Today, our family went on a hike. Now, that might sound like a hum drum statement- but it was big deal. And this is why:
The last time Kate I went on this particular hike, the sheriff's department sent in a helicopter and dog team to find us. I can explain...
In November, I had just finished running a 10k with Jimmy and had planned to sign up for another in the Spring. After searching on the internet, I found a trail run at Bothe State Park in Calistoga. Because we had only whet our appetites with a flat run, I wanted to check out the terrain before paying the money to participate in the trail run.
Kate had the day off from school for Veteran's day, so we decided to take a gander at Bothe. We invited one of the runners (and good friend) from the 10k, Lillian. Also, our neighbor boy, Stephen came.
When we got to the park, there was no map at the trail head, just a marker with names. We chose the trail that matched my internet search regarding the trail run. Little did we know that the particular trail actually paced its way through multiple trails. All I knew was that it was a loop. We started hiking... and hiking... and hiking. We reached the first marker and continued on our way. As we neared what felt like a peak, we finally met a marker that only had two choices: to continue on the trail name we were already on or to change trails. What seemed like a good idea turned into our demise. Because we wanted to travel in a loop, it only made sense to stay on the same path our group was already walking. As Lillian, Kate, Stephen and I continued- we just kept going up and up and up and up. It felt like we were nearing a crest almost every turn, but the switchbacks were deceiving. We actually stopped and prayed- a few ties. Lillian and I felt that we must continue on this path. Well, we continued- for another 3.5 miles. Then, our group had to stop... due to the fact we had left the state park and ended up on private property! After determining to go back down, I decided to call Jimmy for 3 reasons:
1) It was getting dark and we needed to let the park rangers know we were still in the park
2) I wanted to know if was faster to go back the way we came or to take a side trail]
3) I was scared
Now, When I retell this story- I usually omit the third reason- my pride, I suppose. Well, Jimmy heard the panic in my voice and was worried. Not too worried, however, until we got disconnected and he could not get a hold of us on the cell phone. My sweet husband called his boss, who is very knowledgeable of the local hikes. When Jimmy's boss stated, "They're WAY out there", Jimmy jumped into action. Already, the sun had set and our group was almost 6 miles out.
Jimmy called the local park service- which due to budget cut in California, was closed. So, he was referred to the sheriff's department... which in turn, blew everything out of proportion. Next thing we ALL knew was- a rescue mission was launched! We never left the path- but the 911 operator was calling my cell phone telling us to stop hiking so they could get aerial confirmation. We were 10 minutes from the car!!! The ranger ended up coming and fetching us on a quad and delivered us to our car. It was embarrassing to say the least. And actually, I 've thought the whole story quite funny until today. Because when I travelled that same hike today in full light, I realize how incredibly protected we were. I have no doubt that a concourse of angels were very busy protecting us that night. We learned at the park visitor's center that mountain lions are often spotted in the area. And that those same mountain lions hunt at dusk. We also learned that they attack things that are running. Our group was RUNNING down that mountain... at dusk... at a time when mountain lions were prevalent.
Also, walking the terrain with my family today made me realize that while in the day time, the hike is difficult, without seeing it should have been impossible. I pointed out to Jimmy today the place where we lost all light and was surprised at how far we had gotten in the dark. I was absolutely amazed that we made it down that mountain without a scratch- stunned. After a full beautiful day today on that trail, I am so grateful that we made it home okay in November. I understand now why there was a full search party sent for us. I am so incredibly grateful for my Father in Heaven listening to my prayers. I know He was there that night, protecting me. Not only from what could have harmed us, but from my fear. That night in November, I thought it absolutely silly that anyone would be so worried about us. But, upon the realization today, I should have been worried about us! But would that have helped? Absolutely not. And so, God, in His mercy, gave me the opportunity to shrug off any danger that might have been and make a joke out of getting home alive. When, really, I should have been thanking Him from the get go. How wrong I have been and how humbled I am to know that Heavenly Father protects us, even in our most foolish times.
I know He loves me.
I know He watches out for me.
I have such faith in His plan, that I want to burst.
Would it be worth 5 miles to (the right) peak without Bouchon?!