The first week of August, Go the Distance held our 3rd annual backpacking expedition, this time to Glacier National Park. Seven men covered 46 miles in the backcountry to see and experience God and travel through our own masculine journey. We were all looking for gaps that God wanted to fill in our lives. Here is the first of a series of experiences that men had while on the trail.
I invite you to read what Bryant Hutchinson encountered below.
I went on the GTD trip to Glacier National Park for a number of reasons: A chance to disconnect from the world. A chance to experience the beauty of GNP and God’s creation. A chance to push myself physically. A chance to be with other godly men. But most of all I felt a very strong urging and desire to go on this trip.
Well, let me tell you I was able to check everything off my list, as I experienced everything that I had hoped for and then some, and then some more, and then even more.
Being in the backcountry, there is no cell phone, e-mail, electricity or showers…is this a bad thing? Absolutely not! I was focused on the present and my surroundings and the people around me 24/7. I didn’t have the clutter of thinking about reading e-mails or checking the news or any other activity that normally fills my head. I journaled about what was going on and wrote a poem and even wrote an actual letter with pen and paper.
God’s handiwork is so evident in Glacier, just looking around is enough to fill your heart and soul with wonder and awe and love for the Creator. I expected the scenery to be majestic and I expected to see some wildlife, however, I didn’t expect to see moose and mountain goats and long horn sheep and hoary marmot and mule deer and grizzly bear. I especially didn’t expect to see a grizzly bear less than 50 yards away, how awesome is that? By the way the top speed for a grizzly is 35 miles/hour = 17 yards/second, which means that I was less than 5 seconds away from shaking hands with a grizzly!
Physically I am in great shape (my opinion), I have enjoyed playing basketball, walking, running, camping, skydiving, downhill skiing…never met an obstacle I couldn’t climb over or around, yeah I am all that! I can now say that I carried 40 pounds on my back, representing everything I needed to survive a week in the wilderness for 46 miles in the heat and altitude and swarming bugs, uphill and downhill and over rivers and through rivers. And most importantly I proved that I could do it all myself—except I didn’t. Not our longest hike, but our most difficult hike started at 11 am, our destination was Elizabeth Lake, 10 miles away, with an elevation change of 2300’ up to Ptarmigan tunnel at 7200’ then 2300’ back down to our campsite. I was excited for this hike and was looking forward to conquering the mountain. All 7 of us started at the same place, we all hiked for 4 hours uphill in the sun, but I was the only one that was severely affected by the altitude, dehydration and the sun. With the Ptarmigan tunnel in sight, I sat down for a rest in the shade and almost passed out. It took a half hour before I could drink and eat and declare that I would only go down the mountain through the tunnel…then I had to rely on my brothers to carry my pack while I struggled the rest of the way up the path. I was almost taken out by my pride, but I finally had to admit that my God is bigger than me and that I couldn’t conquer the mountain without help. I am not ashamed of my failure, I am thankful that God provided friends to help me and the strength to keep moving forward when it would have been easier to turn around and go back down the mountain.
I was looking forward to meeting 3 guys I didn’t know and getting to know the other 3 guys that I already knew. That we were on a mission of spiritual quest and journey together really started us out with some shared hopes, desires and expectations. Hard work and physical exertion beside another man will bring you closer. What really surprised me was the “My wife is the best in the world” contest that seemed to come up in many of our serious conversations. I think this issue could have really divided us; however each of us knew what I know that “my wife really is the best wife anyone could ever have”, end of argument! I have done a lot of guy trips, and I am always put off and disgusted by the discussions that seem to center around wife bashing or drooling over some unknown woman. I was blessed to be with 6 other men that share my viewpoint, and all think so highly of the woman that God has placed in their life.
Why did I feel God pushing me toward this journey? I believe that He wanted to show me that: Living in Him is sufficient; He has created a beautiful world, filled with sights and experiences beyond my expectation and He wants to share it with me; He is bigger than me, yet loves me enough to deliver me through the toughest trial; Although I sometimes feel like a chunky white rock in a big pile of smooth green and red rocks, I am not alone in my beliefs and hopes (He also told me that I have the best wife in the world); and finally, He wanted me to look at one burden that I have been carrying with me for many years, and He wanted me to lay it down and walk with Him.
This journey was more than adventure; it was about discovery of my heart and the heart of my Heavenly Father. Thank you Abba Father.
Bryant is center, back row, at the top of the Ptarmigan Pass. Way to go Bryant, and thank you God for restoring us heart, mind, soul and strength.