Face to the Storm

The Swiftcurrent Pass Trail in The Amphitheater, Glacier National Park, Montana

The Swiftcurrent Pass Trail in The Amphitheater

Last summer, I had the special treat of hiking to the Swiftcurrent Lookout with four amazing group members (some of whom might have been even more excited to do the hike than me – now that’s unusual!)  The day was forecasted to be sunny and warm, and it lived up to the forecast as we hiked up the valley past Fishercap Lake, Redrock Lake, Redrock Falls, and Bullhead Lake and into The Amphitheater.  It’s one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve done in Glacier, and the sunshine made it even more spectacular.

Trail junction in Swigtcurrent Pass with views to Heavens Peak, Glacier National Park, Montana

Trail junction in Swigtcurrent Pass with views to Heavens Peak

But as we climbed out of The Amphitheater and into Swiftcurrent Pass, the sun vanished behind clouds.  We kept hiking, and by the time we arrived at the lookout on Swiftcurrent Peak, we could see rainstorms in the valley below us.  Still, we weren’t too worried.  Mountain weather reports were notoriously wrong, and we figured if a storm hit while we were on the mountain, we might be able to take shelter inside the lookout.  Besides, it was hard to worry with views like this!

Grinnell Peak and Logan Pass from Swiftcurrent Peak, Glacier National Park, Montana

Grinnell Peak and Logan Pass

As we started back down the mountain, a storm broke over the Continental Divide – right over us.  There wasn’t much rain, thankfully, but the storm brought with it millions of tiny ice pellets that rattled raucously on the hood of my semi-waterproof jacket and the rocks by the trail.

The storm goes over Swiftcurrent Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana

The storm goes over Swiftcurrent Pass

When I turned the corner of the switchback, I found myself face into the wind.  Instead of just being loud, the pellets were now hitting my face and hands.  The wind was so strong that the ice stung.  I ran down the trail as fast as feet and safety would allow to turn onto the next switchback, putting my head down so the ice hit the brim of my hat instead of my face.  I was thankful to turn the corner and again have the wind at my back.

The snowy Switftcurrent Peak Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana

The snowy trail

Hiking has its storms, but so does life.  Sometimes we see storms, but it’s just easier to turn our backs to the storm.  The wind in our face is cold or strong or full of ice pellets.  If we just turn our backs, the storm happens behind us.  While we know it’s there, it doesn’t seem as strong or life-threatening.  It’s easier to put our back to the storm and ignore its existence.

Ice pellets on the wildflowers on Swiftcurrent Peak, Glacier National Park, Montana

Ice pellets on the wildflowers

The problem with turning our back on the storm is that we can’t see what’s coming.  We can’t see where we’re going if our destination is on the other side of the storm (which is often – otherwise, why would we be in the storm at all?)  So we back up blindly – off a cliff if we’re not careful, or just tripping over little things in the trail that we’d have seen if only we’d had our face turned in the right direction.

The storm passes over Swiftcurrent Peak, Glacier National Park, Montana

The storm passes over Swiftcurrent Peak

It can be hard, but in life, we sometimes need to turn our faces into the storm (eyes on Jesus, not on the storm).  Facing the storm head-on, sometimes we find it’s nowhere near what we thought it was.  Or that it’s so much worse than we expected.  Or that there is an incredibly beautiful view with the fresh snow on Mount Wilbur.

Fresh snow on the mountains, Glacier National Park, Montana

Fresh snow on the mountains

I pray that you (and I) have the faith and courage to turn our faces into the storm… not to take our eyes off of Jesus, but to face into the storm so we can get through to what God has for us on the other side.  (Ice pellets in the face or otherwise!)

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