Over the Mountain

by Hartt Wixom

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    The biggest hurdle I had to clear was my own pride.

    It happened at Camp Steiner in the High Uinta Mountains. I was 17, one of the older boys in the ward, and Brother Faux had asked me to come along and help with the Scout troop. I would help prepare duty rosters, fill in with work where it was needed, and take the boys fishing.

    I packed my sleeping bag and fishing rod, but I didn’t bring any food. The camp had plenty. I could also bring a friend my age. They would supply his food, too.

    My first morning at camp, I took the boys down the lake to a special place where I’d caught some nice brook trout as a Scout. I saw myself as a good fisherman and anticipated being praised by the boys as a knowledgeable guide.

    An hour went by. No fish. Two hours. I knew it was nearly time for Brother Faux to have breakfast ready, but I did not want to stop and admit defeat. By the time I gave up, leading the disappointed 12- to 14-year-olds back to camp, it was 9:25 A.M.

    “Breakfast is cold,” Brother Faux said sternly. It was my fault, but I just made excuses. If that was the way I was going to help out, he told me, I could get out of his way. He had expected help, not more problems.

    He was right. I couldn’t deny that. But I had my pride. No one was going to tell me what to do. My friend, Deral Barton, and I had come prepared to help for three days, but since our valuable help wasn’t appreciated we would hike over the mountain to Ruth Lake and live off the land!

    The Scouts looked at us in awe as we departed. I felt smugly independent at the time. But when we got to Ruth Lake, it was not the best time of day to catch fish. We unrolled the sleeping bags from our backpacks and went to bed very early—and very hungry.

    The next morning, a young mule deer buck awoke us early, seemingly an indication of good things to come. We each quickly caught a foot-long trout. But we had no pan or foil to cook the fish in, so we tried to heat a rock to get the job done. Some three hours later, we realized we would never succeed.

    Then we saw a group of boys trudging down the mountain toward us. They were from our Scout troop, bringing soda pop and sandwiches, cans of beans, and cookies. Not even St. Bernards in the Swiss Alps could have looked so welcome.

    Pride at living off the land was soon swallowed, along with one of the most delicious meals I’d ever eaten. Deral and I remained in our camp until our benefactor’s supplies ran out.

    The next Sunday in church, Brother Faux came over. “I shouldn’t have become angry,” he told me. “After you left, I became worried. I hinted to the boys about heading your way with food, and I was greatly relieved when they did. I want to apologize for being so sharp with you.”

    I, too, had to apologize for my less-than-humble departure from camp. It had complicated the outing he was responsible for.

    From that time on, he was one of my closest friends in the ward. From then on, he kept checking on me whenever I went “over the mountain,” so to speak. He showed his concern over the years and made sure I had the nourishment I needed, spiritually as well as physically, as I prepared for my mission. And I responded to his good example just as I had when he sent the troop after a stubborn boy who made a wrong decision.

    Illustrated by Greg Newbold