One Night on Timp
The air was cold and biting at nearly 12,000 feet as the sun sank quickly across the valley behind the Oquirrh Mountains and the first stars appeared. Thousands of other lights twinkled more than 7,000 feet below me as the residents of Utah Valley began dinner in their warm homes.
I was comfortable in my sleeping bag, but puzzled. How could I explain the strange urge that had brought me through snow and ice to the top of Mount Timpanogos in late October? The climb had been cold and difficult. Why had I come?
I was in my second year of law school, and though I was an experienced hiker, I hadn’t been in the mountains for months. The first snows of autumn blanketed the upper slopes of Mount Timpanogos, but I suddenly had the inexplicable desire to spend the night on the summit of the mountain.
It seemed a crazy idea, but at noon I had thrown my gear into my pack and had driven up Provo Canyon to the trailhead at the Aspen Fork campground.
Was I looking for adventure? Did I simply need a change from the routine of law school? I wasn’t sure.
There were only a few hours of daylight left when I had begun hiking, so I hurried along the trail through scattered pines and aspens. Soon I was climbing the switchbacks on the steep east side of the mountain.
After I’d traveled a few miles, I was shocked to see another climber on the trail ahead of me. When I moved closer, I could see the hiker wasn’t a typical mountaineer. A middle-aged woman, she was laboriously plodding her way toward the summit. She carried only a small day-pack.
She said she had been on the trail since morning. It was her first hike ever she proudly told me, and she was determined to reach the top.
“Don’t let your perseverance get you in trouble,” I warned her. “You’re probably not going to reach the summit before nightfall. You’d better turn back soon or you’ll have to find your way down in the dark.”
I continued past her up the trail, certain she would turn back in a few minutes. After all, she didn’t even have a sleeping bag. She could freeze to death if she were trapped on the mountain overnight.
I climbed past Emerald Lake on the mountain’s eastern shoulder and began to trudge through fresh snow at 10,000 feet. After a harrowing and exhausting traverse along the steep north slope of the peak, I was faced with an even steeper 500-foot ascent over scattered patches of snow and ice. A fall here would have ended in an uncontrolled slide down thousands of feet of scree.
I finally finished my climb on the knife-edged ridge that was the 11,750-foot summit of Mount Timpanogos. The mountain’s sheer western face fell away at my feet, giving me an incredible view of the Utah and Salt Lake valleys.
I unrolled my sleeping bag in the small, roofed shelter that stands at the summit. The stone floor wouldn’t be too comfortable, but at least the shelter’s waist-high metal walls would keep me from rolling off the mountain.
As the sun set, the temperature began to plummet. I spent a few minutes enjoying the view, then retreated to my down sleeping bag for the night ahead.
As I slept, I heard a voice in my dreams. The voice was crying for help. The cries continued until I sat bolt upright in my bag and realized that I wasn’t dreaming. The shouts drifted up from far below, but I heard them clearly through the rarefied air.
It seemed impossible, but someone—and I knew who—was wandering the icy mountainside in the darkness and cold.
I pulled on my pants and jacket and followed my flickering flashlight in the direction of the cries. I found the middle-aged mountaineer standing in pitch blackness on the edge of a thousand-foot dropoff.
“I got stuck on the mountain when it got dark,” she explained. She tried to appear calm, but her words rattled in staccato bursts. “I got lost. I didn’t think it was this far to the top! I lost both my flashlights off a cliff an hour ago.”
Her adrenalin had kept her warm, but she shivered and chattered as we stumbled back up the ridge. Her name was Jane. Her husband was still waiting for her at their car.
Back at the shelter, I gave her my sleeping bag and told her to stay in it. She resisted at first, but shivering wildly, finally agreed. I put on all my warm clothes, wrapped Jane’s spare sweater around me, and settled in for what I correctly assumed would be one of the longest and coldest nights of my life.
I was far too cold to sleep, and Jane was too excited, so we stayed awake and talked. At one point during the night, I was reminded of the famed naturalist John Muir, who had once survived a night trapped on an Alaskan glacier by dancing a Scottish jig until morning. I had twice flunked a social dance class at BYU, so I hoped it wouldn’t come to that.
At 4:00 A.M., when the temperature stood at five degrees Fahrenheit, we saw the flashlights of a search-and-rescue team 1,500 feet below us. I signaled with my flashlight and shouted the news that Jane was okay. “We’ll be down at first light,” I yelled. “Wait for us.”
Sound carried remarkably well in the still, crystalline air. Their distant “Okay!” response was easy to hear.
When the first traces of light touched the mountain, we started down the steep, icy slope. Before we reached the rescue party, Jane and I knelt together in the snow to thank our Heavenly Father that tragedy had been averted. Our prayer at 10,000 feet convinced me that the biblical promise was true: Not even a sparrow—much less my new friend—could fall to the earth without our Father’s notice.
When we were finally off the mountain, Jane’s husband cried with joy and relief. He had been sure that she was dead until he had seen our light early that morning. The search-and-rescue volunteers were similarly relieved. They said they remove the bodies of less fortunate climbers from the mountain every year.
What was I doing sleeping on top of Mount Timpanogos so late in the season? It seemed obvious to me then, as it still does to me, that I was led there to make sure that Jane got off the peak safely. I had done something right, following that irresistible urge to climb mountain. Even at ten thousand feet, the Lord does indeed move in mysterious ways.
His Testimony Spoke to My Heart
For thirteen years I was a zealous, “born again” Christian and an equally zealous anti-Mormon. As part of an organized evangelical program, I talked to people in launderettes, in parks, and in their homes, seeking to share the “good news of the gospel.”
Many of the people I encountered in my evangelical work were Latter-day Saints. I took every opportunity to tell them that their church was not of God but was a cult inspired by Satan. I was well-read in anti-Mormon literature, and my heart ached for those “misguided Mormons.” They went about trying to “work” their way to heaven, believing in the words of a self-appointed prophet named Joseph Smith.
Those works counted for nothing, I told them time and time again. Only those people who ask Jesus into their hearts will go to heaven. All others, good and evil, share a fate of agony and eternal separation from God.
“What about those who have never heard of Jesus?” I was asked time and time again. With no answer, I quietly swept the question aside.
After a difficult divorce, I stopped going to church, and although my faith in God and love for Him remained, I neglected the spiritual part of my life for a time. I married an inactive Latter-day Saint who nonetheless possessed an unshakable testimony. We rarely discussed religion, but whenever the subject arose, I made fruitless attempts to show him the folly of his beliefs. He quietly listened, but his testimony remained intact. Then, through a family crisis, the door of my heart began to open just a crack.
My father-in-law became very ill with cancer, and as death approached, he felt the need to express the importance of the Church to his children. Something about his simple testimony spoke to my heart, and I decided to find out for myself the truth regarding this church. I began by cross-referencing the scriptures. To my surprise, I found that there were no inconsistencies between the Bible and the Book of Mormon. To me, the Bible was the precious word of God. I believed it without question. Could Mormon doctrine possibly be proven within the Bible? I set out to find the answer.
In going through my husband’s Church books, I came across A Marvelous Work and a Wonder by LeGrand Richards. As I read it, I felt as if it had been written for me. I discovered New Testament scriptures regarding baptism for the dead and Christ’s mission during the time prior to his resurrection. I discovered Jesus’ words to Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb: “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” (John 20:71.) Had he not returned to his Father immediately after his death? But I had used his words to the thief on the cross, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43) to prove deathbed repentance! I had read these same scriptures countless times before but had never really understood them. Now I realized I had been deceived about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As I studied and prayed, I began to find answers to the questions I had quietly swept aside. Finally, I knew that this church was the Savior’s church, and its doctrine was his doctrine.
In 1984 I was baptized. I am grateful the Lord waited so patiently for the moment when my heart would open so that his Spirit would lead me to the truth. My husband is now active in the Church, too, and it is a joy to work in the Lord’s true church with him and to feel the Savior’s love permeating our marriage and our lives.
The Fifty-Dollar Switch
The financial situation for Horace and Adelaide Weaver and their eight children of Bennington, Idaho, had never been good, but in the spring of 1913, it was growing worse. The cows had gone dry, most of the chickens were molting, the piglets and lambs hadn’t yet been born, few vegetables remained in the root cellar, and it wasn’t yet shearing time. Frank, a son, had written from his mission in Australia, saying that he needed fifty dollars immediately or he would have to return home a month early.
Coming up with fifty dollars would be almost impossible.
The family prayed that Frank wouldn’t have to return early, but there didn’t seem to be any way to raise the money to keep him on his mission.
Eleven-year-old Addie Faun, the seventh of the Weaver children, had a lovely singing voice, and she had been asked to sing at a Primary conference in Cokeville, Wyoming. Her mother had made her a delicately pleated sailor dress for the occasion.
On the way to Cokeville, Faun and her mother stopped in Montpelier to have Faun’s picture taken. (They had saved a few precious eggs to barter for the photo.) Faun’s light brown hair, with as many highlights as the sun, had been braided into one thick, long braid that hung down to her waist. As Faun was waiting to be photographed, a vocalist from a nearby university came by with her father. The singer immediately noticed Faun and her long, golden braid.
“Oh, Father, look at this child’s hair,” the singer exclaimed. “It matches mine perfectly. It would make a lovely switch for me to wear at the recital!”
Faun’s mother stepped forward. “How much would you pay for it?” she asked.
“Fifty dollars,” was the reply.
“That is exactly what we need to send my son Frank, who is on a mission. Our prayers are answered!” Faun’s mother cried.
Even though they were in a hurry to reach Cokeville for the Primary conference, there was time for Faun to have her picture taken, then walk down the road to the barber shop, where her braid was cut off.
The fifty dollars was sent to Elder Frank Weaver in Australia.