Monday, July 7, 2014

The Importance of a Trail Map

Our journey begins today on the Old Coal Trail at Wawayanda State Park, where Brian has been several times in the past. Because of this fact, we (translate: he) didn't feel a pressing need for a trail map. I was a little hesitant, because the trail he was familiar with was different from the one in the book which listed this hike. The night before, he told me it was 2 maybe 3 miles, although it had been awhile since he'd been there, and maybe it was a little longer. Okay, that was doable. Not too strenuous, not too long. A trail the dog can do. A nice lake for her to swim in.

I hadn't slept well the night before so I was tired before we set out. Each time I asked Brian about the trail, it seemed to grow longer. We were now up to a half a day...I wasn't sure I was up to a hike that long, since I was tired and we'd already had a late start. I like to have an idea of how long we'll be hiking before we set out, and with only his memory to serve us, I was growing more apprehensive. So, now I was tired, cranky, apprehensive and starting to grow a little annoyed. I didn't want to doubt him; I wanted to have faith in my husband, but as much as he seemed so sure of where we were going, he also admitted it had been many years since he'd been there. I couldn't hold him to it, and trails change all the time.

I have an app on my phone which tracks my distance, time, elevation, speed and even the calories burned. It also has a map, which is a good thing, since we didn't have that all important trail map. It's not a trail map, but it does have landmarks, like roads and lakes and such.

Before we reached mile 1, we encountered a bear. A big one. Okay, maybe more like we spotted a bear. An encounter would require recognition on the parts of both parties involved. He didn't see us...thank God! We silently waited until he went off the trail into the woods, then we continued, making lots of weird and loud noises along the way, in an effort to scare off any of his friends.

So, now I was tired, cranky, apprehensive, annoyed and spooked. We got to the end of the trail, somewhere around mile 2 and Brian insisted that the lake was up the dirt road. What seemed like miles up the road, we discovered that it wasn't. I looked at the map and saw that the lake was somewhere...well, not here. So we turned around and veered off to the right, onto another trail. We finally found the lake but guess what? No access. No beach. And Lucy is not the kind of dog that will just jump in and then figure out how to get out. It was very pretty though, and a good spot to have lunch.

We continued on, but by mile 5ish, we discovered that we were pretty much lost. Not lost lost. Because the trails in here are mostly fire roads, they all intersect at some point, so it's kind of hard to get lost lost. So we were just sort of lost. Not where we wanted or needed to be. Off too far on the right if you looked on my app map. We just needed to go left. By mile 6 my feet started to hurt. By mile 6.8, the bug spray had worn off and I could hear a symphony...or cacophony...of gnats around my head. By mile 7, I had to go to the bathroom...and I don't mean number one. Then my phone fell out of my back pocket while I was...well, you know. At least it fell onto clean leaves. And at least we had toilet paper. And the map app.

Never so happy to see the end! (Where we started)
I just wanted to sit down and cry. But what good would that do? If I stopped, I'd get eaten by bugs and I'd be no closer to the end. I had no choice but to suck it up and continue on. I tried very hard not to whine, though I'm not sure how successful my attempts were. Through a series of wrong turns and a series of right turns, we finally...somewhere around mile back to the red trail where we'd started. By mile 8, the phone died. I'm guessing the end...or the beginning...was somewhere around mile 9.

I was never so happy to see the parking lot. And to sit down. And to take off my boots. And when I asked Brian what he thought the lesson was, he said, without missing a beat, "Perseverance!"

"Hmmm,"  I said. "I think it's the importance of a trail map!" 

It just goes to show you that two people can have the same experience and see two different lessons. Not every hike will be a great experience. Just like not every day in our lives is a good one. Sometimes we have a bad day. Sometimes nothing goes right. Sometimes we need to just persevere through it all and we'll get through, with or without a trail map or a to-do list; a day in which we felt strengthened through our prayer time in the morning can quickly turn into a day where we feel beaten down by lunchtime.
Lucy was as exhausted as we were!

Sure it's nice to plan it all out---whether it's a hike or your day. To know just how long it will take, how far you'll have to go, what the elevation is, how many calories you'll burn (which, by the way,my app told me I burned 735 calories...that was before the phone died). A good trail map is essential for a hiker. And for our every day lives too. Without one, we feel lost. But sometimes we just have to trust that God will help direct us when we do get lost. Because we're never really lost lost. Just sort of lost. Not quite where we need or want to be. A little too far off left or right. But He promises that When you call to me I will answer you. I will be with you when you are in trouble (Jer 33:3----God's direct line)

I should have thought of that at around mile 4.0. 

Blessings Along the Path,

Song of the Day
Mighty Rushing Breath of God (Kathi Wilson)

Hiking the Old Coal Trail at Wawayanda

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