Young Life campers heading to the top of Mt. Chrysolite!!
The peerless Rocky Mountains...
There were stretches of the hike that were almost flat and the walking was pleasant. Campers all around us were talking, laughing and even singing; but those stretches didn’t last long. Soon we were climbing again and the noise of conversation would die away as we all pushed ourselves; putting one foot in front of the last, keeping our balance on small, shifting rocks and searching for oxygen in the desperately thin air. It was not an easy day, but all you had to do in order to feel encouraged was to simply lift your head off the trail and look around… We were hiking above the tree line in the Rocky Mountains! We were taking in the landscape that Lewis and Clark witnessed and journaled about! Snow capped peaks surrounded us in every direction, and it was the middle of June! As we neared the end, the trail became more and more steep. It was covered in rocks that were hard to negotiate, like a final test to punish the hiker before the great reward of the summit… and then, we were there.
One of the coolest things about going to Young Life Camp at Frontier Ranch in Colorado is what they call “High Country Day” where the entire camp (well over 500 folks) hikes together to a 13,000 ft. peak known as Mt. Chrysolite. When we began the hike, I knew it would be a challenge, but I also knew it wouldn’t be that bad of one because I was in really good shape. I had been running everyday back home and felt confident that I would manage the mountain without too much strain, and had I been on my own, I’m sure that would have been true; however, I was not on my own. There were a couple of high school guys from our group that were not in any shape to be climbing a mountain in Colorado. It didn’t take long for them to start lagging behind and when I noticed them drifting farther and farther back in the line, I realized what my day was going to be about. I realized with a jolt why I was in good shape and why I had done all that running back home… it was about this moment and these two guys. Whatever it took, I was going to get Josh and Marcus up that mountain.
In no time at all my pleasant trot up the side of Chrysolite changed dramatically into a serious physical challenge as I loaded Marcus’ backpack on top of my own, wrapped Josh’s sweatshirt around my already laden waist and grabbed those pretty large guys in turn, inviting them to lean on me and walk. All of a sudden I was using my bag of encouragement tricks on myself internally… “Just one step at a time, Lee, and then the next. Come on, you can do this.” Josh was heavy and he was discouraged. I just tried to keep him talking and tried to make him laugh. I gave him everything I had that day and I’m not ashamed to say that I barely made it to the top. I asked him if he’d ever seen anything like these mountains and he said, “I’ve never really been out of Oak Ridge before.” When we made it to the top and you could see the continental divide and the most majestic peaks in all directions for miles and miles, my tears froze onto my face as I told Josh, “Open your eyes brother, and look…
That day I thought about all the stuff Jesus said about serving people, about laying down your life instead of holding onto it and I remembered John 15 where He said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” I know I didn’t die for Josh or anything, but I gave my whole self away that day, and I remember this one moment when we were close to the top… my legs were burning, my back was creaking, my lungs were empty and my heart was full! I had the hardest time holding back the tears that kept wanting to jump on out there! We weren’t even to the top yet, but it wasn’t the mountains that made me burst with joy… I was giving my life away for someone else and in the midst of extreme pain and exhaustion, I was happy; outrageously filled and totally, totally happy. You really should try it sometime…
Some kid pics:
4 years ago