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The Craven And The Crag Chapter Four

Updated on August 12, 2013

In the previous chapter, Raven hits a major snag at summer camp; she's one of those types who can't swim, no matter how many lessons she's had. To read about it, please visit this link:

http://sayyestolife.hubpages.com/hub/The-Craven-and-The-Crag-Chapter-One-Part-3

Jacob's Visit To Heaven

“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath entered the heart of man, the things God hath prepared for those who love Him.” I Corinthians 2:9.

On the easel in front of our church Sabbath School room was a painting of heaven. Sitting in front of the shining City of Gold was the Sea of Glass, set among rolling hills of plush green moss laced with flowers, among which white-robed people blissfully strolled. Mrs. Vessels, Kitty’s mother, was teaching the lesson. “Whatever sacrifices we make here on Earth are all worthwhile. Our reward in the next life will dwarf any pleasures we give up here,” she told our junior youth group, which ranged from ages 10 – 14 (I being the youngest, since my 10th birthday was 2 weeks away).

Walking home from Grand Avenue church, I asked my brother Jacob, “Why do you suppose Mrs. Vessels would talk to us about giving up pleasures for heaven at our age?”

“It may be a little early for you, but I’m about to enter junior high,” he answered. “That’s usually when kids start smoking, drinking, and using drugs. Come to think of it, we can make our own heaven on earth by avoiding those, and staying healthy. That way, we can enjoy all sorts of fun things, plus keep better company.”

We passed Lakeshore, one of the nicest city parks in Oakland, Ca. Beyond a small patch of lawn and ornate Greek doric arches, under which long-haired hippie guys and girls in maxi skirts strolled, was Lake Merritt. The perfect reflection of the blue sky belied the fact that it was so polluted, people were not allowed to swim in it. “If you stretch your imagination, it kind of looks like the picture in the Sabbath School room, huh?” I asked Jacob.

“That picture is so lame,” he sneered.

I was surprised. “You really think so?’

“Of course! Desolation Valley’s far prettier!”

“How can you say that? It’s here on Earth, and with a name like Desolation Valley, it can’t be that beautiful.”

“Since no one’s been to heaven, how do they know it looks like that painting?”

He had me there.

“You haven’t seen it because you spent the whole time at Pinecrest Camp in the forest,” Jacob said

“I went to Lake Tahoe. Surely it’s not prettier than that.”

“Yes it is.”

Really?” I was incredulous.

“You need to climb above the forest to see it.”

“Like to Upper Inspiration Point?”

“That’s about half way.”

“I could never do that! The Ralston Trail is like a ladder!”

“Yeah, it’s hard. But along the way is a magic rock that seeps a pool of water. Drinking it gives you energy to get to the Ralston Shoulder.

I was intrigued by the idea of a magic rock that seeped energy-yielding water, but had a hard time believing it, because of how easily I got tired at Pinecrest’s 7,000 foot altitude. “Did it really give you energy?” I asked.

“Yes! After drinking it, I suddenly got a burst of energy. The wind kicked up, and I pulled my jacket over my head and ran up the trail!”

“You ran up Ralston Trail?”

“Yes, I really did. I don’t know what happened, but drinking that water worked.”

“Well, I’ll have to go find that rock and test it out for myself. If it works, I’ll fill my canteen with it.”

“Shucks! I should have thought of that! But Desolation Valley has lots of lakes, and the best water in the world.”

“I had one cabin mate, Susie, who took the Mountaineering class. Do you remember her?

“No I don’t. She must have taken it a different week. There were no girls in our group.”

“She came back all sunburnt and peeling. She said the whole experience was harrowing. She got really thirsty and ate snow, which made it worse.”

“You’re not supposed to eat snow when you’re thirsty. Plus, with all the lakes back there, I can’t see why she didn’t just drink out of one. As for getting sunburned, you’re supposed to wear long sleeves and a hat, or use sunscreen.”

“So you guys spend 3 days out in the wilderness? You drink out of lakes, cook over a campfire, and sleep on the ground? How many of you guys were there?”

“There were about 20 of us, with 3 leaders; Bob and Dick, who taught us rock climbing, and Jan, who was the cook. We go out the 1st day, and come back the 3rd. We’re only 5 miles from Pinecrest, though it feels like we’re in the middle of nowhere. You know that giant rocky mountain by the Evening Campfire Bowl?”

“Yeah. That’s Mount Ralston, isn’t it?”

Actually, that’s just the shoulder. We stopped and had lunch there. Below us was the most incredible view! The valley looked as if it were carved out of silver, and the lakes had a weird look to them, like they could glow in the dark. Behind it all were Pyramid Peak and the Crystal Ridge. I know it sound weird, but looking at it, I heard the angels sing.”

“Crystal Ridge? Is it really made of crystal?”

“Of course not; it’s granite just like the rest of the mountains. The place would burn up if it were made of crystal. Anyway, after lunch, it was an easy downhill hike to Lake of the Woods, which looks like the Sea of Glass in the picture. After we took off our packs, we felt as if we were flying. We ran around flapping our arms.

“Jan cooked dinner. I’ll warn you, she’s the world’s worst cook! But we were so hungry, we didn’t mind. Later that evening, Dick led worship around the fire, and then we went to bed in our sleeping bags. That’s right, you’ve never slept outdoors before, have you?”

“No, but I know what the night sky looks like.”

“It’s like nothing you’ve seen before. The sky looks like those pictures of galaxies in space. I kept seeing all these shooting stars. I think I drove Bob crazy, ‘cause I’d yell every time I saw one. Finally, he clapped his hand over my mouth.”

The thought of camping by the Sea of Glass, flying, and sleeping under galaxies fascinated me. “Well – maybe I’ll try it next summer,” I said.

“You should! Actually, it gets even better. The next day, we did rock climbing and rappelling.”

I cringed. “Uh - do you have to? Rappelling is what freaked out Susie.”

“Yes, you have to; after all, it is a mountaineering class. But actually, rappelling is no big deal. You just hold on to the rope and walk down the cliff. We wore a diaper sling, so that made it easier. Some people just wrap the rope around themselves once; that’s called a body rappel. Climbing is what’s hard. You have to stand on these tiny knobs. I did a 5:1.”

“What’s a 5:1?”

“It’s one of the easiest classifications. They go from 5:0 to 5:12. To do a 5:12, you need special climbing shoes with stiff soles, so you can stand on knobs too tiny to see.

“So we spent the morning rock climbing. After lunch, Bob offered to take some of us up Pyramid Peak, which is the highest mountain in the area. That, you don’t have to do. Most of the group went back to the campsite to swim and rest. Only about 4 of us went with Bob.

“We hiked along the valley floor; it’s not that hard. But when we reached Pyramid Peak, it was extremely steep. The only place we could climb was on the snow patch.”

“A snow patch? In August?”

“Yeah, didn’t you see all those snow patches in the mountains? They’re always there. So we’re climbing up it, when all of a sudden, an avalanche buried us.”

I was horrified. “It did? Anyone get hurt?”

“No one got hurt. It was just a small one. I was the first to dig myself out, and in the front of the line, I saw Bob’s ice axe waving in the air.”

“Didn’t you get cold and wet?”

“I didn’t. I dug myself out too fast. Some of the kids did, but the air is really dry, so it didn’t last long. It was pretty hot, too.

“We got to the summit, and what a view! It’s like the one from the Ralston Shoulder, only better!

“Crystal Ridge? Is it really made of crystal?”

“Of course not; it’s granite just like the rest of the mountains. The place would burn up if it were made of crystal. Anyway, after lunch, it was an easy downhill hike to Lake of the Woods, which looks like the Sea of Glass in the picture. After we took off our packs, we felt as if we were flying. We ran around flapping our arms.

“Jan cooked dinner. I’ll warn you, she’s the world’s worst cook! But we were so hungry, we didn’t mind. Later that evening, Dick led worship around the fire, and then we went to bed in our sleeping bags. That’s right, you’ve never slept outdoors before, have you?”

“No, but I know what the night sky looks like.”

“It’s like nothing you’ve seen before. The sky looks like those pictures of galaxies in space. I kept seeing all these shooting stars. I think I drove Bob crazy, ‘cause I’d yell every time I saw one. Finally, he clapped his hand over my mouth.”

The thought of camping by the Sea of Glass, flying, and sleeping under galaxies fascinated me. “Well – maybe I’ll try it next summer,” I said.

“You should! Actually, it gets even better. The next day, we did rock climbing and rappelling.”

I cringed. “Uh - do you have to? Rappelling is what freaked out Susie.”

“Yes, you have to; after all, it is a mountaineering class. But actually, rappelling is no big deal. You just hold on to the rope and walk down the cliff. We wore a diaper sling, so that made it easier. Some people just wrap the rope around themselves once; that’s called a body rappel. Climbing is what’s hard. You have to stand on these tiny knobs. I did a 5:1.”

“What’s a 5:1?”

“It’s one of the easiest classifications. They go from 5:0 to 5:12. To do a 5:12, you need special climbing shoes with stiff soles, so you can stand on knobs too tiny to see.

“So we spent the morning rock climbing. After lunch, Bob offered to take some of us up Pyramid Peak, which is the highest mountain in the area. That, you don’t have to do. Most of the group went back to the campsite to swim and rest. Only about 4 of us went with Bob.

“We hiked along the valley floor; it’s not that hard. But when we reached Pyramid Peak, it was extremely steep. The only place we could climb was on the snow patch.”

“A snow patch? In August?”

“Yeah, didn’t you see all those snow patches in the mountains? They’re always there. So we’re climbing up it, when all of a sudden, an avalanche buried us.”

I was horrified. “It did? Anyone get hurt?”

“No one got hurt. It was just a small one. I was the first to dig myself out, and in the front of the line, I saw Bob’s ice axe waving in the air.”

“Didn’t you get cold and wet?”

“I didn’t. I dug myself out too fast. Some of the kids did, but the air is really dry, so it didn’t last long. It was pretty hot, too.

“We got to the summit, and what a view! It’s like the one from the Ralston Shoulder, only better!

“We returned to camp, and had dinner. There were little clouds scattered all over the sky. They all grouped over Lake of the Woods, forming one big cloud, and the cloud started raining. It moved all over the valley, wetting everything a little. Then it went back over Lake of the Woods, broke up into little clouds again, and they all drifted off.”

“How neat!” I exclaimed, intrigued again. “But I don’t know if I can rock climb or rappel.”

“Bob will help you. He knows all about mountaineering.”

I was still uneasy. “I don’t know – Susie said she’d never do it again. Among other things, she wore out her desert boots on that trip.”

“Desert boots don’t last any time,” Jacob sneered. “You need to wear hiking boots.”

“Well – I don’t know – I want to try it next summer, but I’m scared.”

“Some kids were scared on that trip. Actually, I was a little scared, too. But Bob was able to help us. It’s really great to have a leader who knows what he’s doing. I learned a lot about myself on that trip. I said that to Bob, and he told me to always remember what the mountains taught me.”

“And what did the mountains teach you?”

“Among other things, they taught me there’s no reason to be afraid if you’re well prepared.”

By now, we’d arrived home. In front of our house was a pile of ugly gray rocks. The previous winter had been extremely rainy, and several sewer lines had ruptured because of flooding, so our street was being torn up to lay down new pipes. I had made a delightful discovery that the ugly gray rocks contained blue lace agates, so I always stopped to look for them whenever I passed the rock pile.

“Did you find any pretty rocks out there?” I asked Jacob.

“No, because I didn’t look for any. But I’m sure you can. After all, granite is full of quartz and mica; that’s what makes it glitter.”

That night, I dreamed of a magical valley carved out of silver with seas of glass that contained the world’s best water, dancing clouds that delivered rain, and fragrant air filled with the songs of angels. The next morning, I was actually convinced it was worth it to risk Susie’s sufferings to go to such a place.

© 2013 Yoleen Lucas

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