It was 1997 and I was in LaPlata Canyon, Colorado. LaPlata Canyon is just west of Durango. I had just begun mountain biking a year before. This was my first trek up a real mountain. It was a beautiful Saturday morning in June. We started off at about 8,100 ft in elevation and worked our way up above the tree line at around 10,000 ft. or so. I will never forget that moment when we were finally riding on what seemed to be solid rock above the tree line. I could finally see the point I was headed for… then it happened.
What happened scared me pretty good. Over one side of the mountain came a great storm that brought sleet or hail… wind, lightning, and very cold temperatures. I was not prepared for the drastic change in weather. We jumped into an entrance to an old mine for cover.
As quickly as the storm came we saw blue sky once again. There we were having worked so hard and to get so close to the goal. As we debated what we should do – the next set of clouds, wind, icy substance falling from the sky, and much colder temperatures began to surround us…
We decided to head back down the mountain – as fast as possible! I have never had so much fun… and to be as scared as I was at the same time. The ground was now looking wintry and we could smell the lightning. The sound of the thunder was so loud. I’m not sure which was worse the sound or how the rumble felt as we darted down the mountain.
I never tried to go back up to the top again. But I didn’t quit riding. In fact, it made me want to ride all the more. Unfortunately, once I moved back to Georgia I quit riding. I really want to start back. I think about it every day. As for now, my Cannondale mountain bike is sitting in the house.
This memory I have is one of my favorite memories to talk about. It’s strange that I love to talk about it yet it is something that I didn’t get to complete. It’s like a mirror image of my life to a large extent. It’s another chapter started – yet not completed.
I’m ready to begin a chapter that is actually written with an ending. It’s like my life is this book with all of these chapters that have been written – the problem is that there are not any endings to any of the chapters. So the reader starts the next chapter and has to wonder what in the world happened in between chapters 3 and 4. “How did he get here?” the reader would ask.
Why is life so hard? Why is life so stinking challenging? For me, it’s like I never get a break. There’s no time to take it easy. My life seems like it is made up of storms that I am constantly trying to run from. And as soon as I think I’m seeing blue sky’s another storm sets in. I know there is a reason behind it all – there really is a purpose behind it. I’m not beaten up and torn down over it. In fact, right now I am very hopeful with what the future holds.
As I look back on that couple of years of living there – I really think I was living on the mountain top – yet there is some unfinished business from those days. I was reading Oswald Chambers today and the following quote from My Utmost for His Highest got me thinking about this story… it got me thinking a bit deeper about my life.
We are inclined to think that everything that happens is to be turned into useful teaching. In actual fact, it is to be turned into something even better than teaching, namely, character. The mountaintop is not meant to teach us anything, it is meant to make us something. There is a terrible trap in always asking, “What’s the use of this experience?” We can never measure spiritual matters in that way. The moments on the mountaintop are rare moments, and they are meant for something in God’s purpose.
Photo from summitpost.org.