“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both, And be one traveler, long I stood, And looked down one as far as I could, To where it bent in the undergrowth”- Robert Frost
I have written extensively about my love of outdoor activities, primarily cycling and hiking. Sunday, my wife and I tackled a trail with a friend in the Pisgah National Forest that we have hiked numerous times. I decided to shake it up this time and hike the trail counter clock wise which is a harder and steeper ascent.
Now my wife is a Thoroughbred, long-legged and sleek. I, on the other hand, am a Clydesdale big and meaty. She races, I trudge. We end up in the same place she just gets there faster but I have the car keys.
As she was racing and I was trudging we came upon another path off the main trail which headed straight down, which meant, to get back on the main trail I would need to walk straight up. Neither of us had ever noticed this trail before. Our friend pulled out his hiking book and read that this half mile plus path led to a waterfall.
We were one mile into a six-mile hike and we hadn’t even hit the steep parts yet. I had enough struggles in front me. Did I really want to tack another mile on to an already hard hump just to see another waterfall? The picture above answers that question.
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
I am almost sixty years old. For those of you that have already hit that milestone and maybe even beyond, I hear ya “woop-de-freaking-do”. But still, sixty it is a big number, a big even number. Hell, I got four more years to even make it too sixty and a lot could happen between then and now like getting hit by a truck, waking up dead, or getting shot by a jealous husband, just to name a few.
I am a very reflective guy, maybe a little too deep at times but not necessarily so serious that I become melancholy about life or living. It is probably all of those Buddha books I read. But as I stared down at that trail Sunday leading to another waterfall it would have been very easy to have blown it off. The hike back up looked like a bitch and in fact, it was. But I realized it wasn’t just another waterfall, maybe it was the waterfall, the one I have been searching for all my life. Or maybe it could be my last waterfall after I had a heart attack chasing my wife up to the top of John Rock.
I have had an unusual journey over the course of fifty-six years with lots of twist and turns and just as many ups as downs. It has not been a particularly special or spectacular journey but it has been mine, different from yours, not better or worse, just mine. Maybe there is another waterfall in my future, maybe even this weekend. Or maybe that was my last one. I hope there are a few more and I hope there is one or many waiting for you to discover as well.