Monday, August 3, 2009

Just Around The Next Bend

Sweat beaded my brow despite the coolness of the mountains of southern Colorado. We had been on the trail for hours. My lack of physical preparation coupled with a zeal for packing more than I needed resulted in tired muscles and a dull mind.

My companions and I started the morning hike to Archuletta Lake full of excitement. You know's the emotion you feel when you don't fully understand what you are getting yourself into? Yeah. Thought so.

After a few miles hiking uphill with a seventy pound backpack, our excitement began to wane. One of my companions...younger and in better shape than the other two...was also born with a larger dose of optimism than we had. He encouraged us along the trail. His method was to hike ahead of us up the trail and then take a break with his hands on his hips and a smile on his face. When we caught up with him, our sea-level lungs burning from trying to distill oxygen from the thin mountain air, he would turn and head farther up the trail. I don't curse, but I was saving some choice words for him. I don't think he ever even broke a sweat.

Our goal was to reach a small alpine lake, and to camp there for half a week, while fly fishing for trout. It was my first trip to this area, but my companions had vacationed here frequently.
The scenery was beautiful, but I began to fail to notice due to the severity of my exertion. Six hours on the trail passed. Then seven hours. We began to give up hope of finding the camp shown on our map by sundown. Our cheerful companion Reagan said;
"c'mon guys, it's gotta be just around the next bend".

My leg started to cramp around the 9th hour of the hike, and my rest breaks became more frequent. Reagan kept encouraging...
"it can't be much farther, let's go around the next bend".

Around the next bend we went, and the next, and the next. Then my other leg began to cramp. I thought about pitching my tent by the trail to spend the night, rather than trying to continue. Reagan went on ahead, where finally he located the campground, and shouted more encouragement to us, guiding us in.

Kevin and I drug into camp and we pitched our tents together. The days that followed are etched into my memory, and we three share some inside jokes and stories from that trip that now are only shared by two.

You see, Reagan has gone on ahead of us on the trail. He is in the campground and is shouting encouragement to us with the saints of heaven...if I look and listen I can see and hear him just now...

"Come on y''s not much's just around the bend".

In Memory of Reagan Center; February 22, 1971 - July 29, 2009


Steph said...

Beautiful, Mark. What a wonderful way to remember Reagan. Thank you for sharing this. He is so greatly missed.

Love y'all.

Drew said...

I didn't know Reagan all that well, but I was able to spend some time with him while he was active at GHBC and in various encounters around the dinner table from time to time. Going to the memorial, while of course a time of sadness, always serves to strengthen my hope because seeing the people that show up is an amazing testament to the life that the person led. In both this memorial and my own mother's funeral, that was far more encouraging to me than anything else. Funerals cause people to remember the good times and freely share stories, and that's when you really get to see what the person was like and what they meant to the people that loved them.

As I listened today, I could just imagine God saying to Reagan when he showed up in Heaven, "Well, I had this whole long life planned out for you, but just like everything else in life, you just got it finished so fast! I created you to achieve, but this is ridiculous!"

This story is a fantastic way to remember him, and I'm glad you chose to share it. It just serves to further fill in my picture and my own memories of who Reagan was, and will give me more things to talk to him about when I meet up with him back at "base camp".

momma p said...

Very nice, Mark. A beautiful tribute.

Mark said...

Thanks all. I plan to go back to this spot next year, and remember more.