Despite the amount of planning, our lives inevitably take on the course God has planned for us. The same can be said for planning hikes.
We may be diligent when it comes to planning the particulars of a hike, but once we get out into the wilderness, there are too many elements that are out of our control. One specific hike, which included roadblocks, weird creatures and life realizations, immediately comes to mind.
One spring afternoon, three of us—our friend Chris and my husband Erik and I—got a late start on a hike we were all looking forward to. Our goal was to hike Toehakum Peak of the Lake Range on the north side of the Pyramid Lake in northern Nevada.
As we headed down the dirt road and attempted to reach the base of the peak, we came across a roadblock. The road had been completely washed out by the harsh winter. Because of our late departure, we agreed that there would not be enough time to hike to the peak from where the road had stopped us. Without much hesitation, we decided that we would hike the range instead.
Throughout the course of our lives we are constantly changing our minds; it is part of the vast collection of complexities that makes us human. We grow up witnessing opposing views of our parents, teachers and others close to us. We find ourselves caught in the middle of what we think we should ultimately believe.
At the time of this hike, I was reading a book called Boundaries, by John Townsend and in it the author states that in order for children to identify themselves as individuals, they must first recognize who they are not. This apparently happens at a very young age. According to the authors, in our 20s we revisit this phase of identifying who we are not.
Once we reached the top of the Lake Range, we moseyed around and came upon natural caves formed in the rock. We played in the caves like children, laughing and enjoying the scenery. I decided I would start rock hounding, as I normally do every time I hike. I picked up a rock, thinking I found a common opal. Before I could examine what I had picked up, I saw a bright fluorescent-blue centipede scurrying in the dirt. Not even sure if those can be found in Nevada, I thought I might be seeing things. It darted into its surroundings before I could get a good look at it or have my husband come confirm its existence. I may never know what I really saw, but that is OK; I enjoy the mystery of not knowing.
The day had a weird feel to it. I could not pinpoint what it was, but it was lingering around us. Despite the peculiar ambiance, there were some unmistakably beautiful things about the day.
For one, we saw a few Meadow Larks flying around, singing a beautiful melody, which brought over me a strong sense of appreciation for the mountains.
After bouncing around the caves and the greater Lake Range, we hiked back to our vehicle to head home before dark. Just as we thought we were in the clear, my husband and I found two ticks crawling in our hair and on our bodies. This may not sound off for anyone who has spent time in the southern United States. But for me, in all the different places I have hiked, this was the first time I had ever been invaded by those creepy creatures.
It was not my favorite experience, but I did learn to become very aware of them. I know now that I will not make a habit of messing around in tick-infested areas.
While the hike turned out to be quite different from what we had originally planned for, we went with it and enjoyed ourselves.
That evening, I thought to myself about our hike and how nice it was to walk through the sagebrush and take in deep breaths of fresh desert air.
The adventure then became a bit metaphoric for me. I try to make the best out of most situations and learn from my experiences, much like we did on this specific hike. Sometimes we set out with a plan of how we think things should go and a path we think we should be on.
When we get knocked off our familiar paths, like we did in our 20’s, we are sometimes quick to become discouraged or frustrated. But maybe we are not meant to take that path and maybe are knocked from it because we are meant to learn something new. Perhaps at times we are meant to take the paths less traveled and find ourselves seeing and experiencing things we may have never had encountered otherwise—such as fluorescent-blue centipedes.
I have hiked for most of my life, and I learned something new on this particular hike: sometimes it’s good to be knocked off your current path and forced to explore a new one. Through this process be prepared to discover more of who you are.
Have you every been derailed from the path you thought was best for you, ultimately leading you down a more worthy path? I know we all have. Please share your story in the comments below.