The Reluctant Hiker

I’ve just arrived home from a long weekend in the mountains of Georgia.

We discovered a great little place over there called Big Canoe about an hour or so north of Atlanta last spring. We liked it well enough to go back for the great autumn leaf display. I wasn’t aware that Georgia had such tall mountains. Big Canoe is great for folks who like hiking, fishing, boating, and well, more hiking. It’s in my husband’s blood to do all those things. He grew up in Tennessee like his father before him, and will always have a sweet spot in his heart for all things mountainy.

I did not grow up in Tennessee and have had to acquire a taste for these mountainy things. It was either that or get left behind. I do really like the scenery, and our little mountain cabin was just big enough to hold us and just nice enough that I didn’t feel like I was really roughing it.

We motored around a huge man-made lake the first day in a pontoon boat trying to catch our supper. We marveled that a lake that large and beautiful could be man-made. We couldn’t help but look with envy upon the beautiful homes that had been built there by folks who do who knows what for a living. Some of those homes were four stories high, built into the side of the mountain, overlooking the lake. More than once was I guilty of coveting those homes. We saw many things, but no fish that day. I was glad for the chili I had made and brought with us!

Day two was the kicker.

It was the day they decided to go

hiking

I say, “they” because I would never on my own make that decision. I am a reluctant hiker. The very word itself implies blood, sweat, and tears. Not to mention, dirt, bugs, and aching feet. But I wanted to be a good sport, so I agreed to go. It really wasn’t too bad. At first. It wasn’t too hot, or too cold. No mosquitoes in sight. Just beautiful leaves and the quietness of nature.

Then the trail turned upward, I found myself at the rear end of our party, and in real need of oxygen and an escalator. Our goal was a waterfall at the top of the trail, and with each step my desire to reach that goal lessened. But I looked up and suddenly my husband was in front of me cheering me on, that, and making fun of me. Both worked to get me to the top of the trail, and to some much needed water.

The way back down the mountain was much easier. I kept up with the group better, and could hear my father-in-law teaching us lessons about our surroundings and all the things along the trail.

He showed us how you can use the stem of a sweet gum tree for a toothbrush. He showed us a half eaten nut, and how the squirrel that had left half had known that it was poisoned and to leave it be. He pealed an acorn, had us taste its bitterness, shared how the Indians used to grind up the acorns and used them in cooking.

I started gathering up acorns then. Not to grind up and eat, they were bitter, and that sounds like way too much work anyway. No, the acorns were really pretty colors. All the colors of the fall leaves around me. Some were brown, but some were yellow, green, or red. I thought, these would be great in a bowl at home. But as I packed my pockets full like a chipmunk, it occurred to me that everything needed to make a huge tree was in those little nuts. I know that’s not a new revelation, but as I walked among huge trees with beautiful foliage it was hard to deny the wonder of God’s creation.

The man-made things we had enjoyed the day before were certainly nice, but paled in comparison to what I was seeing on the trail.

God had made these huge trees from tiny acorns like the ones in my pockets. Each one unique. No two the same. They stretched up to the sky, pulling water up from the ground, soaking in sunlight for energy. Turning carbon dioxide into oxygen for me to breathe as I ambled past. I hiked along in the overwhelming quiet of the forest, the only sound was the sound of my feet hitting the trail, and I appreciated all over again the power and majesty of my God.

So what do you think?

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