I may be a little sore tomorrow, but what an exhilarating feeling. It was too cold for JoAnne up at the Logan Pass Visitor Center. The wind was blowing hard and the stormy gray sky was spitting occasional rain, snow or hail as clouds tumbled over the backbone of the continent, as the Native Americans call it. I had on a warm Henley, a flannel shirt and a wind breaker and I could still feel the chill. JoAnne stayed behind at the center while I pressed ahead up the stepped walk over the Alpine tundra, 1.5 miles, mostly up the mountain, then over the Continental Divide, to the overlook to Hidden Lake. The flowers were blooming everywhere. Near the top, picas were abundant. Just as we neared the overlook, a young teen girl behind me screamed/squealed as only girls that age can, “A goat!” There it was– a momma goat ahead of us and in the middle of the walkway with an offspring close behind. What a treat. She was nearly pure white with those little curved black horns. All the hikers were so distracted by the goats that the view hardly got the attention it deserved. And it deserved attention! The beautiful boomerang shaped lake lay below us, surrounded by mountains on every side except in one small corner. In that corner was an endless vista facing west. One of the surrounding mountains was a tall pointed one named after an Indian leader called “Bear Hat.” Little picas were running around everywhere, rating a poor third to the goats and the scenery. On the way back I also spied a tundra-loving white-crowned sparrow and a marmot. The hike was rigorous for me. I could feel the altitude and had to stop a couple times during the ascent. Between the cold wind, the occasional hail and the long climb, I was tempted to turn back. But I am so glad I did not. The hike was a great climax to the trip, both literally and emotionally.
Whenever we accomplish something difficult that requires pushing through difficulties, we can relate to the climbing metaphor. The difficulty tempts one to turn back. The obstacles must be faced with courage, determination and savvy. There is often pain in the process. But the view from the top is worth it all. The feeling of accomplishment is thrilling. And whether we realize it or not, we are better prepared for future challenges. This kind of thinking is often applied in Scripture to help us with life’s challenges too. “Blessed are those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (Jas 1:12 TNIV). Or consider the thought in Hebrews as the author explains the example of Christ. “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:1-2 NIV).