On a cool November morning almost exactly one year ago, my husband and I woke up to the sounds of rustling sleeping bags as a few of our fellow hut-dwellers slithered out of their bunks, grabbed their cameras, and headed out to catch the dawn. We had hiked nearly straight up the aptly named “Billy Goat Track” in pouring rain the afternoon before, gaining 2,000 feet in elevation in less than four miles. We’d managed to dry most of our things in the backcountry hut beneath the summit, but needless to say, leaving our mummy bags to venture out into the pre-dawn chill sounded less than appealing.
Given the previous day’s weather, our hopes of watching the sunrise seemed slim at best, but I crawled over to the window to check the sky anyway. At first glance, the uninterrupted hazy grayness suggested heavy cloud cover, and I almost rolled back into bed. But then, in the upper corner of the window, I glimpsed a morning star, shining out from the haze just above the horizon, beckoning us out into the cold. And we had no choice but to follow.
“I can see a star,” I whispered to Alec. “It’s clear. We need to hurry.” He knew I was right, and we both rushed to pull on our coats, boots, and headlamps. The last stage of the trek to the summit was a sheer climb straight up the Pinnacles themselves, a towering rocky crag jutting up from the mountain with views stretching all the way across New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula. If we wanted to beat the coming dawn, we’d have to make the 40-minute climb in 25.
So we ran till the altitude took our breath away, then walked, then ran again until we reached the base of the Pinnacles, where we started to climb. As I shimmied up the metal ladders fixed to the rock, I felt distinctly thankful this ascent wasn’t in the rain. We reached the summit faster than we’d expected––those estimated hiking times are pretty generous, aren’t they––and as we scrambled to the top of the crag, I thought I’d climbed straight into heaven.
The sun was just peeking over the Hauraki Gulf, and as we watched, the black mountains faded into a rich green and the grayish clouds turned a brilliant rosy pink. We stood and marveled with the half-dozen other brave souls who had wisely given themselves a bit more time to reach the top. No one spoke. Not a word. We stood in silent communion, wind-whipped and soul-struck. A moment earlier, I’d been scrambling in the darkness for hand- and footholds with a vague hope of reaching the sun. Now here it was, in all its glory, blinding and brilliant and painting the world with living color.
Standing there, light on my face, hope in my heart, my thoughts turned to another risen Son I almost didn’t chase after, and I thanked Him for showing me this one. Who are we, I thought, stuck in the hazy pre-dawn of reality, to say the sky is clouded over? How can we let ourselves ignore the morning star that so clearly tells of the coming dawn? When we start out after it, do we run until we lose our breath, then walk, then run some more? And when the path turns into a sheer upward climb, do we keep scrambling, hand over hand, holding on to that faint hope of the glory that awaits our arrival?
Guest Writer: Linnea Peckham Geno
In The Network 5.12, many of us have experienced nature in a way that has sparred on our spiritual growth. Hence, guest-writing is welcomed on our site. Linnea’s journey is a beautiful example of how your simple stories can encourage our network. Please feel free to submit your own via http://thenetwork512.com/contact/.