“And when it rains, it pours…”: The Time We Scaled A Mountain

So there’s this quote, “When it rains, it pours.” And I use this quote a lot, often referring to the amount of things that go wrong before they go right. I’m about to explain what happened when this quote became all too real for me and Anne.

About two weeks ago, my friend Anne texted me asking if I wanted to go on a weekend trip to Guadalupe Mountain State Park and climb to the highest point in Texas. I said YES! Anne plans everything. She is an expert traveler, and has a good sense of time and place. That being said, she also panics and researches like me. We both spent a few days leading up to the trip checking online, reading the weather guides, warnings, facts, etc. Neither of us mentioned it to the other, realizing that it would probably cause panic attacks. So, needless to say, when we got to the park, we were–to our knowledge–prepared. We checked into the visitors center, asked the right questions, made sure it was manageable and safe to climb to the top and spend the night in the back country campsite, etc. The hike is around eight hours round-trip. We had decided beforehand that we would climb to the top, camp at the site, and climb down the following morning. I had this whole, “We will wake up on the highest point in Texas with the sunrise,” thing going on. HA, not exactly. The universe had other plans.

We started our hike around four and much to our surprise, reached the top (or as close as possible, considering the lack of trail markers) around 6:30 and stopped to take in our surroundings. It was beautiful. The sun was beginning to set, the weather was beautiful, and our packs were ready to be taken off. Around 6:45, we both looked at each other and realized that the campsite still wasn’t in sight, and the sun was starting to disappear. We contemplated our options, exchanged a few concerned notions of camping off the path, and decided we should head back down and sleep in the car. Let me be frank: we started to see raindrops and remembered that it wasn’t advised to camp off of the path, and we both had bad gut feelings about staying on top of the peak. So we started to head down. We knew we would have to walk slowly and use the flashlight. About fifteen minutes into the hike, it started to rain. Then it started to pour. At this point, the slopes were getting slippery, and the sun was pretty much gone. Things were starting to get a little scary, so we sped up. If you’ve ever walked through the woods at night, it can be creepy. Now imagine that, but on the side of a mountain. Not any mountain, mind you, the highest mountain in Texas. The path is about three feet wide at any point, and the trails consist of switchbacks winding around the mountain. Even during the day, it can be a little slippery and steep. It’s rugged–not very apparent in some places, very abrupt in others. By this point, it’s pouring rain, the wind is blowing at us, we are starting to tread the trail at a higher speed, and then lightning struck.

Anne is terrified of lightning. I didn’t know I was, until this moment. We took turns panicking–and I’m thankful we are so close, because this was scary. Not just nerve-wracking, but full on terrifying. And then it began to hail. By now, the slopes weren’t even visible and lightning was striking every thirty seconds or so. We both began to audibly panic. We were soaked, numb, crying, occasionally screaming, and then, we started losing hope and it got very real. There was a moment when I heard Anne say from behind me, “If something happens, you know the drill.” And I have to be honest…I didn’t know what that meant. You hear that in scary movies and hostage situation shows. Not in real life, right? Wrong.

The next bit of this is going to sound all sorts of things, but I need to be completely¬†clear: we legitimately didn’t know what was coming next. We took one step and slope at a time–literally–and began to hyperventilate. There was a point when I turned to look at Anne and lightning struck behind me. All she could say was, “Keep moving!!!!” We had no other choice. We couldn’t have stayed on top of the mountain; there’s a metal pole and it’s completely open. The paths aren’t hidden away; everything is out in the open, steep, and hard to see at night. Each time the lightning would strike, I would scream and gasp.

I experience a lot of anxiety on a daily basis, but nothing has ever left me feeling completely helpless. Ever. About half way down, Anne and I both had the same thought: we need to pray. Neither of us are very open or sure about our faith. We believe in a God, and we discuss our journeys, but we aren’t skilled in the ways of faith by any means. So at this point, I realized that the only thing left was that. All I could think was, “If I die, let it happen quickly…please let this lightning stop…please let us find a way down.” After an hour of panic, slips (and rolled ankles, scratches, etc.), and freezing weather later, we realized our packs were weighing us down. We chucked a gallon of water, started running, and despite the flooding, rocky, slopes, we started seeing the car lights.

When we reached the end, I started sobbing. I’ve never been more relieved, ever. To be completely honest, I don’t know how what happened last night will ever be something we can explain or encapsulate, but it was wild. It was terrifying. It was challenging and overwhelming. We planned, asked all of the questions, used our logic and rationale, and did what we had researched to do. Terror aside, I can’t think of anyone else I could have experienced this with. Anne kept me going, picked me up (literally), encouraged me when I froze because I was scared, directed me, and trusted me to do the same for her.

I have learned a lot about fear in the last twenty-four hours, and I am thankful for the perspective that this trip gave me. What started out as a weekend getaway turned into an experience I’ll never forget. If I grasped anything, it would be this: fear comes in different sizes, shapes, and variations. One situation is not more important than another; it’s just different.

Anne and I couldn’t stop laughing when we finally reached home today, realizing that nearly twenty-four hours later, we had been through so much, stopped at at least seven 24-hour gas stations, and had some kickass (but sore) muscles to show for the experience. Even after the ridiculous hike we endured, I would count this weekend as one of the best I’ve experienced. I foresee lots of adventuring for Anne and I in our near future, and hey, at least I have a cool story for interview questions, now. {Anne thought that was the coolest part of this experience ahahaha}

I’m snuggled up at home, pondering the hilarity of this weekend with a thankful heart. Cheers to that!

1 Comment

  1. WOW, glad you made it back safe and sound. I can’t imagine what you went thought. The Power of Prayer is Amazing and God is Good

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