The hike that all the girls aimed for was to hike Table Rock in their fourth year. This was the hardest hike and was nearly 12 miles long and gained 4,000 feet in elevation as you went up. It was a strenuous hike that put you at the top of a large, flat rock right in between the Teton Mountains. For three years I'd watched the older girls make the hike and come back exhausted, but exhilarated by the incredible view and the shear accomplishment of tackling a mountain. I was very much looking forward to climbing Table Rock and was excited to do it with my Dad.
|Table Rock Mountain is the flat plateau|
I remember waking up early the day of the hike and feeling sick to my stomach. I didn't want to do the hike if my Dad wasn't going to be there. He'd been with me on every big hike I'd ever been on and we'd been looking forward to making this hike together. I tried to hold back my tears as we drove to the trail-head. I silently prayed that somehow my Dad would be able to get there in time, but no such luck.
There are two different ways to hike up Table Rock Mountain, the easiest way is called the "Huckleberry" trail and it is longer but full of switch backs that make it a more gradual climb. The other way is called the "Face" trail because it goes straight up the face of the mountain. It is a very steep path and is a much harder way up. We'd been hoping to take the Huckleberry trail, but because it was still early in the summer not all the snow was melted which made the path impossible to take. We ended up taking the Face trail and the group of us slowly made our way up the mountain.
It was a hard, steep climb and I remember several times feeling really discouraged. For the first part of the hike I kept looking back over my shoulder, hoping that my dad had shown up right after we left and had been able to join our group. He never did and as the hike progressed I began to feel silly hoping and praying for him to come because I knew by then it would be nearly impossible for him to catch up with us or find us. I was really sad that we were missing the opportunity to do this hike together, and I wasn't sure we'd ever have another chance.
We hiked all morning and around noon we made it out of the trees and into the big meadows and rock beds that surrounded the base of Table Rock. We were about an hour from the top and by this time I'd given up hope of my Dad catching up with us. I'd reconciled myself to the fact that he was probably waiting for me back at camp and that I'd at least get to see him and tell him about it. Our group had stopped for lunch by a mountain stream to eat our lunches and refill our water bottles from the stream (with filters of course). I was perched on a rock eating my lunch and enjoying the beautiful surroundings, when who should emerge out of the trees but my Dad!
I can't even begin to describe how astonished I was. If Angel Moroni had just stepped out of the trees I don't know that I would have been more amazed. Here we were, 6 or 7 hours into our hike and nearly at the top of the mountain, and somehow my Dad, who'd I'd given up all hope of seeing, was now walking towards us out of the forest. To my 15-year-old heart and mind it was nothing short of a miracle.
I jumped down from my perch and ran towards him, wrapping my arms around him just to make sure that he was real and not a heavenly manifestation. He was real, and it turned out that he had a pretty neat story to tell. When he had arrived at camp that morning and realized that the Table Rock group had left two hours earlier he didn't give up. He rushed to the trail-head and knowing that a large group of girls wouldn't be hiking very fast set out to catch us. He was confident that since he was a fast hiker and hiking alone that he would eventually meet up with us if he went as fast as he possibly could. So all morning, he'd pretty much been running up the incredibly steep mountainside, passing numerous other groups of hikers and slowly gaining on us from behind.
To say I was impressed by my Dad would be an understatement. At that moment I was sure there wasn't anything in the world my Dad couldn't do. In my mind I'd just seen a miracle happen. I knew that somehow God had heard the deepest desire of my little heart and made it happen, even when I'd given up all hope. Even more though, I knew that my Dad loved me; loved me enough to run up a mountain to find me, to not give up on me, and loved me enough to answer my prayers in any way he could.
My Dad joined our group and we finished the rest of the hike together. I have a picture of us (which unfortunately is in a box at my Dad's house) standing on top of Table Rock. It is a beautiful picture and it holds a special place in my heart because to me the fact that my Dad was even there at all was a miracle. When I told him that he just sort of laughed modestly, and said that it wasn't a miracle he just knew he could hike faster than a group of teenage girls.
On Father's Day someone posted this quote by Elder James E. Faust,
"Noble fatherhood gives us a glimpse of the divine attributes of our Father in Heaven".I really loved this quote and it made me think of my Dad. When I think back to how he has fathered me I see that knowing him has helped me better know my Father in Heaven. I especially will never forget the memory of my Dad emerging miraculously from the trees, diligently seeking and following after me. That image is a reminder to me that even though I can't see Him my Heavenly Father has not forgotten or deserted me. That even at the times that I think I have been left to climb a mountain by myself, I know that he is just on the path behind me, loving me and doing all He can to make sure that the desires of my heart are answered. I believe in Fathers who work miracles, because I've seen them happen and I know that there is real power and safety in a Father's love.
Love you Dad!