The stress, busyness, and cares of this world can be overwhelming. There are human limitations that I try to defy, like not getting enough sleep and constantly working. Yet God always reminds me that my body needs rest and refreshment to function the way it was designed. I often know when I am at the point of needing some extended time to refresh when I notice what is coming out of my heart, such as irritation at the slightest thing. Recently I was beyond the point of needing a break, so I decided to take a day off work to do what helps me reset, hiking.

I love to hike, and I hope to inspire you to explore the great outdoors as I share my adventures. I usually hike from April-October, taking a break during the cooler months. However, we had some unusual weather in Southern California this February, with temperatures in the 80’s for a short period. The hot weather gave me an opportunity for a winter hike.

I was exploring different hikes, but the ones I wanted to hike had lots of snow, so I had to be selective. I decided to hike in Frazier Park and attempt what is called the 3-2-1 challenge. The name stands for 3 peaks, 2 counties, in 1 day. The hike starts in the 8,000+ elevation and climbs three peaks:

  • Mount Pinos – 8848′ (highest peak in Ventura County)
  • Sawmill Mountain – 8,818′ (highest peak in Kern County)
  • Grouse Mountain – 8,583 (just because it’s so close)

I was a bit surprised by how much snow was on the trail, but I decided to try it. This was my first hike in the snow, and I came prepared with microspikes. I was able to follow the trail for the most part but lost my way a couple of times. The first peak Mount Pinos, was reasonably easy to hike, and the top was anti-climatic since it was full of solar panels. Passing beyond Mount Pinos to Sawmill Mountain was a lot more fun. Again, it was pretty easy to follow, and eventually you end at a point with many rocks so you know that you are at the peak.

Sawmill Mountain

The last stretch of the hike is to Grouse Mountain. This was the most challenging part of the hike as the trail was not defined well in the snow. I was joking with my kids that I was looking for the bear paw prints to help guide my way. The peak at Grouse Mountain had a small sign showing that I had arrived.

Grouse Mountain

I took this hike on a Monday, so very few people were on the trail. For me, there is something about being in nature that refreshes my soul. I have an opportunity to pray without distractions, other than making sure I am still on the right trail! I also promised myself something I had not done in many years; I did not check my email for an entire day. That may seem like something small, but I check my email all the time, including weekends and days when I am off. Usually, I check to make sure there is nothing urgent, but for my day off, I committed to allowing myself to check out completely. It felt good to remember that my tiny little world would be okay without me responding and that tomorrow’s care can wait for tomorrow (Matt 6:34).

On this half-day trip, I was reminded again that God is on His throne, and I can enjoy time alone without constantly thinking about the next email, text message, or other notification. There are various ways to refresh the soul (hiking, sleeping, exercise, entertainment, reading, or vacations), and I would encourage you to find one that works for you and to do it.

Until the next hike…

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