Last week, I shared some of my reflections from the 50 miles I backpacked on the John Muir Trail. My son and I had planned on going over 80 miles, but the rain and snow overwhelmed us, and we pulled off the trail a little early. This allowed us to camp with the whole family for a few days – which was great! Here are the rest of the thoughts from the trail. My hope is that these thougths would inspire you to walk closer to Christ, knowing He is with you every step of the way – even in the storms.
- I fell asleep stargazing last night, listening to Rich Mullins and his songs of faith that shaped me as a young man. It was an amazing night with God.
- It is time to create. I’ve spent so much time in past years thinking through problems on the trail. But there haven’t really been any major problems for me to think through or process. Part of this is that I have more experience and I don’t need to think through the problems on my plate right now. Part of it is that this is an amazing season where there are not a lot of problems. What I believe this means is that it is a time to create. When there are problems and growth is happening so rapidly, it is hard to be creative or make new systems. Today on the trail, I’m going to be thinking about things I can be creative about, including getting my dissertation done!
- Don’t over-plan. We have had to modify our plans because we were not hitting all of our miles. But as we have acclimated, we’ve been able to go further. It’s important for me to have back up plans, but it is so easy to become neurotic and over-plan everything. I need to remember this off the trail.
- Devotion – Proverbs 24. The wise are strong, and if you fail under pressure your strength is too small. The pressure out here comes from the elements, the miles, the fatigue, and the mental struggle. Coming here was more about the challenge and the love of the trail, and I hope our strength is enough. Sometimes it is only when you push your limits do you find out that your limits are much further than you realized.
- Rain beat us, and we have decided to exit early. This is mainly due to soaked shoes and no time or sunshine to dry them out. I need to gear better, knowing I don’t like being wet. I also need to mentally prepare better – both years the heavy rain hit my spirits. It has heavy rained three days in a row, supposed to again today, then more scattered showers for the rest of the trip. With Muir Pass (six miles of snow) looming, and no other easy exits, we made the decision to exit. Hannah is making the seven hour drive to get us, and we will finish out the vacation with the family in Bishop.
- We were both ready to do more, and I have not ruled out a longer trip. But I need to be ready for heavy rain – it has happened two years in a row. This year was four days in a row though! With the snow on the passes, the rain, and the river crossings, everything is longer and more fatiguing. Part of me is bummed to leave early – I had more to talk with Ben about and more to think about. The deciding factor is our feet. Shoes are soaked, feet are wet, and it would be unwise to do heavy miles ahead – including the six miles of snow on Muir Pass ahead. So we have decided to exit and spend some great time with the family.
- Devotion – Proverbs 25. Leadership is about learning and wise words. Good questions are key. For me on the trail, it has been important to encourage Ben (but not overly so as to patronize him) and also to be near him. Leaders are present. It has also been great to catch up with so many people on the trail. Most people are ready to stop and talk. It is a gift to listen, and I tried to end most conversations with “God bless you.” It has been a great hike – even if it was really wet!