The Hard Parts

It’s a hard place to be when nothing goes as planned. When everything falls apart. When all your expectations are unmet.

I expected the first day of our backpacking trip to be cold but not icy. I expected the hike to be difficult but not treacherous. I expected good conversation around a blazing fire the first night in camp. Instead, the icy wind storm forced us to set up and enter our tents early where we ate our dinners alone and tried to stay warm and dry. The long night was made longer as the storm continued through the dark morning hours. The wind howled, trees crashed to the ground, mice scurried around our tents, and we turned over and over in our sleeping bags. The morning brought relief from the storm, but ice covered everything.

It was so cold we didn’t want to move out of our sleeping bags, but we ate breakfast and began the long process of taking down tents and repacking our packs. Some in our group left because of sickness or injury but some more of us thought of quitting. Some of us wanted a toilet, a warm bed, and just not to be on the adventure any longer.

Maybe more of us than I knew wanted to leave the trail, but we stayed with it. We hiked through one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. The frozen forest was other-wordly. Two or so hours into our hike we were out of the ice and ascending the mountain where the sun shone bright on our faces. We ate our lunches on rocks warmed by the sun, then we climbed Little Hump and Big Hump Mountains.

The three day, two night backpacking trip far exceeded my expectations and turned out to be one of the most difficult, joyful, and memorable adventures for me. The hard parts of the trip made the good parts really good.

It’s like that with most anything, isn’t it? The challenges of a thing make the finish that much sweeter. We’re made stronger by the challenges. We learn more from difficult situations and we find out what we can really do.

The hard parts are worth it.

Unlikely

This Time Tomorrow

As a young girl, I did this thing when I looked forward to something and especially when I dreaded something. I’m unsure why, but the time passed better when I did it.

The day before the fifth grade spelling bee I said to myself, “This time tomorrow I’ll be spelling these words.”

A week before my family’s move to Chattanooga, “This time next week we’ll live in a new house.”

A few days before an oral presentation in my senior English class, “This time next week my presentation will be over.”

I still do this. All the time.

IMG_20180311_140856434_HDRBefore a job interview. Training for a race. Preparing a speech. Looking forward to a trip. Writing my book. It’s just this thing I do.

I’m doing it now.

This time tomorrow I’ve hiked five miles, set up our camp, and I’m sitting around a fire with friends and family. This will be my first backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. It’s a three day, two night adventure. We’ve been preparing for weeks for the trip and I anticipate it will be everything I expect and then some.

We’ve gathered our gear, practiced the tent set up, and some of us hiked on Sunday to get the feel of carrying our loaded backpacks. The closer it gets the more excited I get.IMG_6312

The weather says we’ll be hiking and camping in snow. What beauty awaits us!

This time tomorrow……..

 

Possibility

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My son is doing what I always wanted to do.

Yesterday he flew to Colorado with one bag, a backpack, and no job. Last year he drove from our home in Alabama to a little town in Texas. He had a job waiting there but that was all. After the job ran out, he came home long enough to work at a place making pallets. He saved a little money, bought a plane ticket, and flew to his next adventure.

He’s 19. He says college isn’t for him. Neither is a permanent job right now.

He wants to see places and do things. The kind of things you can do before you get the kind of things you have to do.

I had dreams of doing the same but I waited too long. College and jobs and marriage and little ones took the place of adventures in far off places.

I admire his courage.

One of the first places he explored is wherever this photo was taken. He hiked the mountains near Boulder a few hours after he landed.

He is seeing beauty he’s never seen before and climbing mountains and meeting new friends. He is learning and growing.

And it’s not too late for me to see beauty I’ve never seen before or swim in a different ocean or see a sunset on a new horizon.

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge Pure and the Daily Prompt Daring.