The Mirage of Omnicompetence—Colossal Cave (Mile 119.0) to Summerhaven (Mile 183.9) Day 9-12

In a desert there is a phenomenon known as a mirage.

One sees an appearance of something that is not really there. The experience is illusory. Arizona has many deserts and I have had a mirage of my own—only this mirage is a perception on how I see myself.

When hiking great lengths on long-distance trails, it is easy to fall into the deception that one can do anything and everything. After all, human beings can achieve magnificent things if they work hard for them. The problem is that each of us has inherent limitations. Also, human beings make mistakes. One slip and I could be a goner. One careless misjudgment of water and I could succumb to the effects of extreme dehydration. Pride is that terrible evil that says man is capable on his own strength. It’s a mirage, not of a distant water oasis, but of man’s perceived omnicompetence.

You know pride has stubbornly prevented so many of us from accepting the truth about ourselves and about this life—where we came from and what our purpose is for this world.

Self-worship and boasting of our own achievements will mean nothing in the end. It is only what God thinks about us that really matters: “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the LORD commends” (2 Cor. 10:18 ESV). As for myself and this trail, abolishing pride means I cannot take the credit for the things that belong to God. Just a thought. Take this as a pebble in the shoe.

Well now, desert mileage is tough, especially in the summer months; however, I seem to be keeping up with the initial goals set forth of 16 miles per day. The biggest day thus far has been 26.5 mi. Daily quotas are fine but they need to be tamed with flexibility for the unforeseen.

Departing Colossal Cave, I knew I was in for some serious climbing. Arizona has mountains far bigger than most people realize. After obtaining my permit, I was able to pitch my tent at the historic Manning Camp (7,937 ft) atop Saguaro National Park. The saguaros (cacti) were an amazing sight! The thrill of seeing a building-high cactus for the first time was an experience of which I shall never forget. Some of these pokey giants are hundreds of years old! One of the locals told me that in the spring one can find two-armed saguaros blossoming at each end—resembling a man holding two bouquets of flowers.

The climb into Mt. Lemmon was an extremely rough one as the hiker is forced to ascend upon piles and piles of jagged rocks. The Sabino canyon is truly majestic! From the bottom of the canyon (3,695 ft), I climbed to the top (7,294 ft). The tundra scrambling was a challenge enough on its own but it was also a burn area with downed trees covering parts of the trail. Last year there was a major fire in the Mt. Lemmon area that wiped out much of the high alpine forest. It will be a slow regrowth for the community here.

Nonetheless I made it to Summerhaven. I resupplied and charged up at the general store and took the time to enjoy a pint of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. Plus I got a slice of their homemade maple fudge!

184 miles down, 604 remaining.

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