exercise.
But to me, a hike surrounded by such unparalleled beauty demands quiet. Awestruck reverence.
Not reverence for the creation. But for the One Who created it.
For the One Who can make an enormous moose, fit it with dense fir to withstand the bone-freezing winters, give it a funny mouth able to dredge out succulent plants at the bottom of shallow lakes, give it long, long legs able to carry the beast over the mountains and into ever new territories in the Rocky Mountains.
This magnificent creature, and the land that supports it demands our quiet admiration.
Hike softly, people. Stop often to admire the little things and the big things. Keep your eyes peeled for birds and animals. Take a deep breath and try to identify all the plants that constitute the aggregate of mountain scent.
Hush! Save your talking for the coffee bars and the mall.
“Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied his ropes? I gave him the wasteland as his home, the salt flats as his habitat. He laughs at the commotion in the town; he does not hear a driver’s shout. He ranges the hills for his pasture, and searches for any green thing.” (Job 39: 5-8 NIV Bible)