Sunday, July 3, 2016

Belief and desire—a recap of Timpanogos for my grandpa

A friend of mine recently shared a video on social media. It claimed that in a study, one hundred elderly people facing death were asked what they most regret. And what they reported was not the things they had done, but the things they had not. If you haven't given much thought to how you got where you are today, let me explain the course of your life.

We may experience limitation and uncontrollable circumstance—all of us do in some way, some more than others—but what we accomplish in the midst of that comes about because of formed beliefs and desires. We live the lives we choose to live. These choices are based on desires we hold which are influenced by our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. And so, the course of our lives is ruled by the stronger of our competing beliefs and desires.

In making this claim I'm not referencing opportunities set aside for the privileged. I'm not suggesting you can have whatever you want if you set your mind on getting it, or that if you dream big you can be anything you want to be. That's fairytale fodder for graduation ceremonies and political conventions. Socio-economic status, race, sexual orientation, age, physical/mental ability, gender all play a role in what doors are more readily opened than others. But there are doors of belief within ourselves to which only we have access. 

Happiness doors. Hope doors. Humility doors. Faith in human goodness doors. Love doors. Satisfaction-in-a-hard-day's-work doors. Contentment doors. Gratitude doors. Peace doors. These doors rule our desires, rule our actions, rule our feelings about outcomes.

A couple of weeks ago, my grandpa admitted to me that he'd always wanted to hike Timpanogos, but life seemed to get in the way of ever making that desire a reality. If I could have my strongest desire I would have hiked the mountain with him.

Let me tell you about four of my defining doors of belief: flexibility, creativity, willingness to take risk, and tenacity.

I woke at 2 a.m., Saturday morning, dressed, slung my 25 lb. pack over my shoulder, and drove to the Aspen Grove Timpanogos trailhead by 3 a.m. I felt well prepared—headlamp, micro-spikes, camera, chapstick, a gallon of water, clothing layers, trail snacks, bear spray, map and GPS—and hoped to reach Emerald Lake at the base of Timp by sunrise. While I've hiked this mountain solo before (and by solo, I mean I had no designated hiking partner even though Timp's popularity makes being alone on the trail for long nearly impossible) Timpooneke trailhead has served as my approach. The Aspen Grove route was completely new to me, and a little daunting in the dark, but I quickly grew accustomed to the light from my headlamp and the relative silence of the night forest. The trailhead begins above Sundance, zigzags in fairly unchallenging switchbacks near a series of waterfalls for 5.5 miles up the south face of the valley below Timp. It then skirts Emerald Lake and the base of Robert's Horn before linking up with the Timpooneke trail at the base of Mount Timpanogos. From there the trail follows a rocky ascent to the saddle, and then meanders along the ridge for the last mile and a half of semi-technical exposure to the summit. Roundtrip it is 14 miles—15 if you count the half mile I took a wrong turn down a connector trail and had to backtrack to reach the snowfield below the saddle. Just shy of 5,000 ft elevation gain, Timp is nothing too strenuous and all of it gorgeous.

I took my time on descent to gather photos for my grandpa, so he could experience hiking Timp for himself, and this evening I emailed him nearly three dozen images. 

My grandpa always wanted to hike Timpanogos, but his other desires ruled that he stay on the valley floor. He is now ninety-one. He lived all but a handful of BYU college years not more than 100 yards from the home where he was born, raised seven children with his wife of sixty-five years, and farmed most of his life on the land his father and mother homesteaded in southern Idaho. In his twilight years I hope he can see that his beliefs and desires were worthy ones. I hope that he lives without regret for foregoing a mountain in exchange for all he has achieved. I hope he can see the doors he has opened were good enough. I believe that they were. I believe that he does.

1 comment:

  1. Those pictures are amazing! One of these days I'm going hiking with you.