An Unexpected Lesson

The smell of campfire smoke and bacon met me at the entrance to the trail. In the cool of the morning the shadows and shade kept the temperature just above needing a jacket. Once I was moving, the thought of extra clothing subsided due to the humidity. This trail is my inspiration-trail and that is what I came for today. I love Raven Cliffs because I can do it solo and feel all alone, yet it is one of the most traveled trails around. I am never really alone. If I got in any kind of trouble there would be someone by in a minute or two at the most.

Once my body finds the rhythm of the pace I set, my senses focus on all that is going on around me…the rush of the water, the songs of the birds, and the sounds of the early morning forest waking up. Not too many hikers out just yet and most tents appear still and quiet…except for the bacon-cooking one at the start. I am working on a new project which is ripe for my mind to churn on while I walk. I get some of my best ideas when I am hiking.

Soon after I start this morning, God shows up and I am listening to his direction. I see him everywhere. Before I know it I have made it to the end of the trail. I am soaking in the sun on a rock, which is my habit on this particular trail, when I see a salamander slithering into the water. My instinct is to jump in to catch him, but my more rational mind kicks in and reminds me that my knee is not reliable and that I am now standing in the pool at the bottom of one falls, and the top of another…not the place you want to slip and fall. Instead I let the critter get away and I watch and wish for younger legs.

Soon I am back on the trail headed out. I am hearing God in the wind, and the water and then I hear…my bladder. It is full, more than full actually. It seems the bathrooms at the start of the trail were out of order…no problem I thought…I just went before I left home. Now suddenly it is a problem, a big one. I tell God this is not funny. He disagrees with me. I realize that I am only 10 minutes into an hour and half walk out…I will never make it. I look to my left and it is straight up, no way my knee can make that incline. On my right, it is straight down to the river which is rushing…LOUDLY. This sound does not help my situation one little bit. I try to choose between the two, looking for the most cover for my don’t-shoot-me-I’m-human bright orange shirt. This shirt would be great if I was hunting, no chance any one could miss me. It practically glows! However, in my current predicament it is a liability. I continue along the trail, thinking that surely a well-placed tree will come along soon. There are thousands of trees you know…I am in a freaking forest for heaven’s sake! There is a certain way I prefer to pee in the woods and it requires a tree to lean on, but none of them provided what I needed.

I decided I have to change my plan. Looking low, I found some rhododendron bushes. Nice and thick, which provides cover and though there is nothing to lean on I decide there are some branches low enough I could squat and still be covered from both directions of the trail. It might just work, but timing will be critical to going undetected in my glow in the dark shirt. I duck into the bushes, working my way to the thickest place with the most leaves. I look in both directions on the trail. I am far enough off, but not too close to the river so I get my pants down and go to squat and realize that my knee doesn’t bend very well. You would think after a year I would remember this fact, but it doesn’t occur to me until I am exposed to the world. Now I am on one foot trying to relax enough to go, but not so much as to fall over. Thankfully the sound of rushing water nearby helps considerably. I am making every effort to avoid drenching my shorts all while keeping an eye on the trail to watch for a possible audience. The birds are now laughing. I am wondering how long this will take because apparently I can hold gallons, though no one in my family would believe that, it seems never ending at this moment. Finally I am through, but I have no tissue and I know better than to use a leaf. (A friend of mine used poison ivy one time and I made a vow to never use leaves.) I have to drip dry which seems to take another half hour, then I get to stand and re-dress myself. Hurray! No audience! The deed is done and I am on my way once again.

I quickly thank God for Jazzercise which has given me a strong left leg, and for the fact that a group of 15 hikers arrived 30 seconds AFTER I was back on the trail. The rest of my journey, comparably, was uneventful.

The lesson was this, your spirit and your flesh are intricately linked. You are designed that way. It is what makes you human. I think we strive to live a spiritual life…live by the spirit and not by the flesh…yet that is not really possible as long as we have this body. Your spirit can only take what the body can endure, and lest you forget that you will be reminded in the humblest of ways. And if you were wondering, God certainly does have a sense of humor. 🙂

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