Tag Archives: hiking

Lessons From a Paraglider

Bruce and I went for a hike last Saturday at the Blanchard. Forest Block. I really enjoy this hike. It’s about seven miles round trip: just right for a morning’s outing. The trail starts out like this.

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I love how the trees stretch and lean toward each other like they’re whispering secrets about the hikers who pass underneath.

Even though this hike is a there and back type—I usually like loops because I don’t like seeing the same thing twice on a hike—this one has a delightful reward: the Sound and the San Juan Islands.

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At the overlook, Bruce and I snacked on trail mix and I snapped a few photos. Right about when we had decided to head on back, a guy and a gal showed up with some colorful cloths bundles and began to unroll it on a gravelly pad just below where we sat.

Aha, they’re going to paraglide. I got my camera ready to grab their images as they floated off.

But, my gosh, they took the longest time preparing for their flight. A couple of other folks showed up, and by their questions to the flying duo, I could tell they knew something about the sport, themselves.

The young man unrolled the kite-like cloth, smoothed it, checked it. Talked. Answered questions. Studied the area, studied the wind conditions. (Barely a breeze.) I wondered how in the world they could get their gliders up in the air with so little wind.

I couldn’t see the woman. She was hidden from view by some bushes. But the guy stood near the precipice, studying, examining, checking his equipment.

Finally, he suited up: harness, helmet. Checking, checking again. And he seemed to enjoy instructing the onlookers about the sport.

I stood there for a full fifteen minutes, holding my camera up, waiting.

The guy was extraordinarily deliberate and methodical. Like a good thriller, his actions made me tingle with anticipation, whetting my appetite, holding me in suspense. Any second, now. Any second.

I’m sure he had no idea I was watching from uphill, practically jumping up and down in my impatience to see him take off.

He raised his arms, like a frigate bird drying its wings. Yes! Get ready…

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And then…and then…

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Lift off!

Immediately afterward, the guy disappeared from view, and I was concerned he’d  plummeted to the sea.

But a couple of seconds later, he re-emerged:

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Beautiful. Almost makes me want to paraglide.

Almost.

Some takeaways from my fifteen minute observation of the paraglider:

  1. The guy was experienced. He didn’t just think he could paraglide. By his conversation and by the way he handled his equipment, he had done this thing many times.
  2. He took his time, which I think is the mark of a seasoned sportsman.
  3. He was gracious to the people who asked him questions. He had a calm, almost humble, attitude, and he was willing to take the time to explain his method.
  4. He patiently waited to take off until his female partner, with her paragliding stuff, was also ready to take off.

Some good questions for me in my writing life or for you and whatever you aspire to:

  • Am I doing all I can to gain experience and continue building my skills, like this paraglider?
  • Am I kind, and am I able to explain my methods to others?
  • Do I take the time to ensure I’m producing a well-thought out, superior product?
  • Can I work well with others, showing consideration and respect for their individual needs and preferences?

I am so glad I stayed to watch this paragliding man. My photos will remind me to imitate a paraglider whenever I work on another writing project.

 

The Glory of Small Things

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I love the mountains, and I’m blessed to live at the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains.

For years we’ve hiked at high elevations so we could admire the spectacular snow-capped “fourteeners,” the big, blue skies, cascading rivers and towering spruce.

But after years of admiring the big things, I’ve lately found myself drawn to the little things along the trail. The exquisite columbines, wild rose, cinquefoil, asters, the way moss clings to rock, the tiny, beautifully shaped leaves of the various plants that cling close to the ground.

I used to pass these little things by. They didn’t seem significant in comparison to the majesty of the mountains.

Perhaps the reason I now notice these small aspects of the mountains is because I’ve grown in my ability to appreciate beauty in all its forms.

The mountains are wonderful, but we miss much along the trail if we only notice their lofty heights and fail to look closer.

I think my Christian faith is a lot like this. When I first professed faith, I was impressed by the bigness of the Gospel. That God should love me so much He’d sacrifice His one and only Son.

But later I began to notice (and praise God for) the beautiful, tiny things along the Kingdom “trail.” Not only the bigness of God, but His smallness, too:

  • A single word or phrase in the Word that turns my sour mood into one of rejoicing.
  • Answered prayer.
  • The assurance that He is near—always near.
  • The knowledge that little occurrences such as a random phone call, a chance meeting, discovering just the right article on the internet, are God’s call for me to revise, repent, or re-deploy.

These little daily things make me aware of God’s handprints all over my mind and heart.

The majestic “mountains” made me a believer in God’s Greatness. But it is the small things at the foot of the mountains that give me glimpses into His Glory.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory. (Is. 6:3 NIV Bible)

Tall, Dark, and Handsome… Moose!

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)

 

Deadly Snake

About ten years ago my fifteen year old daughter and I went for a hike in the hills above Boulder. It was mid-April and we couldn’t wait to get out and stretch our legs and breathe deeply after a long winter of being cooped up inside.

We parked just off Hwy 36, at the trailhead. We’d brought our two medium-sized dogs, Dudley and Sprite, so we felt pretty safe.

The trail was a there-and-back kind of hike.

At the mid-point—about two miles into our hike—we passed through a wooded section, and paid particular attention because of the possibility of a lurking mountain lion. We made lots of noise, laughing and talking and swinging and hitting our walking sticks against tree trunks.

Then we heard it. The unmistakable and bone-chilling sound of an intimidated rattle snake.

We looked up to the rocks above us. A big rattler was sitting on a flat rock, about eight feet above us, flicking his tongue and rattling his warning.

We hurried to get away from the area. And we thanked God that the snake had not been closer to the trail. We made it to the turn around.

On our way back, Kiri and I kept reminding each other about the wooded section and to keep looking for the snake on the rock. Kiri was ahead of me, walking Sprite. Dudley was pulling me along as if he, too, was anxious to get past this spooky section of the trail.

I kept my eyes peeled to the right, scanning the rocks for the snake.

Just then out of the corner of my left eye, I saw the lightning-like movement. A snake on the trail…let me repeat….on the trail, had struck at Kiri, missing her calf by just inches. She hadn’t even seen it until I screamed a warning and she jumped clear.

Kiri picked up pebbles from the trail and began to pelt the snake. I yelled at her to stop it because the rocks were only making the snake bunch up into a tighter coil. We’d never get past him if he didn’t slither away from the trail. Even the dogs refused to budge.

The rattler wouldn’t move, so we had to climb up through some rocks and high grasses to get past that part of the trail, all the time fearing that we might encounter another snake.

After we got clear, we ran the two miles back to our car. And all the time, we kept thanking God for protecting us. Especially since we hadn’t brought a cell phone.

I’ve thought about that experience many times. Here are the lessons we’ve learned:

  1. Recognize that danger exists.
  2. Be alert…always. Predators strike when you think you’re safe.
  3. Be prepared. Know how you will meet a threat.
  4. Have a plan of defense or escape.
  5. Stay close to others.

Recognize danger, be alert, be prepared, have a plan, stay close.

Physical attacks can be terrible and traumatic. But, in the spiritual realm, attacks are no less devastating.

In the book of Ephesians, we are told to put on the full armor of God to defend against evil and evil forces. The author, Paul, was fully aware of spiritual danger and of the attacks of the devil.

  1. We need faith in God and His work on the cross,
  2. we need to practice doing right, so that we recognize wrong-doing,
  3. we need to know God’s Word well and be able to rightly handle it against worldly “wisdom,”
  4. we need to pray in alignment with the Holy Spirit.
  5. Stay close to others.

Faith in God, Do right, Know the Word, Pray, Fellowship.

This is the best way to avoidIMG_2467 a deadly snake.

“…take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” ( Eph. 6:16 NIV Bible)