Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Road Less Traveled?

I know that we have all heard of the phrase "to take the road less traveled," and usually, we think of that term as encouragement to stand out - to dare to be different. Well, a recent experience has my mind focusing on this phrase in a whole new light.

One bright and sunny day, my husband and I decided to take the kids for a day-trip to Mt. Charleston. We thought it'd be fun to pack some snacks and drinks and get some fresh air - maybe have a picnic lunch. While on our outing, we discovered an awesome hiking trail and decided to take the kids on a little hike.

At the trail head, there was a large map that showed a few options for different destinations on the trail, along with the distance to each destination. The shortest hike was to a place called Little Falls, and was stated to be about a 20-minute trek each way. We knew it would probably take us a little longer since we had the kids with us, but decided that it would probably be the best route for us to take.

One thing we were still unsure of upon departing on the hike was its level of difficulty. We just figured that if the kids started getting tired (or when I started running out of steam - as I was carrying the baby in a front-carrier), we'd just turn around and head back in the direction we had come. Whether we made it to the end of the trail or not, it'd be a fun, little adventure - and we would be getting some good exercise, so what did we have to lose, right?

At the very beginning of the hike, the trail led up a pretty steep incline, so we thought it was going to be pretty difficult. Still, we pressed forward, telling ourselves that we can do hard things - and finally, we got to a point in the trail where the terrain leveled out and the course seemed to be getting a bit easier, so we continued on.

A short while later on the hike, we came to a fork in the trail. The path that continued straight seemed to  maintain that same level of ease that we had been on for some time, but the path that curved to the right appeared to be rockier and turned upward as though the inclination in the hike was about to increase again.

Trail --->

I don't know if you can read the sign on the post or not, but it says "Trail" and then has an arrow that points to the right. It was apparent from reading the sign that to stay on the trail, we were to take the path to the right (the more difficult path in appearance). I found myself wishing; though, that I could take the road to the left, as it was the road less traveled - and also was obviously the much easier road.

By this point in our little adventure, my legs were beginning to burn pretty badly from the initial inclined section of the hike, and the shoulder straps of the baby carrier were beginning to cause my shoulders to ache from the weight of the baby. But I knew that to take that less difficult route, we'd be risking the chance of running into a dead end, or getting lost, and it would obviously deter us from reaching our intended destination.

We could have chosen to turn back at that point, but decided to continue on the trail, as the scenery was beautiful and everyone was having a good time.

As the sign on the post indicated, we continued on the trail by taking the path to the right, and almost immediately realized that the trail did, in fact, incline dramatically again (not to mention the enormous amount of loose rocks that made up the trail, causing it to present more treacherous walking conditions).

 My husband had to hold our son's hand so he didn't slip.
And yes, those are flip flops my husband is wearing. Haha.

We stuck to our guns; though, and again pressed forward, telling ourselves that we had conquered the first incline, and we could conquer this one too. I am not going to lie - the rest of the hike was pretty difficult, and there were several times along the way that we had to stop in order to hydrate and take a breather. We also had our 11-year-old daughter whining about how tired she was and how she just could not go on any further (as if she were the one with a 15 lb. baby strapped to her front).

We thought at one point that maybe we should just turn back and head toward the car, but there happened to be some people coming back down the trail at that moment, so we asked them how much further it was to Little Falls. They said it was only another couple of minutes, so we decided to keep going, telling our daughter to push through the pain - that the reward would be worth her decision to endure (it might have actually been a little closer to "suck it up, kid," haha, but our intentions were that of the former statement. ::wink, wink::).

Finally, after we had been hiking for almost an hour (so much for 20 minutes. bahaha), we arrived at Little Falls. All of us were so excited. We had overcome so many obstacles and had finally reached our destination. We sat down with some water and granola bars and just kind of took the whole thing in - talking about what a great adventure it had been, and how much fun we'd had. We were all filled with an enormous sense of pride, and it was such a great feeling.

It's been several weeks since that trip to the mountains, and I find myself reflecting now on various ways that the experience applies to my life. Most prominently, I think of the fork in the road, and how I initially wanted to take "the road less traveled" because I thought it would be the easier road - and it probably would have been. It might have been a fun, little adventure to go off on that path, but would it have taken us to Little Falls? And what lesson would we have learned? By continuing on the designated trail, we had to overcome many obstacles - but by enduring to the end, we were rewarded greatly.

This reminds me of the path on which we travel in life. The right path isn't always the easier one, nor is it always the quickest, and sometimes we feel discouraged by our trials and find ourselves facing the temptation to take an easier path - or to give up all together.

But then something happens that lifts our spirits; we hear a talk in sacrament that seems to have been meant just for us, a friend calls with some words of encouragement, a Relief Society lesson hits close to home - or maybe we run into someone on the trail who tells us to keep going, that the end is just ahead - and suddenly, we have the strength we need to go on.

I don't know. Maybe this whole thought process is kinda cheesy - but sometimes, the cheesy things in life are the ones that make the greatest impact.

I personally am grateful for this experience and for how my testimony was strengthened by it. It is so amazing to me how the spirit reveals little truths to us through the simplest of things. And how a hike in the mountains with my family taught me the importance of staying the course and enduring to the end. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment