Tuesday, January 12, 2016 at 1:30 in the morning I arrived back to my home at Camp Eagle after a week-long trip in Big Bend National Park, Texas. Big Bend was the last backpacking trip of Walkabout, therefore making it a momentous trip, but that’s not without saying that the advertisement of the trip is said to be the most difficult trip in Walkabout. The reason Big Bend is labeled as one of the most difficult trips in Walkabout is probably because of the extremes of adventures that are encountered, such as the 31 miles of backpacking/hiking over the duration of three days, following an entire day dedicated to riding bikes 21 miles down jeep roads, and lastly two days focused on kayaking 20 miles on the Rio Grande river. Sounds painfully fun doesn’t it? Well, allow me to share with you my adventures, subjective opinions about each activity and my humor combined all into one.
Backpacking is toilsome and difficult no matter what standpoint I look at it from, but I admit that it is worthwhile from seeing a new perspective as I’ve struggled up the mountain just to admire my success. However, I have truly found that backpacking is NOT my passion, not to mention I think that backpacking is cruel punishment for carrying the bare minimum, and I find it incredibly exhausting, especially when ascending uphill with a pack that weighs around 50-60 pounds. But if I’m being optimistic about being a camp counselor, and assuming that a 50 pound kid wants a piggy back ride, I can give them one, but as long as they have straps, I’m set. I’m only half kidding with the last sentence…
Really though, backpacking has its benefits, in fact many, but it’s not a hobby; it’s a lifestyle and it’s one that requires a great deal of mental and physical strength, although, not for the faint of heart. However, I admit, I have enjoyed the unique experience that has marked each trip with unforgettable adventure. From the first trip at camp, where I was in a place I had never been before, with people I never met before, doing something I’ve never done before. To sumitting a mountain in a place that I detest and learning that sometimes it’s not about being ready as much as it is about being willing. Even to experiencing a chilly 20 degree with windchill every night on the mountain, and being happy with jello water to keep me warm, but being pleased when the last day broke out in warmth. Not to mention the feeling of pride knowing that as a group we covered 26 miles in 6 days as I recall. To the last backpacking trip in Walkabout where I realized how big and meaningful God is, in addition that I’m more capable than I give myself credit for.
Hold on to your seat! no wait, hold onto your handle bars! Keep your feet on the pedals! or just hold onto everything for dear life because it’s going to be a fast bumpy road ahead!
There should be warning signs for biking down jeep roads in the hill country of Texas, especially the one’s at Big Bend National Park. No, I’m not kidding, doing this kind of stuff is real rugged adventure. Let me explain the types of terrain and obstacles I endeavored while riding and how I respond to each of them.
Not uphill, I hate uphill… well I guess I’m going uphill all, as I shift my gears to make it up the hill. Hey, Heidi, I made it up the hill without getting off my bike! You see, I struggled with going uphill and Heidi made me practice around camp in December. Well, I can’t make it up this hill, so I guess I’ll just dismount my bike, as I walk up the hill. Okay, time to get back on my bike.
Oh, this is going to be fun. Oh my word, I’m going too fast, as I feather my breaks. That’s a big rock, I should avoid it. Oh no, I almost fell off my bike! I wonder if the other side is less bumpy? as I move over Nope this side is defiantly not less bumpy. That was actually kind of fun. Okay, I’m glad that’s over.
This is literal hell on earth for rookie mountain bikers. I want to cruise down this, but if I stop pedaling I will lose momentum. Ugh, this is really slippery… I’m fishtailing everywhere. I seriously almost fell off my bike there. I actually have no traction on this terrain.
This is bumpy. My butt is going to hate me after this. Maybe if I go down the middle it won’t be as bumpy… nope still bumpy. This is the worst. I’m so glad that it’s over. My butt hurts.
This is dangerous. People are actually riding through this? nope not me, I’m getting off my bike. After a friend calls out, “this isn’t so bad!”
right before she crashes. This is crazy and I’m staying off my bike until it’s safe again.
This stuff is a trap! Oh no, don’t and sink. Oh man, that’s a sand patch. No, there’s gravel too, what is this? Okay, I have to keep going. I’m slowing down, no, must keep peddling.
As you can see mountain biking is a whirlwind of emotions, but totally with it at the end of the day to say that I’ve biked 21 miles of jeep roads in the hill country of Texas in Big Bend National Park, and I didn’t get scraped up, or bloody, or any other serious injuries, or fall off my bike. It’s a proud accomplishment to save that I’ve survived and thrived with a sore butt afterwords.
I personally enjoy kayaking, specifically when I’m doing it alone, because it’s not as technical as mountain biking, or as strenuous as backpacking, but rather peaceful. The first day kayaking I was in my own kayak. I enjoyed getting to go at my own pace, being able to be alone with my thoughts and admiring the breathtaking scenery around me. I have to admit though, nothing feels better than taking off wet rain gear after a day of kayaking 6 miles and changing into warm dry base layers and clothing. I also loved having bible study around a nice campfire, and a warm sleeping bag awaiting my restful slumber. The second day however is completely another story. I woke up warm and comfortable; not wanting to get out of my sleeping back and put on wet rain gear from the day before, plus I wanted to kayak alone again, but that wasn’t going to happen. It was difficult being with a partner… lack of communication mainly, the frustration of balancing momentum and steering the boat simultaneously and in the end being behind the entire group. At mid-day my partner and I unanimously decided to we needed to swap partners. However, when we did swap partners, I fell in to the freezing river, lending myself to start hyper ventilating and freaking out. You could say I was some genius because failing to swap places in the same kayak by leaning on the other kayak next to me, all because I didn’t how to do what I was doing. After that it was smooth sailing until I had to go bobo aka the bathroom, and running across the river and climbing uphill just to go bobo in Mexico as everyone laughed at me. After all my embarrassing catastrophes and 5 more miles of kayaking everyone got to the hot springs, and it was by far amazing because it just felt fantastic to be hot and relax. Not to mention it was the closet thing some of us got to a bath in a week, although we still didn’t smell much better than before we got in.
In the end, you see Big Bend was a fun trip full of good and weird memories that will last a life time, but at the same time it’s bittersweet knowing this was the last backpacking adventure. However, now onto the next portion of this update: humility.
Coming back from Christmas break started the second semester of Walkabout, and for me it has turned out to beginning anew and turning a new leaf. It hasn’t been easy though, as I’m having to put everything from the first semester behind me. Such as my anxieties and annoyances. You see, I spent much of the first semester worrying about going back to New Mexico where my family lives after walkabout and the holidays. I was extremely consumed by this irrational fear of going back, but I have since come to realize that if God wanted me to stay there for my family or friends for that matter, I would have been at Camp Eagle’s sister camp; Glorieta. I see now how that just afflicted me deeply and distracted me from fully appreciating where God has me now. I remember during one of the town days going to Wal-Mart, finding and then buying a sticker that reads, It’s okay. I’m here now. I got it to serve as a reminder to live in the moment and that God has me in Texas, not New Mexico, but I have the feeling that people interpreted it differently, as though this sticker was me trying to make a deal about my presence wherever my Nalgene was . To this day I still have the sticker on my Nalgene with a Texas Camp Eagle sticker that reads, adventure, relationships, truth among other stickers that all started with me needing a tangible and gentle reminder everyday for my mind to exist with my body. I now take it as a humble reminder to abandon my fears whenever I’m in, or going back to New Mexico. Although I still struggle with other anxieties, such as friendships. I started to reflect back on the so-called friendships I’ve had since I was 10 years old when I was 15 and at that point I evaluated and struggled with the thought of I ever had an authentic friendship, or if they were healthy for me as I surrounded myself with these people. If truth be told I’ve never been good at friendships over the past 9 years because so many people have come and gone, while I wonder what did I do to make people leave my life. Since then I’ve had this hidden desire to always be liked by people, even though over the years I’ve learned that really only need a small group of people and God, but it’s all putting it to application now. I remember before Walkabout people telling me, it’ll be okay, you’ll be with your people. People being humans my age and skepticism because in the past hanging out with people my age has never turned out so well.
Now the story begins with how God humbled me around Friday, January 15, 2016 around midnight. It was a town day on the 14th, and I had fun hanging out with people, but at the same time I felt empty because that morning I thought everyone left and I had been at camp alone, as it turns out I wasn’t. However, that night I started writing my thoughts about feeling as though I still haven’t made any friends and how I felt like an outcast. I was in tears, just really frustrated and have been for a while with how people all have their buddy and I have no one. I don’t like cliques, I push people away because I’m terrified of people getting close to me and believe that these people don’t know me at all. It all has boiled down to the fear that I’m going to leave Walkabout without having the acclaimed authentic relationships that Camp Eagle promotes. God is using this fear to His glory, as I cried out with a sea of emotions in my tears and bursting at the seams because I have felt so far away from God for so long. God broke me down, as He came near to me wrapped in love, whispering to me, “focus more on your relationship with Me than with people. I satisfy you, people do not. Seek Me with your all, because you’ve given too much attention to people, rather than Me, your Creator. I know you more than these people. Stop worrying about how others see you, but rather how I see you. I am your joy, fight for it! There is a time for friends and a time for no friends. Remember you are My friend.”
I see God showing me that if I have a relationship with Him no other relationship matters and my friendship with these people may improve, but if not a relationship with God is far more important than any.
Now it’s a matter of putting my faith in God as He unravels His plans for me and I’m seeing now God shutting the door to stay at Camp Eagle, and I’m okay with that because I’m having faith that God has something better. Even though it’s hope in the unknown I’m seeing God move the path for me to go back to Michigan from what I see. My prayer is now that God allows me to work at a camp this summer as a counselor even though people are looking down on this idea for me, but I have confidence that God has prepared me to do this job and I’m praying that this is His will. Today I chose to live for meaning in hope that God isn’t finished with me yet, and He’s taking my dreams and transforming hem for His glory! Today I turn a new leaf, and I leave behind my baggage as I embark on a new adventure though these last four months of Walkabout. I choose to give all that I have left to God and letting it shine through the rest of Walkabout. God I’m ready for You to move and show me where that is by love and humility. You know where I want to be and by faith I ask that you take me there.