Friday, July 27, 2007

The Canada Diaries: part 5

July 20th, Day 6:

There is a point where constant rain changes what seems important. Cameras and journals and Bibles remain hidden anywhere there remains some hope of keeping them dry. Periods of silence on the trail become more frequent. It comes with a slow resignation that the sun is not going to come out, and that the only way back to base camp is through the rain. At that point, finding the trail, eating meals, and staying warm take precedence over everything else. Still, there is much joy in doing it all as a community.

I have been completely impressed by our kids, who have hardly voiced a word of complaint. Most of yesterday’s journey, stressful though it may have been, was marked by attempts to maintain a spirit of laughter and encouragement. After a journey down a snow-covered boulder field, we finally left the snow behind us. My own spirits rose when we passed through a section of thick, slimy mud. I fell at one point, and could only grin as I looked at my mud-coated jacket and rain pants. I guess I love mud just about anywhere I find it.

The last section of the trail, however, was a low point for almost everyone. Having found a puddle where our campsite was supposed to be, we decided to press on for another hour and a half (which became two) through thick Alders. The soaking wet journey through a never-ending mass of face-whipping branches was almost too much. Thankfully, our campsite was a beautiful, rocky area overlooking the foggy valley below. Dinner was delivered to our tents again, and Aly crawled in later to join our little warming hut. She and I laughed rather hysterically when, after deciding to sleep in bras rather than wet shirts, we found that our trail-ripe bodies were too sticky to be comfortable. We cracked up and put our shirts back on, realizing that it was we, rather than notoriously giggly high school girls, who were breaking the wilderness silence with late night snickers and (partially) stifled guffaws.

Today began with more Alders and finally dropped us onto the familiar logging road that would lead us home. We did a short solo hike on the last section, where I pondered the week and the Scripture that had started to be woven into the way I see my world. When the boats finally came for us at the dock, I rode back to base camp on the smaller craft with Aly, and we had a few minutes to express a shared gratitude for friendship as we waited for the others to arrive. It caught me by surprise to discover such a kindred spirit in her this week, and I hope that someday I will find myself sitting across the table from her, drinking coffee and talking about life and faith.

When all were on shore, we made our way to camp, several of us taking a freezing cold but much needed shower before eating dinner. With full bellies, we headed down to a gathering with the other groups, who had likewise endured longs days of heavy drops and light drizzles, chilling winds and thick clouds. It was good to hear stories and to sit in an atmosphere of joy and laughter about the experience. Our group ended the evening huddled in a tent, talking about what we surrendered on the mountain two days before (I confessed that I had not been able to do it), shared what it is we hope to take home with us (other than soggy clothes, of course), and spent some time affirming one another. Despite droopy eyes, it was a beautiful time. Now we cram into a tent for one last time, and I am suddenly realizing what a family I have found and how sad I am to leave them. I feel like I should be heading home to find them all a natural part of my daily life.

They gave us dry sleeping bags for the night. Nothing could feel better.

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