Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: MAP (01/31/19)
- TITLE: From Sage to Summit
By Francie Snell
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Jeremy furrowed his brow as he scanned the map. “What’s this?”
“This, little brother, is our next hiking trip.”
“Hiking trip? He gave a deep sigh. “Where to this time?”
Lance pointed to a place on the map. “This is Badwater Basin in Death Valley, California. It’s the lowest point in the entire United States, 279 feet below sea level.
Jeremy slowly nodded. “Yeah, okaay and sooo?”
Lance moved his finger six inches across the paper. “This is Mt Whitney. She’s the highest mountain in the contiguous United States, 14,505 feet, and only 67 miles from Death Valley, as the crow flies. Isn’t that cool? The highest and the lowest places in the whole United States are just a short hike apart.
“A short hike? Wow, that is cool.”
Lance playfully nudged his brother’s shoulder. “So, what do ya say we do it? From the lowest valley to the highest mountain top, what do ya say?“
“Jeremy studied the tightly drawn lines on the topo map indicating the contours and steep elevation of Mt. Whitney. “How long is this hike going to take?”
“About 5 to 6 days.”
“Hmmm…maybe…I’ll think about it.”
Jeremy meticulously laced his thick leather boots high on his shin as he pondered the miles before them. Still, in the morning hours, he could see in the distance heat vapors rising from the desert floor. “How hot ya think it’ll get today?”
Lance rose to his feet and picked up his backpack, then wiped the sweat from his brow. “Oh, anywhere from 107 and 120... not too bad.”
A short distance down the trail a scorpion crept across the path. Lance nudged it with his walking stick. The creature curled its tail and lashed at the stick, then scurried off into the sagebrush. “Wouldn’t wanna be stung by one of those.”
“That’s for sure, or a snake… especially a Mohave Green, the most potent venom of any rattlesnake in North America, and more deadly than a scorpion. How much further do we have to go?”
Lance pulled the map from his back pocket and flipped it open. He studied it closely. “Looks like we still have quite a ways before we reach the town.”
“Ok, well, how ‘bout we pick up the pace then? This place is beautiful, but I can do without the creepy, crawly things.” And as they continued down the trail, Jeremy remembered a verse he had learned as a child. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil…”
“Amen to that brother,” Lance said, “Amen to that.”
The sun was setting behind the mountains when the two men, dusty and sunburned, lumbered into the town of Lone Pine. At an elevation of 3727 feet, the town was located at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It was there they found a hostel and spent the night.
At sunrise Lance and Jeremy gazed up in awe at towering granite spires rising up into an incredibly blue sky twenty miles to the west. Remnants of snow peeked brilliantly out from various crevices along the mountain range.
After thumbing a ride up the paved road, a half hour later they arrived at Whitney Portal, the gateway to Mount Whitney. At the trailhead, a huge billboard beckoned their attention with requirements and suggestions in ensuring a safe trip for the remaining 11 miles of a grueling uphill climb.
“Ice ax and crampons… what are those?” Jeremy asked as he began reading the list.
Lance shrugged. “Dunno.”
The warnings went on: group separation, darkness, lightning, dehydration, altitude sickness, injury … possible death. Included was a huge photo of a rescue attempt, complete with helicopter, that read: ‘Don’t let this happen to you.’
Lance and Jeremy glanced at each other with looks of uncertainty. “Sure we should do this?” Jeremy asked.
Lance shook his head. “Didn’t think it would be this hard. How ‘bout we just walk a few more miles today and take some pictures.”
“Got my vote.”
And that evening, after a successful day hike, they arrived safely back at camp, planning for their next trip.
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. Prov. 16:9
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