When I was in college, I was the doodler. I have journals and journals full of notes on Chemistry with pictures of mountains and streams all throughout. I am not good at drawing, but mountains are not hard to draw. Mountains are simple to draw, and simple to the eye, but climbing mountains is very complex. When I arrived in Salt Lake City, I was told the first thing that we would do together as Fellows was climb a mountain together. We drove out to the Uintas, a beautiful mountain range to the east of Salt Lake City where we would pack our way up to the base of Ostler Peak and Lake Amethyst. The group of us that were in the Fellows program came to involve ourselves in community and this was the first time that we would all hang out. The hike was about five miles to the place that we would be camping and the hike was grueling, but I think that was really important to that first time together.
There is this old video that REI put out about an ultra runner that I love. In the video he is talking about the fellowship of the sport and he says something that I find so true about life. “Suffering breeds comradery”. As we all hiked gasping for air we laughed about it, and it brought us closer. After a few hours of hiking, we made it to our campsite, a massive meadow below huge peaks that spanned every direction. It was something out of a dream. There were flowers all over the meadow and even a stream that ran through it where one could see trout darting around from rock to rock. We even went up to a small lake and jumped in the icy cold water. It took your breath away the moment you touched it, but after a long hike with a pack on, it was exactly what we all needed. As the sun set we built a fire and sat around for hours talking and laughing. We played games and told stories and it didn’t feel like anyone was a stranger. It felt like we were already 3 months into the program.
That night we all huddled up in our tents and experienced our first rain in the high elements. We got blasted by rain and there was lightning flashing and we were getting wet as we slept, but we were happy. I remember waking up, and building a fire the next morning while shivering with a smile ear to ear. I was excited about my new community and all the hard things we had already gone through together. I thought about that quote over and over, “suffering breeds comradery”. All we were doing was growing closer out there in the mountains. The next day we took some time to go be by ourselves in the mountains. I sat on a huge rock scramble for a bit and watched the marmots and pikas poke their heads out at me. I got to use that time to pray for the year and what I wanted out of this year.
For some people I think this program is a year of rest, or maybe a lull between undergrad and graduate school. For me, this program represents new beginnings. I always knew I wanted to move west after school and now I had the chance to be in a place I really connected with (SLC). This program had created a healthy community for me, which is not something to be taken for granted. This past summer I learned about just how important love is. In case you were not aware, love is everything (1 Corinthians 13; John 15). I was realizing as I sat on those rocks that with this new beginning came new opportunities to learn how to love well. I was going to be surrounded by people that were both easy and hard to love at times and I really suck at loving people that are hard to love. I was going to be in this new city and I was going to encounter people that needed love, but if I couldn’t love my own community well, how would I ever love the city well. This was pretty convicting for me at the time.
At the end of the trip we went to a burger place in Park City and it was cool to see everyone stretched across this long table. We were all exhausted and stinky, but all with big smiles just excited to be in the company of great community. I don’t think I will ever forget that first backpacking trip with everyone; I have never been with a group of people that connected so quickly, but that is what adventure does, it connects people.
SLF Class of 18-19