The Beauty in the Treacherous

It has been several years since I have been camping. Money has been tight. A dependable vehicle has been elusive. And parenting alone means you struggle leaving your children at home. Thankfully, I have older children who help me with the youngest from time to time. And it was actually the youngest who said, “Mom! You need to do something for yourself. Go out. Camp. Go see a movie. Ride your bike. Do SOMETHING for yourself. Go!”

So, that day, about four months ago, I turned notifications back on to a Meet-Up group that I used to play with.
And that same day, I signed up for a camping trip.

Wildflowers along the Panther Creek Trail

I have always wanted to go on an overnight, backpacking camping trip. But, I certainly can’t go alone. And I wouldn’t take my youngest without first getting some experience.

The Meet Up group offered just the experience that I needed.
Panther Creek, Clarkesville, GA

I met with the group about a week before the trip. We sat at the outdoor table downtown on the sidewalk at Soy Noodle and discussed things we needed to pack and things we didn’t, what to expect and the plans for the weekend.

I took notes and paid close attention to lessons like ….
Pack your clothes inside large ziploc bags. It will keep them dry if we get rained upon and will keep sweat from soaking through the backpack into them. I found it also kept them dry from the condensation inside the tent overnight. That was super advice.

They also mentioned that hiking boots were important. I have a fairly new pair that are about three years old, but have been seldom worn. They have not been comfortable.My hiking boots

One of the guys suggested wearing them every chance possible between that night and the trip. I took the to heart and found that each day I wore them, they became more comfortable. Several times on the hike, my ankle turned one way as my leg went another.  I firmly believe that wearing those boots on the trip saved my ankle from a painful  injury. 

Panther Creek Falls, Clarkesville, GA

Packing as light as possible was really good advice.
I really wanted to buy a lighter weight sleeping bag for the trip. Backpacking sleeping bags can weigh as little as under two pounds! But, we already own around five sleeping bags so I couldn’t justify buying another one! The $75. price tag that I found on the CHEAPEST lightweight bag just seemed like too much to pay when we already had a shelf full of similar equipment. In the end, the excellent advice on how to pack light (like wearing the same pants in that I wore out on the second day) was pivotal to keeping my pack light. My already-owned sleeping bag weighed a five full pounds, but I packed light enough that it wasn’t a big deal.


So, we left Augusta around 7am Saturday morning and arrived at Panther Creek Falls in Clarkesville, Georgia around 11:00.

Our hiking crew

We hiked in on a trail around three and a half miles and set up camp beside the creek.

My tent beside Panther Creek, Clarkesville, GA

We arrived and set up around 3:30 in the afternoon and had several hours to explore, eat, and rest before sundown. A few of the others brought along camp stoves, but I chose to eat food that didn’t require cooking. I brought along cashews, granola bars, tuna in a pouch, a small delicious loaf of whole grain bread, cheese and pickles. And I brought powdered coffee creamer for the morning.

Morning coffee

I knew I didn’t want to leave my morning warm-coffee ritual back at home.

My backpack at home

(Looking at my backpack above, you see; a sleep mat at the top, a {brightly colored} pillow in the middle and my tent in the bag at the bottom. The sleeping bag is on the outside of the pack and the ziplocs hold my pjs, food and clothes for the second day. My filtering water bottle is sitting upright at the far left. It weighed around 20-25 lbs)

A little fire to keep us warm after sundown

After we arrived, the trip coordinator and our guide, got a great fire going. We sat around talking until I finally wilted and headed into my tent to snuggle up and rejuvenate for the next day.

DSC09724

Surprisingly, though we were at least around 45 degrees that night, I didn’t really get cold. The mat underneath me blocked the cold air from coming into my sleeping bag. I wore double socks and flannel with a hoodie to sleep. I also brought along a hat. While I did find that I woke up several times in the night, I stayed warm and toasty. Several of the guys slept in hammocks and weren’t as fortunate.

One of the only photos that proves that I actually went on this trip - a tent selfieAs the sun crested up over the hillside behind us, it slowly brought warmth back into the valley. It was a beautiful sight to watch it creep down the mountainside and illuminate the trees and then the creek. Sun coming up over the ravine

I really expected to have more trouble keeping up. The men were all in their mid-forties making Sandra and I were the oldest in the group. I was sore Sunday morning, but all the guys were stiff, too, so I felt a bit proud that I hung in with them well.

Andre and I often brought up the rear.  He stopped to talk to every passerby.

Andre talking to a group

And I took photos while he chatted.

Beautiful mushroom

We made a perfect caboose combination.
Panther Creek Trail

As we walked, one thing I thought about was how narrow  … and even treacherous  …. the path was along much of the way.

Panther Creek Hiking Trail
While there was a reprieve from time to time
with nice wide walking space

Panther Creek Hiking Trail, Clarkesville, GA
that was comfortable and easy,

Panther Creek Trail along Panther Creek in Clarkesville, GA

much of the trail teetered narrowly on a ledge.

Looking down from the trail
A stumble, trip or mis-step could easily land you 20-50 feet (or more) below.

And what stood out to me was how rooty we found the trail.
It is an obviously heavily traveled path.
While the exposed tree roots offer great risk of being stumbling blocks …

Roots along the trail

they also offered a foothold.
Often, I found myself strategically placing my feet between the roots
and using them to steady my next step,
especially when climbing
and on the more narrow sections of the trail.
So, in truth, they were a double-edged sword.

Climbing

There were times when walking across smooth rocks
that offered no resistance and often appeared  slick and polished
felt much more risky and uncertain
than when you once again found yourself
with those uneven, tricky roots underfoot.

So, in reality ….

Exposed  roots COULD be a stumbling block to cause you to trip …..
or  provide a reliable stepping stone to your next, more steady position. 

In reality, how you viewed those roots
had to do with your personal perspective.
And I thought about how true this is in our lives.

Looking for parallels in the spiritual physical world ....

This is a spiritual/physical parallel
of how we view life’s difficulties.
As the path of life turns and dips
with the valleys and hills that unfold before us,
we will find things happen that we can view as a hindrance
or stepping blocks
to whatever comes next.
We can be totally surprised by the new distraction or difficulty.
We can bellyache and be frustrated that there is a tangled, mess in life in front of us.
OR  … we can expect the unexpected.
We can know that life is going to happen and it won’t always be easy.
And we can use those tangled roots in our path to give us better footing
as we strengthen our legs,
take a deep breath
and get stronger with each “next step.”

And those messy roots can take absolutely any shape or form …  like a flat tire, a lost library book, a bounced check, being abandoned in a relationship, a car wreck, a broken arm, a burned dinner, a disgruntled friendship, a spilled cup of coffee on a new bedspread, a broken lawnmower, a wayward son, a positive diagnosis, a speeding ticket, a split seam in a dress while you’re away from home, a broken phone screen, a sentence taken out of context and used against you in your absence, a heart attack, a lost job, a revoked license, a tree limb through your roof, an angry daughter, a sideswiped plan, a smooth-talking friend who turns out to be a Sociopath, a lost job, weeds in your grass, an unanswered prayer, a computer crash, a tax hike to take more of your earned money, cobwebs that are out of reach, a setback in recovery, a hole worn in your favorite shoes, a cracked window pane, a lost pet,  ….
Truly ….  the list goes on and on.

The question isn’t whether these things will happen to us,
the question is when … and which ones.
But more importantly, how will we handle them?
Will we become angry and frustrated because these “roots” are in our path
or will be see them as part of the obstacle course of life
that allows us opportunity to grow, increase in agility and balance
and move on to the next thing, stronger than before.Panther Creek, Georgia

I see it all as an adventure.
Yes, I become weary …
but life involves people … and people are messy.
We’re all broken.
We’re all hurting.
And with the right perspective, life offers us opportunity
to love on each other
offer a helping hand
and continue moving … getting stronger as we travel.

Autumn color along Panther Creek Trail

The hike was set in a weekend of perfect weather.
The trail offered beautiful explosions of autumn color
among the still green hills.
And as always, the life lessons God shows me along the way
are the most precious of all the gifts involved.


Fall color - Maple Leaf

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2 thoughts on “The Beauty in the Treacherous

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