Little did we know it would take us most of the day.
We started out, a motley crew of family and friends ranging in age from six weeks to 80 years, conversing along the paved way. We leisurely hiked about two-thirds around the lake when we came to a barricade that said, “Warning! Landslide damage. Trail ends here.” Being the adventurous type and rationalizing it would take twice as long to turn back, we said to each other, “How bad could it be?”
We forged ahead until we came to the actual landslide. White rocks ranging in size from toasters to houses were toppled upon one another, with huge trees laying on their sides at the bottom. The area covered about three acres. To traverse over this seemed a daunting task with the small children and elderly present. Unbelievably, we went for it. Up and down, rock to rock, tree to tree, we got all fifteen of us across the debris with only minor scrapes. We regrouped on the other side, taking swigs of water and eating trail mix, chuckling about our ordeal, and amazed everyone made it intact.
On the journey through life, there will be hazards that show up along the way. They may seem impossible, but the only way to go is through them. I’ve pulled a few principles from our Yosemite hike that I think are very applicable to hard times in our lives.
First, we got through the debris one step at a time. There were rocks upon rocks, and some of them were not steady. We had to test each rock as we moved forward and side to side, taking the most sure and stable route. When life gets tough, maneuvering through pain and consequences can be pretty tricky. You may see where you hope to be at the end, but the path to get there may be riddled with uncertainty. Taking each step slowly and steadily minimizes pitfalls that come with a difficult journey.
Second, some hikers needed help to get across. We took turns carrying the two-year-old and lending extra support to the mom who had the six-week-old baby strapped to her front as well as the grandparents. When things get tough, we need to lean on our support systems to get us safely to the other side. Sharing each other’s loads is not only necessary for survival, but bonding can be a byproduct. By the end of the day we felt a special kinship with each other through what we’d been through.
One of the hikers was really fearful for the children. She was really angry at why we were in this situation. I was a little surprised, because she is usually very level-headed. My husband told me later that just a week earlier her son slipped and fell with his newborn son in his arms and dropped the baby. She saw the whole thing happen. The trauma of that situation carried over into seeing another grandchild in potential danger. The third thing to remember is when we go through tough times, past hurts may ignite anger or fear. Past hurts tend to complicate things. Understanding, acknowledging and communicating this will help you navigate your response.
No sooner did we rejoin the trail, when we heard a huge crack and rumble from above. Thunder and lightening filled the sky, and then the downpour started. We were soaked to the bone by the time we reached our bus stop. Sometimes, when one trial ends, another one begins. And then another. It’s just the way life happens sometimes. We dealt with this by laughing. Most of us kept our sense of humor intact. Just moments before we got soaked, we were all sweaty from climbing over rocks and trees. We joked about not needing showers anymore. When life is one trouble after another, sometimes it’s just good to laugh in the midst of it. Laughter is also contagious.
The last thing is we never gave up. We kept moving forward, helping each other, talking it through. Once we made it to some shelter to escape the downpour, some of the teenagers decided to run all the way back to our campground. We were all exhausted, but they made it fun by going that extra mile.
Don’t give up!
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" July 25th, 2013
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