Somehow, I got it in my head that I should be like Nephi and go up to the mountain to draw nearer to God, to pray and to meditate on the task that was ahead of me. Well that’s what I did.
Yesterday I woke up, gathered some things together and headed up Dry Canyon. Past the meadow I turned off onto a side trail and hiked up the shoulder of Mt. Baldy. For anybody who has ever done that, you know how incredibly steep that climb is. In some places, you’re climbing more than two feet vertically for every foot you go horizontally. What’s more, each one of these steep sections ends in a false summit, giving you a repeated sense of heartbreak when you find out that, not only are you NOT fifteen yards from the summit, but you’re not even close.
My plan was to spend several hours up on top. I brought my scriptures, my study journal, and a hymn book. I figured that if it got too windy, I could get off the summit and go down on the north side away from the wind. When I finally reached the summit, sure enough it was windier and colder than I had anticipated. It was below freezing, with 25 mph winds whipping snowflakes at me from underneath. I stayed just long enough to eat some lunch and then got down off of there before my hands went numb. I was NOT properly dressed.
Much to my disappointment, I spent too much time walking and avoiding the wind and snow to get any time to really reflect on the mission I am soon to embark upon. By the time I finally got back down into the canyon, it was dark and my legs were burning. I had not thought to wear liners and wool socks, and had simply worn cotton, which had torn my feet to shreds. I had to drain one blister and bandage it, and another on my toe had become infected.
In the morning, when I discovered that the antibiotic ointment hadn’t been effective, my mother made an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to take a look at it. It was swollen and infected and probably housed an ingrown toenail. It was a little sore before the hike, but the downward climb off the mountain had exacerbation the condition, since when you walk downhill your toes jam into the front of your shoes/boots.
What was supposed to be a little checkup turned into a multiple-hour surgical ordeal. I’m more than a little resistant to numbing, so I had to grit my teeth as the good doctor cut off a significant chunk of my left toenail where it had grown into the skin. I thought it was gross. My mom thought it was a gas.
While I was kicking myself (using my good foot, of course) for my lapse in judgement, taking on such an ambitious hike, poorly prepared, this close to my MTC report date, my mother (who is much wiser and more patient than I am) insisted that this had actually been a blessing in disguise. Since the ingrown toenail had already been there, and the hike had merely brought it to our attention, it is very likely that I would have reported to the MTC without even thinking there was a problem. It might not have become a serious impediment until I was a fresh greeny out in the field – just in time to seriously impede my effectiveness as a missionary.
Instead, because I was prompted to go for a hike, I will simply gimp around for a week or two in the MTC, after which my toe will probably heal just fine, and I can go out and serve effectively. So even though I’m not excited to be gimping around today, I definitely want to express my gratitude for The Lord’s hand in my life, even when it’s not always apparent. Or comfortable. 🙂