When I was growing up in southwest Louisiana hiking was not really something we did as a hobby. My dad owned a large surveying and mapping firm though, and with that came a lot of travel with MAPPS, a national association of mapping firms. Because of those travels I was able to visit forty five of the fifty states, and with that came some great outdoor adventures, some of which included hiking. The hiking I did then was little short hikes to some amazing views and sites that were special to the area. My longest hike was a seven mile hike I did with my sister and her husband as well as my then wife. This hike was on the Phelps Lake loop in Grand Teton National Park, and it had some amazing views.
Fast forward to August 19, 2018, I had been in a two year relationship that came to an end that day, and with that, of course, came sadness and hurt. During that relationship I did a lot of Instagram posts for my girlfriends wellness business, and one of those posts was about how the outdoors can be a place to heal the mind. On August 21, 2018, my birthday, I decided that instead of sitting around the house with all sorts of thoughts running through my head, I decided to get out of the house and do a hike. It was going to be a beautiful North Carolina weekend and I was going to take advantage of the beautiful state in which I live. I asked around for some good hiking ideas and was told of a place in the Mortimer, N.C., Wilsons Creek, that I should try. I arrived at the Wilson Creek Welcome Center and was greeted by a nice woman who was very informative. I told her I wanted to hike a trail that was longer than seven miles, since that was the longest I had hiked to date, and she guided me towards a loop that would be a little over eight miles. The hike started on the six mile, “most difficult”, Harper Creek trail. The trail started out as a fairly simple hike, passing the Harper Creek falls and following along Harper Creek. I say fairly simple and I say following along but this changed quickly as I approached another group of hikers leaning against a rock taking their shoes off as their black lab played in the creek. I thought, “awe, how sweet, they are going to play in the creek with their doggo.” Well, I soon found out my thought was incorrect when they told me they were taking their shoes off to cross the creek. I said, ” wait, this wasn’t in the brochure.” I followed suit, and took my Salomon hiking boots off and carried them across the knee deep flowing water to the other side where I sat down and put them back on to begin hiking again. Hiking along and there the trail came to the creek again and it was again time to take my boots off to cross the creek. This happened four more times at which point I decided that taking my boots off was a waste of time and as I came to the fifth crossing I went on through with my boots on and my phone held high over my head so I could cross the thigh deep water. After this fifth crossing it came to me, God was trying to show me how I need to live my life. I felt Him saying, “if you lived your life like you hiked this trail it would be a little easier for you to deal with, don’t think about every obstacle that you come to and just keep moving, you’re going to be okay.” I later realized that it would also be better off if I lived life in the moment like I do on a hike. Don’t worry about what’s behind you or what may be coming up ahead, look at what’s right around you and enjoy that moment fully.
The trail continued on and I continued to follow the folks I had met at the first crossing, and at one point, following them got me off of the trail I was supposed to take a left following the Harper Creek trail, where I would then turn on the Raider Camp Trail, but I missed the tiny sign! From the Raider Camp Trail there is a great view, and hammock hanging spot over looking the South Harper Creek Falls. I followed this trail for about 1.8 miles without a single creek crossing and I was super excited about that fact! About the time my boots had started to dry out, you guess it, another creek crossing. This time is was not only deep but it was also wide. I have to admit, my first thoughts were, I see no trail on the other side so I must have really messed up. I walked up and down the creek blazing a trail trying to find any sign of the trail on the other side. Looking at my AllTrails app and it showing I was in the right spot, I decided to jump in and cross and see what happened. It was the hardest crossing that I did on the trail. It was a little over my waist and had slick rocks and a good flow to the water. I made stumbled my way across and found a familiar campsite that I had seen when I started and knew I must have been on the right track. I made it back to my Jeep and stopped my trail recording at 10.2 miles. I know, you are probably thinking those numbers I gave earlier do not add up to 10.2 miles and you are right, but that is where following the crowd in a direction you shouldn’t be going will lead you. See, another life lesson there, you follow the wrong crowd and get out of sorts in the wrong direction it may take you some time to get back on your path in life.