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.

A Tangled Mess

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5–6 NIV

It was the mother of all yarn tangles.

In 40 years of crocheting, I never experienced the tangled mess that confronted me last week.

We were on our way home from South Carolina after a week-long visit with our daughter and her family, and I planned to work on the poncho I’m making for her as a late birthday present. I’d wanted to finish it while I was there, but other activities—more fun—called me away from my project.

The pattern was rather monotonous—75 rows of one stitch, a single crochet that tended to make progress slow because the rows got longer with each round. It didn’t help that I had to tear out 10 rows because of a wrong stitch that affected the rows following it. Two and a half hours of work unraveled in less than a minute.

But I was determined to finish her gift and finish it right. While it wouldn’t be perfect—I’ve learned to cover most of my mistakes—it would be warm, cozy, and something she asked me to make.

We were two hours into the trip and I was making good progress when the yarn tangled. Now, I’ve had yarn tangles before, but this one was the mother of all yarn tangles. Don’t ask me how it got so hopelessly snarled, but the more I tried to unravel it, the more twisted it became. And it wasn’t just the end of the skein—I’d used only half of the 370-yard skein.

So I snipped the yarn, put the poncho-in-progress in the back seat, and began untangling 185 yards of what resembled a big bowl of cooked spaghetti.

I worked the rest of the 10-hour trip and still hadn’t finished when we arrived home. DH, my usual yarn untangler, unraveled the rest of it in an hour after we’d unpacked.

Crocheting—especially yarn tangles—teaches me a lot about life. Here are 10 principles I’ve learned:

  1. You don’t toss something away because it looks hopelessly messed up. Don’t waste something that, with time and patience, can be made into something good, useful, and beautiful.
  2. Sometimes things just doesn’t go as planned. Indeed, as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.” So, you recalculate.
  3. It can take only a second to undo years of work. Pick yourself up and begin again.
  4. To get through the rough spots, cultivate determination and perseverance.
  5. Correcting mistakes is important if you want a satisfactory result. Even if it means undoing much of what you’ve done. Even if it means starting all over.
  6. Mistakes CAN be corrected. You just have to want to make them right.
  7. Just because you think your life is monotonous doesn’t mean it isn’t adding up to something worthwhile. Yes, the rows get longer and take more time to complete, but keep the end result in sight to give you the fortitude to push on through the monotony—and maybe even find joy and fulfillment in it.
  8. Slow progress and setbacks teach patience, and patience helps you to persevere to the end.
  9. You’re not alone. I didn’t unravel the mother of all yarn tangles by myself. By the time I got home, I was sick of it. But DH picked it up and finished it. So it is in life. Folks—I call them angels in disguise—come alongside us and help us to the finish line.
  10. You have to learn to accept help. And, even more important, know when to ask for it.

The mother of all yarn tangles now rests as a ball of yarn in my crochet project basket, waiting for its time to be made into something useful.

Thank You, God, that You can take this tangled mess I’ve made and make it into something beautiful. Amen.

Read and meditate on Romans 5:1–5.

 © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.