All good things must come to an end, and so it is with the Weekly Photo Challenge. This week is the last week of the photo prompt, and the theme is All-Time Favorites.
Other folks have been sharing their favorite photos from among those that they have posted in the challenge in times past. Since I haven’t really been participating all that long, I’ve decided to share some of my all-time favorite photos from my personal history, not just my blogger history.
To be specific, I’d like to share more photos from when I was in Mexico 25 years ago. This comes right on the heels of yesterday’s post, when I had the opportunity to tell you that my daughter and I will be going to Mexico in a few weeks to visit the missionaries I lived and worked with 25 years ago! I cannot tell you how excited we are!
So yesterday I went through two large bins of photos and found a stack nearly 3″ tall from Mexico. (Bear in mind that this was before the age of the digital camera.) From that stack I chose nearly 70 photos to scan into the computer. The hard part was deciding which ones to share with you.
Since you won’t know the people in my photographs, I decided to share only the photos from our hike up Mt. Popocateptl, not far from Mexico City. At 5426 m (17,802 ft.), “the Popo” is the second highest active volcano in North America. I climbed it with one of the missionaries’ sons and a man from the church who used to serve as a guide on the mountain. I didn’t make it all the way to the top, but Benjamin did. I might would have if I had known how close I was.
We drove to the mountain the night before our hike. There are two lodges on the mountain, a women’s and a men’s lodge, but they had closed for the night by the time we arrived, so we unrolled our sleeping bags and slept under the stars.
We awoke around 4:00, well before dawn. Opening my eyes, I was startled to discover a cow standing over top of me! I prayed that I wouldn’t be trampled, and she mosied off without so much as laying a hoof on my sleeping bag. We rolled up our bags, freshened up, then ate breakfast cookies and drank cocoa heated over a bunsen burner. At that altitude it took a long time just to get the water warm, but we enjoyed it all the same.
At the break of dawn we started on the trail. At first it felt very much like walking on the dry sand of a beach—with a rather steep grade. This was the ashy part of the volcano. The higher we climbed, the firmer the ground became, mostly because it was frozen, I’m guessing. I know we were quite cold. In fact, we had tissues to wipe our runny noses, but after a while we didn’t feel them running anymore. Hno. Muñoz developed icicles on his mustache, and it was hard not to laugh.
At Las Cruces we took a break and ate a light lunch. From this point on we had to wear long spikes on our shoes and carry a pick-ax in order to navigate the ice. Hno. Muñoz only had enough climbing gear for two people, so he let Benjamin and me use his gear while he waited there for us. Benjamin and I started off together, but I told him he could go ahead of me. He was used to the outdoors, and I was holding him back. He made it all the way to the peak and looked down inside the crater, where he saw others who had gone down inside and were swimming in an interior lake.
I didn’t make it quite that far because I seemed to meet one plateau after another. It wasn’t so much that I was tired as that I had no idea if the others were waiting on me. So at some point I packed the snow in at my feet, reclined against the side of the mountain, and closed my eyes for a few minutes to rest before beginning my descent. When I opened my eyes, the wind had shifted, and I found myself in a cloud of vapor. Everything was white around me. I saw no one; I heard nothing, not a sound. For a second I wondered if I was in heaven, but I saw that I still had my climbing gear. We don’t need that in heaven, so I must not be there yet. Then a break formed in the clouds and I caught a tiny glimpse of the city far below. Slowly I began to see faint gray images moving several yards off from where I sat, and the muffled sounds of voices came to me… and I began to feel cold. Time to get moving! So I headed back down to Las Cruces, only a little disappointed that I had not finished the climb. I don’t remember which of us got back first, Benjamin or me. I only remember that the entire day was exhilarating, and I’m thankful to this day that we got to go up there.
Coming down, we had to move quickly. In fact, we practically ran down the mountain, to keep from straining our knees. This was fine as long as we didn’t meet anyone coming the opposite direction on the trail. At one point there was a row of boys coming up as we were going down. I saw them but couldn’t stop. To my left was a stone wall, and to my right was a steep drop-off. So I went down to my knees and stopped just short of plowing into one of those young boys. That was our only mishap, and it turned out to be nothing.
When we returned to the car, Hno. Muñoz drove us over to another volcano, the “Iztac,” short for Iztaccihuatl. (At least I think that’s where we went.) This one is extinct, and shorter than the Popo. We didn’t stay as long at the Iztac. I think one or two of the photos directly above this paragraph is from that volcano. My memory tends to be a bit patchy after twenty-five years.
We won’t be climbing any mountains or volcanoes on this month’s trip to Mexico, but I think it may prove to be even more life-changing because we are going to see what God can do with mountain-moving faith.
Matthew 17:20 And Jesus said unto them, “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, ‘Remove hence to yonder place,’ and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”