Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just Me, the Rain and the Rocks

Acadia National Park
Bar Harbor, Maine

There's nothing like the ocean. Blue sky or gray, it's beautiful.  The Blackwoods campground, where I was staying, is just across from this vantage point.  A great place to sit for a bit, and just be.  Which is what I did for a while after getting in on Monday afternoon.

Tuesday brought more rain.  I'd done OK earlier this week, so once I pried my butt out of bed, I decided I wasn't going to let it slow me down this time either, and headed on out.  I caught the (free, thank you L.L. Bean) shuttle bus from the campground to the Sieur de Monts visitor's center.  There, one of the park rangers helped me map out a hike for the day.  It started, innocently enough, with a set of stairs.  I don't know about you, but I find something irresistible about a winding set of stairs.  Armed with a waterproof copy of the trail map, I started up the not-so-beaten path,
and was rewarded a short time later by a stunning view of the valley below, with hills stretching off to the coastline.
The rain kept coming down, but there were more steps beckoning me onward, so upward I went.  (for two miles, I wound my way up.  That's one major set of stairs.  I may never happily get on a stair-stepper machine again...)

As I continued to go up, the rain continued to come down, harder as time went on, creating a series of beautiful mini-waterfalls; some next to the trail, some cascading over the trail itself.
At the very top, for the second time this week, I found myself at the edge of the world.  I was above the cloud line; where earlier I'd seen the sweeping vistas pictured above, now I felt as if the world dropped off just a few feet from where I was standing.

The next part of the hike was to bring me across the ridge-line and down to a final part of the trail; less steep than the steps which had brought me to the top.

My problem was that the rain had made the granite trail slippery.  I wasn't in danger of falling off the edge, the trail was wide - but there was a very real danger I'd slip and turn an ankle.  Going back down the way I'd come up wasn't an option; down-stairs are much more dangerous than up, and there was a lot more water on the trail than when I'd started.

I continued on in the rain and the mist, still hyper-aware of the beauty surrounding me, but now, also aware I was very much alone on the mountain.  I hadn't seen another soul since leaving the base far below.  I was afraid, but took a deep breath, and slowly, one careful step at a time, continued on the trail.  The fog thickened around me, to the point where I could barely make out the next cairn of rocks telling me I was still on the right path.

As I inched along, the trail became a metaphor for this trip I'm taking.  The road is beautiful, but I can't see where it leads me, and at times that leaves me afraid.  Like the trail, the way forward is hidden in the mist.  Also like the trail, trying to retrace my steps would be perilous, if not impossible.

As I was trusting in the cairns and trail blazes to lead me safely down the mountain, so must I trust in God or the Spirit or Whomever to guide me safely to... wherever the heck it is I'm going. 

As I mulled over thoughts of trust, I kept moving.  Slowly, one foot carefully placed before the other, sometimes bracing myself with one or both hands on the rocks behind me, I made my way across the hill.  Gradually, the treacherous slick rocks were replaced by smaller ones - and now I was walking in one of the streams.  Given the choice was to keep secure footing or to have dry-ish feet, I abandoned all hope of keeping my feet remotely dry.  Suddenly, it was fun again; I'd left my fears behind.  I began splishing in the water; feeling it sqoosh between my wriggling toes; embracing the wet.  (Fortunately, the water was not very cold...)  Shortly after that, the trail turned, and I found myself right where I belonged; a short distance from the bus stop.

By Wednesday, the weather had cleared.  I stopped by Sieur de Monts one more time - this time to take a picture from below. 

I'm still working on the trust thing; trying to trust the Spirit to see me safe to the end of this sabbatical - and to trust that when I get there, I will have a warm shower, hot soup, and the knowledge that I faced my fears and lived to tell the tale.

1 comment:

  1. Great photos! And best of success to you with the "trust" part. It is an ongoing struggle in any life of faith. We just think we've figured it out, and a new challenge arises.

    Thank you for sharing your journey!