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}

Whether We Perceive It or Not

Cool mountain air drifted in through our open window, carrying high-pitched beeps and deep rumblings that broke into my slumber. I lay in the dark of our tiny room at the back of the lodge and tried to place it. A tractor? A road grater? I recognized that sound. I knew what it wasn’t but not what it was. And then I remembered. It was a snow groomer. I recalled seeing one as twilight settled across the mountain the afternoon before, its headlights flickering between the distant trees as it lumbered across the slope like something straight out of a {Continue Reading}

A Great Deal Of Good

Two Septembers ago my family spent a few weeks in South Dakota. It wasn’t a vacation; it was a working trip. My husband tucked us away in the hills and commuted every morning into Rapid City. The kids and I did schoolwork and read and whiled away the remains of the day until he came back home. What we did not do was spend much time outdoors. At least, we did not spend much time outdoors without him, thanks to the overzealously detailed Beware of the Mountain Lion literature prominently displayed in the home we rented. Two pages of tiny-typed description featured six photographs of poses a {Continue Reading}

Roads in Transition, Part 2

On December 12 the National Park Service posted a news release to inform the public that Yellowstone’s interior roads would open on December 15, just as predicted. Yellowstone’s fall and winter travelers knew when the road crews would start to let the snow build, when they’d get dangerous, and when they’d be safe for snow machines. They knew. Sometimes I wish I knew. You know, about changes, about transitions. About the things I’m waiting for and the ones I’m dreading. I imagine that a little more information would help me hang on. Often, a more accurate assessment would be that I desperately {Continue Reading}

Room, Or No?

The year I got married, my husband’s mom told me she’d read that the Christmas season brings thirty-nine additional items to a woman’s already overflowing to-do list. At the time I thought the number seemed a wee bit overstated but with age and experience, I’ve learned that the exact number doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, it’s enough. More than enough. We address cards and clean houses. We go to programs and the post office. We buy and we bake.  We decorate. We deliver. In no time, the pages of our calendars are crammed with concerts and gatherings. There’s no room {Continue Reading}

Roads in Transition

The sun dawned in the steely sky and peeked through trees veiled by the falling snow. It had begun the night before and lingered, fine and heavy, through the day. “It’s slick,” my son told me when he returned from his mid-day Calc class. I must have looked concerned, because he amended his statement. “The roads were fine. It’s the parking lot that was bad.” Of course the roads were in better shape than the parking lot—the DOT turns the crews loose before the first flake hits the ground. They work to keep the roads neat and tidy, safe surfaces for {Continue Reading}

Anchor

Once in a while we encounter the remains of a colossal tree on the trail. Sometimes we find an immense trunk laying on the ground rather than stretched to the sky. Usually, though, it’s a remnant of a root system tipped into the air that gets our attention. We always stop when we see a tangled mass that once anchored a tree. They’re beautiful, but not in the traditional way. They’re gnarled and convoluted, but they’re strong. They’re huge so they can hold a tree fast in the face of intense mountain weather . They make me consider the condition of my own roots. So here’s the {Continue Reading}