Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Peek at Mt. Washington

I like a challenge, especially when it’s something new and daunting.  But when my intention to traverse Mt. Washington (the 6,288 foot crowning peak of the White Mountains range, NH) was thwarted by snow melt and rain runoff near the top, I couldn’t help but feel disappointment.

I had climbed for hours, navigating a treacherous staircase of boulders and tree roots comprising Tuckerman Trail. Several hikers wearing smiles passed me on the way down and I became more excited as the ridge line came into full view.  A young family picnicked on some rocks; teenage boys recounted how they had skied the bowl just last month; and an older man, clad in wool overhauls and suspenders, slowly and deliberately continued to climb as I went by.

But like many endeavors worth pursuing I soon encountered struggles and barriers to achieving my goal.  The sunny day grew cloudy and I passed a sign and first aid caches that warned of the dangers ahead, including the threat of injury and even death.  The wind picked up, but that was nothing compared to the steady stream of icy water sharing the trail, which made climbing the steep, stone stairs far more risky than the reward high above.  So, I stubbornly stopped.  More than a mile up I could only marvel at the beauty of the massive mountain top, a constant breeze whispering, “It’s okay.  The peak isn’t the prize.”

Over the next week I conquered several other trails and peaks and now realize that it was the trek, the time alone on a magical journey, which touched me.  Seeing people amidst such natural splendor, at peace and harmony with the world, reminded me that God is always there to guide us no matter what path we take.  Sure, I was disappointed about missing out on that peak, but in life as in travel, the road to success is not measured by how far you go or climb but, rather, by the stops along the way.

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