March 13, 2013

Up and over the mountain

I don't know most of you that will be reading this. Well at least I hope you read it. But I do know Eden and I love her and who she is. She brings joy into whatever room she is currently in. I like that in a person. I am happy she invited me to write on anything I desired. I have thought and thought about different experiences that I have lived through and one seems to pop out from my memory that I wish to share...

First some background of me, well there is only one thing you need to know. I hate hiking. I could rant about it for hours. I don't have that much time so I will just say it is horrible and you are constantly scared that you will die from exhaustion. Then you get miles up the trail and you are scared that you won't die. Either way, scoutmasters get you up on the mountains and you are just kicking yourself thinking that you agreed to go.

This death march occurred in the high Uinta Mountains. (Here is a link if you are unfamiliar: High Mountains )

The whole time driving to this location the road we traveled by was flat. This got my hopes up, surely the road was a good indicator. But no, like a bat out of hell, the biggest mountains my young 17-year-old eyes could see popped out of nothing. Jagged jaws of cliff reaching outward 13,528 feet made my little heart drop into my ankles instantly making them swollen with fear. Yes, that description is accurate.

So there I was, walking on a dirt path that blended and crawled up a mountain. I was with friends, my father was there, my pack wasn't that heavy, and yet I was mad. Mad that there was a man that decided to climb these battered punch marks spread across the world and call it fun. So fun that millions caught on and developed large backpacks to carry canteens and powdered food packets up and down these exhausting trails. I was bitter as you can tell. 

The path continued, we were so high that the trees themselves didn't dare to climb with us. I am not sure you readers have been above treeline before but it is high enough that trees cannot tolerate inappropriate environmental conditions (usually cold temperatures or lack of moisture). Why any human would want to be up where plants can't grow is beyond me, but there we climbed. 

It was day 4 of this march and I was sick from food packets and filtered water. I had just woken up to what seemed like 33 minutes of sleeping and 7 hours of trying to sleep when I hear "pack up and lets get moving!" What more do you people want to see! There is nothing up there that would be different from down here. What good is this trip, everyone just wants to go home. I wanted to scream at my leaders but only did so in my head. Sometimes that is the safest place to yell. 

I am sorry if this is dragging, I am going to speed things up. The reason I mentioned the 4th day is because that night was an experience I will never ever forget. Sometimes you think to yourself, I will never forget this concert, or date, or hilarious joke you pulled on someone. But most of the time you do forget, you forget people's facial expressions, what your date was wearing, what songs your favorite band played at the concert. Maybe that is not true for other people but for me I forget things all the time that I promised I wouldn't. The experience I had on that mountain on the 4th night was one of those times you cannot forget. It has been branded onto my memory cells, if I close my eyes I can picture everything.

We set up camp on this small grassy cliff edge and ate crap from pouches for dinner and called it a night. Suddenly the brightest flash of white burned my eyes and woke me up along with the lifeless rocks I was sleeping on. I was stunned and could not see. God himself had collected all the light that was on the earths surface and shot it at our cliff like an angry hornets nest. Almost seconds after the flash my body began to vibrate apart. If you collected all the bass speakers that Daft Punk uses on their stage and played Bass Hunter on full blast you would be half way to what my ears had experienced.

Is this death? Is my mind still connected to my body? I could not tell. Finally getting my wits about me I zipped open my one-man tent and saw pure darkness. Out of who knows what dimension jetted the largest storm clouds I have seen. I was scared to death and fully expected to die. The storm was right on top of us. Each stab of lightning struck the floor all about us. There is really nothing you can do in that kind of a situation, nowhere to hide and be safe. The best we could do was sit in our sleeping bags and pray to not be split into by light and thunder. I had my eyes closed and had my sleeping bag over my head. Every 2-3 seconds another flash would occur and would blind me. Keep in mind that this light was penetrating one wall of tent plastic material, one wall of clothy puffy black material and finally my own eyes lids. These things usually do a good job of blocking out light. So I sat there. Fully expecting the next flash of light to be my last. This was the longest night of my little life. 

As you can guess I made it out alive. That morning when I emerged from my tent, I walked over to the cliff we where perched on. Half expecting to see fires burning and rocks blackened, instead I witnessed a painting. Down below the clouds had vanished and there stood a perfect scene. I literally had my breath taken from me. It's like my brain was completely occupied by what it was witnessing it forgot to keep my lungs moving and my blood pumping. 

I think about that cheesy saying: Life is not about how many breaths you take but how many moments your breath is taken away.

I don't know what the average count of a person's breath being taken away is. I would hope that one is a good amount for being the age I am...

We were high enough that I could see the sun just starting to come up for the day, painting the sky a brilliant orange and golden hue. The surrounding nature seemed to be sighing after surviving such a hellish storm, completely relaxed and showing their true colors like never before. I have never seen greener forest, everything was so clean that I desired to dump ranch on it all and eat the salad of the century. I remember standing there for a long while, trying to receive all that I could. I wish I could paint a better picture for you readers, but I can't. I wish more people where there to witness what I had that morning. I think if I ever become successful enough to own a vacation spot it would be there. I would not build a house or change anything about it. I would just lay there, hoping to witness again what I had years before so those with me could see it. It would even be safe to say I would hike back to where that was... Yes, I would go through hell again to reach that point of heaven. 

This experience taught me a great lesson: The greatest darkness is followed by the greatest light. Fear can become love, confusion can become clarity, and weakness can become beauty.

Sometimes we have to go through the scariest/hardest things to witness a miracle. I have since seen things differently. When a storm comes and is grinding on top of your head, keep going. 

"So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten" -- Sam Beam

I saw perfection that morning. I saw perfection 13,000 feet up and over the mountain.


  1. I cried. Thank you for your words, Sam.

  2. you neglected to mention the wind.
    I seriously thought there was an elk or something, trying to turn our tent over.
    So, let's go back.
    take Whitney, Mom, who ever else wants to go.

    1. Ya you can all go. I will wait till Im rich and can fly up.

  3. Awesome. This guest blogger is a world-class storyteller.

  4. I remember I had to go out in that storm to pee.

  5. My heart is full and tears are streaming. Thank you, Sam.