“I’m never doing this again!”
This was a line I remember saying many times when I was a teenager. Obviously, since I said it more than once, I wasn’t exactly a quick learner.
Long before the days of GPS, Garmin watches, smartphones, and smartwatches, my Dad and I used to spend a lot of time in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. My Dad had a book that he had purchased at a local store, and in it was all forty-six high peaks within the Adirondacks. We would pick a mountain a few days in advance, and then early in the morning, we would head on up to Keene Valley. All we knew about the trail was what the book said. There wasn’t such a thing as AllTrails or Google. You couldn’t look up the trail in advance and see pictures that others had posted, or read reviews. There was nothing that you could look up in advance to see if part of the trail was flooded. You went with your instincts and what a book said. Get lost on the trail? You couldn’t pull out your iPhone (if you could even get a signal) and see where you were at. Fall and twist an ankle? Hopefully someone would come along to help you down the mountain so you could get medical help. That was the rugged and primitive life before all the technology we have today. How did we ever survive!
I remember one of our less strenuous hikes. It’s probably the hike I remember most out of all of them, and where I said, “I’m never doing this again,” probably a couple dozen times. We had been camping in the Adirondacks at Paradox Lake. We set out early in the morning for another place nearby called Crane Pond. As I said, it wasn’t a strenuous hike, and aside from the mosquitoes and gnats, it was very easy. We arrived at Crane Pond several hours later, only to find out that we actually could have driven my Dad’s late 1980’s model Ford Bronco all the way to the pond. But hey, what fun would that be? After stopping for a bit, we noticed a sign that said not too far away was another pond; Oxshoe Pond. There was even a lean-to there. Off we went!
Now one thing to remember when you’re hiking and following trails. The trail marker or sign may say that the destination in 2.4 miles away. But 2.4 miles through the woods, over rocks and tree roots, mud, up a hill and back down, is much different than walking the same distance down a paved road. But we arrived at Oxshoe Pond and Lean-to and were not disappointed. The pond itself was a remote pond (small lake). We stopped there for lunch, under the shade of the log lean-to, enjoying each others company. That was probably going to change a few hours later. Before heading out, we saw another sign for yet another remote pond and lean-to. This hike just kept on giving! So off we went to the second one! It was only a few miles.
Another tip when hiking. If you’re on a trail that is an out-and-back hike, keep in mind that as you keep leap-frogging to additional places, you still have to hike that entire distance back. I don’t think we took this basic principle into consideration. Oh, and another thing we didn’t take into consideration? Water…
Now comes the statement, “I’m never doing this again!” In fact, I think I probably stated that line at least a dozen or so times the entire trek back to our campsite. I don’t know if I have ever been so thirsty in my life, than I was that hot afternoon several miles from potable water.
A couple decades later, while hiking through the mountains on Oahu, Hawaii with my teenage daughter, while searching for a waterfall I was pretty sure was a hoax, I remembered the hike twenty plus years earlier. We followed trail markers, signs, up and down hills, and it seemed this waterfall we were searching for must be a very well-kept secret! Oh, and despite beginning the hike with plenty of water, we were now running very low. I remember my daughter emphatically saying many times along the trail, “I’m never doing this again!” I recall hearing that before…
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? Isn’t it funny that when you finally are able to drink something, you react as if you were about to die of thirst? That if you didn’t get fluid into your system by chugging it, your body was going to shut down and you’d collapse at any moment? Of course, that’s hardly the case for most situations. Sure, dehydration can be serious and life-threatening, but on both hikes I described above, dehydration and death wasn’t really a big concern.
But let’s be honest, this post isn’t about hydrating or making sure you prepare and pack when venturing out on a hike. When I look back at these stories, or life lessons, what can I take away from them to help me today?
There are lessons that can be taken from what may appear at the time, our lowest of moments; the small moments when we are most thirsty or desperate for some relief. What are some of those moments in your own life? Maybe it’s the loss of a loved one, financial struggles, fear of the unknown and what’s happening in this crazy world, or facing your own addictions. Maybe it’s dealing with daily struggles associated with your health. I hear you!
Don’t neglect the lessons learned as your wandering along the trail, giving everything you have just to put one foot in front of another, and trying so desperately to make sense of it all. You may not be able to at this moment. But I promise you there’s a lesson to be seized in this moment. Don’t hesitate to grab it!
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