He Lost His Way and Found Himself

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Few people are as adept at getting lost as I am. Unfortunately, one of those few people is my wife, so together we make cartographers cry. I’ve detailed here before how often I drive right past my exit on the highway. Or miss a turn at an intersection. After cruising through a stop sign. And that’s with a GPS guiding me.

Imagine when I found myself high in the Blue Ridge Mountains where you can completely lose yourself in your surroundings. Also, your phone is miles away because … mountains. (And because you forgot it again, but that’s not germane to this tale.)

[“Every mountaintop is within reach if you keep climbing.”]

Janet was excited about taking a trail to Raven Cliff Falls because it featured a suspension bridge about three miles out. We were about a mile into the trail – and don’t picture a IMG_1401paved path like at your neighborhood park; we’re climbing steep ravines and straddling boulders and fallen trees – when we spot a sign that indicates we’re on a completely different trail. It was this moment when I pictured Hank Thoreau at Walden Pond. And I couldn’t remember if I came to the mountains to lose myself. Or to find myself. When from the dark woods a voice called out.

“Are you kidding me? We have to turn around?”

That’s when I remembered we were hiking with teenagers. It didn’t matter if I was trying to lose or find myself. What I had to do was find the correct trail. We turned around. Found the right trail. Found the waterfall. But we never found the suspension bridge. That was a different trail. Turns out we’re not so good at directions or instructions. We’d drive most families crazy, but you know what? We sure laughed a lot. The Ranger just shook his head. “You guys are on your own. If I help you I think I’ll ruin your good time.”

We conquered many mountains last week in both South and North Carolina. I’m reminded of Sir Edmund Hilary who said, “It isn’t the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” He was right. I learned a couple things about myself from my sons during the evenings after we finished hiking. Now I know what I have to conquer besides a mountain. More on that next time. (Ha! I’m practicing suspense for my writing career and you’re a guinea pig.)

2 thoughts on “He Lost His Way and Found Himself

  1. Beautiful picture of the fall! Back when I first met my husband, I took him to one of my favorite hiking spots, called Doughton Park (Blue Ridge Milepost 240 or 241.1 depending on the site) where we did a 15 mile hike to see an old cabin that survived the 1916 flood of Basin Cove. It’s called the Caudill Cabin. I love hiking, but haven’t done it in a while. I would love to go back to Doughton Park, but I’ve since learned that the lodge where we stayed (Bluffs Lodge) and the restaurant have both closed. Boo! Those two places were like a throwback in time to how travel in the 50’s and 60’s must have been, and the food after a hike like that? The. Best.

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    1. Oh yesssssss, that food after a long day hiking. It’s only Tuesday and I miss the mountains already. It’s amazing, especially this time of year, how quiet it stays up there. I’d like to say I’ll be back, but as Robert Frost would remind us, knowing how way leads on to way, I doubt I’ll ever make it back.

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