Lost Glasses in the High Sierras
July 1983

“Lost Glasses in the High Sierras,” Ensign, July 1983, 36

Lost Glasses in the High Sierras

On a Monday morning in July the Scouts of troop 899 drove up to North Lake to begin a fifty-mile hike across Piute Pass in California’s High Sierra Mountains. Their Scoutmaster and two other dedicated brothers went along on the hike. After one week of hiking, the group would arrive at Camp Kern and stay there for a week of activities.

The assistant Scoutmasters returned home after the week of hiking, and Brother Adams told me that the boys endured the hike well, except that Jimmy, my thirteen-year-old son, had lost his eyeglasses on the second day of their adventure. I was distressed, knowing how heavily Jimmy depended on his eyeglasses; he would miss out on much of the fun at camp. Besides, the glasses had a value of over $100. Evidently, when perspiration had fogged up his glasses, Jimmy had taken them off and put them in his shirt pocket. Later, when he realized they were gone, he walked back on the trail with the Scoutmasters for about three miles, but without success.

As I pondered the problem Sunday night, I knelt in prayer and asked our Father in Heaven to help us get the glasses back for Jimmy. Brother Adams had indicated that it would be impossible to find them again, as twenty Scouts had been walking over that trail and the sandy soil there would swallow everything.

When I awoke Monday morning, the Spirit whispered to me that I could go up there and find them. This seemed foolish to me, and I tried to cover these thoughts with other possibilities. I called Brother Adams, who works for the Forest Department in the High Sierra, asking him to pass the word to all pack stations and notify me if the glasses were found. Surely someone walking along that trail would find them for us.

During the following two days I continued to feel that I should make plans to go up there and find the glasses. I argued that I had never hiked before and had neither knowledge nor gear for such an adventure. Moreover, wasn’t the whole idea like trying to find a needle in a haystalk?

By Thursday I was convinced that I could find the glasses but that I should await Jimmy’s return so I could take him with me. It seemed like a long wait until Jimmy returned that Saturday night from camp. My daughter Maureen, who had been to a girls’ camp, also returned Saturday; and since she had expressed a desire all summer to go on a long hike, this unexpected opportunity offered a way to get rid of her hiking fever.

As I explained my plan Saturday night, neither of the children showed much enthusiasm. Nevertheless, I decided to start the hike on Tuesday morning. Monday we gathered our gear, tent, and back-packs; everything was ready by Monday night. Our home teacher saw to it that we had hiking boots.

Tuesday morning at 5:00 A.M. we drove up to North Lake and parked our car at the start of the Piute Pass trail. The weather was beautiful, the air crisp and clear. We walked for several hours; the children had to rest frequently, each carrying thirty to thirty-five pounds on their backs. About 1:00 P.M. we stopped for lunch by a beautiful mountain creek.

Then we continued the hike until we reached the area where we would begin to search for the glasses. We selected a spot to hide the backpacks, as we would return by nightfall to pitch our tent. All the time I had felt assured that we were on the right trail; however, my children were getting very tired and skeptical and were quite sure that all that strenuous walking was in vain.

After we walked another thirty-five minutes, we arrived at a creek crossing the trail. Jimmy remembered the place across the stream where he had stopped to rest, exactly two weeks ago, to wait for the other Scouts to catch up. Something stirred in me at this point and told me to carefully watch out now for the glasses. I began again asking my son questions about their hike, which log had they crossed, whether he had made any unusual movements as he walked on the log over the creek.

Before we stepped onto the log crossing the water, our eyes scanned the ground, left and right. Maureen and I had leapt off the log onto the continuing trail. Jimmy suddenly stopped walking, standing still on the log a few yards from the end, and yelled: “Mom, now I remember! I took a great big jump from here to there” (pointing to the spot where I stood), and I realized instantly that the glasses must have jumped a little farther than he did. I turned, saying, “Then they must be lying right behind me!” Parting the tall grass beside the trail with my hands, I found the glasses right before my eyes.

“Jimmy, here are your glasses!” I yelled. Both children stood behind me as I got up and held the glasses before their eyes. Over and over they said: “I can’t believe it! I can’t believe it!” Jimmy had needed only to have his memory jogged by the motion of jumping from the log. No search was necessary. I just had to bend down and pick them up.

“Now I can see again!” Jimmy exclaimed. He told us that he had walked about a foot from them when he and the two brothers had searched the day he lost the glasses. He had not remembered his jump nor did anyone notice them lying in the tall grass. None of the Scouts who went by saw them.

We started back, happy in our hearts and giving thanks to our Father in Heaven for his guidance. That night we pitched our tent after hiking three more hours. The next morning we walked four more hours to reach our car. As we told our story to the people who knew about our intended adventure, none could believe that we had been successful. But with God nothing is impossible.

  • Roswitha T. Olson, mother of two, teaches Relief Society Mother Education lessons in her Bishop, California, ward.

Illustrated by Robert DeWitt