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Posts Tagged ‘mountain top’

Good Morning or Guten Morgen as we are docked in Kel, Germany this morning as we awake. I have had a challenging time keeping up with my pictures and posting to you due to the fullness of our schedule. (Also, the number of pics I am taking.) Hopefully now that we are onboard the Longboat Eir on the Rhine River, the pace will slow enough to edit and post a few pics. This morning being Sunday I’d like to post a few pics of our Mt Pilatus excursion and tell a story of affirmation that the Father gave me up on the mountain.

Several weeks ago, my friend Greg shared with me how God powerfully spoke to him one day when in a time of prayer and meditation he asked, “Lord, what would you have me know today?” I was thinking about that a few days later during my prayer time and so I asked the same thing. Upon asking that question I opened my bible and these verses literally jumped out at me.

Proverbs 3:5&6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight. (or direct your steps as I’ve memorized it).

Proverbs 4:4 “Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live.”

Proverbs 2:7&8 He (the LORD) holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, He guards the course of the just and protects the of His faithful ones.

That has turned into a recurring theme for me in my prayer time since. And our Mt Pilatus adventure was one of three or four times on this trip where the Lord has again affirmed my role of trusting in Him fully and His faithfulness in guiding and leading.
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The day broke cloudier than forecasted, but as morning warmed, the low clouds dispersed some and sunshine and beautiful blue sky became predominant. Our drive from Zurich to Lucerne revealed the charming Swiss countryside – crisp, clean, and green. While navigating into Lucerne I could see the much higher mountains across the lake were visible on the lower reaches, but shrouded in clouds at the top.

We met our guide, Annette, and boarded the bus to the cable car for the ascent up the mountain. Up to the first and second cable car connections we remained under the clouds and the view became increasingly expansive and majestic. We switched cable cars at around 4000 feet elevation where we were still under the cloud cover, but in deep shade because of them.

The final cable car was a 30- passenger car that swiftly whisked us up from 4000’ to the visitor center near the summit at 6700’. I fly frequently so the sensation of entering the clouds and “white out” is common. However, it was a little disheartening when you are anxiously anticipating the amazing 360-degree view which includes close-ups of the Alps and you exit the cable car to white-out outside and gift shops inside.

The girls headed to the gift shops and Jeff and I wandered outside into the fog. We walked around a bit managing to find a trail to a mini-summit with a cross on it. The picture in the fog was a little hard to see, but we snapped it to show we had “climbed higher”. To add insult onto injury, there were posted placards that showed the amazing view we could be seeing if we weren’t wrapped in the deep fog. I have to admit, I was feeling a little sorry for myself.

I know what some of you may be thinking… “Dan, you are on this amazing trip… you had all the beautiful views on the way up… you are with your wonderful wife on an adventure of a lifetime and you are feeling sorry for yourself? What ingratitude!” Well, you happen to be right.

Fortunately, it was only a little later I realized that for myself. As Jeff and I worked our way down this little path I noticed another path diverting along the mountain top. I took that path off into the fog as Jeff headed to check on the girls.

I’ve learned that for me, as for many people I imagine, it is hard to really focus upon God, to seek His wisdom and guidance, and to clearly hear Him speak to my heart when: 1) I am ungrateful, 2) I am focused upon my own schedule / plan / or goals, or 3) when I am surrounded by to many distractions, like hundreds of other tourists. When I started down that foggy mountain trail, I had given up my goal of seeing the view from the mountain top because there was no view to view. I headed down a trail that the crowds either didn’t know of or care about.

As I trudged with my camera in hand I felt my heart softening as I realized what I have mentioned above. I was not where I wanted to be in my heart. The reality that the God of the Universe loves me and has provided bountifully for me began to fill my awareness. I repented of my self-centeredness. I moved into thanking the Father for the many wonderful blessings He has provided to me and the ones I love. Then I began praying for family, friends, my Radmen friends, and others whom I knew God was going to send across my path.

As I am sure many of you have experienced, I felt a weight lift. My soul was lifted as I turned my heart toward our good, good Father. And I hiked through the fog with an uplifted spirit. After a little while I noticed a couple young Swiss ladies hiking up from down below. I asked how far down until I could be below the clouds. Through their minimal English (and my non-existant German) I understood it was several hundred meters. I prayed asking the Lord to guide me whether to hike down or not. I sensed to stay the course, so instead of hiking down I exchanged pictures with them and continued along the path in the fog.

The next 10 – 15 minutes of hiking the rugged mountain trail in the fog was delightful. I had given myself over to accepting whatever opportunity I was provided to meet people and love them with Jesus’ love. I remember whispering one little prayer, “Lord, I’d love to see some of the view from up here.” But that prayer was uttered from a place of complete surrender. Whether the fog lifted or not, I was satisfied the Lord would do what was best.

I stepped into the gift shop to find girls and then a water closet and when I stepped out I was shocked – I could see all the way across the patio… and even the near-by summit that had been completely shrouded in fog the entire day. I quickly hustled out with camera in hand and snapped a few pictures. I saw the trail to the highest peak beside me and I quickly headed up the final 300 feet toward the now- visible summit. I had not gone far before the clouds began to close in again. I realized I had gotten exactly what I had asked for although now having a taste, desire for more sprang up tempting me back into the self-centered funk I had been in earlier.

“NO! God, you have been good to me. Lord, I thank you for the glimpse that you have given me. It was beautiful. And I loved the fact that across on the summit opposite me there was a cross.”

I remembered at that moment that our guide explained how the mountain got it’s name. Surprisingly it is named after Pontius Pilate. It seems that when he died, no one was willing to take his remains. So, they brought them to this mountain and threw them in a lake. The irony that on the mountain where Pontius Pilate’s remains may lie, there is a beautiful cross just resonated God’s greatness.

At that moment, I sensed the Holy Spirit whisper, “Do you trust me?”

“Yes, Lord, I trust you”

At that moment, for about 3 seconds, a single ray of light broke through the cloud and illuminated me and the trail where I was standing. While that thrilled me, I sensed I was to hike on to the top. The clouds quickly swirled back around me, but I pressed on. In less than 5 minutes I was at the top. As I arrived the clouds opened again for about 3 minutes. I did something a little uncharacteristic for me. Instead of whipping up my camera and snapping dozens of shots, I moved from side to side soaking it in and praising God. I did get a few shots before the clouds completely settled back in, but I mainly just worshipped.

There was one other thought that I believe was a gift from the Lord. One of the shots that you will see is of the cross on the other summit. It was clearly seen when I first got to the top, but I didn’t take the picture until it was almost obscured again. I was a little sad when the fog closed back in and I couldn’t see the cross. That was when the Holy Spirit spoke to me again. “Do not worry. Like that cross which is still there even though you don’t see it, I am always with you.”

 

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The start of the first chair lift in Kriens.

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Two happy tourists – our daughter Rhiannon and my photography padewan, Jeff.  He’s also our son-in-law.

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Just getting started.  About 1500 – 2000 feet up I believe.

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Just about to enter the first cable house.  Still 15 minutes to go in this car.

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The distance from cable house one to cable house two where we exited to the final cable car.

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View back to cable car house one.  You can see the Swiss central highlands spread out past Lake Lucerne.

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Cable Car house two and our first exit.  Elevation about 4000 feet and just under the clouds.

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This high valley had a ropes course, a toboggan ride, and other extreme sports activities.  We had to wait about 10 minutes for the 30 person cable car to the top.

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Sign showing our trip.

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In the 30 passenger cable car heading out from the station.

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Last view before going into the clouds.

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This was one of the clearer shots when we first arrived.  These horns were so mournful when we hiked around and could hear the sound in the deep fog.  One other remembrance – when the fog lifted, the guy was playing Amazing Grace.  I don’t know if he started before or after the fog lifted, but it was so cool.

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Jeff as we head up to the mini-summit.

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Jeff at the foot of the cross.

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Me at the cross.  See how deep the fog is.  This was true for almost the entire first hour we were up here.

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Look how steep the “not steep” side of the trail was.  We were a good ways into the alpine region above the tree-line.

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I am on the steep side of the mountain.  The Swiss girls took my picture for me.

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This was what I saw when I came out of the water closet.  That is the mini-summit where Jeff and I had hiked about an hour earlier.

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Another shot during the first brief opening in the clouds.

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View over the gift shop during the first opening, but as the clouds were sweeping back in.

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View at the highest point I hiked to on Mt Pilatus – summit Esel at 2118 meters or 4000 feet.

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The entire moutaintop at the clouds begin to settle back in.

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Summit Tomlishorn, a little higher at 2138 meters.  This is where the cross I mention in the story is.  This is my wide angle lens so it is so far away it is hard to see.

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The cross on the summit of Tomlishorn, the highest peak of Mt Pilatus. 

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Heading back down the trail, confident that God is always with me.  Just like that cross that I could no longer see because of the fog, yet I know is still there, God is with me and with you even when the fog of trials, challenges, and difficulties arise.

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The cog-railway we rode down.  It has the steepest incline of any railway in the world with one section at a 48 degree descent.

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Final view of the mountain top from the cog railway on the ride down.

Friends, it was thrilling. In fact, I guess it qualifies as a mountain top experience – twice over!

 

 

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Certain lessons seem to be particularly important for me to “get” because they are being reinforced  almost weekly.  Last week an exclamation point was made on the lesson – “It may not be what you expect, but trust Me, My plan is better!”

We visited our two married daughters over the course of last week.  Rhiannon and Jeff in Chattanooga Thursday – Sunday morning and then Christin and Michael in Elizabethton Sunday – Tuesday.  Everything went pretty much like we planned with Rhiannon and Jeff, but it seemed like every plan we made with Christin had to be scrapped or modified heavily.  No worries, we were just happy to be spending time together.

Monday afternoon one modified plan had us drive to the top of Roan Mountain where we enjoyed some beautiful views from the bald mountain top.  The wonderful 360 degree view had us thinking about sunrise pics over the NC mountains.  Checking the weather in Elizabethton, 20 miles away we saw that the weather report was promising and the plan was hatched.

 

Tuesday morning we arose at 4:45 am and we were headed out of town 15 minutes later.  We were excited to see a star studded sky as we rolled out of Elizabethton heading toward Roan Mountain.  Two miles from the top of the mountain was when I first noticed the moisture on the road.  A mile from the top I noticed the stiff breeze that hadn’t been present on any of our drive thus far.  Shortly thereafter wisps of cloud started sweeping across in front of the car and for the last 200 yards I had to drive at a snail’s pace into the parking lot because of the thick fog.

We were still an hour before sunrise.  I am quite used to fog.  But fog is usually stationary settling into the low areas on windless mornings.  On the mountaintop it was foggy with a 15 – 20 mph breeze driving it.  Undeterred we gathered camera, tri-pod, flashlights and goody bag and headed up the 3/4 mile hike to the top of the mountain in a cold, drizzly, windy fog hoping for the best.

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This is about 15 minutes before sunrise and we were beginning to think the sun may not actually burn through the fog like we were hoping.

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This is when you kinda wished you hadn’t been told about the number of bear sightings up on the mountain.

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Inside the woods the wind was blocked and it was eerily peaceful.

That breeze that we experienced in the Parking Lot was a foretaste and not the real deal.  We broke out of the woods about half way to the top and realized that the exposed mountain bald seemed to increase the wind intensity by at least a factor of two.

We made it to the top of the mountain, thankful that we had also been there the day before so we recognized some rock outcroppings as landmarks.  We hunkered down behind a rock for a bit hoping the clouds would clear and we would get some sunrise shots.  But while the clouds around us brightened as sunrise arrived the wind didn’t let up and the fog never thinned.

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The view right at sunrise… at least according to our watch.

Since we had been to the mountain the day before, we knew that amazing panoramic views existed from right where we were huddled.  Yet the wind, fog, and rain made it difficult to remember just how beautiful it was.  I was struck with how graphic an illustration that is of the impact of trials in our life.  When life is good it’s easy to see God’s hand at work.  But when trials press upon us it often becomes much harder to discern God’s actions on our behalf.  It is in these times that our faith is stretched.  Holding onto the reality that we have previously experienced – God’s faithful provision, is just like remembering the mountain view we had seen the day before.  We may not see it at the moment, but we know it exists.  Our task is to remember and wait for the reality to be revealed again.

We slowly made our way back down to the car and then headed back down the mountain.  A deer  came up beside us on the road and we slowed to let it pass.  A mile down the road we were out of the fog.

As we progressed down the mountain we saw sunshine followed by a brief rain shower.  The thought passed through my mind, “Sun and rain, I wonder if there’s a rainbow somewhere?”  Through a break in the trees just prior to the final overlook I could see a shower in the valley beside the mountain and a slight brightening where the sun was trying to break through.  As we rounded the curve at the final overlook this is the view that we saw.

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We were shocked by how quickly this rainbow appeared.

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The colors were vibrant and yet it was continually shifting from a single to a double and from a full to a partial rainbow.

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For a few seconds it formed a full rainbow… and we just happened to be in the right spot to catch it in all it’s glory.

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We couldn’t quite tell if the pot of gold was in that little barn or the orchard beside it.  What we knew for a certainty was that our Heavenly Father was enjoying our laughter and celebration with us as we alternately uttered words of praise and gasps of wonder while we snapped pics.

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The double rainbow was fleeting, but we saw it come and go two or three times in then 3 – 5 minutes the rainbow was visible.

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Looking toward the sun… and giving praise to the Son.

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The final pic as the shower ceased and the rainbow quickly faded.

The entire rainbow celebration lasted less than 5 minutes, but a number of things stood out to me.

  • We had to make the journey to be able to see the rainbow.  We didn’t know the rainbow was the purpose and penultimate pic of the trip, but our Father did.
  • We tarried in the dark, in the rain, in the wind, in the fog, and ultimately made close to a 2 mile hike seemingly in a lost cause, but God had a better plan.
  • We had to be in exactly the right spot AND at exactly the right time to see and enjoy the rainbow like we did.  If we had rushed at any point in the morning’s journey we would have missed it.
  • Our response to seeing the rainbow was pure wonder, celebration, and thankfulness to our gracious heavenly Father for this simple, but beautiful blessing.  And I believe He enjoyed it as much as we did.

Finally I remember where God first introduced the rainbow to His creation.  It’s in Genesis chapter 9:12-17.  And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.  Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.  Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

We didn’t get what we expected, but what we got was so much better.

And that’s just the way God is with His children.

Be blessed today and be a blessing!  If you like this, please share it with a friend.

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I had the privilege of serving as a room leader at Gauntlet 2016.  In my young adult life I was a youth leader at two different churches and I even lead a diocese-wide youth event in Louisiana.  Other life demands took priority as I entered my mid 30’s so my youth leadership became focused upon coaching and a four year stint as a scoutmaster.  Gauntlet is our church’s youth camp, but it is youth camp to the extreme.  There were over 5300 youth at the Gauntlet with another 1700+ room leaders and support staff.  We descended upon Daytona Beach in 129 buses and filled 9 beach-front hotels.  And for the first time we filled the entire Ocean Center auditorium.

I intend on posting several pics and a few highlights from the week in this blog over the next few weeks.  The Gauntlet is an environment where youth and leader alike hear clear teaching on how to become a Christian and what it means to live the life God has created us for.  It provides ample opportunity to speak with caring leaders and fellow sojourners about life’s trials, challenges, failures, and triumphs in a safe place.  Within this context each person is given multiple opportunities to identify and take their next step in the faith journey of life.

This was my second time to serve.  And I almost didn’t go.  My experience the first time was enough of a challenge that I questioned whether the Lord wanted me there.  I left the date open on my calendar and I continued to ask the Lord to make it clear if I was to attend.  About 4 weeks prior the Lord gave me the nudge that I was to go and He provided two very clear instructions.  “Don’t have expectations on how your students are to respond”  and “Trust Me.”  So I signed up.  I am so glad that I did.

That I had chosen the right path was confirmed for me on the bus ride down.  Everyone traveled down in “pods” of three or four buses.  We were the first pod of buses from our campus which also happens to be the furthest from Daytona Beach.  Just outside Jacksonville the bus in front of ours broke down.  The failure on the bus disabled their air conditioning, so our bus leader asked us to make room for the folks from the other bus.  Our boys immediately moved to the back of the bus tripling up in seats or standing in the aisle.  We spent the next 3+ hours waiting on one of the other buses to complete the trip down to Daytona and then return to pick up the passengers from the disabled bus so our pod could continue.

The AC in our bus was stretched to the max with the extra body heat and the lack of air movement over the AC coils, so it was not very comfortable in the back where the boys were all scrunched together.  But during that entire time there was no whining or complaining.  The boys chatted.  I got to know several of the young men like Hawk, CJ, Bernard, Nick, Sean (or maybe Shawn), Drey, Marcelous, Dillon, and others.  For three hours we sweated together, watching bus after bus pass us as we sat on the side of the road with the Florida sun beaming in the windows… and the mood never turned sour with self pity.  I’m chuckling to myself right now because I was, and still am, pumped at how mature the boys handled the situation.

Although I didn’t meet and begin getting to know them until we arrived in Daytona Beach, my two roommates and new friends, Dylan and Greg were among those on the bus who handled the situation so well.  And they proved to be just as mature and good-natured as my initial impression of the other young men on bus 5.  It was truly a blessing to spend the week with these two guys, to get to know them, and to talk about what our next steps in growing closer to Jesus are.

That’s enough of a story for today’s post. So without further ado I share the first of my Gauntlet 2016 pics.

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I rose early to catch the sunrise over the San Francisco Bay.  I had scouted out our route for the West Coast trip with a specific goal of catching sunrises and sunsets as often as possible.  Mornings are particularly meaningful to me as I like to rise early and spend the first of my day communing with our Father.

While I had identified Mount Tamalpais as an appropriate viewing location, I incorrectly assumed I could drive to the top on the service road.  I finally found a place to park and began my trek up the mountain with the pre-dawn light much further advanced than I had hoped.  Fortunately I broke into an open area where I could see the bay moments before the sun crested the horizon.  Since I had not made it to the top of the mountain, I was not able to capture the actual sunrise, but the view of the bay, the city, and the fog alternately edging in and then out of the Golden Gate narrows was beautiful to behold.

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As I prayed and snapped pictures, a series of images rolled through my spirit prompting progressive waves of prayer for the people in the Bay area.  The first was the fact that where I stood, and for that matter much of the California coast, sits on or adjacent to one of the most active fault lines on the planet.  The opposing forces of the two tectonic plates generates tremendous stress which is periodically relieved in earthquakes both small and great.  Usually these plates move 1 – 2 inches per year in opposite directions.  In the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 the pent up energy was released in a massive jolt that resulted in 20 feet of movement over a one minute time span.   It was interesting because the prayer that flowed forth was that the people would be prepared for the sudden disaster that was coming.

San Francisco just after sunrise viewed from the side of Mt Tamalpais

San Francisco just after sunrise viewed from the side of Mt Tamalpais

The fog rolling in from the Pacific into the Golden Gate Strait

The fog rolling in from the Pacific into the Golden Gate Strait

In short order the picture changed and I saw multitudes choosing any and every way to express themselves – to accommodate their passions, lusts, and appetite except in seeking intimacy with God the Father.  This broke my heart and I grieved for a time, praying in the Spirit for God to move to open eyes and hearts and minds to the reality of Who He is.

It was not long before this vision began to merge with the first of the devastation that a massive earthquake would bring.  I pondered this, again asking the Lord to pray through me.  I began to think about God’s justice, an aspect of His nature that when viewed apart from His love may seem harsh and demanding.  At different times throughout history God’s justice has resulted in judgement falling upon people, nations, and tribes.  Some versions of the bible refer to this as the wrath of God.  I must admit, at this point the vision was uncomfortable and the prayer was labored and not fun.  I have learned that not everything God calls me to do will be fun.  But if, in obedient submission to the leading of the Holy Spirit, I do what I sense the Lord wants me to do, it will turn out good.  It always has.  I believe it always will.

As this heavy prayer burden began to lift, I continued to periodically snap the shutter on my camera.  Suddenly I heard the familiar noise of hummingbird hums all around me.  Immediately in front of me a hummingbird landed and sat there as if to say, “take my picture”.  I hesitated momentarily since I almost never catch a hummingbird perched for more than a few seconds.  After 5 seconds I realized, he wasn’t flying off.  It took me several more seconds to get properly positioned while the little fella patiently waited for me to get set.  Finally I was set and I snapped about a dozen pictures before he decided he was famous enough.  As soon as I finished the shots the Lord brought to my mind Jesus’ words to his disciples about the Father’s care in feeding the birds.  In Matthew 6:26 and Luke 12:24 Jesus tells us the Father’s compassion goes so far as to provide food for the little birds.  In Luke 12:24b Jesus climactic words are: “And how much more valuable you are than birds!” 

Hummingbird Posing for Pics

Hummingbird Posing for Pics

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Mr Hummingbird thinks his profile shows off his beautiful beak better.

H moves behind me thinking the lighting is a little more flattering.

He moves behind me thinking the lighting is a little more flattering.

At that moment I got just a glimpse of the marriage in God’s character of His absolute justice and His overwhelming love.  I can’t say I truly understand it, but He demonstrated it to me that morning on Mount Tamalpais in a way that I can say I know it is real.  Sin will be judged and punished completely.  All sin.  Love will conquer.  It will triumph completely and eternally.

At this my prayer turned into praise for the great love He has for us.  God’s love reaches to the people in the San Francisco Bay area.  He wants people to turn to Him, to reach for Him, to turn away from their sin and receive His gracious love in the form of His mercy.  Jesus truly paid the price in our place.

My final thought from the mountain was that God still loves the sinner who chooses not to turn to Him.  Judgement comes, but not because God didn’t extend mercy, but rather because the one never turned to God and let go of their life.

I have come to know God as intensely personal and relational in the most wonderful of ways.  He comforts me in my sorrow.  He joins me in my celebration.  He whispers guidance when I am confused and uncertain.  He envelopes me with His peace at just the right time.  I believe that His heart is grieved by each one who fades from this life without accepting the finished work wrought by Jesus’ death on the cross.

Those final moments on the mountain were bittersweet.  I know God’s love is real and it still extends to the people living under the shadow of death.  He is calling out.  He burdens His children who do know Him to intercede, to love, and to reach out to those who don’t know Him.  Some will experience His love in direct response to our obedience and participation with God in His redeeming love.  Others will not turn, will not accept, will not receive the love the Lord extends.

Love and Justice.  Our God is a consuming fire in the purest and fullest sense.  The fire of His love drove Him to send Jesus to take our place in judgement.  And for those who fail to heed, fail to turn, fail to receive, there is a consuming fire of His absolute justice to be faced.

An interesting footnote in history.  Most of the people killed in the 1906 earthquake were killed by the fires spawned by the earthquake rather than the earthquake itself.

Be blessed my friend and let the Holy Spirit intercede and move through you today.

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Sunrise on Mount Rainier viewed across Reflection Lake.

Sunrise on Mount Rainier viewed across Reflection Lake.

 

I will finish my reminisce of my Mount Rainier weekend with today’s post.

It was a glorious experience hiking around the mountain.  Any direction I looked there was stunning beauty.  Invariably though my eyes always were drawn to the mountain.  On both mornings I got into position before sunrise to capture the event in all it’s glory.  Saturday at Reflection Lake was a bit less than I had hoped for due to my inexperience shooting in this type of lighting.  The mist rising off the water was kinda cool, but it wasn’t until later in the morning that I got the Reflection Lake pic that had the light balance I wanted.

Mist rising off Reflection Lake about 5:30 am.  It was in the low 50's and not a cloud in the sky.

Mist rising off Reflection Lake about 5:30 am. It was in the low 50’s and not a cloud in the sky.

Waiting for sunrise at Reflection Lake.

Waiting for sunrise at Reflection Lake.

A split density filter will be a next purchase for me to get the bright sunrise on the mountain and the darker reflection in the lake.  I guess that means I have to come back.

A split density filter will be a next purchase for me to get the bright sunrise on the mountain and the darker reflection in the lake. I guess that means I have to come back.

The mountain's reflection in the flower-filled shoreline.

The mountain’s reflection in the flower-filled shoreline.

The first kiss of sun on Mount Rainier's peak.

The first kiss of sun on Mount Rainier’s peak viewed from Reflection Lake.

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Seeing as in a mirror darkly.

Seeing as in a mirror darkly.

After my hike up to the top of Plummer Peak I returned and got the Reflection shot I had hoped for earlier in the day.

Really cool pic of the peak in Reflection Lake.

Really cool pic of the peak in Reflection Lake.

Sunday at Sunrise delivered in excellent fashion.

Arriving at Sunrise Point about half an hour before sunrise, I found 20 or so people already awaiting with cameras and tripods ready.  The glow advancing up the horizon  was rich with color and promise.

Arriving at Sunrise Point about half an hour before sunrise, I found 20 or so people already awaiting with cameras and tripods ready. The glow advancing up the horizon was rich with color and promise.

Boosting my exposure brought distant peaks in the Cascade range into relief against the brightened sky.

Boosting my exposure brought distant peaks in the Cascade range into relief against the brightened sky.

I waited at Sunrise Point until almost sunrise, but the gathering crowd was not quite as interested in quiet and courteous reflection on the magnificent sunrise so I moved a little closer to the mountain and set up in a lonely pull-off on the final approach to Sunrise parking area.

Here I greeted the sun as it gently dawned on the peak and slid down the glacier-covered slope.

About two minutes before first sun on the crest.

About two minutes before first sun on the crest.

Sunrise has arrived to the peak.

Sunrise has arrived to the peak.

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Sunrise on the Mountain.

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The sunshine walks down the mountainside.

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A few folks I met later who were out on the trail through the night said they could see the lights of the mountain climbers in the darkness up at the peak.

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Dawn breaks in a wondrous display of color.

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Who needs words – the pictures speak for themselves.

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The last of the golden glow shots as the sun crests the horizon and the light brightens.

The last of the golden glow shots as the sun crests the horizon and the light brightens.

Morning has arrived and I head to the trails above Sunrise.

Morning has arrived and I head to the trails above Sunrise.

The next pics are of some of the wildflowers and fields aflame with living color.  I talked with a few people and they expressed disappointment that the flowers are so far ahead of their normal schedule and many have already peaked.  While I accept their local knowledge, I couldn’t let their disappointment cause me to miss the riot of color and life bursting from meadow and rocky ledge alike.

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View east over Burroughs #1 to the Cascades.

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Hardy ground cover leaps to life when the snows melt to take advantage of the 3 month or so growing season.

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Locals told me the flower display was less than normal, however to a first time visitor the many hues interspersed amongst the rocks, boulders, and occasional fir trees was both delicate and dramatic.

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The growing season is short and the soil was not much to look at, but the flowers they did sprout.

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I could count about a dozen or so different flowers.

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This little flower was like many I saw. Although it didn’t look like it should be here, it is and it flourishes.

After hiking around Paradise on Saturday, I stopped at the Grove of the Patriarchs near the Steven’s Canyon entrance into the Park.  The Grove is a stand of ancient Western Cedar, Douglas Fir, and Western Hemlock on an island in the middle of the Ohanapecosh River.  Being isolated on the island has allowed these trees to avoid both the ravages of fire and the loggers saw.  Some of the trees are 1000 years old and 10 feet in diameter.  This is a very easy hike, flat and well-shaded.  No vistas, stunning views, or challenging climbs, but sometimes a few moments spent in quiet reflection amongst giants is a welcome diversion.

Rounding out my time on Rainier with pics from my morning at Sunrise and on Burroughs Mountain.  These are in reverse order of my hike.

My last view of Mount Rainier as I am almost back to the parking area at the Sunrise Visitor Center.

My last view of Mount Rainier as I am almost back to the parking area at the Sunrise Visitor Center.

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Shadow Lake

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This was a campground in the 1920's on Shadow Lake at Sunrise.

This was a campground in the 1920’s on Shadow Lake at Sunrise.

Shadow Lake in Sunrise.

Shadow Lake in Sunrise.

This waterfall is on the side of Goat Island Mountain and is one of the beginnings of the White River.

This waterfall is on the side of Goat Island Mountain and is one of the beginnings of the White River.

Close up of the bottom of Emmons Glacier.

Close up of the bottom of Emmons Glacier.

View toward Sourdough Ridge across the Sunrise meadows.

View toward Sourdough Ridge across the Sunrise meadows.

Every spring as the snow melts the creeks and rivers rise dramatically scouring the stream beds and carrying rocks, trees, and boulders further and further downstream.  The stream bed looks grey and fairly ugly now, but just a few months earlier it was a raging torrent of great power.  This is the White River.

Every spring as the snow melts the creeks and rivers rise dramatically scouring the stream beds and carrying rocks, trees, and boulders further and further downstream. The stream bed looks grey and fairly ugly now, but just a few months earlier it was a raging torrent of great power. This is the White River.

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View east along the Sunrise Rim Trail back to the road into Sunrise and Sunrise Point.

In the right side of the picture it appears that the stream emerges from a cave.  That's actually the bottom of the Emmons Glacier and the stream is the primary source of the White River.  The grey color is due to all the rocks lying on the glacier ice.

In the right side of the picture it appears that the stream emerges from a cave. That’s actually the bottom of the Emmons Glacier and the stream is the primary source of the White River. The grey color is due to all the rocks lying on the glacier ice.

As I walked on the Sunrise Rim Trail here I realized a slip could easily result in a 1000 foot or more tumble.

As I walked on the Sunrise Rim Trail here I realized a slip could easily result in a 1000 foot or more tumble.

Notice the glacier colored lake in the valley next to the White River.

Notice the glacier colored lake in the valley next to the White River.

The Sunrise Rim Trail was nice because it was primarily all downhill.  As the name implies you are on the edge of the high meadow where it falls off dramatically to the valley where the Inter Fork River, one of the main tributaries of the White River flows.

The Sunrise Rim Trail was nice because it was primarily all downhill. As the name implies you are on the edge of the high meadow where it falls off dramatically to the valley where the Inter Fork and the White Rivers flow.

While the terrain was very tundra like, it did not lack for brilliant patches of color like this one.

While the terrain was very tundra like, it did not lack for brilliant patches of color like this one.

A resting spot in the middle of the Sunrise Rim Trail on Burroughs #1.

A resting spot in the middle of the Sunrise Rim Trail on Burroughs #1.

Trail back down from Burroughs #2.

Trail back down from Burroughs #2.

The waters of Emmons Glacier form the White River which is the valley about a mile below where I was standing.  On my drive out I essentially followed this river all the way to where it entered Commencement Bay about a mile from my hotel in Tacoma.  I estimate the river length to be about 100 miles since it flows east off the mountain before turning north and then west to the sea.

The waters of Emmons Glacier form the White River which is the valley about a mile below where I was standing. On my drive back to Tacoma I essentially followed this river all the way to where it entered Commencement Bay about a mile from my hotel in Tacoma. I estimate the river length to be about 100 miles since it flows east off the mountain before turning north and then west to the sea.

At the top of Burroughs Mountain, Peak #2.  I turned around here and headed back down the Sunrise Rim Trail.

At the top of Burroughs Mountain, Peak #2. I turned around here and headed back down the Sunrise Rim Trail.

Phlox growing wild on the side of Burroughs Mountain.

Phlox growing wild on the side of Burroughs Mountain.

Even though the conditions are brutal for much of the year, chipmunks were in abundance wherever I hiked.

Even though the conditions are brutal for much of the year, chipmunks were in abundance wherever I hiked.

More evidence of the lava flow from eras gone by.

More evidence of the lava flow from eras gone by.

Interesting rock formations on the north side of Burroughs Mountain.

Interesting rock formations on the north side of Burroughs Mountain.

Burroughs Mountain Trail up to Burroughs #2 - the second peak of Burroughs Mountain.

Burroughs Mountain Trail up to Burroughs #2 – the second peak of Burroughs Mountain.

Signpost where the Sunrise Rim Trail meets the Burroughs Mountain Trail.

Signpost where the Sunrise Rim Trail meets the Burroughs Mountain Trail.

An unnamed lake beside the Wonderland Trail below the Burroughs Mountain Trail.

An unnamed lake beside the Wonderland Trail below the Burroughs Mountain Trail.

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Frozen Lake which is almost always still frozen at this time of year, but not in 2015.

Frozen Lake which is almost always still frozen at this time of year, but not in 2015.

View from near the top of Burroughs #1 toward Frozen Lake.

View from near the top of Burroughs #1 toward Frozen Lake. The peak in the top left is Mount Fremont.

Notice that the Burroughs Mountain terrain is much like the Tundra from areas much further north.

Notice that the Burroughs Mountain terrain is much like the Tundra from areas much further north.

View toward Emmons Glacier from the Sourdough Ridge Trail.

View toward Emmons Glacier from the Sourdough Ridge Trail.

I am so thankful for the time I got to spend in one of the world’s most beautiful places.  I am thankful the weather was excellent and that I was able to pack a lot of into the 2 days or so.  And when I say I am thankful, I address that partially to my wife who was okay with my staying over the weekend away from home, the folks I work with who gave me plenty of good advice and practical tips, and most of all the One Who made it all possible… from creating it in the first place to providing the wonderful weather to giving me a job that allowed me to do this.

View from my hotel while in Tacoma.

View from my hotel while in Tacoma.

One final thought.  As I got into my hotel room I looked out the window back to the mountain and I sensed the Lord whisper, “I’m bigger than the mountain.”

That phrase is richer with meaning for me now.  I have been to the mountain and stood in awe of it’s size, it’s beauty, it’s grandeur – but I know God is so much bigger.

I followed the trip to the mountain with a trip to Gauntlet X, our youth event at Daytona Beach which I wrote about in my last post.  Many of those in attendance had / have mountains in their life – but God is bigger than those mountains.  Many had the mountains in their life removed, while others were given God’s perspective that made their mountain shrink.

I have had mountains in my life, the latest one was an unexpected job loss that left me with some big questions.  This weekend was a resounding affirmation that my Heavenly Father not only knows where I am and what is going on in me, He is working it for my ultimate good.  (Romans 8:28)

I don’t know where you are now in your relationship with God, but I can say with absolute confidence, God is bigger than your mountain.  Ask Him to help you and He will.  Please don’t hesitate.  If you don’t know Him in a tangible and real way, then that is the first step.  Ask the Lord to make Himself known to you and then open your heart to Him.  Just speak to Him and God will hear and He will meet you at your point of need.

Also, I would consider it an honor to join you in prayer.  Just drop me a comment and I will respond.

 

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IMG_5222One of the thrills of my Mount Rainier trip was all the wildlife that I got to see and capture in my pics.  I shared a few stories already on Facebook, but now I have the pics that go with those stories.

I had never seen a Marmot before, but my experience this weekend would lead me to believe they are pretty common.  I think I saw six different ones and got pictures of several.  The most intriguing thing was that for two of them, I slipped up on them unaware and I got pictures of them gazing out over the beautiful view from their mountain top perches.  The first was on Saturday morning shown below.

Coming down the mountain I happened upon this Marmot taking in the scenery.  I happened upon a similar scene in Sunrise the next day.

Coming down the mountain I happened upon this Marmot taking in the scenery. I happened upon a similar scene in Sunrise the next day.

Even the Marmots appreciate the wonder of God's creation.  This fellow was on a rock outcropping on the side of Pinnacle Peak gazing out toward Mount Rainier.

Even the Marmots appreciate the wonder of God’s creation. This fellow was on a rock outcropping on the side of Pinnacle Peak gazing out toward Mount Rainier.

 

As I moved down the trail this fellow slipped down into the brush on the side of the mountain and began picking fruit off the plants.

One of several Marmots I got pictures of while hiking.  Early mornings are the best time to view the wildlife.

One of several Marmots I got pictures of while hiking. Early mornings are the best time to view the wildlife.

After taking this picture I looked around to see if I could identify what he was eating.  I saw what appeared to be blueberries and in my enthusiasm I quickly picked one and popped it in my mouth.  As it entered my mouth I realized I really didn’t know what it was I was about to ingest, so I quickly spit it out.  Visions of me writhing in the middle of a mountain trail because I had eaten a poisonous berry freaked me out just a little.

As I headed down the mountain I got into the forest and I came upon a couple stopped by the trail eating something.  The woman about my age asked me if I had eaten my share of blueberries.  THEY WERE BLUEBERRIES!

A juicy, sweet mid-morning snack along the trail.

A juicy, sweet mid-morning snack along the trail.

It was an absolute delight finding the blueberries ripe and within reach all along the lower part of the trail.

It was an absolute delight finding the blueberries ripe and within reach all along the lower part of the trail.

Finding the blueberries almost put me into sensory overload.  All five of my physical senses had been saturated.

The sights were phenomenal as I have tried to capture with these pictures.

The smell of the forest of fir and spruce brought on nostalgic thoughts of Christmas.

From the howling of the coyotes to the crunch of rocks underfoot to the bird song all along the trail my ears were filled with the sounds of nature.  What was missing was the man-made noise of cars and machines that so often fill our lives.  The deep stretches of quiet were also a welcome respite to my sense of hearing which had become numb from the ever-present sounds of civilization.

The chill morning air that caused my hands to seek my pockets or rub together was the first of many times my sense of touch was stirred.  Sitting on the mountain top a gentle breeze caressed my sweating brow.  As the day wore on and the miles hiked mounted, even the sore muscles reminded me I was doing something special.

So the blueberries were just icing on the cake.  The term ‘bursting with flavor’ literally came true as I snagged a second and then a third handful of plump berries and popped them in my mouth.

 

 

While I saw other marmots and lots of chipmunks through the day on Saturday, nothing prepared me for the 30 minute window early Sunday morning.  I took the trail from Sunrise up to the Sourdough Ridge and Wonderland Trail.  I started a little before 6 am.

The visitor center and parking lot at Sunrise on the northeast side of Mount Rainier.

The visitor center and parking lot at Sunrise on the northeast side of Mount Rainier.

I had my eyes peeled looking for wildlife.  I had come upon a nice herd of elk in the dark as I was driving up the mountain so I was already primed.  I scanned the beautiful valleys on either side of the trail as I headed toward Burroughs Mountain.

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I kept expecting to see a herd of elk or deer stroll across one of the meadows below me.

I kept expecting to see a herd of elk or deer stroll across one of the meadows below me.

I did not see them, but at about the same time of the morning that coyotes were howling on the trail in front of me on Saturday, one or two raised a cry somewhere down close to the lake in this picture.  I waited for a few minutes to see if they might break into the open, but they never did.

Coyotes began howling down around that lake a mile or so away.

Coyotes began howling down around that lake a mile or so away.

After this I was on high alert.  My head was on a swivel looking for wildlife.  In fact I switched to my “big” lens to reach out and capture close up pics if possible.  Shortly after the coyotes howled, as I approached the end of the Sourdough trail I saw movement ahead that appeared to be about the size of a dog.  I snapped pics thinking that a coyote had crossed in front of me but the exposure was all wrong as the fleeting shape was lost in the shadow while my camera adjusted exposure to the light beyond.

Balancing rock above the trail.  I saw movement sink across the trail ahead of me just after taking this pic.

Balancing rock above the trail. I saw movement slink across the trail ahead of me just after taking this pic.

I cautiously moved through the area where the “coyote” had slipped across the trail.  I thought that I should be able to see him since the area opened up into the wide open, tundra-like topography of Burroughs Mountain.

Oddly enough I bumped into the Manager of the plant where I am working out on the trail just a few minutes after this.

My friend trail running early in the morning at Sunrise.

My friend trail running early in the morning at Sunrise.

We chatted a bit and then I turned to point back where I had just come from and the direction he was heading to tell him to keep his eyes open for a coyote.  And this is what we saw.

We at first thought this was a coyote that for some reason was following me.

We at first thought this was a coyote that for some reason was following me.

We walked toward him to make him decide whether he wanted to take on both of us.  Instead he decided since we weren’t going to get out of his way on the trail, he would just go around us.

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I believe he had caught a chipmunk just before I noticed him.  I had come upon him quick enough that he slipped into cover in the few trees there so I passed by.  But he had a home down the trail and we were simply in his way.  I was surprised at his total lack of fear of us.

With the big lens on I continued up the path.  I stopped at one point a few minutes later to change lenses to my smaller lens to take landscapes, but I felt a prompting to leave on the big lens.

Now let me interject briefly.  I do not think I am special above anyone else.  I am just a guy who loves the Lord and in my imperfect way, I try to follow and obey Him as best I can.  However I do believe that God loves His children and enjoys our taking delight in Him and His creation.  I personally believe God loves to hear His children laugh.  So when I, in joyful exuberance, asked the Lord for some good pics of wildlife, I had faith I would get those shots.  Now that was about 5 minutes before the encounter with the fox.  So when I got the nudge to leave on the big lens, I did.  As I tightened the big lens on my camera I looked up at the ridge overhead and this is what I saw.

Mountain goats above me on Burroughs Mountain #1.

Mountain goats above me on Burroughs Mountain #1.

At this point I am thanking the Father for the simple and fun blessings He has given me.  But He was not through yet.  About 5 minutes later I looked down the slope and there is a family of mountain goats.

Family of Mountain Goats on the side of Burroughs 1

Family of Mountain Goats on the side of Burroughs 1

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At this point I was just plain thrilled.  I remember telling the Lord, I was satisfied, that He had provided more than I had hoped for.  But the surprises weren’t through quite yet.  As I finally neared the top of Burroughs 1 I happened to look up.  And there on an outcropping overlooking the broad valley below was a Marmot enjoying the view.

My first thought was, I guess humans aren’t the only ones who can appreciate a beautiful view.

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Here is the view he was gazing at.

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It was funny to me.  The Marmot reminded me of Mr Beaver in the CS Lewis book, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”.  In the land of Narnia the animals talk.  As the shutter on my camera snapped, the Marmot turned to look at me as if to say, “Why are you disturbing my morning meditation?”  To which I apologized and quietly moved on.

Psalm 104 perfectly fit this day.

Verse 1 “Praise the LORD, my soul.

LORD my God, you are very great;

you are clothed with splendor and majesty.”

Verse 18 says “The high mountains belong to the wild goats;

the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.”

Verse 24 “How many are your works, LORD!

In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”

The final verses sum it up.

27 All creatures look to you

to give them their food at the proper time.
28 When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.
29 When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.
31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works—
32 He who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
33 I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the Lord.
35 But may sinners vanish from the earth
and the wicked be no more.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
Praise the Lord.
If you like the pics stay tuned for at least one more installment of Mount Rainer pics.  Sunrise over Sunrise was absolutely magnificent.  Pictures can’t fully capture it, but they do a pretty good job.  Until next time, look to the LORD and enjoy His gracious mercy and love.

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Panorama view of Mount Rainier taken from the top of Plummer Peak.

Panorama view of Mount Rainier taken from the top of Plummer Peak.

I had a spectacular time hiking Mount Rainier this past weekend.  I drove up Friday evening and scouted out Paradise in preparation for an early morning rendezvous with the mountain.  I was at Reflection Lake about 5 am on Saturday striving for the perfect shot as the sun first struck the mountain.  I got some okay shots, but compared to the others I have selected, they don’t quite make the cut.

A little before 6 I hit the Pinnacle Peak Trail which begins across the road from Reflection Lake.  About 15 minutes up the trail I heard coyotes begin howling.  It’s a little unsettling to be alone on the trail and have four coyotes howling just a hundred yards or so ahead of you.  Thoughts of being alone, remote, and surrounded by animals that eat meat… and realizing that to them I am meat, gave me reason to pause.  I considered whether it would be prudent to turn around, but a brief prayer later I felt like the Lord was calling me higher.  And I knew He was more than able to handle the coyotes.

A little further up the trail I was struck by what a wonderful gift the Lord had given me.  My new job was enabling me to hike in the Mount Rainier NP, take lots of photos, and worship Him all in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  I realized that for most of my life I have been a Martha-like person, always busy DOING.  See Luke 10:38-42.  If I had not had the job change that I have, I would still be slaving away working crazy hours to put away “enough” money to retire in a few years.  The Lord gently reminded me that He is able to supply all our needs.  We don’t know how much is enough, but He does.  The measure that really matters is not how much money we make or have, but how much of US we have surrendered to Jesus.  Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and He commended her for it.  This day as my heart was bursting with gratitude, I realized I was sitting beside Mary… and it was a wonderful place to be.

Pinnacle Peak across the valley from Paradise.  Note the Pinnacle Peak trail up the side of the mountain which is how I got to Plummer Peak.

Pinnacle Peak across the valley from Paradise. Note the Pinnacle Peak trail up the side of the mountain which is how I got to Plummer Peak.

As I continued up the mountain I emerged from the forest out into my first scree field.  You can see the trail I hiked in this picture.  Pinnacle Mountain towered on my left and the jumble of rocks flowed steeply down the mountainside on my right.  The views just kept getting better and better.

This was my original destination until I felt the tug to "come up higher".

This was my original destination until I felt the tug to “come up higher”.

Plummer Mountain was my perch for an early morning devotional.

Plummer Mountain was my perch for an early morning devotional.

The maintained trail ended at the pass between Pinnacle Peak and Plummer Peak.  As I snapped pictures I noticed what looked like a trail heading over the Plummer Peak.  About 20 minutes later I found myself on the very top of the highest rocks you can see on the mountain above.  Whenever I describe a “mountain-top experience” in the future I will think of my time on Plummer Peak.

My mountain top bench where I worshipped the Lord in the beauty of His splendor.

My mountain top bench where I worshipped the Lord in the beauty of His splendor.

One more “coincidence” that comes to mind.  My goal when I set out was to get to the end of the maintained trail, snap some pictures, and come back down to head to Paradise.  However as I neared the top of the maintained trail I met two photographers coming down.  They had been up there to catch the sunrise from the top.  One of them mentioned that he was on the top and got some good panoramas.  Initially I assumed he meant the place I was headed.  As I took pictures I realized he must have meant something higher.  As great as the view was in the saddle, I become convinced by the experience this stranger on the trail shared that there was an even better place to aspire to, a higher place to attain.  So I continued upward.  I searched for the path heading higher.

Our faith journey is like that.  Our experiences of God’s grace shared with others is like the comments I heard from my fellow sojourner who had been somewhere I now desired to go.  Because he shared a good word of what was attainable, I was encouraged to seek and find the path myself… a path blazed by others… a path that I would have struggled mightily to find if it wasn’t for those who had gone before me making a way.

A view from the trail heading up the mountain to Plummer Peak.

A view from the trail heading up the mountain to Plummer Peak.

The shot above is toward the end of the maintained trail.  For some folks this might look a little scary, but believe me, this is a super highway of a trail compared to what was ahead.  As I entered the UNmaintainted trail area, there was enough of a path that I could find my way most of the time.  I only lost the trail once in the high meadow about 100 yards below the summit.

That final trail is a story in itself.  Just below the high meadow the trail became very narrow and steep as it crossed a large scree field.  One mis-step here and you would find yourself (or someone would find your body) hundreds of feet below.  The trail had it’s dangers.

A shot of the scree field as I am about to cross it.

A shot of the scree field as I am about to cross it.

Above this scree field I entered a meadow that you could not see from below.  It was a beautiful place with a great view aimed at Mount Rainier and covered with plenty of bench-high rocks perfect for sitting and meditating.  I got to a high place in the meadow and it appeared that the trail ended so I sat and talked to the Lord for a while.  He spoke through the beauty and wonder of His creation all around me.  It’s amazing how the fatigue and windedness almost immediately evaporated as I took in the stunning beauty.

View from my seat in the high meadow on Plummer Peak.  I thought I was at the end of the trail, but...

View from my seat in the high meadow on Plummer Peak. I thought I was at the end of the trail, but…

As I slipped on my pack and got ready to head down I glanced around and noticed what appeared to be a faint path leading higher.  A hundred or so feet further on it became a distinct trail leading to the top.  Refreshed from my rest and now excited to be heading higher again I pushed on toward the top.

The final trail up to the peak.  That is about a 300 foot drop off the left side of the trail.  The right side was quite steep too, but not like the left.

The final trail up to the peak. That is about a 300 foot drop off the left side of the trail. The right side was quite steep too, but not like the left.

The final leg was very steep and not without a heightened awareness of the danger that lay close at hand.  In fact that is one of the things that I noted several times over the weekend – a very real awareness of the danger, but without fear.  Caution in the approach – yes, but fear was swallowed up in a faith that the Lord was with me leading and guiding every step.

I carefully made my way toward the top on the path above.  When I was within just a few yards of the finish the path was guarded / blocked by several dead trees.  These snags show up all over.  Because of the cool climate, the deterioration rate is rather slow so they may remain for dozens of years.  These snags immediately brought to mind Dol Guldur, the evil lord’s castle in the Hobbit.  But upon further consideration I decided they were simply guardians of a very special place.  To slip through the closely spaced trunks I had to slip off my pack and lay down my trekking poles.  Jesus said something very telling about slipping through a tight space in Matthew 19:24.  “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”  I had to leave my possessions outside to get through.

Guardians at the top of Plummer Peak.

Guardians at the top of Plummer Peak.

A view through the Guardians.

A view through the Guardians.

Once through it was only a dozen or so steps to the top.  I was mesmerized by the stunning view.  A 360 degree spin revealed jagged peaks, deep forested valleys, and the mighty mountain.  The following are a few of those scenes.

A view over the guardians.

A view over the guardians.

Pockets of snow still lingered.  My friends here tell me this mountain usually still has snow at this time of the year.

Pockets of snow still lingered. My friends here tell me the mountain I climbed usually still has snow at this time of the year.

Mount Adams

Mount Adams

Mount St Helens which erupted in 1980.

Mount St Helens which erupted in 1980.

A view back down to where my hike started at Reflection Lake.  A little over 1.5 miles by trail and a little less than 2000 feet below.

A view back down to where my hike started at Reflection Lake. A little over 1.5 miles by trail and a little less than 2000 feet below.

I’ll leave you today with this final shot of the mountain from the top of Plummer Peak.  The time was around 7:30 – 8 am.  The day was just starting and yet I was filled to overflowing with wonder.  What a mighty and creative God we serve!

Mighty Mount Rainier

Mighty Mount Rainier

If you like these pics stay tuned.  I have several other really good shots from the remaining time in Mount Rainier National Park to come.

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