How to Foster Hope–Any Time of Year

It was one of the first hikes we took together, my husband and I. It wasn’t long—only a few miles, but one long stretch was steep. The descent wasn’t bad, and the destination—a steel suspension bridge spanning a canyon in the middle of the wilderness—was worth the trip down and even back up. Still, that thigh-burning return haul reigns in my memory, especially when we consider taking any trail with the word “steep” in the description. Swagged across the slope like twinkle-lights on a Christmas tree, the switchbacked Hellroaring Creek trail supposedly moderated the mountain face into a more manageable {Continue Reading}

Navigating This Season {whatever it is} By Faith

My legs rebelled at the unfamiliar sensation of sand rearranging itself under my feet. For my family, a typical hike meant packed-dirt paths through deciduous woods in Iowa or evergreen forests out west, not shifting sand in a desert canyon. But here we were, tackling new terrain. We walked along, faces tilted toward the slim slice of sky. We were at Capitol Reef National Park, hiking the narrow passageway of the Capitol Gorge trail. At the turnaround point, we noticed a sign for a spur trail. We could turn around or we could continue two-tenths of a mile up a {Continue Reading}

Our Steps Matter

After clocking out from the early shift at the gift shop, I left the Inn for a long, leisurely stroll through the Upper Geyser Basin. Beginning at Old Faithful, I walked past lesser-known features and family favorites as I made my way to my destination: Morning Glory Pool. I didn’t need to invest any thought about how to get there. The boardwalk laid the course and I followed. Signs along the way were clear: STAY ON THE TRAIL. Geyser basins are dangerous places. In some areas, the thinnest of crusts separate our frail human frames from the seething intensity below. {Continue Reading}

Walking in Tension

Crossing the empty parking lot, I zipped my fleece jacket to my chin and drew my fingers into my sleeves. It was August and already the mountain morning air held heavy hints of the coming autumn–known in Yellowstone as “early winter.” Side by side, my dad and I climbed the sloping path to Tower Fall. During my growing up years, Tower had always been a regular stop when my family visited Yellowstone. That first year, its 132-foot plunge impressed me but it was the large boulder perched at the brink that held my attention. I was sure it, like us, {Continue Reading}

Summer into Fall Challenge

I was finishing up the dinner dishes when my daughter, sixteen, slipped into the house and said, “You might want to stop and come outside. The sky is beautiful. I don’t think you want to miss it.” I’ve learned to listen to that girl. She pays attention. She’s attuned to beauty. And she loves to share it. She’s been at this sky-sharing practice for nearly half her life. The first time she did this, she was nine and there was a little more drama involved. She didn’t just slip into the house. Her arrival was accompanied by the crashing of {Continue Reading}

All We Need is a Little Light

My husband and I have been hiking for years. Years. Still, we don’t always get it right out on the trail. We knew it we would be cutting it close. But, we hopped out at the picnic area, grabbed a late lunch, and prepared to hit the trail to Harney Peak, the highest point in the Black Hills. My husband filled our hydration packs while I reached into our well-stocked supply of both nutritious and just-for-fun trail food. And then, at 3:00 in the afternoon, after an evening and part of a long day in the vehicle, we set out {Continue Reading}

Embrace the Delays and Enjoy the Scenery

Eighteen hours into a twenty-hour road trip from our door to Yellowstone’s South Entrance, my high spirits tumbled at the sight of a sign. A happy-looking sign, it cast a shadow on my plan to get off the road and onto the trail as quickly as possible. It read: Expect delays and great scenery. It was a road construction sign in disguise. And I understood why. In Iowa, where I live, open roads and flat terrain allow travelers in construction zones to slow more often than stop. When a full stop is required, it’s usually short, and governed by a {Continue Reading}

Thriving in an Unfamiliar Life

My great-grandma was a woman of summer. She kept a garden. She grew the flowers and vegetables that graced her table. She picked the berries that topped our ice cream. Every once in a while, I helped her in the garden or the berry patch and it always shocked me when she showed up wearing pants. The garden was the only place I ever saw her dressed that way and even there she wore a dress over them, with a long-sleeved shirt and a wide-brimmed hat. She was dressed to work. Right here are four important lessons Great-grandma taught with {Continue Reading}

What We Already Know About Navigating by Faith

Leaving the comforting bustle of the crowd, I stepped off the boardwalk onto the geyserite-strewn path. This was my first solo hike. I was leaving from the Old Faithful area, where I lived and worked, to make a six-mile round trip journey to a backcountry waterfall. The first section of the trail skirted the edge of the Upper Geyser Basin before crossing a highway, passing through another geyser basin, and entering deep forest. I breathed deep, inhaling the strong scents of sulfur and pine mingling in the crisp morning air. Just beyond the boardwalk, I stopped at the trailhead sign, {Continue Reading}