Should We Climb?

    “Should We Climb?” Ensign, Feb. 2005, 66–67

    Should We Climb?

    A few years ago several friends from institute and I planned a two-day backpacking trip. We were experienced campers, quite familiar with the areas we would be traveling in and well equipped for most situations. We would soon learn, however, that without the guidance of the Holy Ghost our gear and knowledge would have been next to useless.

    A few days before our trip the sky was clear and the temperatures were moderate. Our destination was Mount Chocorua in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. While it is true that the mountains of our region do not boast summits as high as those found in other parts of the world, the elevation gain from trailhead to summit is often quite substantial, and New England is known for its highly unpredictable weather.

    The day before our departure it started to rain. Normally this would not concern me; it often rained as we hiked. This time, however, I felt a growing sense of unease. I checked the forecast—light showers, nothing more. Still, I felt very uncomfortable as the evening progressed. The feeling grew as I prepared for bed, read my scriptures, and said my prayers.

    Finally I went to my pack and pulled out my guide map of the White Mountain National Forest. As I located Mount Chocorua on the map, my sense of unease doubled. It was so intense I considered calling off the trip, but that didn’t feel right either. I found another mountain we had on our list to climb and immediately felt better. After a prayer I felt good about this new destination. My only concern was possibly disappointing my friend Glenn, who had put much effort into planning this trip.

    The next morning it was still raining lightly. After we all arrived at our departure point, I voiced my concerns and told my friends of my prayers and feelings. To my relief, two others had had the same feelings, and Glenn was more than willing to change mountains. We then prayed and asked the Lord to watch over us in our travels and to help us make the right decisions. We all felt comfortable with our new plans and departed.

    Although the rain continued, our drive and climb passed without incident. After dinner the rain stopped and the clouds broke, revealing a beautiful sunset. Our spirits lifted, and we went to bed.

    At midnight we were awakened by an intense electrical storm that lasted most of the night. While the rain, wind, and lightning were heavy where we were, we felt no impending danger. The lightning was far worse to the east where, from my vantage point, it was striking a particular area nearly every second and continued to do so for at least an hour. Glad that I was not there, I drifted back to sleep. The remainder of the trip was wet but passed safely and was very enjoyable.

    A few days later I attended an institute cookout. All those who had gone on the backpacking trip were there. When Glenn arrived he had a curious look on his face. He showed us a section of a guidebook for the White Mountains. It stated that while Mount Chocorua is not as elevated as its neighbors, its bald face and position make it dangerous as one of the mountains in North America most frequently struck by lightning. We also confirmed that the area we saw bombarded by lightning was the Chocorua area.

    How grateful we were that we were warned by the Holy Ghost not to go there at that time.