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Topic: Mountains (09/20/04)
TITLE: Genetic Omission
By Glenn A. Hascall
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I have learned, however, that we have a genetic predisposition to injuries associated with the presence of mountainous terrain - and I‘ve learned it the hard way.
It was the summer of my tenth year and my Sunday school teacher, Cliff decided that his little cast of rowdies needed an outing. We headed to the mountains in a variety of station wagons anxious for our fill of fresh air and cheap hot dogs. I was amazed as the mountains loomed over our picnic site. I immediately began my ascent with my well used cowboy boots. The yards passed by before I heard Cliff calling me from the camp fire below. As I turned, I slipped and began a rapid descent, one that resembled a snow ball without snow.
It must have been pretty spectacular because I was the topic of conversation even after Cliff found my nose, right earlobe and spleen.
A couple of years later I was in spy mode high atop a mountainous cliff – certain nefarious villains were approaching. I’ve never thought of myself as having a big head but on the day in question, gravity (and that nasty genetic predisposition) caused my body to follow my head an undetermined distance where my head was lacerated with the slender and vertical razor-like appendages of the famed Yucca plant – a temporary set of Yucca dreadlocks. I had green holes in my skull for weeks.
There are more fascinating mishaps that I could share, but for the sake of a more humane account I’d like to move to my thirty-fifth year. My brothers-in-law invited me to an outing in the Medicine Bow Mountains of Wyoming. No, I didn’t cause an avalanche and I didn’t slip headlong into raging stream. I made sure I wore sturdy boots with the tire tread of a 4x4 tacked onto the bottom.
After a sleepless night in which an animal of unknown origin rummaged through the camp in search of one lone Pringle in the bottom of a discarded can we were told that this would be the day that we would go fishing. We were advised to bring our lunch along and pack our tackle, rod and at least 85 pounds of rocks just so we’d have the full experience of being hardy outdoorsmen.
The promised half mile trek spanned three different time zones. There was a wheezing animal that seemed to be following the group. I was about to inquire further when I realized the wheeze was coming from me. Once again my reputation (and genetic makeup) preceded me. I do have some consolation in the fact that the fishing was so bad that I didn’t have to carry any back to camp.
In 2002 I went back to the mountains with my brother-in-law, Doug. This time we ventured to the Big Horn Mountains and like the crew aboard the S.S. Minnow, some of us accepted a mini-hiking tour of Mt. Akilla Outdoorsman.
“Just follow the stream and you’ll be back at camp in about a half hour,” Doug said as he turned his 4x4 around. Two hours later we were convinced that if we made it out alive we were going to make Doug try the same trip in the dark – without shoes. The brush was so dense and the rocks so abundant that we struggled just to find a way through. Perhaps the most intense moment of our tour was when we climbed a mountain on one side trying to find a way out of the canyon. When this failed, we ventured back down the mountain. Suddenly, my feet slipped as they had when I was ten. This time I left part of my back and a little used elbow on the rocks. I spread my feet in an effort to stop my fall. This effort eventually bore fruit at the lip of a cliff that was the last stop before a 75 foot fall to the rock-filled stream below.
“So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet” (Hebrews 12:12,13a - NLT).
True for hiking and true for our Christian walk - genetics notwithstanding.