Mountain Climbing

Paul walking through tree on Silver Star MountainThat mountain in your life.  There it looms above you.  Where to even start? And sometimes no matter how hard you try, sometimes it just seems like you’re getting nowhere.  I know how you feel.  I went mountain hiking last Thursday and it was probably the most intense hike I’ve had.  There’s a personal history behind mountain climbing for me, so there was meaning for me there.

January 27th 2010, International House of Prayer in Kansas City:

I remember vividly the day I received words in a prophetic session at IHOP.  I used to want prophetic words and hardly ever get them, but later when I was more cynical I’d attract them like a magnet.  “Josh, you are climbing many mountains in your life, but be encouraged, because though you have many more, you can look back from a high point on everything you’ve accomplished.  You will pave the way for others and lead them where you’ve gone before.  And you will even find rivers in those mountains…”  Immediately I’m tearing up and they’re praying for me.  boohoohoo  I know there’s an important message to churchmen nowadays to quit being wusses, but how can we when God moves and prophetic people speak straight to our life.  Sheesh.

Two hikers from our team within the view of trees and snow.

Once I got home I started reading books about mountain climbing.  I took inspiration from books, photos, and movies like Vertical Limit and the documentary Farther Than The Eye Can See featuring Erik Weihenmayer the blind man who climbed Mt. Everest.  I’d also been getting in shape and getting out more the last couple years.  So recently when my workout buddy J asked if I wanted to climb Silver Star Mountain with a couple of his Tri-met friends, I was in.  (For some reason I have a lot of friends working for Tri-met.)  I don’t know climbing and the gear is expensive, but this would be mostly hiking and we just rented snowshoes.  I could experience mountain climbing for real, not just symbolic or reading about it in the books.

Me in my UPS sweatshirt, black beanie windmask and snowpoles, looking grim.

Us UPS guys deliver no matter what.

We got up early and headed out north of the Columbia River to the Camas area and onward.  There was already snow on the grounded in Portland back home.  In March?  Okay, whatever.  We drove as high as was safe in a fourwheel drive at about 1370 feet.  And then we started about 6:45 am.

Of course I had no idea what I was in for.  8 and half miles of the most grueling hike I’ve ever had in my life.  We decided the summit wasn’t gonna happen that day and got up to 2540.  We trudged through massive snow, although at timeFoot and pole deep in the snows I tried to use my lightness and walk on top.  We’d get winded on the uphills and twist our ankles trying to maneuver the downhills.  Toward the end our bodies ached step after grinding step as we would slowly hike up the steep trail, then rest for a bit after a few steps, then another few steps, rest a bit though it didn’t seem to help.


Our team having lunchI kept remembering George Leonard’s martial arts philosophy writings about the journey rather than the destination.  How for every mile we take in the journey we should wish for two miles.  Although these are pretty tough miles.  How ’bout in this case we settle for one for one?

A view of Silver Star Mountain from the roadside.

We made a circle around the mountain guided by R, an experienced older guy who could find routes with gps.  Along the way we saw some young guys stuck by the roadside who we loaned our shovels and later called and they said they made it out.  We also saw a truck that had slid and was barely hanging over the cliffside with the driver still inside as an emergency crew was working on it.  He waved and we waved back.  Hey nice day for a drive, huh?

Eventually we made our way back to the truck at 3:10 pm.  Worn-out and aching, we removed our coats and snowshoes and changed our socks.  Just a couple drinks of R’s semi-warm coffee hit the spot.  “Man that was awesome!”, we ruggedly proclaimed.  Funny how fun pain can become when you look back on it.

As for your mountain, try as you might, but there might more things holding you back.  Years ago, I wouldn’t have even tried that trip.  What was it that enabled me to do this now?  Perhaps you need equipment and more preparation with exercise and eating the right foods, spiritually, physically or mentally or all three.  Start at the roots.  If you don’t know what the roots are, you need to do what you can to find out.  Others will often be able to tell you, but it might not be what you want to hear.  Of course the problem we have in a real mountain trip is if it was too hard we can’t give up in the middle as we’d be stuck in the cold.  So hey you’re already in it.  Go for the long haul.  If it’s a tiny step forward, great, and if you fall back, be humble enough to accept grace and jump right back in.  That’s how you’ll eventually see results, but bask in that present journey, because you’re gonna be there for a while…

Category: Dreams and Goals, Personal Growth | Tags: , , , , | 1 comment

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