Death stared us in the face, Alex said.

I didn’t think we would make it. The snow kept getting deeper and deeper and the wind kept getting stronger and stronger. Suddenly it occurred to me, we were in a storm.

I love hiking and try to take two trips a year to the Carpathian mountain range. For me it is a time of meditation when I can ponder the deep issues of life. I climb with my back pack five to six hours a day. The physical challenges help me to focus on serious inner dialogue. This is my idea of an ideal vacation.

This trip was very special for me and my friends who accompanied me. We decided to cross the mountain range in three days. We had done it in the past and we considered ourselves experienced hikers.

The first day was hard as usual but was rewarded with a nice location to overnight. When we got up in the morning the weather had changed. It had started to snow. But that didn’t scare us. On the place of our second overnight location, we met a group of hikers from Poland who told us that they had encountered a big storm on their way down the mountain. That didn’t scare us either. We had only eight kilometers to cover and an additional attitude of 600 meters.

When we started in the morning, we soon realized that the weather had dramatically changed. The snow in some places was so deep that we sank into the snow up to our hips. It was hard going. The path was totally obscured, and the wind became stronger with every meter. We had to make many stops and wait for the wind to change directions so we that we could move on.

When we finally reached the range, we could not see more than 10 meters ahead of us. The wind was so strong that we were knocked to the ground. After four hours of fighting the wind and the snow, it was almost impossible to move. We could no longer feel our fingers and were afraid that our strength would soon fail us. We wondered if this was the end. It was a foreboding thought.

In that moment of panic, I started to repeat the Psalm about God being our refuge and strength, a very present help in the time of trouble. I asked God for a shelter in the time of storm. All of a sudden, I caught a glimpse of the sun for no more than 10 seconds. But it was enough to light our way. In that dramatic moment we caught sight of the mountain-peak, which gave us strength to continue.

We walked for another two hours until we found our way down the mountain. We were tired but happy that God had answered our prayer. God is truly a shelter in the time of storm.

Alex Brzhezitskyy