Reaching the Summit: June 22-30

Mt. Nebo is the highest peak in the Wasatch Range. The snow finally melted to allow an ascent, and I decided to give it a shot. Doing so turned out to be much more difficult than I imagined – compounded of course by human error. Thursday June 25, I left at 7:30 am with my ward friends Maddie and Sandra. The mountain is about 15 miles south of Provo. That’s as the crow flies, but I didn’t think it would be too much farther following the roads. I had approx. 70 miles left in the tank, and figured if I needed to, I would stop on the way back or at a gas station closer to the mountain as the farther south you go, the cheaper gas is.

Turns out, after a few miles, we turned off onto a rural road, and there was no gas station. But instead of turning around, we pressed on thinking we would be fine. Then we made it to the mountain, and the road up wound around and around the mountain, taking a full 18 miles to get to the trail head. Except we were also going up, and our gas mileage was awful. At the trail head, and our gas reading had gone from 70 miles to 11… other words, we weren’t going to make it back. Yet, in stubborn denial, I parked and we started the hike.

It clocks in at just under 9 miles round trip. Reviews stated the “first four miles in are easy.” Whoever wrote that must have lived a difficult life, because it was not easy. We huffed and puffed through the thin air, with our breaks becoming more frequent. One lovely aspect of this hike is that it is far less popular than Mt. Timpanagos and we only saw a few hikers and one group during our climb.

We made it 3.5 miles and then encountered the steep uphill part. Each step became labored, and picking out intermediate goals helped. Our crew of three,a turned to two, as Sandra bowed out, some 600 vertical feet lower than the peak. Which means she had made it up the first 11,300 feet but the last bit involves some climbing and her fear of heights made it impossible for her to continue. It’s rated as a class-3 scramble,  and there is no marked trail. It’s rather simple – however you can make it up, you go for it.

This is a photo of Maddie and I on one of the false summits – there is a ridge to cross and then another bit to go up. We left Sandra below and she snapped a picture of our climb.

Maddie and I both made it all the way to the top, and it was amazing. Yes, the views, but mostly the feeling of accomplishment having done something hard and not given up.

The way down was less demanding but still arduous and our knees took the brunt of the pain. Of course, there was never any thought of quitting on the way down. We enjoyed much more enlightening conversation returning, aided by our ability to breathe easy. The clouds came in covering us, and the relief was accentuated as cool rain pitter-pattered our hot necks and freshened up the meadow to where it smelled like a dream.

We are standing here on one of the few snow spots left.

We made it back to the van, and the idyllic wilderness bared its teeth as we had to face the truth that we needed gas desperately. Our original intention to coast down the mountain and seek help at the bottom quickly failed as the our meter continued to sink. With 5 miles left in our tank and with 12 miles left of the mountain, I started pulling over and talking to RV campers. The first had no gas left, but with the second I struck paydirt, interrupting a family and their BB gun shooting to plead for petrol. They had plenty for their generator, and were kind enough to share, even refusing any payment. When Maddie and Sandra (still in the car) saw me get the gas can, they started cheering loudly for the benefactor. I confess that like Uncle Zach, I too, have secretly wanted to run out of gas at some point, just not like this – after an exhausting hike and with two ladies, so it was a relief to find that Good Samaritan and make it down safely.

I returned to one of the best messages one can receive – a dinner invite with Aunt Becky! She was in town to see Kayla, Ryan, and Scout, and I quickly showered and made it back to Springville to see them. A delightful evening followed, and although I didn’t want to intrude too much on their time together, when a return invite for the next day was offered, there was no way I could refuse. Porter joined me for round two. It was wonderful remembering some of our New Hampshire memories from years past, and the food Kayla made exceeded all expectations – but let’s be real, Scout was the star. Talk about a well-behaved baby! She’s a cutie, and my time holding her passed without a mishap.

It was during these days that my thoughts of going to UCONN solidified and I began listing some belongings for sale. I had reached an agreement for the bookcase and some other items, (including the last month of my house contract) when I got cold feet and asked for a few more days before I officially sold everything. And I am very glad I did. On Tuesday June 30th, I would find out my LSAT score and if UCONN would have in-person or online classes this fall. Then, I figured on Thursday I would bid Utah adieu and head to Texas by way of Mt. Rushmore –> Fargo –> Minneapolis –> Menoumonie, WI –> Lincoln, Missouri then Granbury. And from Texas to Connecticut. I didn’t think my score would improve much and regardless if UCONN had all online classes, a move was required to get in-state tuition next year.

Tuesday morning, the UCONN news implied some in-person classes. I was up at 7, and had an email regarding my LSAT score by 7:05. I refused to look at it yet though, and continued my daily routine. At 9:30, at the gym with Jacob and David, I finally decided to open it up. (I wanted the adrenaline to increase the weights.) Lo and behold, my eyes didn’t believe the result. My score improved 5 points to 169!! 5 points might seem small, but provides a huge boost.

Turns out, I still couldn’t set a new weight record, and I didn’t care a bit. All of a sudden, so many new possibilities opened up, illustrated by my call to Tanner. The first thing he asked was if I was joking. Assured I was not, he asked if I’d be applying to other schools.

I apologized to the people in line to buy my belongings, and let them know everything was off the table. Before I could reach out to BYU, they messaged me, offering congratulations and an interview was set up for Thursday.

Thursday was to be my travel day, and so I decided to leave the next day, Wednesday, but go straight to Texas and without moving. Before I could get ready to leave, I had a very important commitment. Dillon, Reigen, and I had planned one more “Boys Night.” We have had good times in the past, and yet this Tuesday night surpassed them all. Dillon smoked a couple racks of ribs, and we all chipped in for those and brought some sides and dessert. That gluttonous fest was followed by to the Isles Apt. Complex hot tub and pool where we stayed for a few hours. Simply put, if it had been my last night in Utah, I couldn’t imagine a better way to leave.

At home, I packed in 20 minutes, and then struggled to sleep, still amazed at how the day had turned out.

My first thought, and the recurring feelings I had throughout the day involved mostly gratitude. Truthfully, I’ve struggled mightily to study since quitting my job. While I’ve hinted at that, I’ve been ashamed to admit quite how little. I don’t think I put in the effort at this time to deserve the increase. While I have tried to help those in need and and serve those around me, I do know that many people, especially family, have prayed and even fasted for me. I credit all improvement to that. Thank you.