On Saturday morning I drove to Rexburg with my friend Jenessa and some people from her YSA ward. We also had some other friends following us in a separate car. The plan for the day was to hang out in Rexburg for a bit and then head over to hike the Darby wind caves which were an hour and a half away. It was a beautiful, sunny day and the trail started out nice and flat. :) I was thinking to myself, "Man, these are the kind of hikes I enjoy!" Little did I know what was coming..
Somewhere along the trail I ended up getting separated from my 2 friends I knew before the trip and was basically hiking with strangers! I was kinda bummed out because I had looked forward to spending time with them. But I enjoy getting to know new people so I tried to make the best of things. And there's nothing that brings people together quite like hiking does! Especially when it starts raining and you find yourself hiking through 2 feet of snow.. Yikes!
After a couple hours, the easy, spring hike I started turned out to be a 13 mile round trip through crazy weather conditions. (No one said anything about it being 13 miles!!) There were times I was basically crawling my way up through snowy, muddy paths hanging on to tree branches for support! I was cold, dirty, scared and wondering what in the heck I had gotten myself into! And with people I barely knew!
Yet after a particularly difficult section of the hike I had the sweetest impression that God knew where I was and that He loved me. It was so comforting to know that even though I felt lost and afraid, I wasn't lost to Him. Besides the temple, I've always felt that the mountains are where I feel closest to God. There's something about being surrounded by God's creations, away from the world that makes me stop and focus on what matters most.
After that moment, we finally made it to the top and I was taken back by the most beautiful view! I couldn't believe I had made it that far and that I had made it there safely! To stay safe, my new friend Dev and I decided to not go in the cave. We waited for our other friend to come back out and help us down the mountain. Shortly before making our way down we heard thunder.. and we still had a 6 1/2 mile trip back down the mountain. Needless to say we were scared!
The trip back down was quite an adventure filled with sledding down the hill, sprinting through the mud and rain and trying not to get struck by lightening. (a couple of us came close.) But even though it was crazy and far from the ideal hiking experience, I actually had fun! I made some new friends, discovered new strengths of mine and most importantly made it back in one piece!
I realized that life is like that hike. At first our path can seem so easy and care free. We may even think we can do it on our own! But along the way we can stumble and wander away from the path and away from people we know and love. Sometimes we make bad choices (like trying to hike the Darby wind caves in May) and we suffer the consequences of those choices. But Heavenly Father never leaves us alone. He gives us beautiful views to remind us of His love. He puts unexpected people in our path to help us on our journey.
Each of us has embarked on a journey by coming here to Earth and Heavenly Father wants us all to make it home safely to Him. Life is a test and it isn't meant to be easy. But it can be beautiful if we stop and recognize how much God does for us each day. On that day I saw God's hand in my life through a beautiful mountain view. I saw it when a new friend of mine grabbed my hand and helped me slide down the snowy hills so that we'd make it down faster. I saw it when a couple of other friends helped me get warmed up when I came back sopping wet and in shock. I saw it when I was able keep my calm and simply laugh at the situation I was in. :)
Sometimes in life the struggle is real because life is real. But you know what else? God is real. I'm so grateful for His constant hand in my life. I'm also grateful for all the people I got to know last weekend. Thanks for everything!