Day 19: Evolution basin to Sapphire Lake, 3 easy miles and then a 3 hour day hike up into the Sapphire Lake high basin
Last night at Evolution basin, the four of us sat atop boulders gazing out over the basin as it sported an angry and promising sky. We had scrambled up to a high perch after dinner for Cory to get his winning shot. The clouds had been building for a few days and Cory couldn’t believe our perfect timing. To be at his favorite basin WITH an exciting night sky only meant one thing: his perfect photo was almost in the bag.
Reading more of Mma Ramotswe’s tales in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, we sat gazing over the massive circular basin, as if we were waiting for a parade to start.
It seemed like a guarantee. Dark clouds swirled with occasional sun breaks. As the evening brought in more wind and dark clouds gathered up for the evening show, it started to become clear that the sun was doing it’s glowing dance behind a dark veil of clouds, preventing the promised light breakthroughs that provide fiery skies.
With our focus on the obvious subject of the massive peaks surrounding the lake to the SW, we might have missed the more gentle show happening down the valley in the NW. Cory had inadvertently turned around, realizing the mountains would remain in darkness, to a silent show happening behind us. The sun was straining through the clouds, creating dramatic crepuscular rays, aka. God Rays, over meadows, ponds, and distant foothills.
We came for a firework show and got a quiet date at a quaint café instead. But the two minutes the sun’s individual rays were straining through the clouds to touch the earth sent a reverent hush over our small crowd.
We came for one thing but were stopped in our tracks in awe over another. The key was letting go of our focus – what we thought was the prize – to seeing the gift of the evening was something entirely different, yet spectacular just the same.
Henry David Thoreau said it best, "Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."
As we progress through the remainder of this trip, my eyes and heart are going to be looking for the real reasons we are out here. I am going to take my gaze off of the obvious and turn around, where I’m sure I’ll find some God-Ray moments and lessons. Little did I know at that moment that my 1st ray would be discovered later that very evening.
At the 1st crack of thunder, we scrambled down from our perch to find shelter in our tents. The storm blew in and the sky lit up with flashes that produced deafening cracks of thunder that lasted for 30 seconds, as the initial blast would then echo and rumble through the deep canyons.
Through Cade’s excitement and cheers as he witnessed this magnificent display of power we started to hear Bekah cry and her sweet voice cut through the pounding rain, “Daddy, I’m scared!”
It’s one thing to experience a thunderstorm in a house, but it’s a complete sensory overloading, somewhat terrifying experience to endure such a storm in a tent, especially if your 9.
As the sky flashed and the surround sound rumbles vibrated the tent, our little girls cries from her tent became more desperate, “Daddy! I’m so scared!”
We arranged a plan for her to sprint to our tent, timed to avoid getting too much water inside each tent as we unzipped the doors. Once arrived, she sank into the covers between us, with just her pretty blue eyes peering out over the covers. Within seconds, her fears melted away and in its place were the grins and kisses of a very grateful girl.
The storm raged on but she was no longer alone (or just with her brother) and suddenly, the storm didn’t seem so big. Perhaps that is one of the deeper lessons we will take with us when we leave the trail. Obviously, the main event, the main focus, is coming out here to see beauty in creation beyond anything imaginable but perhaps the “God Rays” shining strong, if we take a moment and turn around to look is this: spending every moment together, patiently walking miles of trail together, reinforces to all four of us that we are in this thing called life, together. It’s the repetitive, daily, physical act of walking, together, that imbeds this truth deeply in the souls of our two kids: In this, and in life, even when the mountain gets steep and the storms violent, we are here for you, with you, and so is God. You are not alone. You are intricately bound to our family. You can get in our tent and snuggle in close and we’ll face the storm together, and in the end, it’ll be OK.
So as the sky lit up and the earth trembled, our little girl relaxed and fell asleep, completely oblivious to the storm that raged around us.