After helping with the Falling Creek Expeditions to Oregon this summer, my daughter, Honey, and I headed to California to meet a friend to climb a technical route up the east face of Mt. Whitney. Whitney towers over the high Sierras and is the tallest peak in the continental U.S.

There are three challenges that face a potential Whitney climber. The first is getting the coveted, limited permit to climb. The second is having stable weather and last, but most importantly, is your team’s physical ability and skills to handle the challenge. On the beautiful day of August 3rd all three of these elements seemed to be lined up perfectly, until…

We ascended thousands of feet over the moon-like granite slabs and rocky scree fields when one of our team members began to struggle. He’s a strong muscular guy, but was out of breath and losing his footing. He also began to complain. A LOT. After a frigid night at Iceberg Lake, we launched at dawn for our summit bid. Big Man struggled then reluctantly agreed to wait while Honey and I ascended to the top. When we all returned to our high camp, everyone needed to get to lower altitude before the frigid shadows moved across the lunar grey talus. Honey had climbed strong, but was now suffering with headache and nausea from the 14,000-foot day so I sent her on down the trail with the tent, food and specific instructions where to camp at tree line. I stayed back to help our big Whiney team member.

Honey and Dusty

As darkness descended on the million-acre wilderness, Big Man plopped down for the night trail-side and I sprinted on with a headlamp to find my daughter. “Honey!” I yelled till my voice and my headlamp batteries faded. As darkness bled over the landscape, I realized I would have to wait till morning to find her, but all I had in my backpack was ropes and carabineers. I felt angry and frustrated. Why did I let my daughter our of my sight on this bear infested mountain and why did I give her my sleeping bag?

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and it reminds me of my intense mental and emotional struggle back on Whitney. It seemed the perfect set-up with weather, permits, my daughter and the majestic mountain. We were so blessed to climb and experience God’s amazing creation. Yet, it all seemed so tainted by one person who grumbled and was not thankful. The Falling Creek Code echoes the New Testament’s words, “If you want to know God’s will for your life—it is to be thankful in everything.” Being thankful is a choice. It is not an emotion. We are not always in comfortable or appealing situations, but we can CHOOSE thankfulness for what we can learn through the process.


The California sun came up early and I rose with it to continue my search for Honey. I chose to give thanks even though my chest was tight with worry. It wasn’t too long before I saw her bee-bopping down the trail with her blond braids swinging. I grabbed her up in my arms and swung her around with a shout of thanks. Hours later we got Big Man down the mountain and celebrated big man sizes burgers!

Hoping all the Falling Creek Families will choose to give thanks during this season of Thanksgiving.

- Dusty Davis