During my various adventuring, I have discovered that one never knows what they will discover. The expansive dry river bed stretched an easy 50 yards wide. The trek was arduous and demanding with the rough and uneven rock-covered ground. The sun is high and blistering. Gnats (my friend calls them Teensy Flies) swirl about my face, seeking moisture to rob from me. I sweat furiously and grimace as I roll my ankle yet again; man, I really don’t care for hiking over dry river rock. I look ahead, seeking my sons’ outline, his figure a black cutout, wreathed in the glaring sun, but he’s an acceptable distance ahead. He turns to check on my status and slightly waves, interesting how we think alike. He pauses at a junction.
We discuss whether to continue north or head east at the junction. Looking high and ahead we spot a copse of trees. It’s a no-brainier, let’s get into some shade, we forge onward, detouring to the easterly route. As we round the bend there are obvious signs of a recent flash-flood, carving huge sections from the forest floor. It is at least a six-foot deep divot by miles in length that has removed acres of shrubs, sycamore, pine and chaparral. After the devastating fire a few seasons ago, coupled with torrential rains shortly after, the forest is now transformed into a contrasting combination of desolation and of an environment in the throes of renewal. Fire is an important cycle of the forest and sections are healing and looking healthy with minimal debris carpeting the higher ground. Although, for this national forest to fully regenerate, it’ll be beyond my life span. Another 30 years for softwood conifers, to 200 years for the redwoods and certain pines. My son scrambles to the higher ground, among a mix of mature growth with second-growth trees and shrubs, he turns and extends his hand to assist me. We continue our exploration, remarking how drastically the area has changed.
As we pause to hydrate, a shaft of sunlight breaks through the canopy of trees. Something sparkles near the ground in front of me, it draws my eye. I stoop down to inspect the oddity and gasp when I identify the threat. I gravely warn my son, “Don’t move.” He looks at me, with concerned-wrinkled eyebrows, his water bottle paused midway. I point.
We have stumbled upon a trap. Another step and we would have been in very deep “Bandini”. Without moving our feet we scope our surroundings. My son spots then points to the joining trap wires, then to what the traps are protecting. Inadvertently, we have come upon an illegal marijuana farm, fully armed and exceedingly intent upon “no trespassing”. Oh, snap… My hands are suddenly very sweaty.
Lord, Your protection please! If there are guards present, please blind their eyes and ears to our unintended intrusion!
My son slowly steps back, soft, careful steps, his head swiveling in hyper vigilance. He extends his hand, indicating for me to follow. I hold his hand, fearful, barely breathing. Every muscle is tense. We scan for our incoming footprints to follow out and away but they are impossible to detect even with minimal forest debris.
Lord God, direct out steps.
I feel like I’m in a military movie, this is so surreal. My senses are heightened, we retreat very carefully, staying low, hunched, military style. My ears strain for the slightest sound. Were we detected? My son signals for me to stop, I pull-up silently and squat lower still, he senses something.
A sudden, alarming and tremendous CRACK! …
Was that a high-caliber rifle shot?!
… echoes through the canyon, then a sonic boom of falling rock from the canyons upper edge and massive boulders begin tumbling warp-speed towards the dry riverbed, along the bend that we took to enter this portion of the forest. The thundering roar of the rock-slide was a safe distance from us, yet with the present uncertainty, it quickly added to the confusion and sense of alarm. The ground shakes as during an earthquake. The rumbling is near deafening as the amount of falling rock increases in quantity and pace. Finally it settles with a choking dirt cloud, a bursting mushroom, it then blossoms indolently. I feel faint from anticipation and realize I had stopped breathing. I cover my mouth and nose with the crook of my arm, squeezing my eyes shut against the dust and old forest fire ash fragments.
I put my faith and trust… our lives… into Your Hands, Lord. Thank You, if we had stayed hiking among the dry riverbed, we would have been seriously injured. There would not have been ample time to scramble out of the path of the rock and landslide. Praise You, Lord!
We thoroughly scrutinize the area we have left behind us, low in the brush, high in the trees, and determine that we are alone and high-tail it back towards the dry riverbed. We are in the wide-open space, very public, as we check out the rock-slide. My son asks me if I’m alright, I respond wordlessly with a waffling gesture with my hand. It required very little discussion to conclude our “adventure” for the day, as we stumble-hiked over the miserable terrain, heading back to our vehicle. My son’s war whoop echoes across the massive canyon as we clear the “trouble” arena. If I had the ability, I would have joined his enthusiastic vocal relief, a woman’s voice just doesn’t do it justice though.
Thank You, Lord God. Thank You, thank You!
“… You are my Rock and my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength, in Whom I will trust.” 2 Samuel 22:2-3