Last weekend, my friend Tim (@Curious2119), his son Madden, my son Liam and I decided to go on a short road trip to southwest Oklahoma for a full-day of adventure in the Wichita Mountains and Wildlife Refuge. I've been once before, but being one of my favorite places only 4.5 hrs away from our home in northwest AR, it's an easy getaway for the weekend. Tim had been itching to check out this underrated gem. So after an afternoon of driving we met up with my good buddy Noah in OKC for a good bite and drink before finishing our trip. We ended up staying in Lawton which is about 25 mi from the Wildlife Refuge and Mountains. After a good night's rest and surprisingly good hotel breakfast, we hit the road for sunrise in the mountains. The Wichitas are a special area embedded in the prairies and great plains of Oklahoma. Only about an hour and a half south of OKC, you wouldn't expect to see a small range of mountains and such uniquely beautiful landscapes, but as you approach it unfolds for you and pulls you in. Per usual, we hit up the main spots and I showed Tim a few hidden ones as well. All in all, we had a wonderful day of hiking and exploring around the park with our two sons. But Tim was a bit bummed we didn't see any of the notorious natives—the American Bison. I decided to round off the day with a 2 mi hike in the Charon Gardens Wilderness Area (my personal favorite spot in the park).
All was well until we were on the return hike and approached the parking lot. I suddenly realized that I had misplaced my one and only key to our Subaru somewhere along the trail. I had worn it upon my wrist the entire day on a tight bungee lanyard (which I thought would be better than throwing it in a pocket. At this point the sun was starting to go down and we knew that we had to go back out and search for it. The park is about 59,000 acres of rugged fields of boulders rocky crags and canyons with tall grass and an occasional cedar or hardwood scattered in — nowhere that you could easily find a key— even in broad daylight. But I ran back along the trail frantically looking for it while praying, bold-mountain-moving prayers. I had hope that somehow it would be found, but could only began to worry that we wouldn't have adequate lighting. I was reminded of the scripture Matt 6:26-30 where Jesus talks about how God clothes the flowers of the field and takes care of the birds so how much more would he take care of his people etc. So I felt like this was a promise for me as well. About an hour had passed and no key was found—and it just didn't settle well with me because this wasn't how the story was supposed to end. The time was now about 5:15 and the sun was down lowering the temperature to about 25º. The kids were getting cold and we really didn't know what to do. To make matters worse, iPhones don't work well in these conditions and kept powering off. When we got back to the locked car, we saw someone pulling up. We thought it might be a ranger making the rounds and closing the gates, but to our surprise it was a middle-aged woman, her husband and her elder mother...some of the nicest folks you could ever meet. She told us that God told her to check the back part of the park and drive down the last road to Treasure Lake (where we were). She told the kids to hop in the car to stay warm while she called a tow truck for us, and contacted a Park Ranger to let them know what was going on. An hour passed and we had to have the car towed back to our hotel and the rest of them got a ride with the kind locals. Now back in a warm bed, hours of phone calls later, and hundreds of dollars spent, I was told I'd have to have the car towed to the nearest Subaru dealership 95 miles away and programmed with a new security chip key that would take 4 days to manufacture and a total cost of upwards of $1,000 for the towing and smart key. But I still felt a hope and peace that somehow we'd find the key. But first, my mind needed rest.
Throughout the night I was awoken with a vision of a tree, a very particular tree at the base of the waterfall at the end of the trail. The one in the pic above ^ actually. I told Tim about it, but we really didn't know what it meant — and he still wasn't sure if we'd really find anything out there. I had to wait for the insurance company to come meet us and figure out what we needed to do, but after a plate of greasy breakfast food, we figured we needed to either go or try to get the car towed. So I rented a car and we went back out to the "find the key" YA RITE. But we went for it anyway...upon the start of the trail, Tim actually declared that he had a good feeling about that area near the tree. So we scrapped and combed every inch of trails and along the sides just for good measure. About an hour later we reached our destination where we were still apprehensive. We reached the tree, and looked around. Nothing. But we figured we'd back-track every part surrounding the waterfall and everything in-between. So we figured we climb back into the canyon and look in the other ares we'd explored the day before but Tim he needed to step away for a quick pitstop first. As he reached yet another small tree, I heard what sounded like a kid with a brand new toy exclaiming "I FOUND THE KEY!" There was absolutely no WAY, but I walked over and there it was sitting right in a little clear spot of dirt, perfectly placed and waiting to be found. All was well, and we headed back to go home.
We were so delighted that we ran back with hearts full...I said "c'mon let's go so we can go find a Bison, we're going to see one!" And just as we headed back, there was one waiting on us and allowed us to get some intimate shots before exiting the park.
Now, I'm not sure how to explain the visions of the tree, or what the moral of this story is other than, I simply prayed and believed and felt a peace about it. I know that $1,000 might not be that much to some people, but I didn't have that kind of money to just spend at the time. I see it as the Father's providence, but take it for what you will. I thought I would share, and I hope this story encourages you in some way.
Thanks for reading.