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122-Get Busy Living… At 55 Mph!




“Faster or slower?” I shouted over the sound of the rushing air circulating through the 3.6L V6 powered Traverse, our chariot which carried us to the edge of adventure.  Fighting to share the rear passenger window, two young men whom have only been in my life for a couple of months now, stuck their heads out the window taking the shock of the frigid upper peninsula wind directly to the face.  

“A tad slower I think,” resounded back and I watched the speedometer drop from 60mph to 50mph as I eased the pressure on the accelerator.  “Too slow, speed up a little!”

 

I suppose we could have looked up the windspeed on Lake Superior over the weekend on weather.com or something, but comparing our lakeshore adventure with the outside windspeed of our car on the journey back to our routine seemed much more fitting.  We settled on about 55mph, which in reality may still have been a tad strong, but it sure fit the memory:  our smallest participant weighing in at a buck ten, carrying nearly half of his body weight, was blown inland, stumbling at times away from the vertical edge of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore when the sand-blown trail drew near to the water a hundred plus feet below.  The network of roots holding the birch and pine intact also served to shield us from the fiercest parts of the front, but the gaps in vegetation left us vulnerably shielding our eyes from the granules of sand that used to be a part of the soft stone, now tiny, sharp projectiles looking to penetrate our eyeballs.


It was a day of exploration, a chance to simply exist in a wintry world that seemed unyielding to support human life very well.  The tall six to eight-foot waves that curled then broke on Chapel Beach reminded us that we were very much out of our comfort zones.  With only our eyes exposed to the direct chill, our spirits had to take in the power of God in this scene… we had to see more.  Packing our meals, fuel, stoves, ropes, climbing and emergency gear, we set out east to find Spray Falls.  Breaking through the heavily laden branches we carefully surrounded ourselves with a scene that looked like Mother Nature breathed out a thick icy covering on the entire shoreline like a blast from Mister Freeze’s freeze ray.  The ice buildup was so thick that it was tough to fathom how the branches were still attached to their trunks at all.  A major leaguer’s stone throw away we collectively found our sheltered lunch location and chance to share the next section of our life stories: faith.  Some of that journey was put to the test immediately after lunch when we fully weighted our gear and put our lives once again in the hands of the guides to hang out over the edge of a cliff to capture a sweet view of Spray Falls, launching itself off the side and perpetually plunging itself into the icy cold waters of Lake Superior.


What is real?  Was the pain in my legs during the uphill trudge with a pack that felt just as heavy as it did on the way in real?  It’s a question that we may think that we have a handle on—using our senses we can see, taste, touch, hear, and smell—but what we may consider real becomes just a facade for something much deeper.  Four days and three nights five guys from 17 to 44 years old experienced real:  we loaded our packs with survival gear then hiked six miles into a very wild and untamed shoreline.  The five of us breathed in the cold and unhindered air; we worked extremely hard to climb 120 feet of vertical ice over the open lake, which was not the least hesitant to gobble us up should we be foolish enough to error; we battled the crippling fear of heights, pleading with God for His grace to make it bearable; we talked deeply about our lives (the good and the bad), we laughed loudly, we cried not so loudly, we embraced, we broke bread (in this case it was a dessert pancake that had to be split in two in order to fit it inside of our two-cups in order to get doused in pure maple syrup).  We became family out there, forming bonds that will last for life.  No alternate reality here, just a chance to really live… and we did; and it didn’t have to end at the car four days later as evidenced by our methodology of windspeed gauging—get busy living at 55mph with your head out the window!


-Matt

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