If you didn't read the first part of this adventure, be sure to go back and find it here: Mom Walk, Part One!
... Four hours later found us a pitiful, dirty, exhausted, and emotionally worn group of wanderers. We had walked for hours in different terrains: through a forest, over rough rocks, passing a deep cave, foraging through brush, and walking in a dry, dusty path that covered us with reddish sand. Thinking of myself as a resourceful woman, I had pulled out my trusty cell phone several times and attempted to call Clay for help. How was Ito know that there wasn't cell reception this high in the mountains?
We had passed through multiple stages of kids whining and complaining, of sore feet, a series of "I can't go any further" tears, and fears of "What if we die on this mountain and get eaten up by a bear?" Accompanying this were accusations: "Why didn't you bring more water, Mom? Why didn't you find out exactly where we were supposed to go? Why did you bring us this far? How do you know we are going in the right direction? When are we ever going to make it home?"
My great mom-plans were turning into a series of bad, unprepared mom-moments of failure. The kids had indeed amazed me at their ability to persevere. Our faithful dog, Penny, had kept by our side. I felt as though we were living out a script of a Disney movie adventure about a family stranded in the wilds of a mountain looking for routes to survival. Sarah and Joel had each carried 40-pound Joy on their backs for half an hour at a time, trying to give my aching back a break. I had been carrying her most of the afternoon as she became a dead weight while napping in my arms or on my back. Every muscle in my body ached from carrying her half-stooped for a good deal of the time so that she wouldn't fall off my back in her sleep.
Nathan had pushed beyond his own penchant for complaining and had kept his strong young legs going far beyond my expectations. He even had bursts of energy from time to time as we came across an interesting scene. At one point we happened upon the wreck of an old car that looked as though it had driven off a cliff.
Joel had pushed beyond his fear about all the dangers and had decided to be the brave man of the group, encouraging us onward, telling us that the only choice we had was to keep going—as though he were trying to convince himself by saying it out loud.
I had moved through all sorts of stages of emotions: irritation, fear, tears, panic, courage, determination, and condemnation. How could I have led my children into this mess?
We had stopped and prayed several times together. I had prayed silently for God to "Please, lead us" and get us out of this mess.
The sun was setting as we finally found an old road that seemed to lead down the mountain toward the city lights below. I decided again to try to call Clay. The call went through for a few seconds. "Where are you?" he asked. I had the time to say, "I don't know exactly, but we need someone to pick us up—" at which point the phone went dead.
Little did I know that Clay went out to the car, hoping he could drive on a back road to try to find us. Deep frustration overwhelmed him when he couldn't find the keys to the only car—a friend's car— that was sitting in our driveway. Our other car was in the shop. We were later to find out that one of the kids had put the keys in a side pocket in my pack, somehow thinking we might need them! To his consternation, our neighbors were not even home. He had no means of coming to get us.
The children began to shiver in the evening mountain air and their teeth began to chatter. Of course, by this time we had been hours without food or water. All of us felt exceedingly thirsty and hungry. We stopped on the side of the road for a small rest and noticed the Air Force Academy sitting below us in the near distance. This let me know that we were quite high on the abandoned, almost impassable road. Just when I thought things couldn't get worse, a pack of coyotes nearby started howling at the moon.
"Mom, do coyotes attack people and eat them?" one of the boys fearfully questioned.
The other, more informed child answered, "They just attack small animals like Penny and Joy. They are the only ones in danger of being eaten!" Again, panic and chills of fear ran through us all as we walked in darkness, listening to the howling beasts.
At this moment, an angel, in the form of a motorcyclist in a black leather jacket, came along beside us and stopped. He pulled up his helmet so we could see his dark eyes amidst the shadows.
"Lady, it's dangerous to have four little kids out this late on the mountain. There are bears and wild cats in the area, and it's pretty cold. Are you lost? I passed you over an hour ago when I drove up the old road on my bike and here I find you still walking down the mountain:"
I was tempted to throw my arms around his neck. "We live near here, but we evidently took the wrong trail, and it has been more than seven hours since we left home. We have been walking down this road for over an hour. My cell phone doesn't work, and I can't call my husband to pick us up. Can you help us?"
The concerned man informed us that he only lived five miles from this point. "If you wait for me, I will go home and get my Jeep and come back to pick all of you up."
I didn't have long to wonder about his offer, as staying on the dark, cold, deserted mountain in the company of coyotes, bears, and mountain lions seemed far more dangerous than trusting our lives to my new, bearded friend.
"Sure," we all answered simultaneously. It was only after he left that I remembered that I should have had him call Clay to tell him we were still alive!
Thirty minutes later I sighted a small, four-passenger, all-terrain Jeep careening up the bumpy road. As he opened the passenger door gesturing for us all to climb in, the dog jumped in first, followed by the three older kids who squished into the backseat with their beloved Penny. I placed Joy on my lap in the front seat. Getting the door closed was a feat, but we managed, and everyone began to broadcast our story at the same time.
Turning around on the narrow road that hung tight on the edge of a cliff, though, caused all of us to hold our breath and quiet down. I noticed that the girls had closed their eyes. Finally, we bumped our way down the old road, avoiding as many potholes as possible, and then slowly moved in the direction of our home.
Twenty-five minutes later, as we pulled up to the door of our house, Clay ran outside with a look of worry and informed us that he had called the mountain rescue squad. With every muscle aching and parched throats, we tumbled out of the car and all began talking at once.
We thanked our hero profusely, still supposing he really was an angel sent from God. How very tired we were, but also renewed in our adrenalin-filled joy at having been rescued and finally being safely back home!
Everyone told Daddy about a different part of the great adventure. Nathan called out above the others, "Hey, Mom, that was so much fun.When can we do it again?" to which all the kids said, "Yeah! Let's take Daddy next time. He'd have a lot of fun."
And doesn't it feel like our lives as moms are this way, more often than not? We begin with high hopes and a lot of vim and vigor and then ... the walk is longer than we imagined, dark comes on sooner, the food runs out, and ... there are coyotes!
Our newest book, The Lifegiving Parent, is all about the ways we walk along the path of life with our children, encouraging them to find life in God. Available now for preorder!