Monday, September 27, 2010

An Uphill Climb

As I walked along the highway with the cars whizzing by at 50 mile per hour I thought to myself that this was definitely not where I had expected to be at that moment.

Let me rewind about 90 minutes. Richie, Alex and I decided to take a short hike in the woods. We drove to a spot where our walk would take us past a pond and into a thick forest. In my simple mind, I envisioned being back in the car before I could break a sweat.

As the trail meandered up a hill, the sounds of the cars below became faint. While none of us had been up this road less traveled, I trusted that what goes up must of necessity come down.

We were the only human beings in these environs. In fact, as our journey continued it felt as if we were the only members of the animal kingdom here. I recall not a tweet of a bird, not a slither or a snap of a twig. Nothing but our breathing, and the weight of our steps broke the silence.

Our first course was north, but this ended in relatively short order. As Richie advised, a double blue marking on a tree informed us that a distinct change in course was imminent. Only this time it didn't take us down and south. Instead we found ourselves going further up and south. Yet, on we trudged, anticipating that just around the bend lay the path home.

Being highly neurotic, I soon began to think about those things that could be waiting around the bend. I wondered whether bears inhabited these woods. Do I stand still, do I curl up into fetal position, or was I to create such a commotion that the bear would be scared into retreat? While still only several hundred feet above where I started, I had taken myself to a place where Daniel Boone once resided. I was now a mountain man.

Richie pointed out that the entire forest was changing before our eyes. Whereas the trees were initially mature, thick and tall, we soon were in a place where you could put your hand around the entire circumference of each young tree. Alex and I posed and Richie snapped a photo from his phone. If we never made it out of here alive, at least Joanne would have a lasting image of us in our final hours.

We questioned whether we had missed a turn along the way. We were still following the blue triangles, but maybe there was one that had pointed us back to civilization, and we had just been distracted at that instant. We reasoned it would be foolish to retrace our steps, as an exit had to be close by.

Minutes turned into an hour and every arrow was still sending us where we didn't want to go. Then, when I was just about to fall into despair, we spotted a white triangle, and a sign. We were entering a different protected area, one which seemed to at least be heading down. Within a short period, the sounds and sights of the rest of humanity appeared.

Exiting from the jungle, to my consternation, but to no one's surprise, we found ourselves no where near the place of beginning. Now, at the back of a community center, we were about a mile down the highway from where our car sat and waited.

So, here I was walking along that highway. Richie had called Joanne and she was trying to come to my rescue from her remote location. Within several hundred yards of my destination, I spotted her car. Finally, safe from the traffic and in comfort, I relaxed.

Today's lesson is that no matter how certain you are of life's course, you may suddenly find yourself with an unexpected uphill climb, or feel like the world is whizzing by you out of control. In these most stressful moments, just put one foot in front of the other and trust that your wife and children are there to keep you on the right path and out of harm's way


Anonymous said...

Why didn't you just turn around and go back to where you came from?
Where the car was!!!!!!

Robert said...

And not finish the climb?

We first thought that we would run into the downhill just around every corner.

Eventually, we figured we were getting closer to an exit at a different spot (actually Richie figured this out) and just kept going until we got there.

Nancy said...

Next time bring Joanne!

Robert said...

Now you tell me.