“In the Colorado Cold,” Ensign, June 1998, 56–57
Each year a group of us in Dallas gets together to backpack in the Colorado mountains. Our group consists of seven men ranging in age from 50 to 61. We come from different religious backgrounds, but the unifying feature of our group is that we all have a firm testimony of Jesus Christ as our Savior.
One year we decided to go camping the first week of July. The previous winter had been harsh, with more snow falling than in any of the past 20 years. The ground was dry where the sun shone through the trees, but in the shady areas there were snow piles two to three feet deep. Although the temperature was pleasant during the day, after the sun set the air quickly cooled. Our coldest morning reached 28 degrees.
All too soon our week of fishing and exploring was coming to an end. On Friday, our last day for adventure, we decided to break into two groups. Four of the men decided to go one direction, and Dan, Cecil, and I decided to go the opposite way in search of Lily Pond. Late in the afternoon we reached our destination and enjoyed the beautiful day while we circled the pond.
The day was now far spent, and we needed to get back to camp for the 6:00 P.M. dinner hour. We had almost reached Keer Lake when we saw two trucks in the muddy meadow. A pickup was stuck in mud up to the front bumper, and a three-quarter-ton flatbed, connected with a chain, was trying to pull it free. Dan and I decided to go help free the truck. Cecil had a bad back and would be unable to help, so he went back to camp to tell the others where we were.
Upon reaching the trucks we discovered three families: an older couple; their two married sons, both with their wives; and several children. All told, there were nine children ranging in age from 3 to 12, and six adults. The families had expected to spend the afternoon on a pleasure ride in the mountains, and, as it had been warm when they started out, they had not taken heavy clothing.
We worked for an hour and couldn’t budge the pickup. It was late in the day, and the temperature was dropping rapidly. Six of the children sat cold and hungry in the back of the pickup; they had last eaten at 2:00 P.M. Their shoes were wet from playing in the meadow, and they began to shiver from the cool mountain air. I decided to take the children back to our camp to dry them out and get them something warm to eat. Dan elected to remain in the meadow and continue working to free the truck.
As we were walking away from the meadow we heard a loud bang, and in looking back we saw the grandfather lying in the mud. The chain had snapped loose and struck him. Fortunately he wasn’t severely hurt and soon was back on his feet. It wasn’t until later we learned the family’s situation. The grandfather had had a heart attack six months earlier, and one son had been diagnosed with cancer and had only a short time to live. Fortunately the other son was healthy.
When I arrived at camp, my friends were surprised to see all the children. They immediately built up the fire and heated some hot chocolate. Everyone at camp had already eaten, and we shared the stew that was being saved for Dan and me. A prayer was offered that there would be enough food for the children and for those still in the meadow.
A cold rain started to fall, and without a word each man went to his tent, put on his rain gear, and left for the meadow, where another prayer was offered for the Lord to temper the elements. Within minutes the rain stopped.
It took another hour of working in the mud, but finally the truck was free. Everyone came back to camp to dry off and have something to eat. I saw Dan eating his dinner and was amazed at the heaping pile of stew on his plate. Then I looked into the pot; there were still two helpings left over after everyone had eaten. A meal that was prepared to feed 7 fed 17.
As we were talking, the healthy son told us that after struggling for several hours to free the truck, he had realized that the task was hopeless and had finally prayed for help. Upon looking up, he saw the men of our camp coming through the trees.
Another blessing came when a warm breeze began blowing through camp. We were all wet and cold, but the breeze warmed and comforted us. Two people commented on how warm it had turned. We needed that blessing, and even though we had not asked for it the Lord knew our need and provided for it.
Before our new friends left, we all stood in a circle around the campfire holding hands while the healthy son offered a prayer of thanksgiving. Then, people who had never met until that day hugged one another. Not much was said; we had reached that sacred moment when words were unnecessary. As they left our camp and disappeared through the pines we heard the children singing. A potential disaster had been averted.