A Hiker’s Tale: Unfortunately Not Allegorical

On a lovely day, when our family was driving from one place to another, we detoured though a state park. It was a good day for a hike, so we got out of the car and onto the trail. It began atop a meadowy ridge where we walked together until the trail turned downward. Not far into our descent, I made the unsettling discovery that my feet were moving faster than they should have been. Worse, I was accelerating. My horrified family looked on helplessly as I sped down the hill toward the forest below.

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In an attempt to avert disaster, my son yelled “Mom, grab a tree!” Knowing myself to have poor aim, bad balance, and a bent toward klutziness, I thought, How am I going to manage that, and if I do, how will I keep from crushing my face when I crash into it? I followed his advice and got hold of a tree without damage to wrists or face, but only well enough to increase my peril by transforming it into a trajectory-changing, speed-increasing slingshot.

Gravity exerted itself, forcing me to the ground and rolling me – somehow backwards – down the hill. I somersaulted downward, thinking all the while how unlike this jarring plunge was from Buttercup’s tumble in the The Princess Bride. At long last, I stalled at the bottom of the hill where my panicked family found me, laughing and plucking debris from my hair.

Experience has taught me that every time my boot hits the trail there is potential for me to stumble. I keep my eyes peeled for rocks and roots that I so easily trip over and take cautious steps. My husband, the mountain goat, after years of watching me gingerly pick my way down rock-strewn mountain trails, tries regularly to convince me that gravity is my friend. He tells me that I need to stop fighting it and learn to use it to my advantage. I don’t understand that kind of friendship and prefer to fight it, just as I prefer going out on the trail to staying home, even knowing that it may be a struggle to complete the hike with my dignity intact.

Why, if I have any awareness of dignity, would I voluntarily tell this tale? Image. Consider the one that sits next to this post. There I sit, perched atop a formation in the HooDoos, decked out for a day of hiking: fleece for layering against volatile weather, hiking sandals for a day on the trail, and a boutique kerchief to guard against scalp sunburn. I dress like a hiker. I look a hiker. I am a hiker.

I am a hiker who occasionally falls. Sometimes spectacularly.

I don’t just fall on the trail. Sometimes I fall on the road that is my life. Equally spectacularly. As a wife, a mom, and a sojourner on the earth, the road provides endless opportunities for me to find myself at the bottom of a hill.

So now you know. Image doesn’t equal reality. Sometimes I am sitting somewhere glorious, looking like I belong on the trail and sometimes I’m in a heap at the bottom of a hill with debris in my hair and dirt in my teeth.

On the trail and in life the important things are the same: getting up and grace. Thank God for grace.

08-09 pictures 172

7 thoughts on “A Hiker’s Tale: Unfortunately Not Allegorical

  1. Pingback: Falling Down In Denver | Along This Road

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  3. How did I miss this one?! This made my day today. Reading about it made me laugh just as hard as HEARING about it. 😀

  4. Natalie… I’m an old friend/peer of your mom’s… i am a fellow “love of hiking while being a total clutz” type person… i’ve listened to your mom talk about you for years… and what a cool mom you are… although you may fall, you may fear injury… you still get out there!!! you are teaching your kids to push thru the fear – push thru not having the great balance of others… to the benifit of more family times together… more memories…. nothing in life can top the memories of the time we spend – doing fun things… together!!!
    you go girl!!!

    • Thanks for the kind and encouraging words. I learned to push through and look for the adventure from Mom and Dad-and still learn from my kids. Living life’s adventure with them is a privilege.

  5. Loved this post too, Natalie.
    And the photograph of the clouds. Was this the view as you opened your eyes at the bottom of the hill?
    My enthusiasm for life does not match my coordination either. I can hear my brother chanting, “Grace, how was charm school??” as I write. Thankfully, on the tree-lined trail or on the road of life, Jesus never mocks us for our foibled attempts to climb.
    ~Cathy

    • You are right, He never mocks us. What a blessing that is.

      The photograph captures the beauty of the day and the sky, as well as my view, but it isn’t from that day. I believe we were camera-less that day, and given the sense of humor of various members of my family, that is probably to my benefit.

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