It was a lovely azure blue-sky day in Colorado, with wispy, white clouds creating animal pictures in the sky. The drive out to Hanging Lake for our hike took about 40 minutes, and the view of the mountains was absolutely breathtaking. Spindly fingers of crystallized ice seemed to weave their way down the sides of the crevices as if to grasp the tops of the mountains. Every tree imaginable grew in proud rows, too numerous to count; a horticulturist’s dream.
As soon as we arrived we began our ascent with gusto. We had our water bottles, our sneakers and our big smiles. We were embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. The hike up to Hanging Lake is about a mile and a half and the terrain is steep, with boulders of all shapes and sizes to navigate. Occasionally, there are spots less vertical, where you can rest and catch your breath, but overall, this is a serious climb. I noticed I had to stop more often than I had planned, to rest, drink my water and slow my racing heartbeat. Of course, when you’re pushing fifty and still pretending to be 35, reality occasionally kicks you in the butt. After all, I am from Florida, where oxygen is a plentiful commodity! When you’re thousands of feet above sea level, the air gets a little thin. Enough with the pathetic excuses; let’s get back to the wonders of nature.
To the right of the path is a beautiful rushing stream that cascades past boulders, rocks and green foliage. Just the voice of the water is relaxing and as many times as I had to stop, I got a lot of opportunities to appreciate it. Little brown and black chipmunks skittered past my feet as if to welcome me to their habitat. The trees were so tall, I got a neck ache trying to see the tops and each tree had unique markings and personality. Running my hands over the rough and protruding grain of the trunk told me the story of their years in the mountain’s forest. If these trees could only talk, I’ve no doubt they’d be singing the praises of their Creator.
About half way up, there was an enormous tree that had fallen to the left of the path, its huge trunk nearly five feet in diameter. The spindly limbs, bereft of leaves and wildlife, his song now silent. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for this fallen warrior, alone and displaced in a world of vibrant life.
Someone kept asking that irritating, but important question, “Are we there yet?” I realized with a bit of embarrassment that the person making that repetitive inquiry was me. The higher we climbed, the more difficult the journey. But the orchestrated sound of creation beckoned me on. Birds were singing little tunes in perfect harmony as if to encourage me to keep going.
The last leg of the journey to Hanging Lake is fraught with sheer drop-offs, jagged rocks and slippery dirt filled with tiny, laughing pebbles. It almost felt like sabotage to make me slip. I crawled my way up the last twenty-five feet, not daring to look down, lest the mountain take me. My son and husband were behind me encouraging me on as I painstakingly set one hand and knee in front of the other. People were lined up behind us wondering what in the world that crazy woman was doing, crawling like a baby. Perhaps it’s not as important how you make it to the top. It’s just important that you do.
When I finally stood, knees scraped and hands aching, I was rewarded with the most extraordinary sight. Before me was a lake so clear you could see the bottom, some 25 feet below, the color as green as a priceless emerald, a reflection of the sky above and the surrounding green trees. The lake’s shore is made of fragile travertine, dissolved limestone that is deposited on the rocks and logs. Layers and layers guard the shores of this remarkable lake. A tall, skinny tree had fallen in the middle of the water some years ago, and it was the only object marring the perfection of the otherwise perfect picture.
To sit quietly by the shores of this lake is to hear the sounds of praise from creation. Black Swifts- the only known population of these rare birds- make their home by Hanging Lake. To see them float by makes one all the more appreciative of the beauty of this rare and secluded place.
Two waterfalls, 30 to 40 feet high pour into Hanging Lake. The sound of the water cascading off the ragged cliffs and crashing into the green jewel below is mesmerizing. I found a little bench where I sat to take in the wonder of this tiny slice of heaven. I also needed desperately to catch my breath, yet again. I don’t know how long I sat there, but what I heard changed my heart in ways I’ll never forget.
The voice of nature sings loudly the praises of God. With every new birth of creation we gain understanding as to the power of the regeneration of Christ when he rose from the tomb some 2000 years ago.
During this season our hearts can hear the joy of creation sing of the glory of God with every sunset, every blooming flower, every thunderstorm and every rainbow. The night stars remind us of his glory and the morning sun shouts his praise.
Never have I felt closer to the heart of God than on that day in Colorado, when I observed, first hand the beauty of God’s world and the song of his creation, beckoning me to believe in his death, burial and resurrection and reminding me that all created things know his song and sing it to the listening ear.
Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the earth and all living things join in. Let the rivers clap their hands in glee! Let the hills sing out their songs of joy before the Lord. Psalms 98:7-9, NLV
©2009, Tamra Nashman