Sunday we hiked Winchester Mountain with a young couple from our church-- who are also part of our small group. What a delight. Both the company and the hike. Winchester Mountain is part of the North Cascades Mountain Range. The jewels of this hike lay at the base of the mountain; Twin glacier fed lakes, deep and rich in color.
The hike is much like the road to get up there-- switchbacks, smooth and dusty in places, other areas are roughed in rubble and more than a little sketchy. As in 'don't look down'. We gained an elevation of about 1300 feet as we climbed through crimson carpets into delicate alpine, all encircled with a rough windswept look. The elevation at the top of the mountain, where the Fire Lookout is, is 6521. The hike is about 3.5-4 miles round trip.
We took our time following the meandering trail. Mike and Julie, our young companions, are fit and trim and could have easily left us in the dust. Respectfully they requested that we set the pace. I hope we didn't frustrate them!! I needed frequent rest stops, to catch my (gasping) breath, soak my parched lips and also to take pictures! Everywhere we looked, especially this time of the year, is postcard worthy.
We took a much needed cookie break at one point--Julie had brought fresh homemade Monster Cookies--and stepped aside often to let other trekker's pass us by. Everyone and their dog was out yesterday-- and why not? Again, it's a rare thing to have such warm dry weather this time of the year and it affords us the time to truly appreciate the rich color schemes so famous for fall.
Our conversation as we hiked was as rich as the scenery as we tackled such topics as science and God. Julie is graduating this month from WWU with her Masters in Geology and while I could never recall all the wonderful information she gifted us with over rock formations and such, it was still a treat to have her share her knowledge. Finding Christians in the science world can be a little rare, Julie told us. We talked about the debatable beliefs of how old the earth really is and how God and the Creation Story fit together with scientific proof of hundreds of thousands of years of existence.
While we certainly cannot claim to have all the final answers, what we did agree on were these simple facts: I am a sinner, I need a Savior. Jesus, son of God, died to save me and I believe it, accept it, and will now live for Him and His Glory. How God created our world and how long it took.... that is challenging and perhaps even fun to discuss but what really matters is how is my heart and my relationship with My Creator?
As we chewed our cookies, we also chewed on things like how God is here with us now but He is also past and future. God is down in the valley but He is also at the same time, here on the mountain.
We picnicked at the top of Winchester, breathing in cool crisp air and views of Yellow Astor Butte, Lake Tomyhoi and Tomyhoi Mountain, American Border Peak and Larrabee Mountain. And of course, towering over all of them, our majestic mountain: Mt. Baker. We paused for pictures and more geological coaching, history lessons and map reading. And entwined with all of it was our Faith.
We came down with dusty tired feet and legs, sun kissed faces, and empty water bottles. But our hearts and minds were full. Full of memories made and lessons learned. Friendships deepened and our lives spiritually enriched.