Continental Divide

In 2011 our family took a vacation to Rocky Mountain National Park. I undertook the biggest hiking challenge of my life (so far): Flat Top Mountain. The hike made for a full day, and some aching muscles by the time it was over, but the terrain and the summit were beautiful.

Flat Top Mountain Summit

When I reached the top, the name fits. The top of the mountain is a flat plain of rocks in all directions. I walked around and looked down in all direction at the valleys, lakes, and even glaciers that were now below me. Looking down the west side of the mountain I saw Grand Lake a small distance away and then realized that I had crossed the Continental Divide on foot.

The Continental Divide marks the division between east and west in terms of watershed. Water landing on the east side of the divide is destined for the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico. Water landing on the west side of the divide is destined for the Pacific Ocean.

I started thinking as if I were a rain-drop. What if I landed on Flat Top Mountain? The divide is up here … somewhere. But the mountain has no distinct summit, so it’s not clear where the difference is between east and west of the divide.

Poor, confused raindrop.

Making a difficult decision is sometimes like the confused raindrop on Flat Top Mountain. Sometimes the divide between right and wrong is not distinct either.

How do we make those difficult decisions?

  • Ask our friends and family?
  • Consult a book?
  • Google it? Wikipedia?
  • Flip a coin?
  • Consult the scriptures?
  • Pray?

Maybe a little bit of all of them?

Take heart knowing that “easy” major decisions are very rare. When historians dig into “simple” decisions of the past in history, almost always those decisions were very difficult at the time they were made. Only in retrospect do they appear black and white. At the time, they were usually filled with gray areas.

There is one distinct advantage we have over the rain drop. The rain drop has no choice in the matter. It is completely under the control of gravity and the terrain it lands on. We have the freedom, and responsibility, to consider our choices wisely, and ask our Creator for his input. It means work, but it also means we have some level of control in the decisions we make, even if the situations we are in were not entirely our making.

There is something else that makes us greater than the rain drop. The rain drop is still just water. When it evaporates and falls again, it is still the same water that it was before. When we encounter a new decision to be made, we have the lessons learned from all of our previous decisions to help guide us in making better decisions as time goes on.

Poor rain drop.

Poorer still, those individuals who do not realize how much greater they are than the rain drop.

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2 Responses to “Continental Divide”


  1. 1 Anonymous February 1, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    You are the best dad ever! (Andrew)


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