|Rebekah, Joy, Sue|
The three of us more adventurous types decided on a little hike. The trail descriptions were read over and over again, trying to decipher what we were getting into. We didn't want a paved path through the woods but Joy and flat-lander Sue didn't necessarily want ten miles of treacherous trekking. After some debate, we settled on the Ridge Trail, parking up the mountain where access to the trail was easy. The route would lead us along the spine of the mountains and take us to the top of a ski trail at the Massenutten resort. From there we would descend the mountain and hike our way back to the condo. We would reclaim the truck still at the top of the mountain later. I'm pretty sure Joy mentioned something about five miles in seventy-five minutes. Hum.
"Ah, look at them. They have their little backpacks. Looks like they're prepared for a hike," I commented as we watched four grandma and grandpa types ascend the steep stairs leading to the trail. A few minutes later and just as we crested the stairs, here they came. They had enough. . .all three minutes of it.
"Good luck if you are going to hike," they quipped. "Too many rocks." But we weren't worried. They could not deter us from our adventure. After all, we were much younger.
Off we went. The trail wasn't smooth but was still runnable, I noted to myself. But we weren't there to run. We were happy hikers. After a few minutes of following the blue markings painted on rocks, we noted a blue diamond nailed to tree. "0.25 miles RT." One-quarter mile in the bag with a couple miles of Ridge Trail to go.
Conversation flowed easily as we caught up on everything. No one struggled as my companions had daily walks and fitness to count on for conditioning. However, as the trail continued, our progress slowed as the rocks, pointy and standing up on edge, seemed to rise from the surface with increasing frequency. Still, we were content to feel the mountaintop breeze and take pictures along the way.
We had read that the trail was "difficult, steep and rocky" about halfway in. "This must be what they were talking about," we surmised as we picked our way along the narrow and now much rockier trail. We had not seen additional mileage signs though numerous minutes had passed. "They must have decided not to put up anymore signs."
|Sue climbing up the rocky trail|
We had to reconsider our assumptions. Sections further down the trail, if you want to call it that, took us on steep rock scrambles along the very narrow ridge. No dirt. No mud. Just rocks. Lots and lots of rock, boulders, even. The journey was so interesting we even decided to sit and contemplate life for a few moments every so often. It would have been nice to "contemplate" over a sip of water. . .but we didn't have any. Unfortunate.
After what seemed like a very long time, we spotted one of those blue diamonds. "1.75 miles. RT"
"1.75 miles?!?!?" We were incredulous. How could that be? We figured we had traipsed at least three and a half rocky miles by then. But we had no recourse other than putting one foot in front of the other. We could see the ski slope off to the left along the same ridge and knew we were getting closer.
Continue on we did. We were pleased that no one had tripped, bloodied themselves, or fallen to an untimely death. No concussions. No twisted ankles. No heat stroke and no one would likely die from dehydration. Those rocks had nothin' on us. We came, we saw, we conquered...
Conquered, that is, until the rocks gave way to kinder, much gentler trail. It was easy going, nothing compared with what we had just done. We relaxed, our pace quickened. . .and then we all repeatedly tripped, stumbled, and faltered. What's with that? A life lesson, that's what.
When you think about it, we are forced to concentrate on the here and now in a time of crisis or hardship. Instinctively, we focus our attention, keenly aware of our surroundings, circumstances, and necessary actions. We read our Bibles, pray, meditate, and solicit God's guidance in every waking minute. We are steadfast. We are strong. But as soon as the storm passes, we relax to the point where we lose mental and spiritual acuity. We simply proceed on in an automatic gear. Should we really be surprised when we stumble over the easiest obstacles, awakening only as we hit the ground?
Be steadfast. Steadfast when the way is difficult. Even more steadfast when the path is smooth. Take nothing for granted.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
(I Peter 5:10)