PHOTOS AND STORY
BY MIKE TRIPP
It started as an adventure, but ended as a life lesson.
This was a few months ago.
To be honest, I had reached an emotional low point in my life and needed to simply get out and explore.
I needed to get back to adventuring with the hope it might rescue me from my personal funk.
My goal was to hike the 1.7 miles trail to Jones Run Falls plus the return for a round trip of 3.4 miles.
Depressed … out of shape … yeah … LET’S DO THIS!
Armed with heavy backpack weighted down by camera gear and tripod while carrying a walking staff, I passed the Appalachian Trail marker and headed down the mountain.
Please note I said … “down the mountain.”
It didn’t take long for me to realize that every step downhill was a step I’d have to make on the return trek UP hill.
Still, I pressed on keeping all this in mind.
Took photos along the way and enjoyed the trek.
The falls were well worth the stroll downward to see.
Spent time roaming around them, enjoying my time there and even played the flute for a time.
The big question, however, was if it would be worth the trip back …. the one ALL uphill.
I’m not gonna lie. I’m out of shape and quite often huffing and puffing.
The journey ahead of me was not gonna be easy and one I put off for a time.
I delayed the hike back, but what was I gonna do? … Live in the woods forever and never go back?
And did I mention I was carrying about 40 pounds of gear?
Enter birds chirping as It was time to face the music.
I made a choice to go down the mountain, it was time to go back.
The moment of decision to head back plus the trek back were both moments of clarity for me.
They were moments that opened my eyes and showed me things I needed to see.
On the way back, I huffed and puffed … I would walk a short ways and then take a break before doing so again.
Ok, I admit there were times I gave serious consideration to ditching the tripod and other odds and ends, but I didn’t.
I would reach a rest point … points many would say came too often while I felt in that moment didn’t come often enough … and plop myself down on a rock or sometimes the ground itself.
I’d slurp down some water, catch my breath and push onward again.
Whenever I ran across others on the trail, I’d act as if I wasn’t gasping for breath as I was … partially out of pride and partly to keep them from thinking I was having another heart-attack.
In the end, I found my car and myself in the process.
Many reading this likely will laugh and not understand why it truly was life changing for me as they have never been in shoes like mine, huffing and puffing out on a trail like that.
But *I* know and feel the change deep in my heart … my soul.
In the days since, I have made decisions and taken the reigns of my own life’s direction.
Truthfully, it’s we that control our life.
Sometimes we make decisions we know will lead us down a path that will be an uphill climb on the way back.
Other times, it’s as simple as we choosing how we respond to the challenges life throws at us.
And let us not also forget, the choice is ours as to if we sit there watching television or playing computer games, shriveling up and wasting away … or … to get up and push onward, weary step by weary step … one foot in front of the other.
On that trail, I refused to sit on a rock in the wilderness forever just as I refuse to give up on myself and my life now.
Just as I made my way out of the woods, I now work to get my life firmly on the path *I* want it to be on.
I’ve chosen to get out of my chair, turn that computer off and see what’s out there.
I’ve chosen to spend time with my family, to get back into shape and to lose the extra weight I’ve gained.
Yes. … This is not an overnight transition, but an ongoing journey.
It’s why I get ready as I write this to head out the door with the dog for a hike in the woods.
Also why I’ve taken up martial arts again.
I choose to live this life and to enjoy the adventures it offers.
Who knows. … Maybe next time that long climb uphill will not feel so steep or hard a climb.