A Short Hike in the Woods

We had hiked a lot the day before so we decided on a short hike that we could do quickly.

(Note to self: Short doesn’t always mean quick.)

We found the trail head and “steps” leading up the side of the rocks.

My daughter was carrying her three-year old on her back, which made it more challenging. We wondered out-loud about the difficulties in going back down. A passing hiker told us there was a simpler way down and gave us quick instructions. We made mental note of it and continued our ascent. The views were amazing. Once we reached the top, we followed the ridge for a while.

We thought it was time to start back down when it started raining. The thought of climbing down slippery rocks with a three-year old on her back was not an option for my daughter, Anna. We sent My husband, Bill, down the shorter way with the three older grandchildren.

I agreed to find the easier route with Anna. In case she had trouble I didn’t want her wandering alone on the mountain.

We retraced our steps and repeated what the hiker had told us earlier. We were to make our way down the opposite way until we got to the railroad tracks and then follow them back to the parking lot. Seemed easy enough. There was a big sign post that said “You Are Here”. It also had several trails marked. We took what we thought was the correct one and tried to move quickly. It was raining harder now. After the first 30 minutes Emerson, the three-year old, fell asleep. It was easier to have him sleeping than have him squirming to get down. It was dangerous for him to walk on his own.

We plodded on.

We could see another sign that said “You Are Here”…only it wasn’t where we expected to be. It had taken us North when we wanted South. We made corrections and took what we thought was the correct choice out of three. The trail seemed to be turning when we didn’t think we should be turning.

We plodded on.

We kept finding “You Are Here” signs and each time they were a disappointment. Either the signs were wrong or our map reading ability had seriously deteriorated with the rain and fatigue. I was glad I hadn’t let Anna go on this trail alone. The two of us were discouraged, but I couldn’t imagine being on this trail alone with a three year old on my back.

We felt like crying, but we spent a lot of time laughing. It is almost always better to laugh when you have a choice.

It was raining harder now and we were wet to the skin. In my desperation I prayed out loud. “Father, you can do what you want, but it would be wonderful if you would just stop the rain.” The rain continued, but it seemed to get less and less.

Suddenly we saw the railroad tracks through a break in the trees. It was far below us. We felt somewhat hopeful. If we could just get to the railroad tracks we knew we could find our way back to our car. Thirty minutes later, (or was it an hour), we were on the same level as the tracks. Then the reality of our situation hit us. We were at the North end of the lake when our car was parked at the South end. Since Anna had the only set of keys to the car we couldn’t call Bill to come get us. Our only option was to hike the 3 miles back to the North end. Again, we chose to laugh instead of cry. I won’t tell you what we talked about. We were imagining different scenarios. The three-year old continued his nap.

An hour earlier I had gotten a text message from my husband Bill.

“We are back”, he texted.

“We are not”, I texted back.

I was too tired to say more than that.

About 20 minutes later Bill asked where we were. All I could respond was. “Railroad”

By now Emerson was stirring, not quite awake, we let him be.

When we finally made it to the trial head there was the rest of the family, somewhat dry and playing games under a shelter. We felt like crying, but we laughed when we saw them.

The rain had all but stopped. The rain which we had found so discouraging as we hiked had kept us from overheating as we steadily made our way down the mountain.

“Thank you, Father, for giving us what we needed, not what we asked for.”

“…for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him” Matthew 6:8b

“…For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.” Psalm 127:2

(Location – Devils Lake State Park, Wisconsin – USA)

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