Tales From the Trail-Guitar Lake to Mt Whitney

Into the mountains I go. To lose my mind and find my soul. img_0570

When we woke it was cold. I had smartly decided to wear a base layer under my hiking pants. I layered on a top base layer, a cold weather fleece, my down jacket, beanie, buff and my gloves. I was cold now but knew I’d warm in the climb. I put on my headlamp and unzipped myself from my tent. Immediately I noticed what appeared to be fire flies out in the night sky, which after taking a second look I realized where the headlamps of the hikers climbing Whitney ahead of us. Their lights danced in black space as they made their way up switchback after switchback in the freezing cold of the night.

The terrain of Whitney is rough and jagged. It’s granite boulders unfriendly. Sharp and serrated. As we started our way up we sludged through water running down the grassy slopes. The only green laying like a skirt at the bottom of this giant, granite treasure. My breathing was out of rythym and I wasn’t sure if the cause was the frigid cold, the accent or fear that had a grip on me. I can’t tell you why I was experiencing fear, other than worrying about altitude sickness, climbing in the dead of night or falling or quite possibly it was the fear of the unknown or the fear of failure.
As we climbed I could look out into the dark abyss below us and see the bobbing head lamps that reminded me of twinkling stars. I wondered how many would join us at the top for the sunrise.

Making it to Trail Crest was surreal. I had that a-ha moment of “I’m actually doing this!” Adrenaline rushed through my body. Trail Crest is the turn you take to the summit where the trail from Guitar Lake meets the Whitney Portal trail. It’s a staging area for the summit. Large packs are dropped and left here and slack packs are put on. The trial gets steeper and narrows at this point.

Previous to going to bed, we had packed our slack packs. Since we were returning to Guitar Lake we didn’t have to bring our big packs. We packed a small amount of food and enough water to get us to the summit and back.img_4946

Shortly after leaving Trail Crest I got ahead of K and K. J had decided that morning that she was going to skip the summit due to an injury from the day before. Being up Mt Whitney before she decided it wasn’t worth the risk to possibly take her out of the rest of the trip. At this point I was climbing alone in pitch black. No one ahead of me or behind me as far as I could see. I’m not gonna lie I was terrified! It was very empowering, scared me to death and allowed me to overcome some fears. I shook as I walked. I was cold and spilling over with unease. I had to get myself under control and allow my bravery to kick in. It was completely silent except for the wind on the side of the granite slab to my right. The other side a sheer drop. I learned right then I am a lot braver than I think I am. My entire world existed in a tiny dot of light from my headlamp. I couldn’t see further than 5 feet. As the trail narrowed I had a hard time being able to tell where I was going, a couple of times climbing over waist-high boulders dead center in the trail and watching every step I made as to make sure I planted my foot wisely. It was getting colder and colder and I was starting to get in to some snow and ice. I was anxious to reach the top and I was worried that I wouldn’t make it before the sunrise.img_0569

I prayed  and knew that God is not a God of fear. This calmed me. I was quickly reminded of all the fearful things He’s brought me through only to step to the other side of that fear and feel accomplished, free, able, unrestrained and….enough. I think moving past fear is healthy.  To do so is liberating. It changes you. You no longer feel the need to compromise or settle. And what’s funny is after you’ve smiled in the face of fear, you know you can never go back. You can’t go back into the unhappy relationship, the dead end job, the unhealthy friendship, the uneventful life, or the unloved and given-up dreams.  You won’t allow fear to trample you again. You may have the occasional whisper of fear, a hint that reminds you that you’re human, but it will never overtake you enough to disable you.

When I turned the final switch back I saw it. Silhouetted by the faint glow of the pre-risen sun. The hut! I made it. A sob choked out. Relief from my discomfort and a complete sense of joy filled me! A feeling of success washed over me. I went inside just enough to warm up a bit (the summit was in the low 20’s with a sharp, biting wind)  then I walked out to the summit table where ten others were perched waiting to be kissed by the sun. I sat alone and cried. I was overwhelmed, so caught up and grateful to be there right in this moment and as the sun rose I sat in praise! How awesomely, magnificent this gorgeous country is! How strong I am. How great our God is.

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*As I finish this blogpost I have just received confirmation of issue for another wildernesses permit for the JMT hiking southbound this time (SOBO) this July/Aug including, God willing, another summit of Mt Whitney!!

**Mt Whitney summit 14,505 feet

                                       May you always do what you’re afraid to do.

Day 26- Thankful For Home

Unknown-2We have moved a lot!  Since my hubs and I have been together, we have moved from California, to Idaho, to Minnesota and back to Idaho.  Whilst living in these various states, we have moved to different cities, and different homes.  Every one felt like home to us and our children.  It’s interesting to me when I run across people who for some reason are somewhat displaced.  Maybe waiting for a house to be built, and are in a “temp home”  maybe in between moving to a new city…and they say they cannot stand it, because it’s not home.

Greg and I have always had the feeling that Home is Where You Make It.  In all of our moving, every place felt like home…because, it was.  It was never the “dwelling” in which we were living.  It was the people, the family, the friends, the LOVE that made it our home.  I have told hubs that I could live in the plushest of mansions or the minimalist of huts, and it would be home as long as were were there together.  It’s true.  jolby-home-is-where-you-make-it-print-lg

Unknown-1You see, we learned years ago that our “things” are really only things.  Things on loan to us only for a short time.  Nothing we “own” is truly ours.  We know the Source for whom these things belong.  So for us, home is much more than our address and couches.

This week, we learned that our oldest is moving out of the state.  It was only a matter of time before this happened and we knew it.  Our middle is also moving out of the state.  In a few short weeks/months, we will have two children living in two different states.  We are so happy for them.  We knew to grow and to build careers that they wouldn’t stay here long.  So that leaves hubs and I wondering what to do?  Where to go?  We do not need this big house we are living in.  Our cub will graduate in 2.5 years…and then what?  Lot’s of praying is happening in the Nilges house right now.  Transitions will be happening.

UnknownIn talking to our older pups, they were astonished at the fact that we will be considering selling our house….we were met with “NO!” and “We want to bring our families here, eventually!”  “You cannot sell our home.”  Well, dear children, we are not selling our home.  I explained to them, that our house, this dwelling, is not what they think it is.  Coming home to anywhere that our family is, the love we share, the bond that is the NilgeFam5 is what true home is.  I had a friend say yesterday that “we have such a warm and loving home.”  I tend to think that has nothing to do with our address.

So today I am thankful for home.  A home full of love, affection, appreciation, family laughter, friendship, tenderness, messiness, affection, sensitivity, kindness, warmth, hospitality, favor, passion, snuggles, relationships, and appreciation.  I am thankful that we have been blessed with this house for now and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this home will be full of joy forever, wherever we are…even if it’s a tent, because the builder of this home is who makes it what is is.  A house of love, no matter demographics.  There is a difference between a house and home!

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~Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need. -Sarah Ban Breathnach

Day 24-Thankful For the L-Word

Love.

Is there anything better than love?  Being in love, loving someone else, feeling loved by your spouse, your family, your friends?  There are books about it.  Songs about it.  Poems about it.  Movies, art, and lectures on it.  It’s everywhere.  Inescapable even if you want to.

Today I am thankful for love.  Love is something of an anomaly.  It’s the biggest thing we crave but it can obliterate you within seconds.  Take our children for instance;  they are born and you cannot imagine a better feeling.  Your heart swells to unbelievable proportions.  It oozes from every crevasse of your being.  And then those children begin to grow and you start feeling a difference as they play on the playground, go to school the first time, or drive away in a car for the first time.  They start spreading their wings, and all you want is to hold on to them.  That love…can make you sick.  That love that you feel is now walking outside your body.  images

Or what about your family?  The love of family is an up in the air circus ride.  It can lift you up and toss you right back towards the ground.  It can be beautiful and coarse all at the same time.  On occasion you wonder how you can love someone so intensely and hate them all at the same time.  I think families have a way of calling you on things and behaviors that can build up and tear down.  They can be as sweet as honey or as bitter as acid.  Family love can leave you empty as well as overflowing, uplift or destroyed all in a matter of moments.  It’s a strange and unusual sort of love.

images-2The love of a spouse.  I have been with the hubs for 20 years.  We have moved all over the country, bought and sold houses, raised kids currently in the house and out on their own, traveled the World, argued, been in situations that we weren’t sure how we got into or how to get out, cried together, laughed together, prayed together; you name it, over twenty years there has been a multitude of life lived.  One thing about us, no matter the situation, is our fierce love and respect for one another.  It’s solid, resolute and unwavering.  It’s the thing of fairytales, chick flicks and romance novels.  It was truly orchestrated from above.  No other way around it.  When you meet and fall in love in a God-harmonized way, it is magical.  It’s a love that will never be severed.  images

Then….there’s God’s love.  Agape love.  So intense, so unconditional.  God’s shows us a love that transcends any earthly love.  It’s whole and complete.  Never failing.  His love reaches us beyond all circumstances.  It’s the highest sky and deepest ocean and nothing can separate us from it.  It’s never failing, and will never leave us abandoned.  He can pick up the most broken of people and put them back together with His love.  It’s earth-moving and tangible.  Isn’t that something?  Who doesn’t need that?images-1

love that God designed us to love and be loved.  He crafted our hearts to feel the intensity of this LOVE-emotion.  I love also that He has taught us how to love.  His “manual” is full of love.

Even on the worst days, I am thankful for love.  I am thankful that I feel.  I am thankful to know that no matter what this life hands to me, I am loved and am loved exceptionally and that I love exponentially.  Regardless of circumstance the love that fills me is outer-world, secure, stable, reliable, durable and hugely surpasses any love I will ever have on this earth.

I am thankful for that L-Word…even when my heart is walking around outside my body.. I know that something else is there that fills up every space perfectly and completely. Unknown