Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Greater and Greater Heights

As promised, I have spectacular views to share with you today! Well known in Canada is a challenge called the "Triple Crown Challenge". It consists of three of the most difficult hikes in Waterton Lakes National Park. The most difficult of these hikes, is a 12.4 mile summit hike, on the mountain of Akamina. Difficult due to its steepness, length, and wind on the ridge which is a good quarter of the hike, my traveling companions and I decided to conquer Akamina on one of our free days. The going was slow as our breath was taken away, quite literally and figuratively. As I was hiking through the beautiful provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, our Creator taught me a valued lesson.

What impacted me the most during our hike was the stages of height that we achieved. It wasn't simply a 6 mile hike up, and a 6 mile hike down. We drove deep into the mountains, gaining significant elevation before we had even begun to hike. The views from there alone were enough to drop our jaws. Then we hiked a few miles in, gaining a little height and seeing more and more beautiful scenery.

We then started quite the steep incline reaching the lowest part of the ridge. Already several thousand feet in the air, the views were phenomenal!

The mountains surrounding us were beyond our belief and we didn't think it could get any better than this. The hike consisted of a good 3-4 miles on top of the ridge and as we found out, the ridge continued at an incline. We made it to what we thought was the highest peak of Akamina. Once again, we were stunned at the majesty rolled out before us.

We then proceeded to hike even farther up the ridge, each peak revealing another even higher peak! The hike though beautiful was difficult, and as we walked I found myself wishing that Akamina was not quite so tall. It was in those moments that God taught me a lesson about himself. He wants to take us to greater and greater heights. He wants to reveal His majesty more and more. We walk along the path with Him and reach what we think is the utmost height. We are amazed at His majesty and satisfied for far longer than we should be, with only a small revelation of His glory. Yet, he wants to take us to a greater height. Then we follow Him higher and think, "Oh this must be the peak of His majesty!" Yet, He can take us even higher! Eventually, through much hard work, we reached the highest peak of Akamina, and the view was priceless!

But see, our God created Akamina. He created all the surrounding mountaints, He created the valleys, and the rivers! Our Creator's glory is infinite! We will never reach the peak of His majesty. He wants to take us to higher, showing us more and more of His beauty. Don't be discouraged by the climb, the wind, or the slippery trail. His hand is more than capable of guiding us to greater and greater heights!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Milk River

The next time you hear from me I'll have many great and magnificent things to show you all. Lessons from our Master Creator, heights unknown, and spectacular views and accomplishments. But not today, today I want to take a break from the sights and spectacular views and splendid places to tell you about a little town. A town where ripped jeans are ok, dirty boots are everyday, masks come off, and people just are. There's no fanfare and no tourists, just life's simple pleasures. And in this place, this little town, souls are refreshed and broken pieces are put back together. Where the people are sweeter than the maple syrup and southern hospitality could actually learn something new. Here the sunsets are simple, the coffee black, and stars truly and simply beautiful. And in this place, we broke away from everything that we wanted to be and do, and simply were. We were our truest selves, pausing in the midst of life to listen to the quiet Voice, talk about real life, and...just...breathe...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Finding the Wildies

Hey Guys! So, as you might've guessed we finally found the wild horses!!! We returned for a third day to “our island” this time with a new plan in place. We did a little research back at the camper and found where on the island the wildies were frequently spotted. As it turns out, the one corner of Wild Horse Island that we had not explored was indeed their hiding place. We found a new place to launch our canoe, and travelled by water about 3 miles to a new point on the island. This is where it gets exciting… We had barely been off the canoe for three minutes when we spotted the wild horses! We could see their black backs glimmering through the trees, as we, so excited we were shaking, pulled our gear out to capture their intense beauty. Then, to our surprise and delight, they walked towards us, deeply interested in the three girls standing before them. Much to our surprise as we trailed them throughout the island, they were quite curious of us, and “fear” was not in their vocabulary. What if everything you knew about wild horses was wrong? What if Hollywood had so blown “wild” out of proportion that the reality of what wild horses are, has been lost in the past? What if “wild” simply meant “free”? As we track down more herds of wild horses, time only, will tell the true story of the Wildies of Alberta. 



Monday, July 10, 2017

Wild Horse Island

I knew when I started this trip that it was going to be an adventure, but I didn't fully realize just how much of an adventure it would be.  Our first effort towards searching for wild horses began in our very own state of Montana. The biggest lake this side of the Mississippi, Flathead Lake is located very close to where we've made our temporary home. The largest island in it is Wild Horse Island, and that is where our journey truly began. Sitting at just over 2100 acres, the island is expansive, mountainous, and very dry. Home to a very small heard of horses, deer, wild sheep, and bald eagles, the island provides ample space and opportunity for each animal to hide deep within its heart.

Day 1 on the island...
It was excruciatingly hot, the temperature hitting a high of around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the the sun bearing down on us, uninhibited by clouds. Our morning began with a 2 mile canoe trip through Flathead Lake from the closest town of Dayton. We maneuvered out of the way of sail boats, wave runners, and yachts, finally arriving at our destination. Like any "good" hikers we started out on the trail, however, half way into the 3 mile path that didn't cover even a quarter of the island, we stepped off trail to seek out the wildies deep in the heart of the island. We walked for hours up and down the mountainous terrain keeping an alert lookout for any sign of wild horses. After several hours of scaling mountains with no luck of seeing horses, and running low on water in the vicious heat, we turned to go back the way we had come, or so we thought. That was when the real adventure began. Those of you who know me personally know that I am directionally challenged to say the least, but little did I know the girls I have partnered with on this journey, are equally challenged. One would think that after our lesson from DAY 1, we would have brought a map...or a compass...or even taken note of the direction of the island we had disembarked on, but no. So there we were, lost in the middle of 2100 acres, on a scorching day, with no water, and very little energy to continue on with. We rested and reconvened, running through our options, and decided to hike to the top of the closest mountain to get a bird's eye view and make our way from there. Several hours later, from the top of the ridge, we found the trail which was visible despite the thick pines that filled the mountains. Making our way back was difficult but hope and relief work amazingly like adrenaline and successfully, very little worse for the wear, and much burnt by the sun we made it back to our canoe. The cool water of Flathead was refreshing as we drank from it gratefully. The canoe trip back was peaceful and the breeze on the water was a blessing from our ever watchful Creator as He guided us back home.

Day 2...
After having no success of finding any wild horses on the first day, we were more determined than ever to find them on our second day. We were careful to take extra water and have a better plan as we revisited the site of our latest encounter with danger. The canoe trip in was again peaceful and calming as one's time on the water often is. We returned immediately to a meadow that we had found the day before, knowing that the horses often frequented it, and from there split apart to cover more of island quicker, with the plan of meeting back for lunch at a designated spot. A few hours later we all returned with again no sign of our wildies. After eating our tuna which we had conveniently forgotten the can opener for, we left to return to the canoe and head to the other side of the island by water in order to hike farther inland. Several more hours of hiking up and down mountains, although these were more thickly wooded, and we walked in shade thankful for that small blessing. We returned to our canoe, amazed at the beauty we had seen, and thankful for the protection of our Father, but discouraged at our lack of success. The lesson we learned however was not one of discouragement, but rather perseverance and amazement at the ability of these horses to so successfully hide. God truly has given them a skill to survive that allows them to remain hidden despite drastic effort to find them. If we have the opportunity, we might again return to "our island" as we now affectionately call it, to once more seek the wildies. A new respect for them has been born, as we begin to understand the magnitude of the task we have undertaken, begins to surface.