Sunday, July 24, 2011

Guest Post: Marriage and Hiking

I'm behind schedule in posting this, but thinking that's not such a bad thing. Even at the beach, it is hot, hot, hot and Cheryl's photos are a welcome, cooling sight. Thanks to my friend, colleague and fellow writer Cheryl Johnson for sending me this blog.

My husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this year. We decided to spend our vacation and celebration in Banff, Alberta, Canada one of the most scenic places in the world.

Banff is located in the middle of the Canadian Rockies nestled between the beauty of glaciers and the magnificent Rocky Mountains. We love hiking and planned to do some on our trip. We had many beautiful hikes, one of the hikes started just below Lake Louise and climbed up, straight up! At about 5,000 ft elevation you are rewarded with a beautiful view of Lake Louise. This has a spectacular view of the mountains, glaciers and a turquoise colored pristine lake. It is breathtaking.

But if you stop there you miss way too much. We continued to climb; the trail was steep and difficult. There were places where you wanted to just give up, turn around and go back to a level where you could breathe again. Then you would stop and look around at the view from a new vantage point and it would propel you up.

When you are tired and out of breath you arrive at Mirror Lake, a small but beautiful lake in the middle of the mountains. There is a small waterfall, stumps to sit on, large rocks that border the lake, water an indescribable blue and some benches that give you a chance to catch your breath or just relax in the beauty.

But this isn’t the end; other hikers see you and encourage you to keep going, so you continue on with the steep climb hoping that the reward at the end will be worth it.

At 7,002 ft elevation you are at last rewarded with one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen. Lake Agnes sits like a jewel in the center of six glaciers. The view is amazing, the feeling of accomplishment and the beauty of the area will overtake you. There is nothing like going the distance to see this beauty in the sky.

On the way down the mountain, there again were areas of beauty to see and challenges because now we were walking down the steep mountain and in some places, snow covered the trail.

When we finally arrived back at our car, the memory of the beauty and the challenge of the hike left us with a feeling of awe and gratitude at having the opportunity to experience this place.

My husband and I have also been hiking the Appalachian trail this summer, yesterday we hiked from Pine Grove Furnace to Boiling Springs, about 19.6 miles. Hiking for me is all about the beauty, the challenge and the perseverance.

Along the way, each of took turns taking the lead. There were places on the trail where I needed my husband to help me up over a rock because the trail was in front of us, but so were these mammoth boulders. We just needed to find our way over them.

There were times when the trail seemed to be winning for each of us, but thankfully at different times, so the other could be the encourager. We even managed to spook a Timber Rattle Snake, which was not very happy and remained in his spot as we slowly and cautiously passed him. As we passed him, I was thrilled to see one so close in the wild, an animal that many people can live their entire life in Pennsylvania and never see. We finally arrived at Boiling Springs tired but thrilled to have accomplished another beautiful hike.

This morning I was processing the hike from yesterday and realized hiking is a lot like marriage. It starts out hopeful, full of expectations, and excitement but quickly you realize this is not going to be easy. There are places in any marriage that make you stop and ask is this worth it? The climb is too difficult and steep, but if, like a hike, you look around you and see the beauty beyond the challenge of the trail, you will be propelled to go on.

In any marriage there will be times when one will need to be the encourager to the other and take the lead to move forward. But if you are willing to accept the challenge, you will begin to see the beauty all around you in the midst of the struggles and every once in a while you will be rewarded with a spectacular breathtaking moment just like the lakes at Lake Louise or the opportunity to do or see something incredible like the snake on the Appalachian.

So yes marriage is a lot like hiking, but when each hike is over we are thrilled to have completed it and plan for the next challenge. I for one am looking forward to the next 30 years of challenges and breathtaking views!

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