Much, much easier but still a difficult hike. Several huge differences this time. First, I experienced no panic. There were a very few moments during which I was mildly frightened, nothing more. Second, now I am stronger, better balanced, more sure-footed, and more aware of my both my abilities and my limitations. This time, I knew I could do the hike. This time, the challenges were enjoyable.
One thing that made it easier is that during the past two weeks of hiking, I learned and practiced the 5 S Techniques of Hiking:
- scooching -- sliding down a rock on your butt
- scrambling – using your hands as well as your feet to get up a mountain
- smearing – pressing your heel against a rock and then letting your toe press into it
- stemming – pressing your outer arms and legs into a slot to keep yourself from falling
The first time I hiked in the slots canyon, I had mastered only the fifth S although I was called on to use all of them. This time I was able to properly execute techniques 1 through 4 as well.
What kept me going that first time? I had my supportive husband and two really great guides which certainly helped. But the two biggest reasons I was able to complete the hike were adrenalin and prayer.
I behaved, really and truly, like I was fighting to keep myself alive. I was afraid I would die, fall right off the side of the mountain and into the pit of the canyon. And the adrenalin had my heart pounding hard for most of that hike. Almost every fear-filled step, I prayed for the strength to just keep going and to complete the hike safely.
On this repeat trip that, while I appreciated the beauty of the surroundings and had a couple of conversations with God to thank him for it all, I wasn’t talking to Him nonstop like I had done the first time when I was so scared. “Hello, God? It’s me, Marie, and I’m in trouble. I need your help. . . . again.” I guess that’s pretty normal. As the saying goes, “There are no atheists in foxholes,” and, for me, that first slots hike was life-threatening danger.
Just as my kids often call on me when they are in trouble or frightened and seldom when life is going well, I realized I had done the same thing with God. But I don’t want God to be simply my foul-weather friend. I want to talk with Him when I’m neither scared or asking for something. When I am able to listen. When I am ripe to learn– about Him, about me, about life. It is during those calm, sweet, low-key moments together that our relationship will flourish.
My relationship with God is the one relationship I will have my whole life long, and that relationship I want on very solid ground.