Wild Goose Chase – 2009

Wild Goose Chase – 2009

It was a glorious morning … a Sunday morning filled with excitement and adrenaline.

Almost 100 men were preparing their packs, getting their water supply firmed up, making those last minute adjustments to their hiking boots.

It was time to hike four 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado – Mt. Democrat, Lincoln. Cameron and Bross.

We gathered as a group… a band of brothers… and prayed for what God would show us on these mountains. We prayed for health and good weather. We prayed that the Wild Goose in us, the Holy Spirit, would impact us today. And then we set off…

The trail was narrow and steep for the first 1/4 of a mile and I was way in the back, as I was finishing up a few logistical things before heading up the trail. As I moved up the trail and began to pass people, there was a knot in my stomach that was telling me that this was not the right trail. Having looked at the topo map just an hour ago, things did not look right. That gave me great concerrn.

Many men were way ahead of me and from what I could see, were venturing into areas that we did not want to be in. I picked up my pace and caught more and more men. I called out to the lead group to wait so that we could get our bearings. At this point, we had hiked a good 3/4 of a mile and had made an elevation gain of about 700 feet.

As soon as I got to that lead group, I realized that we had taken the wrong trail. We could not get to where we needed to go without going back down the same trail that the men had just hiked. For many, this was their first experience with hiking and many were tired. The ascent had been short and steep. I needed to break it to them that we needed to backtrack and go back to the trailhead.

And so we descended. As we returned, we turned men back and explained the situation. Some were not happy. Others were perplexed. I was sorely disappointed in having allowed these men to go up a trail that led to nowhere. Would they forgive me? Would they understand?

After Peak Challenge 2009 was over, one man sent me an email that said this:

It’s amazing how God uses what we think are mistakes. When we went up the first trail, I was still suffering from dizziness caused by medication. (I had hoped the dizziness would subside enough for me to make the climb.) I lost my balance a couple of times, once almost going over backwards. I didn’t want to quit, but I knew I was putting myself–and maybe others–in danger. I was thinking about this when I heard the decision to take another trail. To me, it seemed as if He was providing an answer and protecting me. 


Here was my response to that man: 

The statement you made above is so very true. I was rather upset at myself at not stopping the guys that went up the wrong trail too early. I was not happy at all as I caught up to the lead group and began to assess that we were on the wrong trail. In one sense, it was an easy decision to go back down, as going further would have put men at risk of some serious danger. The hard decision was to tell men that they had just spent 45 minutes climbing a tough section of trail and would need to return. I had many unhappy faces looking at me and I am sure that my name was being muttered under the breaths of many! 🙂

But it was the right thing to do. I take blame for it but I will not let it become a cage of failure, as that “wild goose chase” up Buckskin trail turned out to be a blessing for many, such as yourself. It was not intended, but that trip is a reminder that sometimes we head down the wrong trail and need to stop, assess and make hard decisions with our “band of brothers” about turning around. Here it was a mountain path, but in life, it is an addiction, a sin, an unwillingness to forgive, stubborness or a sense of loneliness or lack of self worth. God uses these times to point us on the right path.

It’s amazing how God uses what we think are mistakes.

We finished that day without incident and having many men get to all four peaks. It was not a wild goose chase in the sense that the world sees it, but it was a chase after the wild goose.

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