Back to Nature

Well, I made it home from the backpacking trip in one piece. A little soggy, perhaps, and definitely tired. My feet were sore. My shoulders ached. But I had deepened friendships. I’d seen new places. I’d added to my list of great experiences.

No detailed trip report for you. This has been a very busy week for me, having come home to some unexpected difficulties and challenges at work. I’m ready to move on, and ready for the week to be over. Next week, expect fun blogging to resume.

In the meantime, let me share one thing from my four days in the San Isabel National Forest. We arrived at the end of the trail — the lowest of the Bushnell Lakes, somewhere around 11,500 feet — with a light sprinkle, which soon turned to a major downpour. Clouds all day, cloudy and soggy all night. We set our tents up in the rain. Everything was wet. Everyone was cold. Had we not been all giddy from having actually arrived at our destination, we would have been pretty miserable. We went to bed exhausted and damp.

I didn’t sleep very well that night, probably due to having set up my tent along what can only be described as a spine-breaking invisible ridge about the length of my back. (This is what happens when you pitch a tent as fast as possible in the rain.) I slid and arched and struggled against the ground for several hours, then got up with my friend Mark at 5:45 a.m. We messed with the fire for 20 minutes or so — everything was still wet — and then the sun came up.

From our campsite, we could see way down into the valley below us, and far into the distance. At least four ridges of mountains were visible. Maybe 5. We hadn’t seen the sun at all the day before, but there it was. It crested the furthest ridge, then broke through the layers of clouds — both overhead and below us — in a staggering sunrise I generally only see in nature calendars. Crazy beautiful. Check out the photos below (click them for larger views) and note especially the clouds draping the valley below us in the one on the right.

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Rob Bell at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids just finished up an environmentally minded sermon series called “God Is Green.” In the July 22 message, he made a statement to this effect: Every way you can cut down on the degrees of separation between yourself and nature, you take one step closer to God. I’m quoting from memory, so I doubt that’s verbatim. But you know what? It’s true.

Every uphill step away from work, every laborious step away from stuff, every high-altitude step away from stress and civilization and technology and my insulated preprocessed comfortably dry life, I somehow got closer to nature. And in nature, I tend to see God. Last Saturday, he looked like a sunrise.

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