Between a rock and a hard place

4-wheelingMy son and I went off-roading over the weekend on the Charoleau Gap road. It’s a steep and rocky goat path—not the place to drive your Geo Metro.

This sort of off-roading is a challenge in problem-solving. The road moves over enormous granite boulders, through streams and across cobble-strewn flats, all while pitching up or down dramatically. You have to think continuously about traction, momentum and clearance. Should I straddle that trench or drop one side down and the other up? If I climb that boulder, will the other tires find traction?

My 4WD SUV has ample power for the climbs, but in some places not enough ground clearance or flexibility. We rely on finesse. Sometimes, you need to stop, get out, look things over and think: how can I get past this without tearing off my oil pan?

We finally got to “Suicide Hill,” a 25-foot high granite face that’s difficult to climb on foot. I gazed up from below and thought: If I can manage to get up there, I don’t think I have the courage come back down again.

There is a detour for the faint-of-heart. We took it. But the detour is no walk in the park.

It clings to the edge of a 300-foot drop-off and climbs a smooth granite face, until you have to navigate through a narrow passage strewn with boulders and sandy trenches.

Just as we were getting to the most difficult section, a smiling group of Japanese tourists came walking down from the top of the ridge. After some friendly greetings, they chatted excitedly to each other and immediately took out their cameras.

“Yoshi, can you believe these stupid Americans attempt this in a Ford?”

“They are fools, Kirosan. If we are fortunate, they may plunge to a fiery death. Then we shall sell video to one of their news shows and get money for that overpriced hotel!”

While the tourists snapped photos, we attacked the rocky passageway. But no matter how we approached it, we could only get about halfway through before losing traction. Too many wheels in the air for such a steep slope.

The tourists moved on. We decided we had reached our limit, so we backed down, parked and rested. The views of the mountains were beautiful, the air was cool, and we enjoyed God’s creation for awhile before heading home.

With a good winch and 200 feet of cable, I think we could’ve conquered that hill. Santa Claus, take note.

Are you the one who makes the hawk soar and spread his wings to the south? Is it at your command that the eagle rises to the heights to make its nest? It lives on the cliffs, making its home on a distant, rocky crag. —Job 39:26-28, NLT

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