I’ve learned some important lessons while hiking and camping. In fact, I almost called this article “Everything I Know about Life I Learned While I Was Hungry, Cold, Sunburned, Itching, Tired, Blistered, Sick-to-My-Stomach, Dirty, and Smelly.”
For example, one time my buddies and I hiked into the mountains for a week of fishing. We had a lot of fun. The deer flies and mosquitoes were so tame they let us feed them. The jays were so friendly they’d swoop down and help themselves to food right off the griddle. And some of the trout were so dumb they let us catch them.
Now, we were on our way back. For breakfast that morning we finished off the last of the food we had packed in. Now we were surviving on lint-covered raisins from the bottom of our packs. We had about eight more miles to hike before we met our rides and headed home to good food and to showers that didn’t come directly out of a cloud.
Ordinarily, the packs are lighter on the hike out; you’ve eaten all of the food and lost half of everything else. But for some reason, I found it tougher going than usual. My companions, on the other hand, laughed as we walked uphill.
Maybe it was because my face was going from red to purple—at any rate, we stopped to rest for a few minutes. When we took off our packs, I made an interesting discovery. You see, we had brought an army surplus canvas bucket for carrying spring water into camp, and I had tied the empty bucket to the back of my pack for the trip out. But somewhere along the way someone had put a rock the size of a large grapefruit in that bucket.
Well, there was a lot of laughter. I laughed too—later. And with the heavy weight gone, I not only kept up with my buddies, I practically chased them up those hills. I also learned a valuable lesson: don’t carry unnecessary burdens.
That rock in the bucket was just a joke someone else played on me. But the real miseries we inflict on ourselves are no laughing matter. We all pick up extra burdens along the way—sins, bad attitudes, and bad habits. They slow us down, make life miserable. Even worse, they can prevent us from reaching our true destination.
Fortunately, our Savior doesn’t just wait for us at the end of the trail. He walks beside us, eager to lift our load right now. As the hymn says, “I’ll drop my burden at his feet and bear a song away” (Hymns, no. 125). The Savior’s invitation is beautiful: “Come unto me, all ye that … are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).