Yesterday, July 4th, my husband and I went hiking in Cloudland Canyon, GA. It’s been 5 or 6 years since we have been there and I’m not sure why since it’s right in our back yard and one of the prettiest places around here.
According to his fitness tracker, by the time our day was finished, we had climbed the equivalent of almost 40 flights of stairs. It only counts the ascension, not the descension. If you have never been, there are a few different trails that lead down into the canyon to the bottom of waterfalls and a majority of the trails are man-made stairs.
We have had heavy rains in the last week including yesterday morning so water was falling everywhere and it was beautiful. Best time to go.
We hiked the overlook trails and stood on the wooden fenced in cliffs overlooking the Tennessee Valley. Breathtaking. It looks and smells so much better from up there.
I was thankful I took an extra pair of shoes because the ones I started out in provided me with a nice blister on the back of each heel. I need to invest in some lightweight summer hiking shoes.
We hiked down to Cherokee Falls to dip our toes in the rushing water, which felt nice on the puffy blisters as well. We watched a crayfish climb all over a submerged rock, hanging on for dear life as the water gushed over it.
After we came back up from Cherokee Falls we decided to drive around the rest of the park to check out the disc golf course and fishing pond. We parked and started towards the fishing pond trail, unsure how far out the pond actually was.
There were no other people in this part of the park and it was eerily quiet on the path. My husband even commented how little wildlife was around. We heard some cicadas but that was it. Not a squirrel or bird in site. We also noticed that yet again, we were headed down meaning our walk back would be up.
When we reached the end of the trail that opened up into a large field, watch tower and the pond, it was serene. Dragonflies were zipping around and the uncut grass tickled my ankles.
We decided it was time to call it a day and begin heading back home. By this time I could feel the burn in my calves and thighs from the canyon hike we had already accomplished. I was feeling good though because I hadn’t used my inhaler at all. I have mild asthma and I remember the last time we hiked the canyon, I was not in the shape I am now and I weighed 40 pounds more. It was horrible to say the least. I thought I would never catch my breath and that I would explode from exhaustion right there on the trail in front of everyone.
This time, the ascension was still a workout but not like it was before. I know my health has improved and I’m rebuking asthma one hike at a time. Another amazing feat for this hike was the fact that on Tuesday evening, earlier last week, I could barely walk. I had aggravated a bulged disc in my lower back and was not doing so well. Again, prayer and knowing the Word and what it says about healing, had me back on my feet by Friday.
On this last leg of the hike back to the car, as we were climbing the trail, the Holy Spirit began ministering to me about this season I’ve been in. If you have kept up with my blog, you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about. If not, I’ll quickly give an explanation.
I’m in a season that I’ve never been in before. I’m in a career transition that has required me to step out in great faith, partly by choice and partly by force. As I’m typing this, I realized it’s like hang gliding tandem. You want to hang glide but you can’t do it on your own the first time. You have to fly tandem. It’s in those moments of stepping off the concrete pad that even if you wanted to stop, you couldn’t because your trainer has built the momentum and is jumping whether you like it or not. We stopped on top of Lookout Mountain at the flight center on our way home yesterday to admire the view and just realized how it played into the lesson God was teaching me all day yesterday.
Anyways, back to the last part of the hike. As we were heading back towards the car, my lungs were beginning to burn which usually happens right before I have to use my inhaler. I slowed my pace a bit and we took a couple of breaks so I could catch my breath and regulate my breathing. I had made it that far and I didn’t want to resort to the inhaler, I wanted to stand firm in my faith and on the Word.
At the beginning of this season, I was led to read the story of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22). The focus this entire time has been his obedience in climbing the mountain. All along I knew this was a “mountain” I’ve been climbing but yesterday things just clicked. There have been some really good days these past few months but there have been some really rough ones as well. Days where my faith was slipping, like I did yesterday in the silty sand where the rain had created some slippery conditions. I didn’t fall though and I kept on hiking. Those rough days I slipped but I kept on hiking – kept on building my faith.
The hike down into the valley was pretty easy and going down there we knew we would have to come back up and it would be a little more difficult than descending. The view in the canyon was spectacular but so was the view from the top of the mountain.
As we headed towards the car on that last little hill, I saw our car off in the distance and I thought about how close I am to having my heart’s desires. I can see it off in the distance. I’ve hiked down to the canyon of this season and I’ve been climbing back out for a while. There are times I’ve had to stop and catch my breath. There are parts that have been harder than others. There are times my footing has slipped but the goal has not changed and I have continuously pressed towards the mark.
The times I thought I had failed on this journey were not failure, they were just part of the hike. When we stood at the bottom of the canyon watching the water rush by, it was peaceful. When we stood on the overlook cliffs viewing the valley down below, it was peaceful. The hike in-between the two points, we learned. We learned where to put our feet to keep us safe. We learned about the rock formations because my husband is a Geologist and every hike is a science learning opportunity. We learned what shoes to wear and not to wear. We learned how much endurance we had. We learned how hard we could push ourselves. Most importantly, we learned how beautiful and important every step of the journey really is.
I don’t think I would ever actually hang-glide but I’ve reached that jumping off point and God is my trainer. He’s my tandem partner. He’s pushing and I’m strapped in about to view it all from above.
Climbing the mountain takes time. It may even require a few breaks here and there. You will more than likely lose your footing in the slippery areas. Always remember though, it’s just as beautiful at the bottom as it is at the top and it’s up to you how much you learn along the way.
Hebrews 13:5 (KJV)
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.