Last week I traveled to Seattle to visit my daughter. Along with visiting Olympic National Park which is awesome we decided on the spur of the moment to drive up to Mt. Rainer on a Sunday to do some additional hiking.
The cutest dog approached us at our first visitation center with his leash in his mouth, begging for us to take him for a walk. Boy, was he cute! After receiving instructions for where to go for some good hiking we headed up the mountain. When we arrived at the official visitor’s center the lot was almost full, and this was before 10:00 in the morning. I guess everyone was up for some hiking that day.
We spoke briefly with a ranger about our hiking options. I told him we were interested in a 3, mile hike. He pointed my husband toward the information counter to get more information.
Basically, we were instructed to go to the trailhead and keep left for an easy 3, mile hike. Well, it was a pretty steep beginning climb but after that it leveled out a bit. There were lots of people on the trail, so we knew we were headed in the right direction, that is until we reached the bottom of a valley with three paths, none of which correctly identified the path we were supposed to be walking.
Folks were going all different directions. I saw a sign pointing to Sunrise Trail, which is the trail we had started out on, being .07 miles ahead. My husband said that looked right. The problem was it was another steep climb. I mean really, steep, and it seemed that it wasn’t really a moderate trail as the ranger had indicated. Still we pushed onward finally reaching what I called the summit, but my son said it really wasn’t, it was just a flat resting point. Still it seemed like a summit to me, and since I have a fear of heights I felt like I had accomplished something by just arriving at this point.
You see several years ago I had been hiking in Zion National Park and my feet were slipping on the sandy rocks. I had become rather paralyzed and finally had sat down on a rock ledge and told them to continue without me, realizing after they left that I was really perched on a cliff and was not comfortable at all.
So, on this trip I had decided that come what may, I was going to hike the mountains and complete the journey, but I never expected what lay around the bend.
After eating a granola bar, we headed off again, and just around the bend I saw it, ROCKS, shards, and shards of rocks on the path! No longer were we on a nice dirt path we were on the rocky side of the mountain. I tried to pick my way through, but, it seems when I walk across rocks my feet always step on the pointed edges and my ankles twist. I had to hold my husband’s hand for support, but then I noticed in doing this he was walking directly on loose rocks on the edge of the mountain. I didn’t want him to tumble into the ravine, so I let go.
My second option was to lean toward the inner side of the mountain, and I began guiding myself by holding onto the rocks, but I soon noticed that this was affecting my center of balance and I decided I was making myself less safe this way.
I really wanted to turn back, but we had come such a long way, even though, I knew we were obviously on the wrong path. No, turning back was not an option.
Finally, I stood up, my daughter called from up ahead that the path looked easier. I moved forward to find out, it wasn’t. But I had moved and gotten further down the path.
Eventually the path did become more even, and returned to dirt, but we were all still concerned that we were lost. There were hardly any people passing us any longer but my husband, looking at the map which had no paths labeled just a red circle we were supposed to follow, insisted we were going the right way.
We walked, and we walked, and we walked and finally we were walking in a forest. We were down.
I inhaled the pine smell and breathed a sigh of relief and said, “We made it!”
But, actually, we hadn’t made it, yet. We still had a lot more walking to do and then we came to a fork in the road AGAIN, with no markings! By this time my husband was sure which way to go and really all we could do was belief him!
We were all getting pretty, darn tired and I knew we had walked more than 3 miles and then finally we began to see people up ahead. Then slowly a few more people emerged. My husband said we must be getting closer to the visitor’s center because there were more people around.
We hiked a bit further and finally we emerged at the visitor’s center! What a relief!
We headed to the café and gift shop, decided against eating once we saw the crowds, but I said, “I’m getting a shirt to remember this trip!” All total we had hiked 5 miles, and had somehow switched from the moderate trail to the strenuous trail with a 1000 ft. change in elevation!
So, what did I learn from this trip? Well I learned not all paths are easy but when you’re on a rough patch it’s best to keep your balance and keep moving. It may get easier around the bend or it may not, but, stopping will only paralyze you and prevent you from working through the hard times.
Oh, how I hated those rocks, but it was worth going across those rocks to get to that beautiful forest.
It’s worth going through the trials God gives us to see the beauty on the other side.
It’s worth trusting that a well, placed hand will guide you across rough terrain.
It’s worth conquering your fears to know that there is God given strength within you.
So, I bought my shirt with the Mt. Rainer logo, and once in the car I then noticed the back of the shirt, it said, “ENJOY THE JOURNEY.”
Yes, enjoy the journey. Oh, and look on the other side of the map. When we got home I saw that the trails were listed on the reverse side of the paper!
And the priest said to them, “Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the Lord.”Judges 18:6