Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hie to Kolob for Parker

Do you ever have those moments where you know you are in the perfect place at the perfect time doing the perfect thing? Monday morning brought an unlikely group of us together for the Parker Bradford Timpanogos Memorial Hike. We gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of Parker, who at just 18 tender years left this life for the next.
This picture was taken just before we made the last push up through the snowfield shown behind us and into Emerald Lake at the base of Mount Timpanogos.
We gathered bright and early at the trail head, most of us strangers to one other but a common honor the memory of an amazing young man. In a large circle of 35, introductions were made and tears were shed as the commonality among many of us was revealed. This hike was not only for Parker, but for Katelyn, and for Brigham, and for Michael, and for our Jocie and a few others that had passed away too soon. This hike was also for a very young Parker namesake who continues his fight to get well. It is impossible for me to describe the love, the sorrow, the overpowering emotions in that circle on a sunny morning. There were long-time friends and supportive family of the Bradfords. I never had the honor to meet sweet Parker, but his mother Melissa has been instrumental in the healing of my broken empty mother heart.

Of course Princess Izzy made the trip. She is an excellent trail dog and mostly has good manners except when it is food time. Then her pleading puppy dog eyes pierce into your heart and you can't help but give her half of your sandwich. She really is such a moochy pooch!

Izzy started out clean as did the rest of us. However, after plodding through a couple of streams it soon looks like Izzy is wearing socks...dirty socks!

The trail climbs upward at a steady pace and levels out for a bit upon a cliff band with a meadow of wildflowers everywhere you look.

Luc and Dalton are Parker's brothers. We were hiking buddies for most of the trip in. I was very sorry Chet was at scout camp during our hike, he would have loved hanging with these boys.

There were so many beautiful vistas along the way. I will admit I actually took around 400 pictures on the hike. Most of them were on the way in...too tired on the way out.
Here are a few of the advance group, with more to follow. Look at the number of boys on this hike...Chet where are you, we finally found some families with boys...and they are your age!

Look closely...Michelle (in pink) is the mother of 5 boys and she knows how to play. She is winding up to throw a snowball/frozen ice ball at unsuspecting the back! I just met her that morning, but what a great Mom she must be. She was always up for spontaneous fun during the entire hike. She is also a professional photographer and she and Sharlee are gifted writers. I hope they look at my blog with eyes closed!

We turned around after the snowball fight and Izzy had somehow adorned herself with a wildflower. After all, she is my pooch and knows how to accessorize.
Photographer Michelle on the other side of a lens for a change along with her beautiful blond boys. No peeking Michelle...remember I am an amateur!
Whenever I get the opportunity, I jump at the chance to spend time in the mountains, for it is the place where my heart heals the most. As I rounded a bend in the trail, I came upon this beautiful scene. A sudden wave of warmth and love enveloped me. I know this is that perfect moment, perfect place and perfect thing. I marvel at God's beauty around me and I know Jocie is there.

Daniel, Dean and Dalton stop for a short break at the temporary shelter located just on the hill above Emerald Lake. Daniel taught us all about what to wish for if you are ever stranded on a desert island. He insisted that your #1 wish should be for a machine that would make all things for you. I insisted that my #1 wish would be for Chapstick...end of story! We learned many things from these 2 boys including everything you could ever possibly want to know about Lady GaGa.

So let's say you have just hiked about 6.5 strenuous steep miles and you reach an emerald lake fed by melting glacier water...what to do? I know, let's strip down to our boxers and plunge into the icy waters! Daniel started the nonsense and mayhem soon ensued! The boys' exit from the water was almost as fast as their entrance. Nearly as soon as they emerge, their backs turn a bright red from the freezing waters.

A quiet moment for Blakely and Ranae. Blakely was our youngest hiker and made it all the way...isn't she awesome! The cool waters feel so good on tired little feet.

And perhaps my favorite moment of the day...what I called "Girl Power Plunge". Parker Bradford lost his life while bravely saving the life of another young man from drowning in a canal in Idaho. His mother Melissa (in green) steps up to the small cliff to face the icy waters. She is accompanied by a niece, a long-time friend, a daughter, a sister-in-law, and mother of boys Michelle. I stand on the opposite bank snapping photos and admire their bravery...all the while thinking they'll never do it!

Well, I am here to tell you that "They are women...hear them roar"! Never underestimate the power of a woman's mind over matter. I have never been more proud of "girl power" than at this moment. As they scrambled to escape the emerald waters, I couldn't help but think how proud Parker must be of his incredible Mom . I could almost see his hand reaching into the frigid lake and helping his Mother to the safety and warmth of dry land. Such a moment...

After the polar plunge, a short devotional and all 5 verses of "If You Could Hie to Kolob" in the high mountains. The chorus ringing upward to all those we were missing from our family's on this day!

The Bradfords

Meeting Melissa for the first time ever, in over 2 years of email communication was certainly a highlight for me. She has listened to my written words of heartache and responded with gentle words and encouragement. She living in Germany and I in Utah were virtual strangers until we both became members of the same unfortunate club. I can't imagine how I could have survived the past 2 years without her.

The Bradfords and The Garlicks...we are quite certain that Parker and Jocie have met and become good friends as well. Melissa is so cold in this picture, still shivering from the icy plunge.

There were 25 of us able to finish the hike on Monday.

As we often of Jocie's necklaces left behind to mark the occasion.

A funny but scary moment...we were walking along chatting and suddenly the fabulous Miss Sharlee disappears. Her foot fell through the upper crust of the snow and into a crevasse below. Luckily just a small scrape with nothing broken.

When we finished the hike, we were tired and dusty, but our spirits were charged...hungry, but charged! I am so thankful for my friendship with Melissa and for the opportunity to hike with her family...and for the many new friends I made along the way. I believe that we are all deeply connected and have a responsibility to care for each through the good times and the tough times.


  1. What an amazing experience. Thank you for sharing. Your families are incredible and such examples of courage, love and faith.

  2. Oh, Lisa, this was so beautiful. Thank you for documenting our epic journey with such sensitivity and grace.

  3. What a wonderful, emotional experience for you. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. Your photos are gorgeous!

  4. You're no amateur! These are fantastic; you captured the day perfectly.

    We are so glad to have met you! xoxo, Michelle

  5. What a great experience for you and Dean. Thanks for sharing with us and I'm glad you got to meet up with these families. Fabulous photos by the way, so glad you pulled that Nikon back out!

  6. Another perfect day. They are precious.


  7. Thank you for sharing. Lovely day for a loving family!

  8. I really appreciated this post and the pictures are beautiful!

  9. THANK YOU so much for posting these photos and the days events. It was fabulous, I love the pic of me and Blakely.