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Bear Attacks on The Northern Walk

June 22, 2015

Finally, today’s the day I was going to see my Grizzly! The landscape and wildlife of the northern walk have been absolutely beautiful. I’ve been through giant red canyons in Waterville, WA, climbed 6000 foot passes surrounded by valleys and snow capped mountain peaks in Leavenworth, WA, and marveled at a night sky that depicted the immense beauty of God’s creation in Townsend, MT. I’ve seen deer, rabbits, squirrels, hawks, muskrats, mules, blue jays, antelope, and way too many cows. And yet, I still haven’t seen my bear!

This past week our walkers killed it and got up to sixty-one miles on Wednesday. Due to these savages, we’re already 80 miles past where we’re staying this weekend. We were rewarded by heading to Yellowstone Wildlife Preserve where we would assuredly see my dream of a grizzly bear attack an antelope. After a peaceful night sleeping under the Billings, MT stars, we rode out to be engulfed by the wilderness. To the tune of our new mixed CDs, I started imagining all the sights I would see. Would I see a grizzly or black bear? How close would it be? Should I hide and wait until I see it attack another animal? Do bears ever catch and eat birds? Maybe I would see a mountain lion, when POP!!
I was devastated when Eric, our seasoned and decorated walk-leader, officially announced we wouldn’t be able to go due to the RV’s flat tires. My normal reaction would have been to moan and complain about all the things I’d be missing out on. Thanks to the amazing people I am blessed to spend three months of my life with, that didn’t happen. When Eric made the announcement, I heard things like “No problem”, “Sounds good”, and “We can have a side of the road picnic!” We began praying the rosary, working out together, and listening to Ally sing songs about stalking people. This group of faithful young people taught me I should be focusing on all the beautiful things I am experiencing rather than all the things I am missing out on. This is a lesson that doesn’t only apply to missing out on bear attacks, but also in many other aspects of walking across the country as well as challenges we will experience in every day life.

The faith in God that I have seen in the Crossroads walkers is also a faith in His plan. This allows us to dance along with trials and absurdities of every day life. It enables sitting on the side of Route 212 to be just as rewarding as seeing a bear leap off a tree to attack a bird in Yellowstone. Or maybe not. But I’ve had myself a pretty excellent time sitting in the shade of an RV on the side of the road in Montana.

Sitting on the shore of Vanderbilt Beach in Florida one day, I realized a very important lesson. The waves came crashing on me every couple seconds and I started to get annoyed. Suddenly I had a realization that applies even on the side of a Montana highway. We have two choices when those waves repeatedly crash on us and it feels like there’s no end. We can either be beaten down and eventually crushed, or we can embrace and accept the coming waves and appreciate the ride they bring.

After all, Grizzly Bears aren’t going anywhere!

Zachary
Northern Walk 2015

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