Nov 04

Back to the JMT: North Lake South Lake “Evolution Loop”

Roaring waterfalls, swollen streams, sketchy snow bridges, fat marmots, green meadows, acres of snow fields, frozen lakes and everywhere you looked, a colorful array of wildflowers!  That pretty much sums ups my trek back to the JMT last July.  So if you are short on time just skip the text and scroll through the pics.  But if you have time (and the interest) for the back story, what follows is the setting and an overview of each day.


Last year (summer of 2016) I had intended to hike the entire John Muir Trail (JMT) with a couple of friends.  The JMT is a 220 mile trail in the Sierra’s.  This is a short trail by through-hiker standards but it is epic when it comes to beauty.  About half way through our trip (mile 116) a member of our party sustained an injury so we hiked out and did not finish.  You can find that story and the pics to go with it here:  This year my goal was to go back and finish the trail.  The plan was for me to start the trek with my friend Sarah and her friend Rachel.  They had permits for the North Lake, South Lake Loop (also known as Evolution Loop).  On day six they were going to head home over Bishop Pass and I was going to continue down the JMT until I finished at Whitney.  I was hoping to finish the entire piece in about 12 days but I packed food for 13 days just in case.  I also packed my micro-spikes as I expected snow in the passes.   I should have looked at things a little more closely and prepared a little differently as it was a 200% snow pack year.  Let’s just say I could have used a little winter experience training despite it being July.  With all of my gear and food my pack weighed in at 46 lbs–never again!  If you are reading this and planning a trip of your own, pack food for 7 days and spend the extra time hiking out at Kearsarge to resupply your food or pay a mule pack to bring it to you.  My pack was way too heavy, especially considering the conditions and my size!


Having dropped my car at Whitney Portal the day before and Rachel’s car at South Lake, we drove Sarah’s car to our trailhead–North Lake.  The weather was perfect but it became apparent quite quickly that the trail conditions would be very different this year.  There was water everywhere!  We had packed water sandals for stream crossings but the stream crossings were too numerous to count and often the trail was under water.  So we saved our water sandals to wear as dry footwear at camp and hiked through all the stream crossings in our trail shoes.  I was concerned that having wet feet all day would lead to blisters but I didn’t have any problems with my feet the entire time I was out there.

One of the first of “too numerous to count” water crossings.

 It is five miles from North Lake to Piute Pass.  About half way up we encountered our first patch of snow so I put on my spikes.  The section was still icy and my spikes would not bite so I ended up sliding down a short section.  I was not injured but it was a wake-up call that perhaps I was not as prepared as I needed to be.

The summit was beautiful and after taking a break we hiked down 3-4 miles to our first camping spot not far from Lower Golden Trout Lake.  There were very few people in this section so we had our camp and a small stream all to ourselves.  We set up camp and soaked in the icy cold snow melt.

My tent! Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2


The next day we continued our trek to the JMT.  Water and wildflowers were in abundance.  We found it safer to do the deeper stream crossings by hiking farther upstream and crossing over the tributaries which were more narrow.

The rushing streams brought to mind the lyrics of an old Rich Mullins song, “and the streams were all swollen with winter, winter unfrozen free to run away now…”

We also came across evidence of how violent the winter storms had been as we climbed over fields of dead trees which had been snapped at their base by snow and rock avalanches.

The trail followed along the Piute which roared beside us and at one point disappeared under an epic snow bridge.

The picture doesn’t do this snow bridge justice–it was huge! The trees around it are at least 20 -30 feet tall!

The last mile of the trail was very technical and exhausting.  As we came around a corner a hiker met us going the other way.  After greeting him he asked if this was the way to get the mail.  At first it sounded ridiculous and then I realized he was looking for Muir Trail Ranch (a place where you can mail a resupply of food and pick it up while hiking).  Not only was he nowhere near it, he was on the wrong trail.  We escorted him back down the trail and I overheard him murmuring something about not being able to read the map and people telling him the wrong directions and being lost the last four days.  Once we connected with the JMT we sent him the right direction to MTR which was 3 miles away.  It was crazy to think someone would be out in the wilderness without proper navigation and without researching the route.

We crossed the bridge over the Piute and found a beautiful place to camp.  We quickly set up, bathed, ate dinner and, since we were under 10,000 feet and had a fire permit, we lit a campfire.  The cool thing was the previous campers had already gathered the wood and set it up.  All we had to do was light it.  A little trail magic!

Look close and you will see my little orange tent on the left. I like how it provides perspective to the size of the trees and breadth of the water.


This day was nostalgic as I had hiked the opening miles the previous year before doubling back and hiking out when my friend became injured.  I didn’t mind hiking it again though as it was stunning!  It was a relatively easy day as the trail followed the San Joaquin River for a couple of miles, crossing back over it on a bridge to the only real switchbacks of the day.

The switchbacks climbed along the side of Evolution Falls which roared past.  It became the perfect lunch spot.


About a mile past the Falls was the Evolution Creek crossing which, due to the snow run off was considered very dangerous this year.  Last year when we crossed here it was at mid-thigh height.  This year it would have been up to our neck so we hiked up river to a safer alternative crossing which was mellow with water just below our waist.

Rachel looking out at the regular crossing of Evolution Creek. It was chest to neck deep in the middle so we hiked up to the alternate crossing.

After another 1.5 miles we made it to McClure Meadows which was peaceful and serene.  It was only 2pm so we set up camp and had time to do our laundry and bathe.

My laundry log! 🙂


 At McClure Meadow we had some strange encounters with deer.  Apparently they were salt deprived and were attracted to the salt in our urine.  So when nature called so did the deer.  Honestly it was a bit unnerving as they seemed a bit impatient imposing on our privacy.  So be deer aware in deer country!  We ended the night with a campfire.


The hike through the remainder of Evolution Valley was stunning–especially the climb up to Evolution Lake!  WOW!  Words fail to express how beautiful it was!  Imagine a green carpet with numerous gently flowing streams all edged with a colorful array of wildflowers.


While eating lunch at Evolution Lake a group of five young men passed by with heavy backpacks filled with camera gear.  Apparently they were filming a documentary.  We watched for a while as a couple of them took turns diving off a cliff into ice cold (literally) Evolution Lake.  Their screams when they came up out of the water made it very clear the water was more than refreshing!  CRAZY!

As we rounded Evolution Lake we began to encounter large snow patches.

Our plan that day was to hike to Wanda Lake so we could be closer to Muir Pass in the morning.  But when we got to Sapphire Lake we found it still partially frozen (in the third week of July!).  We were also confronted with a huge snow field which would stay with us until the other side of Muir Pass.

We found one of the last snow free spots at Sapphire and set up camp.  A little while later a dad, his college age son and a young guy from the Mt Baldy area came up the trail.  Seeing the snow field ahead they decided to stop as well and became our neighbors.  It was nice to have company so we invited them to have dinner with us and from here on banded together as one big group.

That night was pretty cold.  Fires were prohibited in this section due to our elevation.  It was the only night during the trip when I slept in my wools and puffy’s.


We waited long enough in the morning for the ice on the snow to melt and then we began the trek up and over Muir Pass which required traversing seven miles of snow!  It was beautiful!  The footpath took us though an expanse of sun cups and meandered along the edge of frozen lakes all while climbing to almost 13,000 feet..

Occasionally we scrambled over boulders and crossed fast-moving streams.  To avoid sunburn we did our best to cover our skin with clothing and slathered sunscreen on our face, neck and inside our nostrils.  That probably seems strange but the glare from the sun off the snow can come up and burn the inside of your nostrils–a situation we were all eager to avoid!

Rachel doing her best to keep her skin out of the sun!

I wore my micro-spikes which I had used before but never in conditions like this.  As long as I stayed in the boot path I was okay.  About half way up I stepped off the boot path and into a sun cup and fell.  I was not injured but my trekking pole had wedged into a rock buried in the snow and it broke.  I was shocked.  I had no idea a pole could break so easily.  In a normal year (aka not a 200% snow pack year) a broken pole would not be that big of a deal.  But since I was a novice in snow travel and I needed both poles for stream crossings I knew I was in trouble.

We finally made it to the Muir Hut at the top of the pass where we ate lunch.

Hanging out inside the Hut

 While there we tried to splint my pole using the broken piece, the long tube from my lighter, duct tape and zip ties but it would not hold.  Sarah and Rachel had far more experience on snow than I did so they took turns letting me use one of their poles.  Dell, the dad we had met the day before, worked with me on how to dig my heel into the snow which helped tremendously.  But now the snow was getting soft and mushy and holes were suddenly appearing revealing buried rocks and trees–a perfect place to break an ankle.

Sarah stayed with me on the steeper descents.  As we readied ourselves to go down the steepest one of the day we watched four trail runners come zipping past us.  They were wearing running gear and had day packs.  We were surprised to see them.  It turns out there is an elite running group in the Bishop area and they were running in one day what was taking us a week to backpack!  They were agile like mountain goats and floated down the descent, sometimes in a controlled slide.  It was amazing to watch and I was humbled!  Once they went past I slowly made my way down.  There was a sketchy spot with a menacing hole where I fell and accidentally did my first ever glissade (butt slide) down the hill.  Thanks to the soft snow I was able to dig in, stop and traverse back to the trail.

Eventually we made it out of the snow and alongside some beautiful streams while passing the rock monster.  That night we camped at Pete’s Meadow.


A little silliness on the trail. 🙂

Along the way we crossed a fast moving swollen stream and I tried to take it with just one pole but got stuck.  Rachel tossed me her pole and as I finally got myself out I realized I had a decision to make.  If I continued on to Whitney I would have four more passes higher than Muir Pass to cross plus swollen streams.  If I borrowed one of my friends poles it would leave them without a pole and in these conditions there was no way I was going to do that.  My left knee was swollen as the tendonitis I had been nursing all spring had flared up.  In the late afternoons my knee often felt like it could give out completely.  I also knew I did not have the winter skills I needed for the conditions.  I realized if I continued I would be a liability to myself and others so that evening I made the choice to hike out early at Bishop Pass.  I also committed to finding a winter skills course so I could get more training and return on another day to finish the JMT.


In the morning I let the others know of my decision to hike out.  The cool thing was Rachel had an open schedule and she had winter skills so we swapped permits and she continued on to Whitney and I headed out with Sarah toward the junction to Bishop Pass.  Our first couple of miles were flat with one unnerving snow bridge which we crossed carefully.  At the junction we began a very steep climb up to Dusy Basin.  The view was amazing and the waterfall was spectacular.

Dusy Basin was insanely beautiful!  The snow had just melted out and the meadows were a dazzling green with small streams meandering slowly as they made their way to the lake.  Everywhere you looked wildflowers were bursting forth in brilliant colors.  It was like walking through a resort but none of it manmade; all of it crafted by the hand of God.  We found a beautiful camp site and called it a day.




The sunrise at our private little resort of Dusy Basin was peaceful and soothing to the soul.

We were on the trail by 8am with 1,000 feet to climb to the top of Bishop Pass which measures in at 11,980 feet.

Top of Bishop Pass.

The entire hike out was beautiful but then that was how this entire trip had been.  Thankfully the snow going over the pass was not too bad and the switchbacks were snow free.  There is no way I would ever want to do those switchbacks in snow!

Sarah looking back on some very steep switchbacks we had just descended. It is difficult to see them in the pic but they wound down the center outcrop of rock before skirting the snow.


Our feet stayed wet the entire day with continuous stream crossings.  One of the crossings was sketchy as we balanced on rocks that moved as we pushed off them.


We were very grateful we did not have to cross this snow bridge!

As we neared the end a storm was blowing in (the only one we encountered the entire week) and we raced it to the car.  We won, but barely.  As soon as we closed the door the rain began to fall but, other than our feet, we were dry.  And while we were tired we felt especially blessed for having spent a week in paradise.

Oct 16

Rafting the Colorado River Through the Grand Canyon

Raft the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in the spring with periodic stops to hike in remote locations along the way?  Yes, please!!!  And so I invited my friend Evelyn to come along and we made reservations seventeen months prior to our departure date.  Yes seventeen months in advance–these trips sell out early!  When I was researching companies I came across C.R.A.T.E. (Colorado River And Trail Expeditions) and their five-day spring hikers special, while only travelling through half the Grand Canyon, caught my eye as it fit my calendar and my budget.

So after church on Easter Sunday we jumped into my car and headed to Marble Canyon where we would stay the night and then meet up with the group at Lee’s Ferry on Monday morning.  Below is an overview of each day with some of my favorite pics.  Enjoy!

Day 1: Lee’s Ferry to North Canyon–20 miles

On Monday morning we met up with our group at Lee’s Ferry. There were two rafts motorized rafts called S-Rigs. The guide powered the raft from the back. Food and drinks for the week were stored below the deck while all our gear was loaded in the mid-section and around the perimeter. Each raft carried 13-14 people and we rode in the front on top of the platform using the gear bags as seats.

 From the very beginning the views were spectacular. The farther we travelled along the river the deeper the canyon became.  As it deepened new layers of the canyon were exposed. One of the crew members was a geologist from the Smithsonian who pointed out interesting details and gave short talks explaining the formation of the canyon.  Having never taken a geology class I found it fascinating!

The first day was fairly rapid free. When we pulled up on the beach to camp for the night the first order of business was to claim a sleeping location somewhere along the beach. Evelyn and I were a little slow getting off the raft so when we went to find a place to camp all the good, close places were taken.  So we had to hike a little farther inland  laden down with our gear bags and the promise of a more “wilderness experience”. We would not make that mistake again!

The company provided us each with a cot, foam mattress, a sleeping bag, two gear bags and an ammo box.  The first gear bag held the items previously listed.  The second gear bag was filled with our personal items.  The ammo box was for our carry-ons which we wanted access to during the day (sunscreen, camera, rain gear, etc.).  There were no tents. If it rained we had a sheet of plastic to put over us. Everyone slept cowboy style under the stars. This was a first for me–and it was beautiful!

Our first night wilderness experience–hoping no large critters would come slinking down the canyon in the middle of the night.

The crew cooked dinner (Salmon the first night!) and then we were off to bed. We fell asleep to the sound of the river under a blanket of stars.

Our guides and cooks.

Day 2: North Canyon to Eminence–mile 20-44

After breakfast the day began with a 2 mile hike in North Canyon. It was an out and back with a small pool at the end. Swallowtail caterpillars covered a small tree.  The cactus blooms were magnificent!

One of my favorite pics!

Once on the rafts we were in rapids immediately.  The first 10 miles (miles 20-30) were known as the Roaring 20’s. At mile 32 we came across Vasey’s Paradise where fountains of water burst forth from the rock.  It was so beautiful!

We had lunch at Redwall Canyon which was an amazing cavern filled with a sandy beach.

While here our friend the geologist pointed out some fossils…

At mile 39 we stopped for a short hike up Redbud Alcove.

At mile 41 we came across a group waiting for a helicopter rescue. One of the guys in their group had broken his ankle scrambling over rocks.

At mile 44 we pulled off to camp at Eminence. I decided to wash my hair that night and wow was the water cold–a scalp numbing 46 degrees!  Truth be told, this was the only day I washed my hair!

Day 3: Eminence to Carbon Canyon–miles 44-65

After breakfast we rafted a couple of miles to Saddle Canyon where we stopped to hike and eat lunch. The trail was a single track technical climb for two miles to a waterfall once blocked by a large boulder. The boulder was blown out by a huge storm providing easy access to the gently cascading water in the narrow canyon.

Another one of my favorite pics! Love this waterfall!

After lunch we rafted past the Puebloan granaries located high on the cliffs above.

I zoomed in to get this shot. the granaries were located high on the canyon wall. Native Americans used them to store their grain centuries ago.

At mile 62 we found the Little Colorado River to be flowing blue (after storms it often flows brown due to silt runoff). Since the water was clean we beached the rafts, grabbed our floatation devices turning them into floating diapers and floated through the small rapids in the warm water–so fun!

It was so cool to see the contrast in colors where the Colorado River met the Little Colorado River.


Evelyn floating down the river through the rapids.


That night we camped at Carbon Canyon where we had a view of the Desert View Watchtowers (sorry, no pic!).

Day 4: Carbon Canyon to Zoroaster–mile 65-85

We began the day with an amazing 4 mile hike in Carbon Canyon. The first mile required scrambling over an old rockfall. Next we hiked through a slot canyon with a narrow stream flowing through it. This opened up to an area where the rocks had been turned ninety degrees due to the fault lying below it. We hiked along the fault line with amazing views of the North Rim before heading back to the Colorado River at Lava Canyon.

At lunch we stopped at Tanner where one of the guys in our group who had been sick most of the time was helicoptered out. The afternoon was spent running numerous large rapids–I was drenched!  As I wrote earlier the water was 46 degrees so being baptized by a wave was quite an exhilarating experience.  We wore rain gear when going through the rapids to help keep us dry.  The platform we were sitting on had ropes which crisscrossed the mat wear we sat.  As we prepared to enter a rapid the guide would let us know if it was a one-hand or two-hands rapid referring to how many hands should be used to hang on.  I sat in the front and center so I took a few in the face–so fun!


That night we camped at Zoroaster.

Day 5: Zoroaster to Phantom Ranch–mile 85-88. Then hiked out to South Rim.

We had an early start and rafted the three remaining miles to Phantom Ranch. There were four of us getting off there. Everyone else was continuing on for another week to raft the entire canyon. It was a beautiful hike out and up covering 9.5 miles with 5000 feet of elevation gain. We arrived at the South Rim around 2:30pm ready for a shower, a real bed and dinner!

One last thing on a bit of an awkward topic but if you’ve read this far you will probably be okay with it. People often ask me what you do for a bathroom on a trip like this. So here is how it works. First, if you are simply peeing you pee right into the river. That’s right girls, we had to get our feet wet; so much easier for guys! For other business you used the “groover”. Actually you had a choice between two groovers. One was an indoor groover. The crew set up a little tent with a lined square box topped with a toilet seat and lid. In the old model there was no toilet seat thus the box it would leave a groove on ones behind, thus the name groover.

Then there was the outdoor groover preferred by most. For this one the crew would find the most scenic private location and simply set up the box with the seat. The view from the outdoor groover was the topic of many dinner conversations, “Have you seen the view from tonight’s outdoor groover?!! It’s amazing! You really need to check it out!” I know! Probably too much info but…people wonder about things like this!

Outdoor groover!

The view from the outdoor groover on the last night of the trip! 🙂

We had a great time and I would highly recommend CRATE to anyone who was looking for a company to raft with in the future.  The cost for our five-day trip was $1600 and it was well worth it.  The guides were very knowledgable and skilled.  The food was great.  The trip was well-organized.  And the people were a lot of fun!

Aug 29

Southbound on the John Muir Trail (JMT)


So it’s taken me a few weeks to put this together, not because I haven’t been excited to tell people about the trip. If we grabbed coffee I could monopolize the conversation by talking about the trip the entire time. My delay has more to do with accurately capturing the experience. Just as pictures don’t often do justice to what our eyes see, so also it is hard to capture what truly is the most beautiful place I have ever been with words. So what follows is a simple write-up with pics that give a general idea of the immense, unspoiled beauty of the John Muir Trail. And if by chance you like hiking I would say, “Go see it for yourself!” (By the way, you might want to read this on a computer as the pics look far better on a bigger screen than they do on a mobile device—just a thought!)


Hiking the John Muir Trail (JMT) became a bucket list for me a few years ago so when my friend Amber asked if I would like to join her and her daughter Hannah and hike it this summer I jumped at the opportunity. We spent 10 months prepping for the trip as all three of us were green when it came to backpacking. Soon we were researching gear, attending REI Garage Sales, dehydrating our own food, taking a map and compass class, training with weight on our backs and incorporating some local overnight backpacking trips. I learned so much in preparation for the trip and thoroughly enjoyed the process.


For those who are not aware the JMT is ranked as one of the most beautiful trails in the US and the world. The trail begins in Yosemite Valley and ends on top of Mt Whitney—209 miles. Of course, you have to get down from Mt Whitney which adds another 11 miles bringing the total to 220 miles. Our plan was to tackle it in 17 days with a side-trip to Half Dome thrown in for an extra 4 miles.


Day 1: Happy Isle to Little Yosemite Valley—Mile 4

Our permit required us to stay in Little Yosemite Valley on the first night which meant we only hiked four miles the first day. Considering started, it was hot, there was a lot of elevation and we were getting accustomed to carrying a full pack, we were fine with the low mileage. The hike was gorgeous with great views of the falls. After we set up camp we spent the afternoon swimming in the river where a snake joined us—no joke, a snake swam right up to us! Crazy! Such a fun afternoon!


This is where we were swimming when a snake came swimming up to us. Never had that happen before!




Day 2: Little Yosemite Valley to Sunrise Camp—Mile 13.2 (plus a side trip of 4 miles to Half Dome)

We were on the trail by 7am and hiked 2 miles up to the Half Dome Junction where we detoured and hiked the 2 miles to Half Dome. We ditched our backpacks before the climbing got rough and took just the bare necessities up to the summit. It was beautiful and nice to be up there before the masses that would be coming later from the valley floor. After backtracking to the JMT we headed out to Sunrise passing through a really sad burn section in the heat of the day which we all agreed was “soul sucking”. We climbed most of Cathedral pass before calling it a day at Sunrise.


Half Dome! The little specks are people climbing up the cables.


A little yoga session on the top of Half Dome!


Beautiful day with beautiful friends!


The view going down the cables! The little specks down there are people!


We called this the “soul sucking” section”. So sad to see it burned. Hiking it in the middle of the day in the heat made it worse.

Day 3: Sunrise to Vogelsang Trail Junction—Mile 29.4

What an amazingly beautiful day! We had some climbing and a technical downhill, but most of the day was spent hiking across flat and fast meadows filled with wildflowers, chipmunks, streams and lakes. Late in the morning we picked up our first re-supply in Tuolumne and filled our bear canisters with food. What didn’t fit in the canisters we gave to a group of teenage boys from the east coast who were more than happy to make extra space in their gear and pockets for our left over Snickers bars, etc. We headed back out to the JMT but we did not get far before the river began calling us. So we ditched our packs in favor of going for a swim. Eventually we finished up our day by camping at a great spot in view of the water where we encountered quite a few deer and a fawn. We fell asleep to the sound of the river in the background—so soothing!



We stopped to swim here–so refreshing! Water was pretty cold!



One of my favorite pics! We camped about 100 feet from here. So beautiful!


Look close and you will see the fawn hiding in the bush.

Day 4: Vogelsang Trail Junction to Thousand Island Lake—Mile 43

The first couple of miles were flat and beautiful as we followed the river. Then the trail began to ascend and we climbed Donahue Pass. It was our first big pass at over 11,000 feet and it was tough but it was also stunning! Imagine rushing streams, pools of water, green meadows, wildflowers, huge vistas, reflective lakes, jagged peaks… So beautiful! We popped over Island Pass as well and camped at Thousand Island Lake.


Another one of my favorite pics!



Meadow near the top of Donahue Pass.


Water crossing! 🙂



Evening shot of Thousand Island Lake…


First light shot of Thousand Island Lake…



Sunrise shot of Thousand Island Lake. I love how the colors changed between the three pics!


Day 5: Thousand Island lake to Red’s Meadow—Mile 59

Another amazing day filled with lakes and rushing streams! But what was really cool was we had reservations for a cabin at Red’s Meadow which meant we had a hot shower and a bed!


Such a cool reflection!

Garnett Lake...what I love about this shot is, if you look close, the patchy reflectiveness in the water. I did not notice this until I looked at the pic later.

Garnett Lake. If you look closely you will see a patchy reflectiveness in the water. I did not notice this until I looked at the pic later.




Day 6: Red’s Meadow to McGee Pass Junction—Mile 76.8

We started with a relatively easy climb and quick pace and ended up startling a small bear which took off running the opposite direction on the trail in front of us. He was FAST! We were not sure if he was a cub so we slowed down just in case mama was around. We had planned on camping at Virginia Lake but it was too windy. We dropped down the other side and found a perfect camp site near water and without mosquitoes! Once again we fell asleep to the sound of a rushing stream.





Virginia Lake

Day 7: McGee Pass Junction to Verillion Valley Ranch Ferry Boat Launch—Mile 88

We had thought it was going to be an easy day but we quickly learned there are no easy days on the JMT. We climbed up Silver Pass and then made the trek down a hard, exposed and at times treacherous descent to the trail which would take us to the ferry boat launch which would deposit us at Vermillion Valley Ranch where we had made reservations to stay the night. Our philosophy was to take every opportunity we had to get a real bed and a shower! The ranch put me in an RV so I had the “Rambler” all to myself!


Small waterfall next to one of the crazy steep down hills.


The Rambler! My lodging for the night when we stayed at Vermillion. According to their staff it is one of the most coveted places on the ranch to stay. Lol!



My view from the Rambler!

Day 8: Vermillion Valley Ranch to Bear Creek—Mile 98

The ferry to get back across the trail didn’t leave until 9am so wanting to leave earlier we decided on a different route and took a car shuttle to what we thought was going to be the Bear Ridge Trailhead. However, we had misunderstood and had not researched the details and we ended up on the Bear Creek Trailhead. This trail led us to the JMT but it was three miles longer than we had planned which was a bit of a bummer. Hiking along the creek was beautiful and while most of it was pleasant there were some brutal climbs. Bear Creek was one of a couple of stream crossing where you had to get wet—there was no dry way to get across. We plunged into the water and then found a place to camp. It was the one night when we had a lot of mosquitoes so it was an early to the tent kind of night.


Bear Creek. The water in all of the lakes and streams was so clear you could see every rock and fish.

Day 9: Bear Creek to Muir Trail Ranch—Mile 107

If climbing a pass could be considered easy then climbing Seldon Pass would fit that description.  It  was also stunning as we passed through beautiful meadows with gurgling streams, clear mountain lakes, wildflowers, pine and fir trees. The only rough piece was the cut-off trail we took to Muir Trail Ranch where, you guessed it, we had a bed, shower, HOT SPRINGS and an amazing home cooked meal cooked by a gourmet chef waiting for us. Prime rib, veggies, black beans, salad, homemade bread with roasted garlic, dessert—it was awesome! As was soaking in the hot spring!


Marie Lake



I LOVED this section! It was one of the few flat parts we encountered.


Cabins at Muir Trail Ranch. They may not look like much but they were luxurious compared to our tents.


Picking up our resupply. Hikers mail home depot buckets filled with food to this ranch and pick it up when they come through so they have food for the next section of their hike.

Hot Spring




Day 10: Muir Trail Ranch to above Evolution Falls—Mile 117

The cook at MTR made breakfast in the morning as well (yay for not having to eat oatmeal again!)! We picked up our second resupply and my packed topped out at 43 lbs—way more than the 30lbs I was hoping to carry! We had a beautiful, fairly easy day hiking along the San Joaquin River. Eventually we crawled up a steep climb which brought us to Evolution Falls which, of course, was amazing! We crossed Evolution Creek up above the falls and found a camp site about a mile up the trail. It was at this point that we realized how bad the blisters were on one of our teammates feet. We had all had a couple of blisters but she had about 15 of them and they were raw and not healing. The next part of our trip would be taking us into some very remote country where getting medical treatment would be very difficult. An infection in your feet in the backcountry is a bad idea. Rather than chance it we decided the best thing to do would be to hike out and cut the trip short.



Evolution Falls

Day 11: Evolution Falls back to Muir Trail Ranch and then one mile toward Florence Lake

We had our only thunderstorm in the morning which we waited out in our tents. Then we headed back to MTR where we were able to get an email out to Amber’s husband that we were going to need a ride home. We hiked one more mile toward Florence Lake before setting up camp.


Day 12: Florence Lake

Our alarms went off at 4:30am and you have never seen a group of women move so fast. When we were focused on finishing the JMT we were fine with the whole camping, no shower thing. But as soon as we knew we were leaving early we were all about packing up and getting out and back to our real beds and showers. We hiked four miles to Florence Lake where we waited for a small ferry to come pick us up. Once we arrived on the other side of the lake we simply hung out while talking to a cool family from France and waited for our ride home. The ride home was long (8 hours) and a little concerning. The first 26 miles was on a single lane road, with sheer drop-offs and traffic going both ways! Glad I was not driving! Of course we had to make two stops on the way home. One for Mexican food and one for Starbucks! 🙂


Waiting for the ferry to pick us up.


Looking back at where we have come.

So we didn’t finish the JMT but it was the right decision.   The trail will always be there and being healthy and safe is first priority. What we saw and experienced in the first half was absolutely incredible!!! It was an amazing trip and I will be going back so watch for part two of the JMT post in the summer of 2017!


They served me well! La Sportiva Bushidos!

Mar 07

Trail Running in Florida: Hillsborough River State Park

While in Florida last week for training at Southeastern University I had Monday morning free so I decided to spend it the best way I knew how–trail running! It is always fun to explore new places so after thumbing through a Florida trails book I decided on Hillsborough River State Park and I was not disappointed. My goal was to have a nice run, enjoy the scenery, hopefully see an alligator (from a safe distance) and not see any banana spiders—I HATE spiders! Here is a short post of my Monday morning adventure.

The Hillsborough River is one of the few rivers in Florida with any type of rapids. I parked my car near a trailhead which led directly to some class 2 rapids and began my 6 mile jaunt from there. It was beautiful! The trail followed along the side of the river…

…and at times cut in under the tree canopy where it was well-maintained.  It was in these heavily forested sections where I kept my eyes out for banana spiders which, from what I saw on a video, are huge.


To help ensure people do not get lost, the trail was marked with orange blazes painted on trees every 30-50 feet.



There was quite a bit of water in the area so the park had built some cool bridges which were fun to run across. 🙂



The plant life was pretty amazing and so different from SoCal.  From oak trees with moss hanging off limbs…


…to giant old oaks that dwarfed everything around it…

…to little tiny trees growing out of large bumps on the side of palm trees…

…to pointy things sticking out of the water, it made for an interesting run!


Things became super interesting when the trail was swallowed up in some wetlands.  I by-passed the big puddle of water by bush-wacking through the undergrowth but then had second thoughts.  I had seen a sign earlier warning of poison ivy throughout the forest so I decided to get back on the trail.


That meant traversing through a lot of mud!

Unfortunately I had worn my street shoes instead of my trail runners.  So much for keeping them clean!


One of my goals was to see an alligator from a safe distance.  I knew they were around because I had seen this sign.  I couldn’t believe that people actually feed them–CRAZY!

So when I was about a mile or two from my finish I came around a corner and, glancing across the river, I saw a gator!.  He looked to be about three and a half to four feet long.  While I am sure he saw me, he didn’t move.  I went down to the rivers edge to get the best pic possible.  After snapping the pic I rethought my location as I did not want another gator popping up out of the murky water by my feet.  I jumped back up on the trail and watched him for a while.  It was sort of strange to be out for a run with a gator sunning on a rock just a stones throw away.  I am sure the locals are not fazed by them as they are probably as common as coyotes are in our area.  Being a west coast girl I found it pretty cool!

I finished up my run and found my way back to my car.  All in all I was pleased that I had seen a gator and some incredible scenery and really happy that I did not see any banana spiders!  🙂

Nov 12

Thursday Morning Thoughts Week Four: Living for the Applause of One

One of my heroes from afar is Mother Teresa.  She was amazing!  She also wrote one of my favorite poems that ties into the point from last night’s Bibles study about living for the applause of one.  I believe it is called, “Anyway”.


People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;

…Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;

…Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;

…Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;

…Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;

…Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;

…Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;

…Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;

…Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;

It was never between you and them anyway.


Living for the applause of God alone and doing what is right regardless of what other people think is foundational to staying on point and finishing well when living a life of faith and purpose.  The influence of social media in today’s culture has caused us to be constantly bombarded with the temptation to live for the approval or applause of others.  The number of likes we get or the comments people make on one of our posts can send us on a rollercoaster of emotion that can be sickening.  While I have a lot of room to grow in this area, I have found that learning to live for the applause of God alone is liberating. As we discussed last night we are not living in such a way as to earn God’s acceptance.  When you surrendered your life to Christ you were accepted and loved right where you were.  It is because we are accepted, because we are deeply loved that we want to live in such a way as to honor him.  In our study last night we saw that Daniel lived this way and he finished his race of life strong.  That does not mean it was always easy.  God’s favor was on him but there were times when he found himself to be the target of other people’s envy and jealousy.  Remember that the verse we closed with last night said that no weapon formed against you would prosper.  It did not say that there would be no weapon formed against you—because there will be.  Doing the right thing and living the life of faith will not always be popular and being unfairly attacked should not come as a surprise.  It happened to Daniel.  It happened to many others in the Bible.  But the weapon formed against them did not prosper and neither will it prosper against you.  Trust the God who shut the mouths of the lions and live to honor him.  Here is the verse for memorizing should you choose to do so.  See you next week as we look at the story of Esther.



Nov 05

Rock Slide in the Grand Canyon: Peace Even in the Midst of Chaos

Surviving the Slide

It was a beautiful clear morning in July giving no hint at all at what was to come.  A small group of my high school students plus a couple of us leaders got an early start as we headed down Bright Angel trail in the Grand Canyon.  Our destination was Indian Gardens where we planned to look out over the Colorado River and then hike back up.  The trek down was uneventful.  The trek back up ended up being the one and only time in my life thus far where I thought I might die—and not because of the strenuous climb.  Out of nowhere came a monster storm that soaked us to the bone and bruised us with an onslaught of hail.  Visibility became so restricted that although we were right in the middle of the Grand Canyon we could no longer see it.  Everything was white as hail poured down.  Suddenly two of our guys who were ahead of the group ran back toward us from around a switchback, grabbed us, yelled “Rockslide!” and unknowingly pinned us into a thorn bush in a small ditch on the side of the cliff.  (It is amazing how you do not feel thorns when you are terrified of falling rocks!)  Next there came a roar that I will never forget, it sounded like a freight train.  We could hear the slide but we could not see it.  Steve, one of the students, yelled out in pain—his leg had been struck.  Once the slide stopped I realized we were dangerously close to the bottom of a sheer rock wall with the very likely potential of more rocks falling on us.  I yelled for the group to run back down the switchback to a more safe location.  We grabbed the thorn bush to pull ourselves out of the ditch.  We would feel those thorns later (and would be pulling the thorns out for weeks to come) but for now adrenaline coursed through our veins.  Steve couldn’t walk and had to be carried by his buddies.  When we stopped we huddled together for warmth and comfort.  Some were crying.  Some were praying.  We were all bewildered.  With the immediate danger past and the adrenaline subsiding I began to feel an amazing calmness come over me.  I didn’t know how we were going to get out of this.  I stepped away from the group to the middle of the trail, looked up into the rain and had a little conversation with God.  “I don’t want to die down here.  Please get us out of this hole.”  Yes, the beautiful and majestic Grand Canyon had become a “hole”.  My prayer was calm; there was no panic or anxiety.  It was a simple prayer, like I was having coffee with God.

I am not afraid to die—not that I am looking to go anytime soon.  And to be honest, how I will die is a little concerning to me.  I think I am part of the masses when I say I would prefer it would be in my sleep. But I am so assured that God is real and knowable and good and that a life surrendered to him becomes part of a bigger story that doesn’t end here that, as the Apostle Paul wrote, “death has no sting”.  But that doesn’t mean I (or anyone else) never face fear, anxiety or panic.  Of course we do—that is just part of being human.  But what I learned in the “hole” was how God’s peace can trump these things.  When the rock slide occurred there was fear and panic everywhere.  This is just like life.  We are going along and minding our own business when seemingly out of the blue we get hit with something (a chaotic situation, a negative report from the doctor, a blow to our financial stability, a threat—whatever) and it knocks us silly, off-kilter, consumed with fear and anxiety and struggling to regain balance.  It can take a moment to catch our breath.  Here is what I have found.  When I will step away and look up, focusing on Jesus, peace floods my spirit even when the storm is still raging.  The key here is focus.  As long as I focus on my circumstances I magnify the fear.  But if I will focus on Christ who is the hope of my life I find peace.  Please note that I did not earn this peace by being “good enough” or deserving it.  It is given freely.  Jesus is known as the Prince of Peace and in the book of John he said, “My peace I give to you.”  Later on in the New Testament Paul writes that the peace we have transcends all understanding.  In other words this peace doesn’t always make sense as circumstances would dictate a completely different outlook.

Now just because we have peace does not mean things are not still hard and possibly even dangerous.  This post is already too long so I do not have time to go into detail, but eventually we had to have a search and rescue helicopter fly in to get Steve out of the “hole”.  His sister, Loraine, and I were still with him when rescue arrived (the rest of the team had climbed out).  The rescuer looked at Loraine and I and told us that he would take care of Steve but that we needed to get out now because we were getting hypothermia.  So I asked if it was safe for us to climb out—perhaps the rock slides were over.  He gave me a strong look and said, “No.  I didn’t say that.  What I said was you are getting hypothermia and you need to get out now!”  As we climbed out we saw other hikers huddled alongside the trail.  When an obnoxiously loud clap of thunder hit, a woman hiking up with us screamed, her eyes filled with terror and she turned around and ran back down into the “hole”.  I tried to stop her but she pushed me away.  As Lorraine and I were getting ready to step out from one of the tunnels located near the rim, a man yelled for us to stop and a large rock fell right where we would have stepped.  Things were still crazy, but we had peace.  Peace does not mean that everything is calm on the outside.  Peace brings calmness to the inside even when all hell is breaking loose around you.

This is a far more serious post than what I normally write, but it ties in with what we are talking about on Wednesday nights.  If we will cry out to Jesus he will show up in the midst of our situation and walk with us through it.  He did it for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (one of the stories we looked at last week in the Bible study).  He did it for me in the “hole” and many other times of my life (which I do not have time to write about) when it seemed like the world was going sideways.  He will do it for you!

Here is the verse on peace from last week’s Bible study.  See you next week as we look at Daniel 5 and 6.

Isaiah 26 3

By the way, if you like the Grand Canyon and trail stuff you might want to check out these posts.  A couple of years ago my friends and I ran rim to rim to rim in one day (a double-crossing of the Grand Canyon – 46 miles) and it was epic–with no rock slides!  Here are the links and they are filled with pics.  I am not sure if they will work by clicking or if they need to be copied and pasted into the browser:

Oct 29

Thursday Morning Thoughts Week Two: Refusing to Conform

(Once again, while anyone is welcome to read this post, these Thursday Morning Reflections are meant specifically for those who are in the Bible study I am leading on Wednesday nights.  And thank you to those of you who come out–I love being there with you all on Wednesdays!).

Last night we were inspired by the courage of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, three young men under incredible pressure to conform to the culture of Babylon.  In fact they were threatened with an excruciating death if they would not bow their knee,  Yet, they stood their ground and made one of the greatest statements of faith in the Bible: Our God is able to save us.  He is willing to save us.  And even if He doesn’t save us we are not going to bow!

Wow!  Where did this courage come from?  I believe it was rooted in their faith in God and supported by their knowledge of who they were.  Babylon had changed their names and tried to strip them of their identity.  The world could call them whatever it wanted to call them, but they knew who they were–they were Jews, followers of Jehovah.  When they were first taken as captives they made a decision and resolved that they would not defile themselves.  In a sense they drew a proverbial line in the sand and said they would not cross it.  That resolve was still evident years later.  They would obey God and God only, even under threat of death.  It is one thing to say “God I trust you.”  It is another thing to have actions which support that statement.  They knew they could trust in God’s goodness and power and his willingness to act on their behalf.  As you know from our study last night, God came through for them in a mighty way!  And also as we discussed last night, this God is the same God we serve.  And he is still good, he is still able, he is still willing to act on our behalf.  Have we drawn our line in the sand?  In the Old Testament, Joshua did this when he said that as for he and his house, they would serve the Lord.  In the New Testament, Peter and John did it when they said they would obey God rather than man.  It is our turn now.  We are the ones on center stage and we have incredible examples of faith to inspire us.  When our faith is rooted in Christ it gives us access to incredible courage in difficult circumstances.  Where is your line?  What is your statement?  Trust him and then let your actions fall inline with that confession.

As we closed last night there were two verses to consider memorizing.  The first one focuses on trust followed by obedient actions.  You might consider this one if you are up against some difficult situation and you are wanting to handle it God’s way.  Here is it:

Isaiah 26 8

The second one focuses more on the peace God provides when we keep our focus on him.  There is no Bible study next week so I am going to write a supplementary post next Thursday specifically on having peace in crazy or alarming circumstances.  You might consider memorizing this verse if you are currently in the midst of a trial or fiery situation and need peace.  Here you go:

Isaiah 26 3



Oct 22

Thursday Morning Thoughts Week Two: Keep Calm

We have all seen them—“Keep Calm” posters.  They are everywhere and come with all types of creative and fun endings:

Keep calm eat a cooking

But I bet you did not know that the original poster (see below)…

Keep calm carry on

…was produced in 1939 by the British government to raise the morale of the public who were under the threat air strikes.  The air strikes eventually came yet the poster was rarely ever displayed and was rediscovered in the year 2000.  Had it been displayed would it have worked?  How do you stay calm when under attack?  How do you stay calm when life goes sideways?  That is what we were talking about last night at the Bible study at The Wednesday Experience at Faith.  As a quick recap from Daniel 2, Daniel and his buddies found themselves in a completely unfair situation with the king of Babylon making unrealistic demands of them.  The king had had a dream which had terrified him.  He wanted to know the meaning of the dream but was unwilling to tell anyone what the dream was.  He demanded that his wise men tell him what he had dreamed and then interpret it—a seemingly impossible situation.  If they could not produce what he wanted the king had promised to tear them apart limb by limb—a promise he was more than capable of making good on.  The temptation to panic and lose their minds to fear would have been real.  The young men would have been tempted to get defensive, combative and rebellious.  But Daniel responded differently than would have been predicted.  He stayed calm, got the details and gathered his friends to pray.  One of the main points from last night was that prayer should not be our last resort but rather our first response.  The young men trusted God’s goodness and power and did not rely on their own wits to save them.  And God came through for them telling Daniel what the king had dreamed and what the dream meant.  The king was so impressed that he rewarded Daniel and his friends with high positions in his kingdom.  What could have easily been seen as a hopeless situation became a launching pad for a significant promotion.

So how about us?  When we face crazy, unrealistic situations at work or in our families or wherever, will we lose our minds to fear and panic?  Will we become defensive and combative?  Will be give up with discouragement or try to solve it with our own wits?  Or will we choose to stay calm in the midst of the situation, making our first response prayer based on our trust in God’s goodness and power?  Will we dare to hope that this situation might actually be a launching pad to something greater?  God is good!  We can trust Him!  Here is the verse to consider memorizing for this week:

Philippians 4 67

See you next Wednesday night!

Oct 21

Mt Baldy Via Pine Mountain and Dawson Peak


Back at baldy

 This post is very delayed, but better late than never. 🙂

Growing up in the San Gabriel Valley I learned my directions (north, south, east, west) based on the location of the mountains–the mountains were always north.  To this day I am lost without my mountains!  The one prominent mountain which my grandparents consistently pointed out to me was Mt. Baldy–especially when it was capped with snow.  At 10,064 feet it is the tallest mountain in the San Gabriels so it has been awesome as an adult to summit it numerous times from four different approaches–Devil’s Backbone, Ski Hut Trail, Bear Flats and the traverse from Iron Mountain (which I refuse to write about as we should have never been up there!).  Last October Amber, Sarah and I took on a new (for us) and rarely used route to Mt. Baldy from the Wrightwood area via Pine Mountain and Dawson Peak and, like all the other approaches, it was stunning.  It was also pretty difficult!  Here is the account with pics.

We drove out to Wrightwood and then took Hwy 2 to Inspiration Point where we turned onto a dirt service road that was pretty rutted.  We followed the road to the gate where it was closed at Guffy Campground, parked the car and then headed down the road on foot to the trailhead.  We had read previous blogs and knew the trailhead was not well-marked, however the route followed the ridgeline which was easy to see so we just had to find where it intersected with the service road.  Once located we found ourselves on a single track faint use trail which we would follow all the way to Baldy.

It was a beautiful start to the morning with incredible views through the forest and over the clouds which encompassed the valley below.


The initial climb took us over Wright Mountain which was barely a bump compared to what lay ahead.  As we came into a saddle we had a great view of the opening piece of the trail up to Pine Mountain.  If you look closely (at the pic below) you can see how it literally follows the spine of the ridgeline.  All three of us had brought trekking poles which were put to good use.

Pine ascent

The climb up Pine had some fairly steep sections with one piece requiring us to put our poles away and use all fours.  It was one thing to have to go up this section but coming down it on the return trip was not going to be fun.  It was slick with light gravel/scree but it was the only location where things were a bit sketchy.

Sarah ascending

The groves of trees were beautiful and one gracefully arched its way over our route.

Curved tree

At the top of Pine we took a break to eat and enjoyed the view.  Below is a panoramic looking toward Baldy and Iron Mtn.

Dawson Peak pan of Baldy

From Pine Mountain the trail quickly dropped about 430 feet to the saddle and then the climb up Dawson Peak began where we re-climbed 316 feet.  I don’t know if “re-climbed” is an actual word or phrase but it is what we did a lot of on this trek!  From the top of Dawson we captured a view of our route up Baldy (see next pic).  Once again the trail took us right along the ridgeline but first we had to descend 640 feet to the saddle only to have to climb back up from the saddle to the summit of Baldy, a gain of almost 1200 feet..  It is always a bummer to go downhill when you know you will have to climb that elevation all over again.  🙁

Baldy ridgeline

The climb up Baldy was really tough but we slogged our way through it.  Eventually we made it to the summit and were met with an incredible view towards the desert.  The view towards LA was socked in with clouds.

Baldy pan to Pine

It was at the summit where we met the only other person we would see on the trail that day.  We asked if he would take our picture.  He obliged but I realized later when I looked through my pics that he was not accustomed to using an iPhone–he took about eight selfies without realizing it while repeatedly telling me he did not think it was working.  🙂   His name was Mark and we appreciated his effort!


He did manage to take quite a few pics of the three of us as well.  (Yes, I was wearing a goofy hat but it kept the sun off my neck and ears!)

Three of us

We ate most of the rest of our food at the summit and then headed back..  Along the way Sarah entertained us with a trail dance!  I am wondering if it was inspired by a caffeinated gel. 🙂

Sarah trail dance

It was a peaceful hike back as we saw nobody else until we got back to Guffy campground.

Amber on backbone

All in all it was a total of 13 miles with 6,000 feet of elevation gain.  We did not do any running, we simply hiked, and including our break time we were out there 7 hours and 20 minutes.  It was a great trip but if we were to do it again we would make a significant change.  We would drop a car at Baldy (Manker Flats) and then beg or bribe someone to drive us to Wrightwood, dropping us off at the Acorn Trail.  We would hike up Acorn to the PCT, make a left and pick up the trail for this hike off the PCT.  Then after climbing Baldy we would simply descend Baldy to the car and not hike back out to Wrightwood–it was a LONG way back!






Oct 15

Thursday Morning Thoughts Week 1: When Life is Not Fair

Romans 8 28

Last night we started back to The Wednesday Experience after a four-month break.  I am super excited to be teaching the Bible study and I thought that as a follow-up each week I would post a recap/reflection on Thursday mornings along with the verse of the week for those of you who want to take on the challenge of memorizing it.  So these “Thursday Morning Thoughts” are specifically for those of you who are attending the Bible study but of course anyone who is interested is welcome to read them.

So the pic above is the verse to memorize for this next week.  I layered it on a pic I took from Connecticut three years ago when I became an official “leaf peeper”—what a beautiful trip!  Memorizing the scripture is completely optional and meant to support those of you who want to push yourself a little more—go a little deeper.  Remember what we talked about last night.  The verse is not saying that everything that happens is good.  It simply states that God can and will bring good out of all situations for those who love Him.  In the story we looked at last night in Daniel 1, Daniel and his friends found themselves in a very unfair situation.  Many scholars believe they were about 15 years old when they were forcefully removed from their families and homes and exiled to a land very far away—Babylon.  The Babylonians tried to strip them of their identity by changing their names and forced them into an educational program not of their choosing.  All of this was not the result of their own rebelliousness, but rather the result of the rebelliousness of the generations who had lived before them.  How was that fair?!  Yet Daniel and his buddies chose to not respond with bitterness or discouragement or rebellion or by abandoning their faith.  They drew a proverbial line in the sand and resolved (which means to be firm in purpose or intent, to settle) not to defile themselves with the king’s food.  The Babylonian food may have been items which the Jewish dietary laws forbid them to eat and/or it may have been offered to Babylonian idols thus eating it would be participating in idol worship.  Either way Daniel was not going to be stripped of his identity as a follower of God.  He and his friends chose to trust God even in the midst of the unfair situation.  By the end of the chapter we saw how God was beginning to bring good out of their situation giving them incredible favor with the king.  We will see more over the coming weeks.

How about us?  Will we trust God even when faced with unfair and painful circumstances?  An antagonistic work environment, the break-up of a marriage or significant relationship, a sobering diagnosis from a doctor, being overlooked for a promotion, a rejection letter from the school of your dreams–these things are not good.  But if we will trust God He will not only take us through the difficult experience, He will also bring good out of it.  Trust Him!  He is good and He is faithful!  See you next Wednesday night for Daniel 2.  Happy Thursday!