This past weekend was beautiful. The weather was perfect, the air was brisk and the company was refreshing. Between our first view of the mountains in the daylight Saturday morn and our departing just more than thirty-six hours later, we watched the greens begin to amber and knew that autumn will settle over these mountains soon.
Stone, Jet, Joy and I tried out a campground that we had not visited before, Lake Winfield Scott Recreation Area.
Keeping in mind that my sense of direction is non-existent, Joy and I used my iPhone’s gps/map program for navigation. This was a terrible mistake since we gained and lost reception repeatedly … as we traveled OVER mountains, IN the dark, snaking our way around winding roads causing our trip TO the camp ground to take us around six hours rather than the four that it took us to make the trip home.
I worried Stone would be mad. He and Jet had arrived hours earlier, set up camp and had prepared dinner. Stone had shotty cell reception, as well, so he had to make his way to a higher point in the campground to be able to call to check on us. And when he would call, we might or might not be in range. He was trying to keep dinner warm while we struggled to find out way. I prayed God would soften his heart towards us that he might not be angry that we had gotten lost. It was so refreshing … and relieving …. to arrive and have a man offering a warm, strong hug, happy to see us, thankful that we made our trip safely and thrilled to serve us dinner that had been waiting for hours.
Then Stone pulled out a surprise.
While at St. Andrews, we tried to buy raw oysters, only to arrive at the seafood store and be reminded that it was much too early in the season for them to be available. They are only harvested during months with an “R” … which are the cooler months. We would have to wait.
So, Stone bought a few dozen and brought them as a birthday surprise for me over the weekend. We finished our dinner and then he pulled out the shucking knife and glove. I don’t know which was more enjoyable: actually eating the delectable goodies
OR walking through the realization
that a.man.found.joy in openly blessing me with a surprise.
He went out of his way to bring a present that he knew would please me!! *scratches head* This is hard for me to take in. Both were S.U.C.H treats … the later being the most overwhelming to digest. I still can’t fathom it. It has been years and years … and years … since I have been openly offered a token of affection from an admirer.
Somehow, it just seems like … I don’t deserve it …. because … I’m to blame for something, somewhere, somehow … something that would render me unmerited for a gift … a surprise … a treat. Because you offer gifts to those that are worthy, right? *with wrinkled brows of perplexity*
Saturday was filled with hiking. I was absolutely amazed at the stamina of the children. We romped through the woods on a steadily sloped trail that sprawled wide and open, rooty and rocky and then turned a bend to become narrow and heavily shaded. We walked for hours … in awe of God’s incredible handiwork … trees, rocks, birds, streams. Everything within eyesight was gorgeous.
For years, Joy has heard Glory and I voice our dreams of hiking a portion of the Appalachian trail. Back at St. Andrews, I loaned Stone the audio book by Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods. He and Jet listened on the way home as Bill told the story of walking a large portion of the trail, so Jet knew a good bit about the trail, as well.
As we made our way across Slaughter Creek trail, our destination was one of the entry points to the Appalachian trail. There is access to the AT from the trail that we were hiking, so we headed there just to say that we had actually been upon the AT. We encouraged the kids to keep hiking until we arrived at this entry point and then we would stop and have lunch.
The tough part was
there was no pay-off.
We first saw the white blaze that marked the start of the trail
at the bottom of a very steep incline.
There was no big sign announcing
“APPALACHIAN TRAIL” …
just a white blaze on a tree just above eye level
another on a rock that helps create a natural stairway up Blood Mountain
and an arrow pointing down the path we had just ventured that let us know
we were on the Slaughter Creek Trail.
All that energy expended
by a seven-year old, rambunctious boy
and a nearly-teen young lady
and their reward was
a smoked-chicken salad sandwich, Cheezits and a bottle of water …
a lunch they would have received
without having made such a strenuous hike.
The walk down the hill was much quicker.
We were energized after resting and being nourished
but I thought a lot about the little ones.
We all need encouragement. When I pray for others – and myself –
I often pray that God would allow us the privilege of seeing
the fruit of our labor or allow us to see how our actions were used to bless others.
And I’m thankful to say that God is often gracious to answer that prayer.
I’ve even been privy to actually over.hearing someone talk to someone else
about how an action that I made
in a manner that was secretive
and how that gesture blessed them.
THAT was a cool thing.
So, we hiked all that way
just to be able to say
that we stood on the AT.
For Stone and I, it was a wonderful experience.
It just didn’t seem like enough
for little people.
They need more.
(entering the first trail from a spot closer to the AT entryway) before we go hiking next time
so that the pay-off for the kids
justifies the energy expended.
See, we were told that there is an overlook at the top of Blood Mountain
that is well worth the effort of the climb.
The incline is a mile in length from where we picnicked and leads to
the highest peak on Georgia’s portion of the Appalachian Trail.
There was a group of about eight young adults
who donned camping gear and hiked near us on the trail.
They were going up to spend the night at the overlook on the mountaintop.
THEY were going to get to experience the pay-off.
They would enjoy the view after the hike.Next trip, maybe we can look into hiking from a different starting point,
leaving just a bit earlier
and planning for the steep climb at the end …
so that the kids can experience the pay-off
the blessing of moving from the deep, covered trails,
the dips of the valleys
and the struggles of the climb
to receive the blessing of a view of a gorgeous expanse
of God’s incredible creation.
We want to offer the kids
a pay off for their efforts.
Joy said that this was the most wonderful camping trip she’s been on. I scratched my head and thought about St. Andrews and wondered H.O.W she could think hiking a fairly secluded trail could top sea urchins and kite flying … but somehow … it did.
I can’t wait until next time …
when she can see the beauty that was there all the time
but wasn’t quite able to reach.