The Lesson of Grizzly Gulch

IMG_5345Last week we hiked up another beautiful canyon to a place called Grizzly Gulch.  Now if your imagination works like mine this name conjures up all sorts of images.  The hike offered some spectacular views of the canyon on a winding switchback trail bordered with vibrant wildflowers.  As we neared the gulch, the 8 year-olds threw their backpacks down and scampered down the slippery slope using an exposed tree root to steady themselves as the rocks and sand slid down ahead of them.  As they half-slid, half-climbed down they excitedly chattered about the possibilities of this steep-sided ravine and all that they were noticing.  After spending a little while exploring they began scaling the sides.  As the responsible adult, I stayed at the top of the ravine and scanned the terrain above and below them as they struggled up the side of the 20 foot gulch.  I may be new to these mountains but I’d seen enough rocks sliding around to know that the ground we were standing on wasn’t entirely stable and rock slides and little girls are not a good combination.   In that moment, I wanted to teach them to respect nature and I also wanted to honor their curiosity, enthusiasm and sense of adventure without dampening it with fear.  So we talked about being aware of our surroundings, testing our footing and choosing to take a different course if the one we were on felt unstable and wouldn’t bear our weight.  As we talked it occurred to me that life is like that.  When we have an invitation to try something new or stretch and grow it can be tempting to default to fear and avoidance while it can be rewarding to tune into our sense of adventure, while also balancing it with a need for stability and respecting the particulars of our ability and the circumstances we find ourselves in.

After playing in the ravine for half an hour the girls made their way back up to the trail with a new kind of confidence, testing different methods of ascent, gently grabbing onto a different root here and there to see if it would hold their weight and then setting their feet on firm paths that would take them where they wanted to go.

Take Action: If you feel the nudge of adventure today, tune into it.  It could be something as small as telling someone how you feel or taking a walk to a new place or it could be bigger like planning a trip to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go.  Be curious and see where adventure takes you all the while respecting your surroundings and your current limitations.  When you’re done soak in the satisfaction that comes from choosing to try something new.

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