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Backpacking with the SaintsWilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice$
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Belden C. Lane

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199927814

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199927814.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 25 June 2021

Disillusionment: Laramie Peak and Thérèse of Lisieux

Disillusionment: Laramie Peak and Thérèse of Lisieux

4 (p.46) Disillusionment: Laramie Peak and Thérèse of Lisieux
Backpacking with the Saints

Belden C. Lane

Oxford University Press

Making mistakes in the spiritual life is an essential part of growth—as important as forest fires, blow-downs, and insects are to the life of a thriving forest. You grow only in being burnt, bent, and bitten. You have to stumble before you can walk. My error this time wasn’t intentional. I saw no signs at the trailhead and didn’t think to ask. I simply hauled my backpack up Laramie Peak in the Medicine Bow Wilderness of eastern Wyoming, planning to spend the night somewhere near the top. Only later did I learn that camping isn’t allowed anywhere on the mountain. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. More often it’s simply dangerous. Yet I had the mountain to myself that night, or I should say that it had me. I was new to backpacking at the time. But I don’t remember ever being so overwhelmed by deep silence and a haunting sense of presence as I was that night at 10,000 feet near the mountain’s peak. Fallen limbs, rock outcroppings, and thick ground cover made it impossible to venture very far off the trail. It was hard even to find a semi-flat piece of ground to sleep on in the dense, moss covered undergrowth. Everything resisted my being there. Still more disturbing was the feeling that I was being watched—studied from beyond the shadows by something I couldn’t see. I’ve seldom felt so ill at ease in wilderness. Something was out there, frightening in its apparent indifference to my well-being. Laramie Peak stands alone on the easternmost edge of the Rocky Mountains. At 10,272 feet, it is smaller than the Colorado fourteeners to the southwest. But it offers an imposing silhouette, jutting up from the northern plains like Mt. Fuji rising above the mountains west of Tokyo. One can see it for miles along Highway I-25 in eastern Wyoming. Nineteenth-century settlers on the Oregon Trail caught sight of it from Scotts Bluff in the Nebraska Territory, 120 miles to the east. It was their first warning of the foreboding mountains that lay ahead.

Keywords:   disillusionment, fear, grandiosity, lions, silence, warrior archetype

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