Climb Every Mountain. I love that song and the movie; and I love mountains. I never got into rock climbing, but I’ve backpacked many mountain trails and ridden horses on a few.
My first mountain was Lake Superior’s pre-glacial shoreline. It towered 300 feet above my childhood home. Like the bear in a ditty Mother sang to me, I longed to climb the mountain, to see what I could see. I was about eight when neighbor John Stai hiked me to the top. Like the bear, all I saw was the other side of the mountain—unbroken woods stretching north.
I couldn’t imagine then my job one day would take me to mountains across the land. My more pious colleagues accused me of goofing off. They are all dead now, while I sit here, revelling in the mystery of providence. Every wilderness trip seemed to fulfill a special purpose for one or more persons.
That terrified lad, separated from his father atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin, lost in a whiteout cloud. His words at the evening campfire still enrich my memory.
Box Y Ranch,Wyoming. Three brave campers climb the mountainside to sleep under the stars. Darkness falls and coyotes begin to yip. Flashlights trace a wandering path to our base camp. And the boy and his first trout. Cap Matt and the kids will never forget.
Leaders ending a training backpack trip in the Oregon Cascades rain forest. A liberal PH.D candidate officiates; a fundamentalist youth pastor serves. We break chunks off a smoky fire-baked bannock and drink Grape Kool-Aid from our tin cups. Tears of bonding flow.
The weary hike to Twisp Pass in the Western Cascades, another man’s pack on my back. Riders and mule pack train long gone. The flash in the dark; a boy on fire, his face blackened. His father’s song of surrender. And the lonely night in my tent, shaken by near tragedy. Why am I doing this?
That all happened 50 years ago. Now I know why.
Old Grandpa Lloyd