A Sign in the Night

Porterville Recorder - - RELIGION - Judy Low­ery

Al’s sis­ter Ann flew from Jack­son Hole, Wy­oming to Michi­gan last week­end and stayed with us for a few days. Dur­ing our visit, she shared her lat­est ad­ven­ture—scal­ing the high­est peak in the Te­ton Range in north­west Wy­oming. The Grand Te­ton is 13,775 feet high and is def­i­nitely a chal­lenge to climbers, re­quir­ing the right climb­ing equip­ment and ex­pe­ri­ence as well as stamina and courage.

The idea to climb the gran­ite peak came from a dis­cus­sion be­tween Ann and a few friends from high school days, all avid out­doors peo­ple. First, they talked about the thrill of ski­ing down “Cor­bet’s Couloir” in the win­ter, a “leap of faith” run even for the best skiers. Ann and one of the women, Lisa, thought it sounded ex­cit­ing. Then the same friend sug­gested that Ann and Lisa add climb­ing the Grand Te­ton to their “bucket” list. They liked the idea and set goals to do both!

Af­ter conquering Cor­bet’s Couloir on skis, they be­gan pre­par­ing to climb “the Grand.” How­ever, in late July, Lisa had to drop out due to an in­jured foot. Ann planned to con­tinue with the two day ex­pe­di­tion led by a lo­cal out­fit, at­tend­ing its manda­tory climb­ing school prior to the climb.

Un­for­tu­nately on the morn­ing of the as­cent, it was pour­ing rain and snow­ing at higher el­e­va­tions. A last minute de­ci­sion was made to can­cel the trip. She was dis­ap­pointed and sad, won­der­ing if there would be an­other op­por­tu­nity.

It came sooner than ex­pected, when an ex­pe­ri­enced climber of­fered to guide her up the moun­tain. The only draw­back was that he wanted to do it all in one day. Ann had trained hard and felt that she was ready.

She and her leader started on the trail early one Sun­day morn­ing. It hap­pened to be cold and windy that day, ne­ces­si­tat­ing the choice of a dif­fer­ent route to the top. When they reached the place where the more tech­ni­cal climb­ing be­gan, they roped to­gether, putting hard­ware into the rock as pro­tec­tion against a fall.

“I had no idea what it was go­ing to be like,” she com­mented about the as­cent. “I didn’t look down too much!” They reached the top around 2:30 pm. “It was pretty ex­cit­ing. We made great time and had the sum­mit to our­selves.”

But dur­ing the de­scent, Ann dropped down sev­eral feet on the loose rock, land­ing hard on her left foot and sprain­ing her an­kle. She and the leader parted when they reached a place called the “Lower Sad­dle,” think­ing that she would be okay on her own if he went on ahead and that she could be back to her car be­fore dark.

With a sore an­kle how­ever, the de­scent be­came more dif­fi­cult than ex­pected. Dark­ness soon crept in. Ann only had the light from her cell­phone and head­lamp to nav­i­gate through one steep sec­tion of boul­ders. Then she reached a spot where the way for­ward seemed to dis­ap­pear with no trail mark­ers in sight or cell phone ser­vice avail­able to call for help.

Her only land­marks were the Te­tons be­hind her and a patch of dirt next to a small creek where she was stand­ing. She be­gan walk­ing to­wards the place where she thought the trail might be, mak­ing her way around boul­ders only to end up at that same patch of dirt.

With wet feet from ac­ci­den­tally step­ping into the wa­ter, she started out in an­other di­rec­tion, hop­ing and pray­ing to find the way. When she found her­self back at the start­ing point again, she be­gan to get wor­ried. “God please help me find this trail. Help me fo­cus!”

It was past mid­night when Ann crawled over a boul­der and spot­ted some­thing bright re­flect­ing in the beam of light—a park ser­vice sign on a stake. “It was my hal­lelu­jah mo­ment!” she ex­claimed. “I had found the trail!”

About a month later, she re­turned and stood on the same patch of dirt. The trail was vis­i­ble from there; but of course that night it had been dark and boul­ders had blocked the way. “I was so close. I spent three hours go­ing in cir­cles.”

What a story! We were grate­ful that it had a good end­ing!

Light re­flect­ing through the dark­ness to show the way... a sign...a star...this re­minds me of an­other story...

“When they (Magi from the east) saw the star, they were over­joyed. On com­ing to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and wor­shiped him.” Matthew 2:10-11a NIV Judy Low­ery lives in Michi­gan. The Good News col­umn ap­pears reg­u­larly in The Porter­ville Recorder. You can read more at Judy’s blog, good­newswith­judy.blogspot.com.


Ann Low­ery (Al’s youngest sis­ter) on the Grand Te­ton trail.

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