We were on the third day of our trip through Southern Utah when we arrived in Capitol Reef National Park. We were extremely excited to check another National Park off our bucket list.
We knew we wanted to see Cathedral Valley, but to see that part of the park required driving 57 miles on a dirt road…….one that required a high clearance vehicle and often 4-wheel drive, especially after a rain storm and it required fording a river. But, it had been raining over the past few days and had rained quite a lot the night before our arrival………and it was getting cloudy. Since we could see the building thunderstorms moving our way, we thought it would be best to stop at the Visitor Center first to check on the condition of the dirt road and the river.
The park ranger at let us know that the river was running higher than normal and the last report on road conditions was from the day before we arrived and before the overnight rains. That report was that the road was muddy and required 4-wheel drive. I figured after hearing that from the ranger and since more rain was coming very soon, that we would NOT be driving across the river and into Cathedral Valley….at least not until the next day when it was expected to be sunny…….
But, my husband had other ideas.
He wanted to see the river for himself and then decide whether or not we would go or wait.
So we drove to the dirt road that would lead to the river ford.
It was getting darker…….the storms were getting closer. I was panicking………
I did NOT want to drive into the river or across the river.
The river was running too fast for me………
And how many times have we heard that we should NEVER drive into running water, especially during or after a summer rain storm? I began to think my husband had lost his mind. And even if we could safely ford the river, how were we going to navigate a muddy, dirt road, through washes filling with water from the rain and not get stuck? There was no cell phone service and if we got stuck out there who would come get us? How would anyone know where we were?
Yes, I was in a panic!
My husband checked the river and then said we were going through. He knew it would be safe and we would make it.
And we did. I recorded us fording the river, panic coming through in my voice, and tears flowing down my cheeks. And then we were out of the river, safely on the other side.
I could breathe…….maybe…….
We drove a couple miles down the dirt road and the rain started coming down faster…….in the distance we could see the pouring rain………too much rain, coming toward us. My panic grew.
Thankfully my husband decided we would be safer driving this road the next day when it was expected to be sunny and warm and we turned around.
But turning around meant going back through the river……I couldn’t stop the panic swelling deep inside me. I couldn’t stop the fear. I couldn’t stop the tears.
My husband asked me as we drove back toward the river what was scaring me, did I not trust him to keep me safe or trust his abilities? No, that wasn’t what scared me. I trusted him. I knew he would always keep me safe.
It was deeper than that.
As we approached the river, the realizations were hitting me square in the face.
If we got stuck, out there where no one would find us……if we slid off the side of a bluff on the slippery, muddy roads…….if the rushing water of the river washed us away………I would not live past the age my mother had been when she died. I would not get to my 52nd birthday. That thought paralyzes me. I HAVE to make it to my 52nd birthday. I HAVE to live to experience the things my mother never got to do. I CANNOT leave my boys at the same age my mother was.
In that moment fording the physical river became so much more for me. I was fording my river of fear. I was fording the river of this year……the year of learning to breathe rather than holding my breath.
Fording the river of my biggest fear is scary, difficult and at times paralyzing. But just as my husband kept me safe while we forded the physical river, I know that as long as I have him, my family, my friends and God by my side, I can and will ford this river and I can and will get through this year………one river ford at a time.
And just to let you know, we did go back the next day and we successfully forded the river. And I did not panic…..as my husband said “the third time’s the charm”. This is the river……not too scary, is it?