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Part 5: Clearing skies and frozen boots...The journey home.

Just as predicted by my satellite GPS weather app, the skies cleared around noon on Wednesday. But the winds remained and in the bright sunshine I quickly went to work. I grabbed all of our wet clothes and strung up a large clothesline. In all my years of camping I had never really used a clothesline in camp! I made sure that we kept our feet dry by using gallon ziplock bags as boot lines (not THOSE ziplock bags...those bags got rinsed out in Reavis Creek thank you very much). I got a fire going with the wood that Leah had methodically collected our first afternoon at Reavis Ranch. I scoured the area for bits and bobs of our gear that had been tossed about during the storm. The storm that lasted 21 HOURS....that we SPENT IN A TENT. That storm which was supposed to be "intermittent showers." The only thing intermittent about it was my belief that we would not perish.

Wednesday afternoon passed in a blur and as the sun dipped lower in the western sky so did the temperature. Although the sun had provided warmth and comfort to us, the max temperature that day was in the high 40s to low 50s. Remember Leah's request for Spring Break? "I want to go somewhere warm and dry." Had I met my daughter's request? I had not....I had instead taken her off the grid where we spent...wait for it...21 HOURS INSIDE A TENT.

After a hearty meal we climbed back into our sleeping bags and rejoiced in the fact that the tent was not moving anymore!

The next morning we awoke to clear skies and temperatures in the 20s. As we slipped our feet into our boots we were met with an unusual crunching sound. The boots had frozen solid. Also our water bottles were frozen solid. And our water filtration system. We got a fire going and boiled creek water and thawed out our filter system and our water bottles. We had a quick breakfast and broke camp.

One advantage of hiking uphill on day #1 was that we got to go downhill on day #4.

Note the snow on the mountains in the distance!
We made excellent time and once again I was grateful for the warm sunshine and the relatively cool temperatures. I had purchased hiking poles for both of us especially for this trip and the use of hiking poles was key to allowing me to develop a good rhythm. As we hiked a tune popped into my head. I couldn't remember the words (not unusual for me) but I loved the beat. Mile after mile that tune kept me going. I knew it was from a song that we had heard at a recent concert sponsored by WGTS but for the life of me I had no idea of the lyrics...

Finally we reached the trailhead and climbed back into our Jeep for the drive back to Phoenix. We had survived! We were elated and exhausted. Everything I had on was filthy and muddy. After dropping Leah at the hotel I had to pick up some clothes (and shoes) to wear on the plane! Let me tell you, when you walk into a Target with a four day growth of beard and covered in mud, people give you a WIDE berth. We slept in splendor that night following a wonderful meal and the next day we boarded our Southwest flight back to BWI. We had been through quite an adventure!


In reflecting upon the trip I made some resolutions. First of all, I gave up drinking coffee and soft drinks. Water was so crucial on the trail and having to pump the muddy creek water through that filter made me appreciate clean drinking water in a brand new way. Secondly, I truly felt that we had faced real physical danger in a way that I never had before...we were really isolated at Reavis Ranch. No roads. No shelter except our tent. No ranger station just down the road. We were alone in a way which I had never imagined. Not sure it is to be recommended but it is a pretty profound experienced. Thirdly, I felt connected to my Faith in a deep and meaningful way. When I called my wife upon our return to civilization she was excited about a sermon that she had recently listed to online. The sermon featured a discussion of Paul's Letter to Titus - the very passage that I had read in the tent at the height of the storm. Finally, about that tune that was playing in my head on the hike back...I eventually figured out the song. It was "Point to you" by We Are Messengers. Here are some of the lyrics:

I need a miracle
Some healing for my heart
I need a revelation
A brand new start
I want simplicity
Where I can rest
But I need a miracle to put my past to death

I know You want my heart
My bruises and my scars
I'm coming as I am
The only way I can
I can't forget from where I've come
And what my heart's been rescued from
Yeah when they ask me who
I owe my whole life to
I point to You
I point to You

People say that I've lost myself
I'll say I'm found in You
People ask where does my story end
I'll say it starts with You
I know You want my heart
My bruises and my scars

I'm coming as I am
The only way I can

About a month after our epic hiking trip circumstances changed dramatically for me at Dominion. After 20 years I have been offered a brand new start. I am coming as I am...the only way I can. I point to You.