Last week was a first ever experience for me and my husband. Being a homeschool family for so many years, we got used to and cherished always having our kids with us. We loved having the freedom to create memories with both planned and impromptu outings – trips to the mountains, lakes , trails, creeks, etc. We took family vacations that usually involved the outdoors. Camping memories for our family include the kids swimming, exploring, playing board games and the usual rituals like marshmallow roasting around the fire at night and blueberry pancakes and bacon cooked over the fire in the morning. That’s why my heart squeezed and my breath shortened a little this weekend when my husband and I reached our campsite and set up camp without the usual clatter of noisy excitement. Our kids stayed home this time and for the first time ever it was just the two of us on a camping trip. The contrast was unmistakable and I had the opportunity to bravely embrace this new season of having our kids all grown up.
I have noticed that God prepares us for these things ahead of time. He has already done such a work in my heart regarding these specific changes, teaching me to simply follow Him. At first I had a difficult time defining my changing purpose and role as a mom after my kids had all graduated from high school. But in His perfect timing God swooped in and rescued me from the despair I temporarily lived in. He showed me the things I was clinging to were in the past and that He had new things for me to do. He had mercifully already healed my heart’s feeling of loss in this area. I am able to see that He will still use my life to greatly affect my kids’ well-being, just in a different capacity than before. And in these times of change, there are really cool new things – gifts to realize and be thankful for…like camping dates with my husband!
We thought we knew where we were going to camp and headed in that direction. Turns out we took the wrong road and had to turn around after about forty minutes of driving on a lone, yet beautiful highway. We passed a sign for Grover Hot Springs Campground while heading back to Markleeville, and we decided to check it out. I had recently heard good things about this place, so it seemed a safe place to try. Wow! It was so very beautiful!
The hike to the falls was perfect for my husband because he needs to have less exertion at higher altitude levels. It was only a mile and a half each way from camp and is virtually level! Just his type of hike. (smile)
The mountains and the meadows surrounding the area were a seeming hidden treasure that we had happened upon and uncovered. It didn’t hurt that the weather was unseasonably cool the whole weekend. In fact it was so cold at night we almost missed our morning campfire. We stayed in longer than usual but still managed to indulge in a cozy morning fire.
We only had one night, but we sure enough squeezed all we could possibly squeeze out of those two days on either side. Going off-trail has always been a favorite of mine and the boys (our sons). In the morning my husband and I did just that before we checked out of the campsite and headed for other adventures. It was as if we were all alone in the beautiful meadow along the creek, taking in the majestic beauty of the mountains around us.
Hope Valley and Highway 88 were our next destinations after leaving camp. These are usual haunts for our family. We go and see the aspens every fall and now this is the area near where we cut our Christmas trees down each year. I love to discover new places I’ve never been and add them to my list of favorite places. Well, we got a high-end version of this when we found a campground (so sorry, we never read the sign to get the name) off the road to Hope Valley. What we realized as we looked around at all the other campers was a collection of horse trailers. The inviting beauty of the land is why we stopped in there, not even knowing of the trail we were about to traverse for about an hour and a half. OH. MY. GOODNESS! What hidden beauty we discovered! It actually was a horse trail. We encountered a number of people on horseback. We were the only ones on foot!
We ended the day with a picnic at Caples Lake. It was so peaceful. Neither of us were quite ready to go home, but we were thankful for all that we saw and experienced in the time we had.