Treks and Trails

The view of Fort Ticonderoga from the top of Mount Defiance


He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not sleep. – Psalm 121:3

To celebrate our fortieth anniversary, DH and I took a two-week camping trip through the Northeast. Starting with the Finger Lakes region in New York, we drove through the Adirondacks, the Green Mountains in Vermont, the White Mountains in New Hampshire, and then up the coast of Maine to Acadia National Park.

When we weren’t on the road, I’d planned for our vacation to be a time of resting and recharging.

I should have known better than to think Dean would be content to sit around relaxing. Every day he was anxious to be out the door as soon as breakfast was over. We put 450 exploring miles on our truck and I don’t know how many on our feet.

The first trail we hiked was the ¾-mile Gorge Trail in New York’s Taughannock State Park – a level, gravel-topped track that ran parallel to the Taughannock Creek and led to the 215-foot waterfall of the same name.

“I can do this!” I thought as I stepped along, stopping to read every placard along the trail, feeling proud of myself because I was really pretty much out of shape.

The next trek was up the one-mile paved road to the summit of Mount Defiance in Ticonderoga, New York. We’d spent the day exploring the fort, and all I could think of was getting back to the camper and propping up my aching feet. But when we got to the road to the summit, the gates were closed.

Celebrating the climb

“I can do this!” I told Dean when he said we’d have to walk. Somehow I got my second wind. And third . . . and fourth . . . it took 36 minutes to reach the summit – 25 walking minutes and 11 stopping minutes for me to catch my breath. There were places where we ascended a foot with each step. But the view at the top was worth every gasp.

When we reached Acadia National Park in Maine, 120 miles of trails ranging in difficulty from “very easy” to “strenuous” wound through Mount Desert (pronounced “dessert”) Island. The walking wasn’t easy. The coastline is rocky, the mountains granite, and the trails comprised of roots and rocks to step over, between, on (and trip on) – and boulders to climb.

Rocky, root-embedded trails of Acadia National Park

The Ship Harbor Trail was rated easy. Right. We stopped on the way back to the campground to buy a box of Epsom salts.

“I need hiking shoes,” I told Dean while my feet were soaking. “These sneakers are for walking nut hiking.”

The Beech Mountain Trail, the last one we hiked, looked easy at first – soft, smooth, brown forest floor. Then we came to a marker. The left trail was .4 mile; the right was .7 mile. Since we were pressed for time, I chose the shorter trail.

But shorter doesn’t mean easier or quicker. The smooth forest floor soon changed to roots, rocks, and boulders.

“I can do this!” I said, when still another boulder presented itself. Envisioning the view from the top kept me stepping along, as well as Dean’s hand sometimes dragging me along. “I’ve come this far . . .”

It took us 50 minutes to reach the summit and 30 minutes to walk the .7 mile trail down off the mountain.

All the trails we hiked weren’t so challenging. There were sections that wound through pine trees along a soft forest floor, where I didn’t need Dean’s hand for balance or support – or to drag me over the places I didn’t think I could traverse.

The trails of life are the same: they range in difficulty from very easy to strenuous to “I don’t think I can make it!”

But we can make it. It just takes a vision of the view from the top, a hand to help us along, and lots of “second winds.”

I made it to the top!
Birch Mountain, Acadia National Park, Sept. 26, 2013

Thank you, Lord, for Your guiding hand that gives me balance, support, strength – and pulls me through the tough places when I don’t think I could take one more step. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 121.

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey.

Expect an Adventure!

God will put his angels in charge of you to protect you wherever you go. –Psalm 91:11 GNT

 As I write this, I’m in the midst of packing for a short camping trip. I plan to do nothing for three days but rest, read, relax, crochet, and eat. Which is why I made potato salad, chicken soup, chicken salad, and a dinner casserole beforehand—so any cooking and cleaning up while on the trip is minimal. Very minimal. Like almost nonexistent.

If the weather cooperates, I might consider a short, non-challenging (meaning a flat, easy trail of no more than a mile, round trip) hike if DH talks me into it. But don’t tell him.

We both need a break from the in-depth projects we’ve been working on, from juggling too many things at the same time. He’s loaded his fishing gear, and I my books, magazines, Kindles, and current crochet project.

Even though I envision sitting with my feet propped up all day, I’m realistic enough to know that “life is what happens while you’re making other plans.” (Thank you, John Lennon, for that marvelous quote!) The countless trips we’ve taken over the years—and the many misadventures that went with them—have taught me to go with the flow. There are times you swim against the current and times you go with it, making the best of things and enjoying the unexpected experience.

Perhaps the misadventure has a purpose: to teach a lesson, reveal a new perspective, deepen compassion, expand understanding, or (ugh!) grow patience.

Take our month-long trip to the Pacific Northwest last year.

All did not go according to plan—and, believe me, we planned ad nauseum.

We had wonderful adventures along with some interesting misadventures. Like when we had to cut the day’s travel time short because Dean got dehydrated and couldn’t drive another mile. Thankfully one of our travelling companions was a former EMT.

Or when my lower back went out, and I literally shuffled (and suffered) for two days—one of which was spent touring a museum. Thankfully, our other travelling companion had brought along his back therapy paraphernalia and loaned it to me. My pain lessened, and I was able to move around better a lot sooner than I usually do when my back gives me issues.

Then there was the blown camper tire on I-80 just past Chicago that required four new tires before we could continue our journey home. The state trooper who stopped to help us directed us to a Walmart only a few miles away, where we stayed the night before getting the new treads—and where a former Marine stopped and chatted with DH, also a veteran of the USMC.

I always wear my angel necklace when we travel. And we always pray when we set out on a trip for God to protect us. I envision God’s angels surrounding us, being that shield around us. Yes, God’s angels were right there in each so-called misadventure—the former EMT, the friend with the back stuff, the state policeman, the USMC vet.

Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned through these so-called misadventures is who’s really doing the driving on this trip called life. And when He’s got the wheel, as my friend DiAnn Mills likes to say, expect an adventure!

Thank You, Lord, for the wonderful trip of life, for the adventures and misadventures, and for Your abiding presence, abundant provision, and able protection through them all. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 91.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.