Dangerous Encounter of the Man Kind

Image found on Google Images

Image found on Google Images

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


Caught In a Wildfire Pt.5 from Lessons Learned As a Novice Hiker


View from the summit before I ran out of camera battery. photo by Marybeth Haydon

Todays summit was unexpected and spectacular.  I completely ran out of camera battery at the summit since I had not charged the battery last night and took many pics on my ascent.  I thought I would just check-out the trail for future, but then after ascending 2,000′  I decided to complete the hike, knowing I would later regret a turn-around.  Was this yet another poor-judgement novice-call by going well beyond the planned hike? Ill-prepared for a summit?

The day is late and I’m getting plowed-under with fatigue from the unplanned summit.  The descent is always harder for me with all of the cartilage in one knee completely removed (surgically, I shattered it in a motorcycle accident) and misaligned bone structure in both feet. Thus, I have no choice but to take my time heading down, grateful for trekking poles to help distribute weight and for the added stability that the poles lend.
While I was trying out this new trail on the way up this morning, I powered up my cell phone a few times in what looked like strategically clear areas to call my son to say hello from the top of the mountain. I never got any bars, so I’m not even entertaining the idea on the way down.

wildfire 1 google

Wildfire courtesy Google images.

As I am continually amazed at the stunning and often tranquil views, I look up, changing my viewpoint to scan the east when I fearfully skid to a stop. Ohhh SNAP! There are flames head!  A HUGE wildfire, the smoke and flames are just incredibly high into the atmosphere.   This is bad.

Really, really bad.

I look at the south-easterly mountain ridge just beyond the ski lifts and realize that any minor shift in the wind will bring those flames right over the ridge and into the area I’m hiking in and into the mountain community below.  There’s a decent breeze surrounding me and in about 20 minutes, the usual pre-twilight gusts will begin. Snap.

Devils Backbone  029

View During My Ascent by Marybeth Haydon

I’m hiking mid-week, so the ski lifts are not open, not operating. No one at the lodge either. Did I mention that this is really bad? Remembering that I found zero cell service on my way up, I power-up my phone anyway, desperate for communication, I need to warn the community. I need to get to safety. I neither hear nor see any fire-fighting helicopters or news copters for that matter, so I am concerned that this massive fire is still somehow undetected.

Oh, Lord! I really need Your intervention! I’m about to be stuck in a wildfire, with less than a ¼ cup of water left and a good 3 more hours left to hike out before I’m anywhere near the barest of civilization! I didn’t bring sufficient supplies since I had not planned on a complete summit.  (Always, always bring more water than you think you will need!)
Desperate, I power-up the phone. Do my eyes deceive me? I scroll down and contact the community volunteer fire department. I have connection!   Thank You, Lord!   I immediately tell the woman answering the phone where I am and that I have sighted a large wildfire, are they aware of the fire? She hurriedly tells me to hold on, I panic; I’m not sure how much longer I will have service. I remain as still as possible, afraid of losing the few bars that I have. A gentleman is now on the line, asking exactly where I am. I give him the coordinates, point out that it only takes a mild shift of the wind to get that fire advancing over the ridge and he lets me know that he’ll take it from here. I tell him I don’t know how long it will take me to evacuate, please be on the lookout for me or my vehicle if I haven’t reached it should the fire hit our area.

IMG_0996 cajon fire

Same Wildfire from news. photo courtesy Google images

I remember that my son is expecting me to call by 5:00 p.m., if not, that I am in trouble and to contact the area rescue, my back-up plan since I am hiking a new trail, one notoriously dangerous and known for its fatalities in foul weather. And it’s impossible to predict foul weather on this mountain; it seems to have its own weather system and erratic timetable.   I had taken two steps after hanging up with the fire department, so I stop and repower-up the phone and EUREKA! I again miraculously have bars. I remain board-stiff where I am, and call my son. He is on the line with someone else and asks if he can call me right back. “No!” I tell him in a rush, “I’m in a wildfire, I called the fire department, but I need you to know I may not make it back before 5:00, so know that I’m ok, and I love you!” He is stunned, and then lets me know that he understands. I explain I have to high-tail it out, the best I can, need to go. Now. We say goodbye and I start truckin’. Well, semi-truckin’. No pun intended.
A million things and scenarios are whirling in my mind. I wonder why I still do not hear helicopters and question if I’m going to have to end up in one. I begin to plan how to best indicate the wind direction should helicopter rescue be necessary. I decide to tie my windbreaker to a trekking pole, making a sort of wind sock. I’m still heading down, all sorts of thoughts and plans running through my mind. I’m very thirsty from the salty GORP that I had at the summit and realize that should the wind shift, I don’t even have enough water to keep a handkerchief wet in this hot weather for smoke protection. I’m out of camera memory, so I’m unable to capture these near-aerial, spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime views of the enormous wildfire.  Aw, double Snap!

wildfire 2 google

Wildfire courtesy Google images.

Again, I’m struck with wondering if I’m actually learning from all of my hiking mistakes! Suddenly a strong gust of wind partially pushes me toward the uphill side of the trail.  Ok, calm minds prevail. Be calm, embrace it, girl.

The sky is darkening from the smoke.  I can now smell the smoke and suppress a cough.  Focus, safely evac and evade. Thankfully my asthma is not affected yet, I figure I still have time to get out but I sure am thirsty, stress-sweaty, and completely punishing my complaining knees by trying to jog whenever I hit a flat section of the trail. Which are few.

It’s just You and me, Lord. Absolutely no one is out here today! I thank You in advance for You guidance, Your help. Please place a barrier on that ridge so that this lovely mountain community doesn’t get destroyed. Or me.

About an hour later I’m nearing the ski lift and lodge. I spot a father with his young son heading east to the backbone trail, even though I’m a ways off, I holler down to them that they may reconsider coming up the mountain, and explain about the massive wildfire. The dad asks if they would be able to see it from the trail they are about to take. I assured them they definitely would and reminded them all it would take is a shift in the wind to get this place blazing. To my surprise and confusion, they take their chances and continue up the trail!  Go figure?


Same Wildfire. Firefighter rescuing a dog. photo courtesy Google images.

Thankfully, the fire remained northeast.  The mountain community unaffected and I wish I could say the same for those in the cities on the urban side of the mountain.  It’s difficult to describe the total loss, the devastation one feels after losing their home to fire.  I can relate, as a fellow victim.  Stictly from a possesion-value point of view, to lose all family heirlooms, handed-down recipes, photos, mementos.  The investment of time, energy, talent, ideas and money into the house itself.  I pray for those who had loss as a result of this massive fire and that no lives were injured or lost.

Gratefully home, I switched on the news and sure enough there it was in all its spectacular, destructive power. I contacted my son that I was safe at home and gave God the glory for yet another day of His protections and interventions.

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Same wildfire. photo courtesy Google images.

Lord, You put me on that trail today, for that very moment in time to pray for and do what I could by alerting the officials. I realize the majority of my concern was for me, and I’m sorry. Yet, I’m grateful for Your intervention, getting me back safe, and for preventing the winds from changing. I know that the community, if they only knew the danger they were so close to, would be grateful for Your protections too. I now better understand 2 Timothy 4:2 about being instantly in season. You want me ready at all times, regardless of how I feel. Thank You for Your trust in me that You know I will respond to You! What an honor, Lord!

Todays Lesson Learned: Go no where without 10 Essentials which include extra water, food, clothing, first aid.  Be prepared for absolutely anything going south!  For more about 10 Essentials go to my post Safety Pt. 2  http://ow.ly/gY1UB

Are you enjoying my Lessons-Learned (How Not To Hike Stupid) series?  Share your comments, questions, or concerns. Go to the “About the Author” tab on this site, scroll down to the “Comments” section bottom left. Your input is appreciated!

Or Twitter: http://twitter.com/MarybethHaydon  Or comment on my Facebook:   http://ow.ly/hycIm


The Danger of Overreacting To Danger Pt.4 from Lessons Learned As a Novice Hiker

imagesCAYRODLJ aspen trees & lake

Photo courtesy Google Images

In stark contrast to last night’s star gazing, a beautiful stand of quaking aspen stretches far to the east, the sunrise painting the jagged pinnacle with a fascinating spectrum of color, highlighted by the multicolored sunrise, then modified by the occasional, wispy cloud. Shimmers of golden foliage radiate life, fresh and new this very morning. I’m certain I’ve never smelled air this fresh, clean or inviting. It carries the taste of promise on it. I watch as the sun continues its slow climb to a higher station in the lightly mottled sky. My eye is drawn to the fascinating lake that reflects the entire scene on its still, mirrored surface. Serrated vivid hues of yellow, gold, and orange with a thread of charcoal, bridge the spectacular cobalt water to its shoreline. The bank is punctuated with a ribbon of darkly shadowed brush, fanning its smudged boundary along the irregular water’s edge, dividing the scene dramatically, strikingly. It moves the heart, an intoxicating vista. A dark pool brackets the outer westerly edge, hinting at deeper waters, a potentially profitable bass fishing hole, mingled with underwater plants and leafless, drowned trees. Truly the pearl of the region rests and boasts of its beauty before me.  I realize I’m hungry. I tear myself from the blessed demonstration of a promising new  day to reignite last night’s campfire.  My dwindling pile of dead and down looks  too meager for a hot breakfast, but I want a hot drink and I have enough wood  to heat a few cups of water. I spread out my petroleum-laced cotton balls under  several twigs and strike the match; instant results. I gather fresh pine  needles and break them up and then add them to my tin of water, setting my pine tea to boil onto a flat rock that I had placed in the fire circle last night.

The early morning air is brisk; I warm my hands over the paltry fire, then cup my hands over my nose to warm my face. The steam from my pine tea as I sip it  supplements the warming process easily.  I scarf a breakfast bar during my morning devotions, and stand midway; need to stretch and wake up the muscles. I decide I will continue climbing; I want to reach the overlook at its highest rim. I pack my gear after scattering the remaining ashes, now doused in leftover clean-up water. Casting a longing look at the array of aspen and the surrounding, profoundly exquisite lake I leave my camp site with as little trace of my temporary residence as possible, ending my cleanup with a downed, short pine branch sweep.

MP910221019[1]I realize I hadn’t studied my map and compass again, just to be sure my bearings are correct. I justify the compass edge against the maps left westerly edge; adjust the bezel, point the compass towards my target goal, note the boxed needle and then top-pocket the compass. I fold the map into my pack, confident I’m on-course. It appears I’m on a game trail, it sure beats fighting underbrush and Mountain White Thorn patches. I study my target goal far ahead and am glad I began during the crisp early morning conditions.  Now this is backpacking! 


Photo courtesy Google images.

It’s a few hours later and the day is heating up quickly. I scan the terrain after a swift motion catches my peripheral vision. I couldn’t see what sort of animal it was, but it’s at least the size of a coyote.  A strong, offensive, unbelievably vile smell permeates the air, and then I hear the ominous sounds of a swarm of what I think must be bees. As I round the corner, it’s apparent that it isn’t bees, but an enormous amount of flies.  A huge, black cloud of very noisy flies in fact, drawn to the scent of a fresh kill. The kill’s death-scent; a chemical dinner bell for creatures big and small. Perhaps I scared off one of the scavengers just previously. The kill is partially buried with forest debris, known as a food cache, and I mentally run-through which animals try to hide their kill only to return to feast on it later.   Large or small   …  returns later to feast …

imagesCAJ4VXYP food cache

Food Cache photo courtesy Google images.

My eyes wide, I examine my surroundings more methodically, thoroughly. I really, really don’t want to interrupt an animal’s lunch, especially a carnivore’s meal. I can’t shake the mental picture of a boiler-rooms’ large pressure gauge, needle pegged at its maximum red-line danger zone. I sense red flags waving frantically all around me.  Cougars are crepuscular hunters and it’d be dusk by the time I crossed this path on my return.  Yet, insanely I muse:  Turn around or continue? If I continue, it means crossing paths with this kill yet another time.

What am I thinking, why even question continuing?!angry wolf 2

I decide I can return to this trail another time, possibly with a hiking partner; but now is time to turn-tail and head home.  I hadn’t thought-out just how remote this hike is, nor had I thought about the larger wildlife in this region.   I waste not another moment in this particular area. My steps are swift, and not as careful. My focus is straight-ahead, I am not checking my surroundings. I remember that I need to watch for predators. Again my focus is tunnel-vision, I’m not trail tracking.

While keeping an eye on the surrounding wilderness for any predators, (that vile odor is still prevalent, I’m now down-wind of the kill) out-of-the-blue I hear a much-too-familiar-to-me rattling sound. I gasp and see the rattler under a small shrub just a single pace ahead of me.  In lieu of the last rattler encounter, the infamous “Incident”, I completely overreact. I scream (as if that helps), jump up (I seem to manage this acrobatic move rather easily these days) and turn to run. I did everything one does not need to nor should do. Somehow, as I turn to flee, I trip over my trekking pole and find myself scrambling for purchase as I’m now over the side of the mountain.   Again!  

I am in an even worse place as far as other vipers are concerned, this area has all the hallmark’s of DEFINITE snake infestation, plus falling further down the side of the mountain is a viable threat.  I’m sliding down the loose-rock. Terrifying images of a den of vipers sear my intellect; I am screaming for God to, “Get me out of here! Oh, Lord help me! GET ME OUT OF HERE!” as frightening déjà vu sears my mind, scrambling massive panic cells throughout the bloodstream. I frantically scuttle uphill with every ounce of effort and beyond. I am more terrified of startling another snake than falling down the mountainside. This hike is circling the drain but fast.

At least it rattled at me Western Rattler

Crossed the trail & into the area I fell into! photo by Marybeth Haydon

Retreated to its hidyhole on the other side crop

Retreating further into the “snakie” area. photo by Marybeth Haydon

Somehow, it had to have been His Hand helping me, I get back onto the trail and I see the snake moving across the game trail, heading right into the potentially snake infested area I just scrambled out from.


I yell aloud to myself, “Get the camera, get the camera!” as I fumble with the camera case zipper. I’m able to get two pictures off, one of the tail end as it leaves the trail, another with its rattle standing up when it is under some brush. I always strive to have the ‘evidence’, I’m not completely sure why. I sometimes think since I experience way too many freaky things in the wilderness and I need the photographic evidence.
Inventory reveals that I have bent one of my trekking poles, my arms are cut up, I completely messed up my knees, “that” knee especially, and my most favorite hiking pants are torn. BLAST!  Insult upon injury!  I bend forward from the waist trying to get my wits about me and blood to my head, once again I feel like I may faint.   Oh, snap … I really messed myself up … again. I am way, way far from civilization.

Seriously, am I learning anything?

Not wanting to see how badly the knee is injured, I skip looking through the gaping tear in my trousers. If I know how bad it is, I probably won’t make it all the way down, and it’s a at least full days hike back down. Sometimes ignorance is bliss or something to that effect.  I can’t have The Incident affect me like this! I just cannot overreact when being simply warned by the viper that I’m too close.   It’s not like I was standing on it, it simply wanted its “space” so that the shy critter could move away from me. This is, in fact, exactly what the snake did. Textbook, easily anticipated, extremely easy to avoid confrontation much less flat-out panic. Logically I know this to be true, but I struggle with residual fear from standing on a rattler just a month previous.

I ever-so carefully continue my descent, now completely rattler-paranoid, foolishly jumping even at the sight of a lizard.
Why do I hike the wilderness? Am I energized by the drama of risk, of real danger? Is this what lights me up?  What is wrong with me? I’ve encountered many rattlers before The Incident; I simply waited for them to move on. No harm, no foul.

Lord God, please help me get over this new fear. Help me overcome this new fear of rattlers, I must not overreact! Draw me close to You once again! Show me how to apply Your word to this situation!

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View from near the trailhead. photo by Marybeth Haydon

And amazingly, the adventures continue….

Todays Lesson Learned: By overreacting, I literally threw myself into a potentially more dangerous situation.  For more on snake and other animal behavior (so that you know what to expect, and can react with calm) click here  http://ow.ly/gY1Yn

Are you enjoying my Lessons-Learned (How Not To Hike Stupid) series?  Share your comments, questions, or concerns. Go to the “About the Author” tab on this site, scroll down to the “Comments” section bottom left. Your input is appreciated!

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MarybethHaydon      Or comment on my Facebook:   http://ow.ly/hycIm


Falling Off the Mountain At 6,500 ft. Pt. 3 from Lessons Learned As A Novice Hiker

Good morning from Buckeye Flats

Good Morning View by Marybeth Haydon

Rounding the steep corner, I hum to myself in rich contentment, completely unaware of the surprise that waits ahead on this exhilarating hike. Mentally reciting the spectacular views already witnessed, the colorful wildlife observed, I’m thankful for the privilege of being out among it. I started this trail at dawn and the sun is rising without hesitation; how time passes so quickly when you’re having fun. I’m relieved this first leg of the summit is in the midst of shading oak and pines. I take a deep breath; the pine scent is sweet, delicious.  Better enjoy the cool shade while you can, drink it in Marybeth!
As I reach another switchback I’m graced with an encouraging glimpse of the dignified, high peaks rising with towering ambition far ahead. It looks as though I’m more than half way up this beautiful mountain; I estimate the elevation at 6,500 feet. I’m excited, and feeling very alive, pacing myself to maintain a reserve of energy on the back burner, waiting for the even more strenuous climb to come. The last leg of the climb is always the hardest. It’s almost as though the pinnacle has called out the challenge: come-and-get-me-if-you-can. I’m dialed-in and ready to meet that challenge so I power forward, and disregard my complaining knees.
Suddenly, the outer edge of the trail gives way under the pressure of my step, propelling me painfully down the side of the mountain. Large waves of the rock slide that I have created begin to overtake me. I slide on my abdomen, head first, when one of my trekking poles catches the edge of a protruding rock spinning me a full 180, now I am sliding feet first. A large boulder flips me onto my back; I am struggling to gain purchase. Purchase of anything, I don’t care, anything to stop me from hurtling over the mountains edge into the valley far below. It’s a long way down and I’m approaching the edge with what seems to be a terminal velocity. The mountainside is loose sand and pebbled shale, absolutely nothing is solid except the occasional jutting large and very sharp rock, deeply entrenched studded outcrops, but too far away from my frantic grasps. I spot a felled tree, oh please let that stop me, I prepare to grab hold of it but I’m too fast, I have such intense momentum that I smack agonizingly sideways into the end of the log …I can’t breathe, the air is knocked out of me!

Over the edge

Over the Edge by Marybeth Haydon

… then I am sailing, flung into the atmosphere, I’m actually catapulted over the downed tree and land in an excruciatingly, bone-jarring, slide. My bloody rag-doll body is scattering more rock and debris. I’m choking on the dust cloud that my landing has created, worsening my shortness of breath. I’m utterly engulfed with pain, I can’t be distracted! I am approaching the edge at a thundering, terrorizing rate, reaching impossibly, willing my body to lengthen; I must grab that tree stump.
I miss.
I continue to scramble, I’m mute with fear and adrenalin. It wouldn’t have mattered if I did cry out; I’m alone, breaking a cardinal hiking rule. I am struggling to clear my mind; normal thought process is hammered, my perception is completely bulldozed. I’m now only a few feet from the edge, reflexively digging my heels deep into the slack ground beneath me, when miraculously they catch. My “brakes” work, I’m at least temporarily spared from a horrible, pain- ridden, fall to certain death.
I catch my breath, forcing myself to breathe slowly, deeply but I’m only partly successful. I begin to access my tenuous situation, I must clear my head. I am in very deep trouble without a viable rescue plan. The dust-filled air is silent but for the lingering, sporadic clatter of pebbles and the sound of my heavy breathing.   Or is it that I can’t hear anything over the sound of the thundering pulse in my ears?
Crazy, have I hit my head? I hear a voice, am I hallucinating? Carefully I turn my head ever-so slightly in the direction of The Voice. Out of my peripheral vision I can see men frantically tying rope to a tree and someone is heading my way, causing more rock and sand to begin a secondary rock slide; I fear this will engage an additional slide under me. Terror grips me.
Lord, show them how to be careful, cautious. But … somehow make them hurry!   Using the slight delay to steel myself, I pray they be mindful as to just how close they get to me, I’m far from solid ground and by no stretch of the imagination is my position stable.   How long is their rope and just how long will my “brakes” hold?
Just as I question that, I slide several more inches, my heart is booming an erratic beat against my chest, my face a mask of fearful tension mixed with determination. I am applying savage pressure to my weakening “brakes”, well beyond what I’m capable of, reaching within myself for that extra resolve. I claw at the ground for additional traction, useless, it relents none.
I need a miracle.   Just then a looped rope is passed over my head, I instinctively raise one arm at a time, being intensely careful to limit my movement, over the loop and it tightens. I slip a few more inches; there just aren’t very many inches left! I’m frantic, fighting panic, I’m wild with fear that is desperate to unleash. I’m shaking uncontrollably. The Voice is close to me now; I’m being reassured that everything will be alright. I slightly nod my acknowledgment, not as confident as The Voice; my entire life is in the strength of this rope and a stranger’s ability to tow me in it.


Rock & Shale courtesy Google images.

A hail of rock, dirt and shale-gravel assault my head from above me, I tuck my chin into my chest and clamp my arms around my knees, I am a frightened, tight ball. I am then hauled a few inches up, and then The Voice is being hauled up a bit. We seesaw like this for what seems like eternity, The Voice continues to speak assurances to me, reaching out to touch my arm, the slightest contact better than none at all. My trousers and pack are filling with gravel as I’m being dragged uphill, the rock tearing into soft tissue. The rope is painfully biting into my flesh and fairly new scar tissue across my chest, burning, yet I’m grateful for the pain. It tells me I’m alive …  at least so far.

The men get me to the trail, moving me to the uphill side. I’m immensely indebted but I am still unable to speak. This was really an intense screw-up on my part! I know better than to step to the outside edge of the trail.  One of the men asks if I’m alright and I nod my response. I need a moment, maybe a few hours actually, to collect myself.  The Voice is now sitting on the trail, taking in big gulps of air, he’s a big guy. Tears well in my eyes at the sight of him and the men who had the challenging rope duty. Finally I am able to speak my gratitude, wondering at the fortuitous timing of their arrival. After full inspection for broken bones or bad sprains from the initial fall, the “rope team” has bandaged me in just about every exposed part of my body, blood is already soaking through a two of them. I can already feel the bruising, but I’m grateful that I will be able to descend under my own power; nothing is broken, thank You God. I then inventory lost equipment.

rope rescue imagesCAXPYMSV

Rope Rescue photo courtesy Google images.

I assure them that I am recovered. I’ve been poked, stabbed, abraded, bruised, flung, slammed, slashed .… most likely a few stitches here and there. . . and scraped but I’m not beaten.  The equipment lost are non-essential. I decline their offer to escort me back to my vehicle and wave good-bye; smiling like I haven’t smiled in months as I watch these “good Samaritans” continue their journey. I notice that The Voice is still shaking his head in a can-you-believe-what-just-happened and I nod to myself in an amazed “no-kidding!”

Lord, thank You! I am alive to thank You … oh, Lord!  I’m battered, but alive!
I decide to sit and rest a while longer; my hands are still shaking, and my heart rate hasn’t gotten quite back to normal yet. Wow. Look at what the Lord has done for me today! I thank Him for sending the men at that particular time, this particular trail with the particular equipment that they had. Belatedly, I realize that it didn’t make sense, their having climbing equipment for this trail. I look again at the trail ahead, to call out to them. I haven’t even asked their names and I want to ask why they had climbing gear but I can no longer see them, yet I can see quite a distance up the trail. I blink several times, maybe there’s dirt in my eyes. No, they simply aren’t there.
Were these good Samaritans or were they angels?  Bottom line is, I’m extremely grateful that miracles still happen!

NOTE: Always, ALWAYS step to the inside edge of the trail! The outer edge is unpredictable and unreliable. Do not hike solo! You never know when you will need a hand. 🙂

**  Are you enjoying my Lessons-Learned (How Not To Hike Stupid)  series? Let me hear your comments, questions, or concerns.  Go to About the Author tab on this site, scroll down to the “Comments” section.  Your input is appreciated!  **


An Introduction To Bear Awareness. Pt 2 from Lessons Learned As a Novice Hiker

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Felled tree by Marybeth Haydon

Strolling along, enjoying the quiet tranquility of the forest stepping among mild weather, highlighted with a perfect breeze, I duck under a low-lying tree that has slid down the rain-softened mountainside, toppling it across the trail. I check the section that is obscured; I’m ever-snake-aware these days, watchful of my footing, particularly over a larger rock or a felled tree, who knows what’s on the other side? I note that I am sweating profusely as I check for snakes. I don’t like this fear I’ve developed, it’s unhealthy.

As I pass a few piles of bear scat, I’m reminded that I have bear bells in my pack. I’ve never felt the need to use them before but the bells are relentlessly drawing my attention. Finding scat and tracks along this trail is certainly not unusual, why this change of attitude?  The impression is intense enough for me to stop and dig deep into my pack for the bells. I strap them to my trekking poles and continue my most-enjoyable morning trek.

Step jingle, step jingle.
There is sudden, chaotic movement ahead, my heart beats violently; I’m instantly alarmed. Something is just not right, there is an outright panic in the air!  My ears are straining to distinguish the sounds that I hear. I recognize the sound of several hoof beats, at a gallop at that, but there is something far more fearsome, deep, heavy, and threatening. Three panicked deer are charging down the trail, oh man! Do they see me?!  These animals are fast!  I jump to the uphill side of the trail, plastering myself against the rough mountainside.  A huge flying leap from the trail and they swiftly, gracefully disappear deep into the downhill brush.


Photo courtesy Google Images

Then a flat, deep noise that challenges my bladder control. This noise completely rattles my insides, weakens my bones and muscles. Undoubtedly this is a large animal making this noise; the air is motionless and thick with fear.

My fear.

Then what sounds like a smaller animal, makes a sort of baying sound, almost a sheep-like “ba”, but not. Maybe it’s “ma, maw”.  It sounds confused, if that’s possible, maybe frightened. I can’t explain it. Oh snap! More hard, deep and yet with an odd hollowness, chomping. Now I hear oruff, errhh, then a deep, heavy growl similar to the warning growl from a dog. The kind of growl you hear right before it attacks.

I’m suddenly drowning in a whirlpool of fear and panic.
It sounds like a large animal, panting  with angry, heavy stomping and scraping against the earth.  The snorting sounds like a charging bull that terrifies me beyond reason. Huff, pant, eerrhh.  The noise is a psychological stun gun, keeps me from moving. I’m literally frozen in place. There’s chaotic noises among the brush, a different growl, then a howl, almost a yip, like it was injured, definitely a different animal.  Are there two animals fighting? Now there’s heavy stomping, scraping, it’s the larger animal. Instinctive fear envelopes me. I feel as though I’m made of jig-saw puzzle pieces and each piece is about to unhinge from one another.
Silence. Heavy silence. Intimidating silence. Scary silence. Silence that is LOUD.
I look down at my chest to see if I am still breathing because i’m really not sure. Then I close my eyes, I’m trying really hard to refocus, to center myself, to trust my Savior. I’m afraid to look up or to look in any direction. My knees are buckling, an insane thought flashes through my mind: camera.  I immediately dismiss it. I need to preserve myself first! Not exactly a Kodak moment here…

The forest is very, very still. Not a single squirrel stirred, not a single bird chirped, even the lizards sunning their selves have simply vanished. I think even the ants are frozen in their tracks. It’s as if a mega pause button has been pressed throughout the woods, with the entire world in slow motion.


Angry Bear photo courtesy Google Images

Frantic, bizarre thoughts swirl: I think about the sound of crashing ocean waves, about the thrill of riding horseback at a smooth canter, about the stupid mending pile at my home … I need new tires for my car soon … HAVE I LOST MY MIND?
I don’t know how long I stayed plastered against the mountain. It seems as though I am waking up from a deep coma, my mind a little foggy, taking a bit to orient, I don’t trust my legs to support my walking much less standing. Standing still as though I’m part of this rough mountainside seems to be all that I can muster. I need to feel camouflaged. I am rock and leaves and dirt.   I am the mountain.

Seeing nothing swing out from the bushes, no horrified deer charging my way, no more nerve-shattering dinosaur-level snapping sound, just the usual bit of small animal activity. Once again, the world around me is back to normal. Oh, the joy of the “little things” in life!   I realize the threat is gone. Deep breath. Loosen the tight neck, swirling my head slowly.   I reach for my fallen trekking poles. They jingle.
Bear bells.
The bells that I have never used before. Until today.  Thank God for giving me a heads up, for causing me to step aside momentarily.  Who knows what the timing would have been, how this “encounter” may have changed if I had not stopped for a few minutes to strap on the bells?

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Tranquility by Marybeth Haydon

“All those who know Your mercy, Lord, will count on You for help. For You have never forsaken those who trust in You.” Psalm 9:10
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
Lord, I want others to know just how accessible You are!

Todays Lesson Learned:  The importance of being bear aware and never negotiate a blind trail-corner quietly. You never want to surprise a wild animal, much less a mother bear and cub.  Whether you use bear bells (not my favorite) or chat with your partner, lightly clap your hands as you approach a bind corner, or simply sing softly as you relish your environment, these are all good methods to prevent a surprise for you or the animal.  Pay attention to “warning signs” such as fresh bear scat, a fresh kill, etc. and adjust your trip accordingly. DO NOT HIKE QUIETLY.

Wondering why I (temporarily) developed a fear of snakes?  See my post The Day I Stood On A Western Diamondback Rattler here at   http://ow.ly/j3LdM  Enjoy!

Visit me on Facebook for offers, photos, hiking and wildlife updates!   http://ow.ly/hycIm

You can also visit me on Twitter @MarybethHaydon


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WT 1 cover B & W

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Wilderness Training the Novice includes over 50 color photos and will “introduce” you to the facinating Wilderness Training Series.



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“…I was able to review Marybeth’s book and it is extraordinary. I thouroughly enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading the rest of her works. are exactly the same. Our passions and desires for God and leading people to Him are exactly the same. Her experiences and survival stories are a great example of God’s love in a believer’s life.”   – Jason Kinnan  http://ow.ly/hVH0J

“… Wilderness Training is a smooth, enjoyable read. As you are reading, it almost feels as though you are on the trail with Marybeth. The details of what she sees are vivid, and colorful, and form a picture in your mind’s eye that you can enjoy while reading.  Wilderness hiking, like life, is not without perils, and we get a good look at this as well.  The near misses Marybeth experiences are exciting and I found myself turning pages quickly as I wanted to see just what was going to happen next! … As Marybeth is sharing with the reader an enjoyable adventure on the trails, she is also sharing with the reader her faith in God. … You feel challenged in a way to get busy and do something about your own faith.”  – Greg Holt  http://ow.ly/hAVyU

 “I was engaged immediately. I can almost smell the pine trees with the vivid details and feel the awesome power of God through this captivating read.”  A. Keller

“Challenges the reader through colorful backpacking details, paralleling the physical complexity of hiking with spiritual testing and growth during ones Christian walk.”         M. Millers

“A high-voltage story of survival, a compelling, richly textured narrative!” TJ Ozbourne

“Insightful revelations to blaze your own trail.”  R. Baier  http://ow.ly/hVL6B

Hiking in Sol Duc River Valley

Interview With Author Marybeth Haydon By Greg Holt from Inspirational Christian Blogs

Interview with Author Marybeth Haydon eye_of_god

February 8, 2013 by  Greg Holt

ICB: Marybeth I know you are a cancer survivor and have had some other close calls as well. Would you mind giving us a little background on yourself?

A: Thanks for asking, Greg. I’m a Spirit-filled Christian mother who has discovered an increasing love for the Lord while hiking in the wilderness. A breast cancer survivor, and was miraculously healed of lung cancer. I am now finding out why; to fall more deeply in love with my Lord and Savior and to share that and the joy of the journey with others. I also earned my certification as a Wilderness Leader during my recovery. I’ve written a series entitled Wilderness Training, detailing some of my times and trials in the wilderness and how the Lord is training me while I’m out among His creations.

ICB: How did you become interested in wilderness hiking, what was the attraction for you? How long have you been doing this?

A: I’ve been on trail a brief five-fantastic-years with a backpack full of exciting experiences since I averaged 2-3 hikes per work week, weather and seasons permitting. I started out walking an inner city 6-mile path in an attempt to lose weight and get healthy after my diagnosis but I was so disgusted by automobile fumes that I headed for the hills. Once there I discovered that I loved discovery. My imagination was engaged, my curiosity inflamed, I felt alive. My heart leapt with joy at the sight of deer, bobcat, fox or any wildlife. I was fascinated by their natural behaviors and instinctively began thanking the Lord for His most inventive and intricate creations. Then I began to notice the elaborate wilderness itself: the foliage, the hues, the depth the height, the seasons with the gifts that they allow, the complexity of it all, the inherent regeneration and multifaceted reproduction of it all. I was like a blind person who suddenly gained their sight!

ICB: In Wilderness Training the Novice you mention that you feel close to the Lord while hiking in the wilderness. I can relate to this as I have felt the same while walking in the woods especially when a stream is involved! What about being out in His creation, in the woods, or on the mountain trail really touches you and brings that special moment of realization that the Creator Himself is with you?

A: (Oh, I certainly “hear you” on the streams!) The awesomeness of the wilderness is like a magnet to my soul, a pulling and drawing-near to God that is certain and secure. Once I opened myself up to Him, whether through verbal praise, prayer or sitting still and comfortably alone; quiet before Him, I sensed that my Maker desired relationship. With me! In my early travels, I unwittingly experienced some dangerous mistakes. So I began to ask the Lord the night before my planned hike if whether it was a “go” or not. And He would speak to my spirit with a “go”, or a “no-go”. (I have to admit in the beginning I did pout somewhat when it was a “no”).  Since only He knew what the future hike had in store, I figured I had better check with Papa/Abba before heading out. There was an understanding that He was not giving me permission to go by myself, but that the “go” hike was a joint venture. It wasn’t, “Yes, you go ahead.” It was, “Let’s go!”  I also learned (the hard way) that even with a “go” that I still needed to use best practices and not just haphazardly march through the thick and thin of the trails.  He taught me to remain diligent in continually listening to His direction and to use my God-given ability to reason, to be observant and to use the safety skills learned, when to continue in the direction I’m headed in, and when to take the alternate route. If I was hiking correctly, then I was continually “checking in” with Him for His input, a safety plan that I’m now applying to my life on or off trail. The first moment I realized that the Creator Himself was with me was when I, without forethought, began to speak praise to Him, inviting Him to share the wondrous experience with me. When I acknowledged that “all of this” was testament to His handiwork, He confirmed my awe and wonder to my spirit and a whole new dimension of our relationship blossomed. I’m still somewhat dumb-founded that GOD wants to share experiences with everyday, regular me. That He wants intimate involvement in every facet of my ordinary life. The fantastic thing Greg, is that He desires the same, intimate relationship, with each and every one of us. We need to respond to His leadings.

ICB: Marybeth, you mention a night-time decent down a trail, it had just rained so you are soaked, there is no way to bear-proof your food, and your feet are painfully blistered. You decide to hike down, somewhat afraid, and in pain. As you are walking you begin quoting Scripture…and all of a sudden you are laughing aloud all by yourself! As God’s presence fills and reassures you, you have a wonderful “God moment, or moments” here, would you elaborate on this for us?
Editor’s note: this story within the story was a powerful and moving moment, it just grabs you and you can feel some of Marybeth’s exhilaration yourself!

A: Oh, I’m smiling at the memory! Fire never felt so great, however brief and fleeting, nor did this new perspective on perspective. Greg, if I could only continuously keep the right perspective throughout my everyday life, that would be a very wonderful thing. To have His perspective on the wildernesses of daily events; diagnosis, challenges, insecurities, relationships, mounting bills, decisions, the list can be endless. He showed me that my wildernesses were both literal and spiritually symbolic. We all have “wilderness experiences”. They are the spiritual challenges, they are the physical challenges, and the emotional challenges to march on through, to conquer, to overcome, to win! I realized that He is training me while I’m in the wilderness. Through Him, I’m never alone in any of my road blocks, no matter how rocky or isolated the path. Keeping memorized scripture, scripture being the correct perspective since it’s His perspective, is an absolutely essential tool and He gave me scripture to proclaim that night. When I first asked Him if it was safe to leave, vs staying the enormity of His presence nearly blew me over, yet it was intensely gentle. He instructed me to focus on what was important which puzzled me momentarily and of course He knew that. He then impressed “perspective”. Wow. The JOY that His perspective brings is so liberating! Fear took a swift and total flight that night. With full assurance that He is with me, fear doesn’t have a leg to stand on. I don’t need its crippling influence; I’m all about enjoying Him in the moment, in all of my “moments”. I’m also very appreciative that I’m able to share it while in the wilds as well. That night, as with many other times, the spectacular joy of the Lord, and knowing that He was with me, moved seamlessly right into praise. And isn’t that why we were created? To bring Him the glory and praise that is so righteously His alone?

ICB: Marybeth you speak quite candidly in your book about an incident that occurred with your dad and then a couple others as well, all being violent. In what ways did these incidents change you? What did you take away from them?

A: First, that it’s truly a miracle that I’m even alive, all things considered. Secondly, I have been threatened with a gun way too many times.  But I learned that the Lord has been with me through every one of those events, since He knew me even though I had not yet come to know Him. I did not fully realize it at the time but I had a choice to make, those events could be my stumbling stone or my stepping stone. The hard and threatening times forged an inner strength that I was later able to draw from, particularly while faced with danger in the wilderness. As I have been more diligent in seeking Him in my recent years, I see that His Hand has been on me my entire life, for which I am eternally grateful. This should give others who hear or read about it, hope. Hope because He cares so deeply, so spectacularly for each and every one of us, and to imagine that the God of the universe wants to talk to us, to be involved in our daily routines, our cares, our concerns, our very life. My only regret is that I did not get to know Him much sooner. I do not recommend putting it off.

ICB: In your book Wilderness Training the Novice, you mention the Lord healing you of the lymphedema that you were afflicted with. First, how did this divine deliverance make you feel?
Second, after you realized the Lord had healed you Marybeth, you were going to do something to “check up” on this healing. What did the Lord impress on you about this and how did you feel after what He impressed upon you?

A: He revealed, using a wildlife parallel that spoke personally to me, (which really enhanced the “light bulb moment”), that the lymphedema condition was an enemy of my body, the impact of that very clear truth at first confused and stunned me, then completely exhilarated me! His instruction to rebuke that condition made perfect sense. So I did, and He rewarded my faith and obedience. Then later, concern began to cloud my mind, I went off track with my “reality check”. If I didn’t treat the arm as I had been taught by my doctor, I would eventually lose that limb. To ignore the procedure I had been taught was a real leap of faith and I felt I was barely at a “hopping stage”. (Oh, me of little faith). I decided that I couldn’t be foolish about this, and to at minimum, measure the arm and compare that measurement to the unaffected arm every day for a while, just to be sure. Gently, (I’m crying now, snap!) He ever-so gently spoke to my spirit without judgment, “Do what you have to do. But know that I have healed you.” Oh man, I was instantly humbled, gently reproved, and I told Him how very sorry I was for my lack of faith. I felt that I had offended Him and His gift of flat-out miraculous healing and yet He was so loving and tender in telling me that I didn’t need “just to be sure.” I’m so grateful to Him. He is love, He does not hold grudges, He is forgiving, patient and does not take offense easily. He is the One and only good God! And He heals. Not only body, but imperatively, our souls.

ICB:  Would you please tell us about the day you were leading a hike, the last one to receive your certification, a hike after having run afoul of a rattler on a previous hike?
Afterwards, when the group hike you were leading was finished, how did the sum total of the day’s events leave you feeling?

A: Greg, after previously standing on a rattlesnake, I was plagued with unreasonable fear, I was terrified of making the same dumb mistake and just how many more near-death events could I possibly escape? I even feared the phantom snake in my home, unable to get out of bed without turning on lights, sweating and shaking violently. I had greatly overreacted when a rattler warned me of its presence during a solo hike a few weeks after the incident and I really could not allow that to happen again. This day, as a leader, I needed to pilot calm and confidence. I’d trained for this and knew what precautions and safety steps to take. I had already led other group hikes; I knew how to adjust a hike to fit the group and how to make the outing a fun, educational and impressive event. I knew that I needed to approach the trail with composure for the good of the group and for my own sanity. The wilderness is no place for panic and high drama! I thought about this while driving to the trailhead, when suddenly from the foothill of the mountain, out shoots this white bird, flying past my vehicle and up and away. I’ve not seen white birds this size in this particular neck of the woods, not even in this part of the state. The manner in which this bird shot up and over my vehicle really was startling, notable. Simply pleased with another “chance” sighting, I continued my drive and went on to lead the hike with calm and assurance and, thankfully without any mishap. Later, the image of that white bird came back to me with important clarity. Then it hit me: it was a symbol of His Spirit in the form of a dove (just like in the Bible!) that His Spirit was with me and would guide and protect me and the members of the group. A sign that, as I listen to His promptings, I would not “meet” another rattle snake under my boot again. This is so profound, so very important: I was not to focus on what I did (that horrific, accidental misstep off trail, ending with standing on a rattler) but to focus on what He did! He protected me so obviously, no matter how much adrenalin was pumping, no way was I able to outrun that rattlers strike! God prevented that snakes fangs from penetrating me! He manifested His protection and care that day, (as well as in my past), and will continue to the rest of my days. He continues to be protective and in control as I submit to His will and instructions. I’m learning; it’s an ongoing process. End of the day feeling? Humbled. Humbled by His interest in me, in my life and in the lives that I touch. I recognize that my faith is stretching, growing. He’s actually nurturing my faith! We all have our tests-of-faith and once one has invited Jesus into their heart, into their lives, we are more than a conqueror through Him during those trials and faith-testers (which build more faith, how cool is that?). I can no longer imagine going through the various challenges that life or my health, presents without His interaction, His help. All I have to do is remember: It’s not what I did, but what He did! When memory wanders back to that situation, and it does quite frequently, when I’m tempted to shutter and focus on the mental picture of a big, fat, coiled snake under my boot, still feeling the softness under me as I put my weight onto the step, that memory turns. And what I see is His Hand closing that rattlers mouth, and holding it back from moving as I ran, screaming like an insane person, from it. He turned that near-fatal situation into an impressive faith-builder to last me the rest of my days! I only need to draw from that deep pool, that deep well of knowing that through Him, it is done, He’s got it handled. I’m liberated from having to judge or deciding whether the particular outcome is what I wanted or not, because He has only my best interest in Mind and only gives good gifts.

ICB: At the end of chapter sixteen, you launch into a great commentary on God that is so encouraging; this is just a small sample of that commentary from the book: “He has a multitude of different ways to reach you and me, an infinite number in fact; He knows what is most relevant to you.”
Is there anything you would like to add to this Marybeth?

A: Creative God certainly has a limitless supply of methods to best communicate to us. He knows what is most significant to each person and He responds Personally to each of our needs, big, small or in-between. He cares about the most infinitesimal thing in each of our lives; physically, spiritually, mentally. His Word tells us, and it is Jesus Who is speaking, that He even knows the number of hairs on our head. (Matt 10:30) That is knowing someone quite thoroughly! He knows precisely how to speak to each of us, what will “hit home” for each of us, He knows each of us that well! Our contribution in this is to listen for His promptings and directions (key: be obedient to them) and to have relationship with Him. Worship, love and an ever-increasing faith simply follows, naturally. Greg, when I piece together a quilt, I know precisely where the weak points are, where the strengths are. Because I created it, I know that quilt. From selecting the just-right materials, to cutting up that beautiful fabric, then re-shaping it, then piecing it all together, all of this to make a symphony of useful beauty. Then I join and unite top, insulating middle, and bottom together into a single, valuable, warm and pleasing unit. Something like that, He “pieces” us together (our experiences, skills, weaknesses, preferences, talents, etc) He knows our strengths and weaknesses because He created each of us, individually. He knows what makes us tick, He has been watching us all of our lives. He created each reader reading this, into a warm, useful, beautiful creature and He certainly knows what is most significant and important to us individually. What He does for me, He will do for others in a unique manner because He has limitless, intimate knowledge of the inner and outer workings of each of us. He has invested Himself into each of us and He wants to wrap His warming Self around us in harmonious relationship!

ICB: Marybeth, based on your life experiences, what is the one thing you would share with people who are going through any kind of serious struggle in their lives?

A: I acknowledge that every single one of us is facing a challenge or many challenges, of varying degrees; it’s called “life”. Some of our lives hold more serious issues than others, but each life is equally important in the Eyes of God. Whether our “survival skills” are enduring chemo, wilderness exploring, stress management, caring for a disabled loved one or just getting oneself up out of bed today to brave one’s individual battlefield, they are all excellent accomplishments. But until we broaden the parameters of those techniques with faith in God, they’re just techniques with limitations. We need to conquer our fears, expand our horizons, and think outside the parameters of our circumstances. We, each and every one, all need supernatural help, divine intervention, enduring faith, and a personal relationship with God. Let Him capture your heart. We were designed to need Him, that is why trying to go about it alone feels so insufficient, so off balance, so frustrating. As one who has struggled, and was rather independent about it? If I could change the past, I would so that I could include my participation in the battlefield of my life to be co-soldier with Christ. I can’t so I move forward and not alone anymore, but in vital union with Him. I sometimes look at my life as a big puzzle. All the pieces need to fit together for it to make sense. The people around me are pieces of that puzzle as well. My sister’s elbow fits snugly into my abdomen, my foot into my neighbors arm, etc. There is a Vital Piece to my puzzle of life that is needed in order to complete it. 99.99% of it is there, but without that one Piece, it’s incomplete. You can’t frame and truly appreciate an incomplete puzzle.

ICB: I want to thank you Marybeth for being gracious enough to do this interview!
Do you have some final thoughts you would like to share with our readers?

A: Greg, you are the gracious and generous one, and I justly appreciate the opportunity to chat with you and to be able to answer your insightful questions. Thank you for sharing this on your site. My desire is for anyone reading this who doesn’t already know, will come to know that the Lord Who is so good to Greg and to me, that He can be equally good to them. Getting to know Him is not a difficult thing but it is something that each of us must intentionally admit to 1) being a sinner, we have all sinned. 2) that each of us need a Savior, because good works won’t cut it, never has never will. 3) and that God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, equally God, to save us from eternal damnation. All we need to do is admit, repent and accept. As always, God has the perfect plan and He is waiting for our acceptance of it and of Him. Be blessed, my friends with happy, fulfilling pursuits both on & off trail!

Editor’s Note: Your book really did touch me Marybeth; I enjoyed it and will read your other ones as well. I felt a connection with you Marybeth, almost like I was there with you at times; your writing is very good. I was I admit brought to tears in some places. This book is a blessing for sure! I hope others will read what you have striven to impart, that God is a vital part of our lives, no He is the reason for our lives. May the readers be blessed by your stories, and by the obvious love you have for our Father.  Greg

Pick up a copy of Marybeth’s book Wilderness Training: The Novice, for more information, please visit Marybeth’s home site here:  http://ow.ly/gY1ER  and visit her Facebook, get to to know this author a bit:  http://ow.ly/hycIm
Visit Greg at http://ow.ly/hAVyU   You will find his blogs truly inspirational, uplifting and you will be blessed for your efforts!   And to see Part One of the interview: http://ow.ly/hAVcY   Part Two: http://ow.ly/hAVhF

The Beauty of Ecosystems, a Brief Glimpse.

will on stump

Giant Stump, my son on top for perspective. By Marybeth Haydon

Half way up the hill I glance at my new boots. They are covered with filth, the pretty newness of my footwear no longer attractive. But they are very comfortable, I’m glad that I had broken them in around the house for a week before venturing out into the wilderness. Now dirt-covered, I consider it a badge of honor. I’M IN A DIFFERENT SORT OF FOREST THIS OUTING. THE TOWERING, AND APTLY named, giant sequoias are a jaw-dropping experience to stand beneath. Exceedingly lush greenery, ferns, flowers and low-lying brush all dazzle the eye with such a nutrient-rich intensity, thriving in rich beauty beneath the trees. The large trees with thick, impressive branches often inhibit rainwater, greedily absorbing the moisture before it reaches the plant life beneath them. But the cool, moisture-rich fog that lingers beneath the trees keeps the forest floor inhabitants hydrated, allowing the plants to look longingly up at the giant redwoods. It seems almost as a love-story, the duo-shared nutrients feeding the other, depending upon one another in an almost intimate manner.
Even the long-ago-felled giants continue to feed the forested floor with the decaying wood. Beautiful, full ferns sprout from the tops of the now sideways trees. The champions lay precisely where they fell after a devastating flood in the 1960’s, their root system so very shallow, could not keep them upright in the weakened, saturated soil. I can only imagine the impact of it hitting the ground, surely it felt like an earthquake. The roar had to have been something of a train wreck and the massive wave it created in the flood waters must have been intense-intense. I picture something similar to high tide waves hitting cliff shore boulders, the impressive splash and height the foamy water reaching high and violently into the blue.

Its resting length is more than half of a football field and impossible to scramble to the end with the dense new-growth forest swaddling, caressing it. Even in its death it is fertilizing the forest for long-term health and providing essential habitats for endangered animal and insect species. Accordingly, these fallen trees are called nurse logs since they provide ecological facilitation to seedlings.   Puts giving your life for another in a completely different perspective.

New growth among Giant Sequoias by Marybeth Haydon

New growth among Giant Sequoias by Marybeth Haydon

These colossal ancient-of-days are at least 21 feet in diameter, jutting their spiking crowns 200-feet to over 400-feet into the sky. The thick, fibrous and split bark snakes irregularly upward and outward, cultivating protective highways and byways; trunk to branch, branch to twig, to the very narrow, high top of the tree. Protection is its mile marker, shielding the delicate inner structures from injury. This “guardian” is a thing of beauty, with tints of brown and red, shades of sienna and burnt umber all richly textured and variant. The cluster of trees so similar, the hues quite individual.

I’m more grateful for the Guardian that I have through Jesus; His Holy Spirit. I have made MANY mistakes when I first began my journeys through the wilds, and He was there for me, each and every time. Protecting, guiding, and loving with absolute abandon and certainty; holding nothing back.

What an impressive, imaginative, creative God I serve. To have even thought up the idea of more than a septillion of created forms, with their reproductive capacities not to mention the inner, intricate workings and details, how it all works together, harmoniously, it’s too much for me to comprehend!  Nature recycling, nothing wasted.

My God truly reigns.

Book Review by Greg Holt (Inspirational Christians For Today): Wilderness Training the Novice

Thank you, Greg for the time you gave in reading my book and for your very generous words in your review of the first of my Wilderness Training series, Wilderness Training the Novice. I am grateful for and pleased to share the God-given talents that I have and it is my hope that the readers will be entertained while also challenged through my books. May God generously bless you and yours, Greg. Thank you!

— Marybeth Haydon

Reviewed by Greg Holt; Wilderness Training, the Novice.

Wilderness Training by Marybeth Haydon is a smooth, and enjoyable read.
In this first book in the Wilderness Training series we get a glimpse of what Marybeth’s life is like in part.
As you are reading this book, it almost feels at times as though you are on the trail with Marybeth. The details of what she sees are vivid, and colorful, and form a picture in your mind’s eye that you can enjoy while reading.
Wilderness hiking, like life is not without perils, and we get a good look at this as well. The near misses Marybeth experiences are exciting and I found myself turning pages quickly as I wanted to see just what was going to happen next!
Marybeth, having survived cancer and a serious fall off of a mountain is the picture of determination. Woven in with that determination is a wonderful image of what faith in Christ looks like.
The best part of Marybeth’s book (to me) was her obvious dedication to Jesus. As Marybeth is sharing with the reader an enjoyable adventure on the trails, she is also sharing with the reader her faith in God. One can “see” Marybeth’s faith growing right along side her trail skills. You feel challenged in way to get busy and do something about your own faith.
Even if you are not a big outdoors fan, I would recommend Marybeth’s book. You can enjoy the view on the trail through Marybeth’s eyes without having to be on the trail yourself!
Pick up this book today!

Greg Holt
Philippians 2:10-11 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. http://believinggodtoday.com/  http://inspirationalchristiansfortoday.com/    https://twitter.com/writinggomer   NOTE: To purchase a pdf version, including 50+ photographs please go to: http://ow.ly/gGlhb For e-books, please contact Booktango at http://ow.ly/h0cTV (no photographs through Booktango, sorry!)


alum demo 003

Wind/draft protection


  • Signaling device.
  • Keep lunch warm.
  • Pile in and take-away ashes from your campfire.
  • Can become a cooking “plate” over hot coals.
  • Fashion a food platter, fork, spoon, bowl, whatever you need rather lugging the real deal.
  • Under your sleeping bag to keep it dry, you warmer and insulated.
  • Keeps matches dry.
  • Fishing lure.
  • Funnel for drip coffee.
  • Reflect light for a great photo op.
  • Fix loose battery connection in your flashlight.
  • Radiate solar heat.Wind shelter to start your fire.
  • Stop a leaky tent roof. NOT if there’s lightening!

I’d love to hear from YOU and the uses you have discovered for this lightweight miracle-wrap. Make use of our “Comments” section at the end of this post, please.  And many happy trails!  MP900255424[1]