Prairie Grass, Flowers, and Scat

Andy hiking black hillsTo see the world of God’s creation through the eyes of a child is an amazing thing. This last week I took my family camping int the Black Hills of South Dakota. An amazing place. We went panning for gold, we saw a number of buffalo…er, bison…and we went hiking.
And to top it off, I actually stayed on the trail.

To enjoy a hike with my children was an amazing adventure within itself. In order for my daughter to complete what is called the PUPS program (a program for 4-6 year-olds at Custer State Park) we needed to complete a hike. I came across one that seemed easy enough called the Prairie Trail. It was just a loop. I thought that we’d see prairie grass, maybe some prairie dogs and maybe, just maybe, a buffalo…er, bison…or two.

So I took my 7 year-old and 4 year-old on a hike. It became the best two hours of my time in the Black Hills.

We slowly walked through trees and through dried creek beds. We then started a slight ascent up the hillside. Or what I thought was going to be a slight ascent. It turned into a high climb. We reached the top and continued to walk. My daughter on my shoulders along the prairie trail, my son walking strongly ahead of me in the lead. My wife waiting patiently in the car.

My children looked around in wonder. My daughter pointed out the prairie grass and the flowers. My son pointed to the bison scat on the ground for us to avoid. After a half hour of hiking along a flat plateau, we came into meeting a couple who had come the other way. They informed us that we were only 1/8 completed. My kids wanted to turn back. But I pushed forward. “Upward and onward” I said. And we continued. “Remember,” I told them, “stay on the trail.”

We looked for prairie dogs but saw none. We looked for bison but saw none. We listened for rattle snakes but heard none. But the breeze felt nice and the sky was a beautiful blue. We continued our hike, walking through the bison fence, a fence put up to keep the bison from leaving sections of the park. And continued up a steep incline. My daughter at times would say “I’m running out of speed.” But we kept going. “We’re almost there and we’ll see mommy soon.” I kept telling them, not knowing just how much farther we had.

As we hiked up another part of the mountain, I looked around and realized I might have bitten off more than I could chew. But my kids looked around and saw the bugs, which frightened my daughter a bit, birds and the trees of the Black Hills.

As we hiked, bees and  yellow jackets buzzed about. All three of us break out in fear when we come near them. “Want to know something I do when I get afraid of the bees and yellow jackets?” I asked them not expecting an answer “When I’m afraid, I say ‘Be still and know that I am God.'” I heard that verse over and over again as we hiked. Soon we started our decent and the trail flattened out. We once again crossed through the buffalo…er..bison…fence.

As we were hiking we bumped into another group of hikers. A lady from Arkansas with a thick sweet accent spoke with us. We weren’t far away. When I told her the ages of my kids she looked at them with awe “My granddaughter is the same age and she never would have made this hike. This is my second time on this trail in two days and it’s hard.” My kids just smiled.

As we came to the clearing where we once started, where the trail reconnected, we saw our car ahead of us. It had take two wonderful hours to reach this far. Two amazing hours with my children I’ll never forget.

As we came to the car, my son turned around and looked at me with a smile. “We did it, dad. Are you proud of me?” “Yes, yes, I am” I said. “I’m proud of you both.”

What days lie ahead, I don’t know. But what days I lay behind I love each one. Those days in the Hills will be remembered by my kiddos and by me. A time where their dad pushed them onward into a great adventure, spurring them on to experience God’s great creation. Helping them be still and know that He is God in times of trouble and in times of awe of his world around us.

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One Response to Prairie Grass, Flowers, and Scat

  1. Pingback: Be still | Spiritual Musclehead

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