Part of what I love about my job is that I am constantly surprised. The other day I had a hiking tour. When the concierge booked the tour, she said there was an “elderly” lady, her son-in-law, and granddaughter. They wanted to do something relatively easy. No problem! I picked them up and we set off. The woman was mid-60s (not so elderly in my book). She was Korean and LOVED to walk. She didn’t speak a lick of English except “Thank you” which is really about all you need to know in any language!
We got out of the car and I loaded up my backpack. She had a small plastic bag with a banana in it. I tried to insist that I carry it so she could use poles but she denied me. She wanted to carry if for some reason. It made me wonder what was really in that bag! But, the customer is always right so I let her carry it!
We got about a third of the way up, stopped for water and I asked again. Finally she put the bag in my backpack. Great! I had earned her trust!! All along the hike she was pointing out different herbs and plants that had healing properties. Many were very expensive in Korea she told me. I tried to convince her to move to Park City and start a business with me (this was all being translated through the granddaughter). She didn’t give in to that idea.
We got to our “summit” and I handed her the bag with the banana. Not only that but there was a roll in a plastic bag too. Her breakfast, I thought. But I was wrong. It was an offering to the mountain. After we insisted she take off the plastic wrap on the roll, she walked off trail in the bushes, presented the offering to the mountain, said a little prayer, did a little bow and that was that. It became clear why she was so insistent on carrying the bag. It was HER offering to the mountain and she wanted to bring it to the top! We worked together and got it there. The mountain was happy. I promised to look for it next time I am in that spot!
I may not bring a physical offering to the mountains but mentally I offer them my thanks every day for allowing me to run, bike, skip and jump on them, climb them, lay down on them and many times, leave my burdens on their hillsides. I am forever grateful and thankful for those beautiful lumps of dirt and rock!