On a fall weekend in 1972 we hiked the white dot trail to the summit of Grand Monadnock in Jaffrey, New Hampshire for the first time. Hiking and scrambling to the 3165-foot summit wasn’t a huge accomplishment by most standards, but for wide-eyed 11 year old boy scouts it was the adventure of a lifetime. We could see for miles around.
If you aren’t familiar with Monadnock, it’s known as one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the world with an estimated 125,000 ascents annually. One translation of “Monadnock,” an Algonquin Indian name, means “Extraordinary Mountain Place.”
On this extraordinary mountain, I began my love of outdoor adventure. Over the years, I became more confident in my abilities as an outdoorsman. I also discovered that these trips away from the routine also had begun to teach me how to enjoy this marvelous creation in remarkable ways – and to listen and see and feel the presence of the Creator.
The wilderness is holy ground.
Amazing things can happen on mountains. Moses spoke to God and received the Law on a mountain. Jesus was transfigured on a mountain. And Jesus regularly went apart from the disciples to mountaintop and desert to pray and seek answers and strength. We can do the same in search of answers to the big questions in our lives: Who am I? Why am I here? How is God involved in my life? What is God’s plan for me?
Mountains and meadows, forests and rivers and deserts reveal the power and majesty of the Holy One. Time in the wilderness offers opportunities for rest, recreation, and personal and spiritual growth. It was in the wilderness that the Israelites learned how much God cared for them during the Exodus from Egypt. They learned to trust the Lord.