“If ye are prepared…”
How is it that I can be so calm when faced with immediate danger to myself and family, but I panic at the sight of dwindling grocery store shelves? This is a question I have been asking myself in the last 5 weeks since we went on an evening hike up the Alpine Loop to see the Fall colors.
We arrived at the trailhead by 6 PM and skipped through the yellow and red aspens until we finally reached the apex of our hike. There, I noticed a group of women putting on headlamps as they turned to hike back to their cars. This made me realize how quickly the sun was setting. We hurriedly snapped some pictures with Mt. Timpanogos as our backdrop and booked it back down the mountain. Halfway back, the sun sank completely behind the mountain and we finished our trek by the light of the moon and our phone flashlights.
Neil had the baby on his back and our 6-year-old son at the lead and I had the oldest 3 kids following about 20 yards behind. We were jabbering and singing songs in the dark until Neil stopped abruptly, turned on his heel and walked back to us.
Two moose were standing on the trail in a stretch where the trees were too thick and the underbrush too dense to navigate ourselves around them in the dark. We couldn’t tell whether it was two bulls or a momma and baby, but it was evident that the moose were just as spooked as we were. Each time we attempted to walk towards them, they hoofed the ground and snorted at us.
The kids started to cry and shiver. We didn’t have coats for everyone, nor the means to camp out on the trail, waiting for the moose to leave. There were no other hikers to come to our aid. We packed no weapons or even a walking stick to protect ourselves, and the snorting moose had me concerned they might charge at us if we tried to maneuver around them again. So, we were stuck. Cold, tired, hungry, and stuck just 500 yards away from our car.
All the while, I was surprisingly calm. I took the kids back to a nearby meadow and we prayed out loud that the Lord would compel the moose to move off the trail and allow us to return to our car. I was able to ensure the kids that we would be safe in our car soon. And then, less than 5 minutes after uttering our urgent prayer, we heard branches and dry leaves cracking under the hooves of the moose tromping along several feet to our left. That was our cue! We forged down the final leg of the trail and hopped in our car.
As we drove back home, processing what just happened, we thought of a few lessons learned. First and foremost, God heard and answered our urgent prayer. He was the only one who could help us in that moment. It felt so reassuring to realize He still hears us. Second, we were so glad we ran into a moose and not a mountain lion. Third, we shouldn’t hike in the dark without jackets anymore… My last thought was what I posed at the beginning. How can I be so calm in such an acute situation, but feel so fearful as I did when the country shut down for COVID quarantine, and panicked shoppers cleared out all the grocery stores?
I don’t have the answer, but I have been re-dedicating my time for the last month to preparing my home and heart in a way that I won’t react with so much fear the next time we experience a pandemic or natural disaster. I feel pretty good about my food storage and emergency preparedness, and I will start sharing more of that here. As for my heart, my next area of focus is emotional preparedness. I’m currently seeking revelation on that one.