Psalm 104

Bless the Lord, O my soul!
    O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
    covering yourself with light as with a garment,
    stretching out the heavens like a tent.
Harney Peak on New Year's Day
He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;
he makes the clouds his chariot;
    he rides on the wings of the wind;
he makes his messengers winds,
    his ministers a flaming fire.Calamity Peak, Custer SD5 He set the earth on its foundations,
    so that it should never be moved.
You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
    the waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they fled;
    at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.Summer Storm IIThe mountains rose, the valleys sank down
    to the place that you appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass,
    so that they might not again cover the earth.IMG_5029e10 You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
    they flow between the hills;
11 they give drink to every beast of the field;
    the wild donkeys quench their thirst.IMG_4972ee12 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
    they sing among the branches.
13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
    the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.IMG_3392esm14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
    and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
15     and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
    and bread to strengthen man’s heart.IMG_3481e16 The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly,
    the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 In them the birds build their nests;
    the stork has her home in the fir trees.
18 The high mountains are for the wild goats;
    the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.IMG_5038e19 He made the moon to mark the seasons;
    the sun knows its time for setting.
20 You make darkness, and it is night,
    when all the beasts of the forest creep about.IMG_311721 The young lions roar for their prey,
    seeking their food from God.
22 When the sun rises, they steal away
    and lie down in their dens.
23 Man goes out to his work
    and to his labor until the evening.IMG_8386e24 O Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Here is the sea, great and wide,
    which teems with creatures innumerable,
    living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,
    and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.Bumblebee - bombus ternarius27 These all look to you,
    to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;
    when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
    when you take away their breath, they die
    and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your Spirit,they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.IMG_5350e31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works,
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
    and let the wicked be no more!
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Praise the Lord!IMG_9381

Thoughts from Quarantine

I’m sitting here on my sofa looking out at a world ready for springtime, though covered with a light dusting of very wet snow. Outside is the sound of dripping and trickling, that wonderful music of the waking spring. My feet have been sandal-clad, ready to be done with the cold, and my face is just getting a touch of tan after a snowshoeing sunburn last week. The grass is greening, the sky is by turns overcast, then bluer than blue, the wind is wonderfully sweet, and the perfume of warm pine needles on south facing slopes is intoxicating. I’ve already found my first teeny baby pasque flower, just starting to poke up through the pine needles on one particular hill I always check this time of year.

Spring is coming, the same way it always does when the winter is winding down. The exact same way it always does.

And yet, this year is different.

Because of fear.

Nearly two weeks ago, panic came to rural Western South Dakota, and to our whole nation. Covid-19 is now a household world, as familiar as the common cold. This was definitely not something I ever anticipated, definitely not something I’d “planned” for, definitely not something I’d looked forward to. I never thought I’d be prepping to teach music lessons remotely because of “social distancing” recommendations. I never thought I’d be off work with the fire department for two weeks because of symptoms I wouldn’t normally give two thoughts about. I never thought I would be going on three weeks without meeting with my church family for our weekly service and Bible studies.

This time of year, my students are in the home stretch of their lessons, as we have the last five or so weeks of lessons before the end of the year recital. Very likely, we won’t have a recital this year. Fire department trainings should start gearing up for the wildland fire season, with pack testing and refresher courses. But pack testing has been put on hold, and trainings have been cancelled or modified for distance learning. Easter is right around the corner, with anticipated family get togethers and church family celebrations. But with groups of more than ten people forbidden, that will be very different this year. Everyone is itching to get outside, to enjoy being together. Seasonal restaurants should begin opening for business, tourists should start trickling in. The delight of springtime often involves other people. The delight of life itself so often is the togetherness. And that togetherness has been replaced by fear, mistrust, and isolation.

But national and international panic results in some pretty unimaginable things.

I can’t begin to imagine the number of people without work right now, who already are living paycheck to paycheck, with financial fears and health fears hanging over them. I have nothing to complain about, in the big scheme of things. I’ll feel it, but I’ll be alright. Not everyone is so fortunate.

I will abstain from making any political comments one way or the other about the nature of this crisis or how well it warrants the level of concern we’ve given it. We’ve had enough misinformation from the media and idiotic comments from armchair physicians who suddenly know everything about a pandemic. But please understand that I am concerned, particularly for those who are the most vulnerable. But what has struck me and continues to strike me is the level of fear, blame, panic, anger, selfishness, and fear-mongering I have been witnessing for the last two weeks. The fear is driving people to do irrational things (don’t even get me started on the toilet paper shortage).

People fear because they don’t know another option.

The way the world handles a crisis will be (should be) drastically different from how a Christian handles a crisis. Should there be a sense of urgency? Absolutely. Should there be concern, particularly for those who are most vulnerable? Absolutely. Should there be sorrow over the loss of life? Absolutely.

But if you study your Bible, you understand several things that should drive you away from the cliff edge panic and into the security of the arms of Jesus Christ.

First, we shouldn’t be surprised at sickness and famine and heartache. We live in a world that is wracked by the effects of the sin of mankind. All one needs to do is take a quick, cursory glance at history to see that sickness and famine and heartache are normal. Obviously, a global-scale pandemic causes more concern than other types of sickness, but at the end of the day, a pandemic is sickness. Sickness is a normal part of living in a fallen world. Jesus is recorded having told His disciples in all three of the Synoptic Gospels that famines, earthquakes, pestilence and war would wrack the end times, the time between His Resurrection and His Second Coming (Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). So in a sense we should be encouraged. We should be encouraged because events like this pandemic speak to the veracity of Scripture. Two thousand years may seem like a long time to wait for Jesus to come again, but these events of worldwide proportion speak to where we are in history: we are right on track, whether that track lasts another two minutes or another ten millennia. God keeps His promises. His Word is true.

Second, the Believer has no need to fear death. Paul expresses the exquisite tension that the Believer in Christ should feel, when it comes to facing death or the possibility of death: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain….I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. (Philippians 1: 21, 23) For the Christian, not only should we not fear death or the possibility of death, but we should recognize that death is the final door that ushers us into eternity with Jesus. Obviously I am not advocating for a mindset that obsesses over death or flirts with death or is reckless, but we absolutely should not live in fear of death. For the Christian, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain by going to be with Jesus. If we are to fear, we should fear for those who may die without ever coming to Christ in repentance and faith. In Matthew 10:28, Jesus said, “and do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” There is something much worse than dying, much worse than financial hardship, much worse than world upheaval and economic collapse. That is not being right with God when we die.

Third, God is ultimately in control of all of this. Matthew 10:29 reads, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” If the God of the universe sees and values even the life of a sparrow, how much more does He see us and value us, the pinnacle of His Creation! Romans 8:28-29 tells us, And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” The difficulties a Believer experiences aren’t just unfortunate events that God will somehow figure out how to recycle. They are intended, brought about, to accomplish a greater purpose. That purpose may be as simple as causing us to trust Him more. Think of the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis, sold in to slavery by his own brothers, who could later tell his brothers in Genesis 50:15-21 that the evil that they did to him was brought about by God to accomplish a greater purpose. Throughout the Bible, we see the pattern very clearly that God doesn’t just work with events and somehow figure out a way to make them work out for good. God isn’t taking lemons and making cosmic lemonade. We actually see that God is, in a way we can’t fully understand, the author even of calamity. Isaiah 45:7 reads: I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things.” God says this of Himself. If this gives you heartburn, consider this: either God is all powerful, or He isn’t. If He isn’t, He isn’t worth serving. If He is, there are two options. Either He evil and malicious and diabolically brings about evil things (not the God of the Bible), or He is so wonderfully good and perfect, He can state this truthfully:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

We may not understand why God allows or ordains horrific events. We can get down into the weeds of First Causes and Second Causes, and debates about how sovereign God actually is. But the way I understand it, either God is sovereign or He isn’t. I believe He is. Sovereign is sovereign. Not partially sovereign. Not selectively sovereign. Either of those would mean He isn’t truly sovereign. Either God is good or He isn’t. I believe He is. Not mostly good. Not usually good. Either of those would mean He isn’t truly good. And I can trust a good, sovereign God. And I can submit myself to Him, knowing that His ways and thoughts are much higher than my ways and thoughts.

Fourth, the world WILL END when God commands it to end; not a moment sooner, not a moment later. By that token, the world WILL CONTINUE for as long as God ordains it to continue. We can neither hasten the day, nor delay it. In Genesis 8, God made a promise to Noah that He would never again destroy the earth by a flood, and this beautiful verse is nestled in the midst of that promise: While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22) God will sustain the earth until the time that He sees fit to bring it to an end. And in a time like this, when the whole world is panicking, that should be immensely encouraging. God is in the Heavens. He is in control.

So if you are afraid, whether for yourself or your loved ones, weather the fears are financial, or health, or general fears related to a world gone crazy, whether you fear the shortages and what desperate people do when things truly get desperate…Please be encouraged. Be encouraged that there IS a God in the Heavens, and that He cares for this creation. Don’t fear Covid-19. Fear God. Seek Him. There are promises in Scripture of common grace extended to all mankind (every breath we take is evidence of common grace), but there are so many wonderful promises and encouragements that aren’t yours if you don’t know and love Jesus as your Savior.

I’m so excited that spring is here. God’s work is beautifully visible in something so taken for granted as the change of seasons. We don’t give the seasons much thought, unless we get tired of one and are eager for the next. But God Himself sustains those seasons. We don’t worry that winter will never end, because we know that winter will end. That’s how it works. That is how God made it to work. That is how God sustains it to work. There is comfort in that. If God can sustain the seasons, the planets, the solar systems and galaxies, the tides and the orbit of the moon, the tiny workings of our body’s cells…then He can sustain the world through a pandemic, however severe. And even the resulting financial hardship that many of us will feel with loss of work is yet another wonderful opportunity to trust in God’s goodness and mercy and providence. Any opportunity to trust God is a good thing.

If you want a psalm to read that will brighten your heart, read Psalm 104. I’ll post it in its entirety in another post, but it is a beautiful psalm praising God for His power over and visible in Creation, how He is the one who brings about the seasons, the growth of plant life, sustaining the animal life, and on and on. Read it, and be encouraged.

And one last verse…Romans 8:35, 37-39:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In Hindsight | 2019

2019. What a year. For those of you new to this blog, I love to do a post sometime around the New Year (give or take a couple of months) as a recap of and reflection on the blessings of the previous year. And it’s fun to look back through pictures and remember why I took them, and the circumstances around them. As I scroll through picture after picture, I feel so blessed with the memories I have of this past year, and God’s gracious generosity in giving me so many wonderful times with family and friends.

This past year was not a year of ease – There were trials, temptations, struggles, grief, uncertainty, pain, fear, death, goodbyes…But through all of it, God is so faithful, providing work to do, friends to encourage, family to love and to be loved by, and so much else.
Sunday GulchThe highlight of last winter (and really, the whole year) was the sheer amount of time spent hiking. As I look back through pictures, I see hike after hike after hike, from Sunday Gulch to Harney Peak to the Hidden Waterfall hike to Hell Canyon. Temps ranged from balmy winter weather to frigid, blue skies to snow. I discovered a few simple gear items that wonderfully changed my enjoyment of winter hiking! In past winters, I’ve struggled with a sort of seasonal depression, but not this past winter. There was too much beauty, too much muscle soreness, too much glorious exhaustion, too much freezing hands and feet and nose, to be bothered by depression.
IMG_20190124_075451_419IMG_20190427_221643_921
IMG_20190430_183859_422Another noteworthy memory was my first experience with search and rescue, when the fire department was called out to help with ground searches in the winter and spring. As sad as the circumstances were, I loved the teamwork and camaraderie of the few days I spent on line searches, and the physical challenge of the terrain we were in.
IMG_20190327_095508495_HDRI also had my first ever structure fire, another vivid and exciting memory from the fire world. The call came in around 11pm, and we finally got back to the station around 4am or even later. I think I got about one or two hours of sleep that night!
In March, I was thrilled to be able to spend nine days in Spearfish for the NOLS Wilderness First Responder course, thanks in large part to the generosity of friends from church who opened their home to me for those nine days. WFR was a great experience, and it peaked my interest in wilderness medicine, as well as boosting my confidence in my ability to survive in the event of an accident, or to offer help to someone else.
April came, bittersweet, as we said goodbye to Grandma for the last time. It is hard to lose a loved one, but it was also a time of rejoicing, knowing that my faithful Grandma had been ushered into the presence of her LORD. She had patiently endured so much pain over the last few years, and all that was now gone. I also got to feel the joy of our church family coming around us and supporting us, loving us. If you belong to the household of God, there truly is sweetness in sorrow.

A visit from a college friend in May was a great beginning to the summer, and we spent a fun several days exploring the Hills and hiking!IMG_20190603_215510_448My Uncle Scott was here on and off for a lot of the year, since he recently retired from his job and is in a time of transition in life. He is a great uncle and a dear friend, and his company is always a highlight. And yes, we hiked. And hiked. And talked. And hiked.
IMG_20190829_094654058Once again I spent the summer working at the greenhouse with my sister, Sarah, and hiking whenever I could. My poor brain needs a break from teaching in the summer, and the outside beckons, beckons, beckons. We had some great hiking adventures, including our fondly-remembered Fourth of July hike up Harney Peak, into the middle of a thunderstorm.
IMG_20190806_114512_899IMG_20190727_002357_929Another trip to Bozeman for the Biblical Counseling Conference was a great almost-end to the summer, with camping and hiking bookending the trip. My friend Katie and I drove up ahead of time, camped and hiked for two nights and two days, went to the conference, and then camped and hiked again, with the addition of a few more friends. We were able to explore Hyalite Canyon with three solid days of hiking. So much beauty. The bigness of God’s creation is astounding.
received_934942393564610Katie also talked me in to going climbing with her, and after the first day, I was hooked. I was able to go a few times this last summer, and I’m already looking forward to getting back out there when the weather warms up.
IMG_20190913_221138_179IMG_20190921_215009_814Towards the end of the summer, Sarah and I began training for our Rim-to-Rim, and I loved the time spent hiking long miles with Sarah and how our relationship grew. We hiked Harney Peak a grand total of something like 20 times this year, most of those hikes in preparation for our Rim-to-Rim. It was great prep, as all our training occurred between 6000-7200 feet, getting our bodies accustomed to less oxygen and having to work harder at higher elevations. It was excellent. I would have thought that hiking Harney that many times would get boring. It didn’t. We saw so many different faces of our little mountain, from the early morning light streaming through the dew-wet trees, to the afterglow of the sunset, to thunderstorms and hailstorms, got soaking wet in a downpour, tromped through puddles, sweated through afternoon heat, and in short never got tired of hiking our mountain.

Mid-August, I began my EMT class through the Custer Ambulance, which was a fantastic class! I had a blast. Testing all went well, and I can’t describe the excitement of having Ruth shake my hand after the psychomotor examination. “Congratulations,” she said. “You’re an EMT.” Definitely not where I thought I’d be 5 years ago. I’ve since started with the Keystone Ambulance Service, and am looking forward to getting some experience, particularly over the summer.
IMG_20191007_155429565_HDRThe fall was mostly a chaos of teaching and EMT, except for a crazy trip with Sarah and our cousin down to Bryce Canyon, Grand Escalante, and Grand Canyon for our Rim-to-Rim in October. What an amazing trip. I haven’t done a lot of traveling, and definitely not road tripping, so this was a wonderful adventure and challenge.
IMG_20191105_132953452_HDRI also had the opportunity to join Custer County Search and Rescue, and getting plugged in there has been a really neat experience, opening doors to a very different branch of emergency services, but one that more specifically taps into my interests and abilities.

And my list could go on. Beautiful summer days, fall snowstorms, wildflower hunts, snowmobile training for SAR, delighting in a power outage with Vienna sausages and a fire in the fireplace, picking apples with Mom, fire department trainings and events, and so many other delightful memories. And the year was topped off with a beautiful family Christmas, bittersweet without Grandma, but festive and joyful.IMG_20191225_114750320So if I were to summarize the joys of this past year, it would be the new avenues of learning and work, the physical challenge of so much hiking, and most importantly, the growing friendships and relationships God is blessing me with, not least of which being those relationships with my family. I also cannot stress how important it is for single women to have other single women friends, or at least other women friends. But there is something extra special about those friendships (one in particular) where there is common faith, similar struggles, and so much empathy and love.

As I look back over this year, I see God’s hand of graciousness, His providence, and how He sustains through trials and struggles, and how He uses (ordains) those difficulties to increase our dependence on Him, and highlight our own sinful attitudes and idols, to make us more like Christ. I’ve seen how He takes away one good to provide in another good way, and I’ve seen how He uses struggles to loosen our hold on things we feel dependent on here. My own failings have highlighted my need for Christ, and increased my confidence in God’s gracious provision.

2019 was another year of change, change, and more change. I’m excited to see the story God has written for 2020!

Greeting 2020

We (Mom, Sarah, and I) welcomed the new year and the new decade from Harney Peak, the highest point east of the Rockies! It was a beautiful, crisp morning, the stars were glorious at 6am, the snow crunched pleasantly underfoot, and the wind was gentle enough for us to actually de-layer shortly into the hike.

Harney Peak on New Year's Day

There wasn’t even a hint of dawn when we started up, and we trudged along in the dark, our headlamps casting pleasant shadows in the snowy woods. There were a few other cars at the trailhead, and evidence along the way of other first-day hikers, including this snowy tribute to the new year:

Harney Peak on New Year's Day

And then the first day of the year dawned: gloriously, slowly, from diamond-studded black, to silver and blue skies, then lavender, then pink and orange and scarlet, with the tips of granite spires just kissed with the first light. We reached the tower in the glow of the first sunrise, and watched the light spread over the Hills.

Harney Peak on New Year's Day

Harney Peak on New Year's Day

Harney Peak on New Year's Day

Harney Peak on New Year's Day

Harney Peak on New Year's Day

The wind was fierce at the Tower (it always is), and with a bitter edge, so we took shelter in the basement, warming ourselves with hot, black coffee and a snack before heading back into the wind.

Harney Peak on New Year's Day

The hike down was even more beautiful than the hike up, now that we could see the sculpted snowdrifts, the sun sparkling through the trees, and the sky and its blueness overhead.Harney Peak on New Year's Day

Harney Peak on New Year's Day

Harney Peak on New Year's Day

What a wonderful way to bring in this new year and new decade, with two of my favorite people, doing one of my favorite things, on one of my favorite trails, in my (current) favorite place in the world, on the tip top of our highest peak, reveling in and wandering around and gazing at God’s beautiful handiwork.

I love experiencing the firsts of the new year.

The first morning.
The first drive.
The first hike.
The first time up Harney Peak.
The first picture taken.
The first cup of coffee.
The first sweet family time.
The first prayer.

The new year comes, fresh, unstained, and (from our perspective) unwritten. We do a pretty good job of staining it as soon as we open our eyes or our mouth on New Year’s morning, but the freshness and excitement and sense of newness remain, the gladness of a fresh start. There are things I’m anticipating, things I’m excited about, things I’m not looking forward to. But I’m glad to know I serve a sovereign LORD who isn’t just writing my story, as if He is still in the process of figuring it out. He has written it, already.

Harney Peak on New Year's Day

I wonder what He will choose to bring to this new year? I wonder what growing, what joy, what delight, what blessings and struggles and trials and pain? What adventures? What changes are coming that I haven’t even thought of yet? What triumphs? What failures? What of Christ will I see or learn that I haven’t yet known? How will He refine me?

2020 is open like a brand new book. I’m excited to read the story.

Happy New Year!

Let It Ring in Your Hearts

This is one of my favorite Christmas pieces from the past, and I wanted to share it again. A new year, but the same sentiments. We serve a wonderful LORD.

Homestead Diaries

Today is New Year’s Eve. Christmas was 6 days ago. Every year, Christmas approaches with much anticipation. And every year it leaves with a sigh, ho-hum, and back we go to finish out the year. In truth, we’re probably glad when Christmas is over and done with. Sure, it was fun, we have some sweet family memories, less money in our checking account, a gift or two we were probably excited to receive, and it is just time to get on with what remains of the year.

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What a loss. What a loss that we don’t carry with us for the rest of the year, or the whole year, the joy and excitement and awe of the Christmas season. Or is it because we fail to see and experience the joy and excitement and awe that Christmas should bring?

I’m not sure how to properly express the magnitude of all…

View original post 1,786 more words

Hiking | Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim, Part 2

Fourteen miles down. Ten to go. And there was Phantom Ranch! IMG_20191007_100550957_HDRWe arrived gratefully at Phantom Ranch around 10am (we made really good time!), and took a lovely lunch break. We took time to change socks, rehydrate, and mail postcards from the canteen, which were stamped with the words “Delivered by Mule.” We visited with other hikers and runners, and finally got back on the trail, right into the heat.

The sun was high by now. And we three poor northern girls were definitely missing the cool of the morning. But we slathered on sunscreen, sported our brimmed hats and chugged plenty of water and electrolytes. We were good to go. The distance between Phantom Ranch and River Resthouse passed quickly, and we enjoyed the long views up and down the Colorado as we crossed the long span of the Silver Bridge, and a bighorn sheep posing beautifully for us next to the trail.IMG_20191007_112008605IMG_20191007_112233274_HDR
IMG_20191007_112244913_HDRIt was after the River Resthouse that the hiking started to get harder. We felt the miles behind us, and still had nine to go. And now the elevation gain started. When you’ve already hiked 14 miles, and now the elevation starts, oh, you feel it. You feel it.
IMG_20191007_123425736_HDRFirst comes The Corkscrew:
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IMG_20191007_124254856_HDRThe Corkscrew is an intimidating series of bigger and bigger switchbacks, bringing you out of a small canyon up into a larger one. The switchbacks seemed endless, and now we were hiking in the sun and the heat. It took forever to reach Indian Garden Resthouse, and then we had four and a half miles to go, with 3-Mile Resthouse and 1 1/2 Mile Resthouse splitting up the rest of the distance.
IMG_20191007_125245552_BURST000_COVER_TOPIndian Garden was memorable. They were doing construction of some sort and had a crazy helicopter thing bringing in equipment and taking stuff out. When we finished and were looking down into the canyon, we could still see it, 3000 feet below. Amazing.
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IMG_20191007_155319016_HDRThe last three miles were the toughest of all, and possibly the most beautiful. The sun was dipping lower and a shadow was spreading over the trail, so the heat was no longer as much of an issue. But by now, we had already hiked 21 miles. With the whole canyon spread out behind us, and with us slowly creeping our way up the precarious side of the canyon, the bigness of the canyon was overwhelming and awesome.
IMG_20191007_155319016_HDRWe could catch glimpses of the next resthouses, or glimpses of the Rim, and we could see trail and switchbacks that we were aiming towards way in the distance or way overhead, hundreds or thousands of feet up. If we looked hard, we could barely make out other hikers, looking as small as fleas. I’ve never felt so small in my life. At Indian Garden, there still is 3000 feet of vertical gain left. At 3-Mile, there is 2100 feet left. And at 1 1/2 Mile, there is 1100 feet left. We knew we were getting closer, but until you’re done, the hiking is just plain hard.
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IMG_20191007_160238051_HDRFrom here on out, certain groups looked tireder and tireder, while others looked fresher and fresher (and less equipped, fit, or able. Flip-flops, for instance, 1500 feet below the rim). It was easy to pick out the day hikers from the Rim-to-Rim hikers. But Sarah and Jenny both commented on (and we all laughed at) the pitying, “judge-y” looks we received from clean, fresh-looking hikers who clearly were wondering how we could be so tired and worn-out looking so close to the South Rim.

And then we could see the end of the trail, and those last few hundred yards felt everlasting. We emerged at Bright Angel Trailhead shortly after 5pm, for a Rim-to-Rim time of just under 13 hours.
IMG_20191007_170535966_HDRIt was awesome. And terrifying. And exhilarating. And beautiful in ways I never expected.
Resized_2019-10-07_05.04.36_1IMG_20191007_172626628_HDRAnd I would do it again in a heartbeat.