Johson City 09 015

Johson City 09 016

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“Life’s journey is not traveled on a freeway devoid of obstacles, pitfalls, and snares. Rather, it is a pathway marked by forks and turnings. Decisions are constantly before us. To make them wisely, courage is needed: the courage to say, ‘No,’ the courage to say, ‘Yes.’ Decisions do determine destiny. The call for courage comes constantly to each of us. It has ever been so, and so shall it ever be.”
–Thomas S. Monson, “The Call for Courage,” Ensign, May 2004, 54

When I read this quote by President Monson, I immediately thought of my recent trip to the mountains of Tennessee.  We visited a little town called Erwin, mainly because we learned that there were some nice hiking trails in the nearby Cherokee National Forest. 

At first we sauntered along the trail listening to the birds, the babbling brook, and the rustling trees. The only other sounds were those of our footsteps and our occasional conversation. We were in heaven! All was well. Rested and energetic, we were even more invigorated by the beauty around us. There were campers too, and we enjoyed seeing their campfire smoke and smelling the breakfast bacon.

Soon the trail became a little more rigorous, and DH wondered aloud why we “had to do this.” Couldn’t we just sit on a rock and soak up the ambience? “No,” I insisted. “The deal was that you’d get to play golf and I’d get to hike up (on?) a bona fide mountain trail.” Not impressed with my weak argument, he shooed (sp.?) me ahead. “Go ahead. I’ll catch up.” Onward and upward I went. Soon I noticed another sound: the beating of my own heart! Should I stop? What if I passed out and took a tumble down the mountain?

There were times when the path was so narrow that I wondered if I had indeed wandered off the trail somehow. A couple of times, I had to cross a creek by stepping gingerly and carefully on some huge boulders. Then there was the log lying across the path. Should I go under it, step over it, or view it as a sign to go back down? A family passed me on their way down and informed me that I probably had another hour to go to get to the top. Huh? That couldn’t be. I looked ahead from where they’d come, and my solo status hit me. The trail looked even steeper than the way I’d already traversed, and the silence (except for my heart) was deafening. I asked the family to tell my husband that I was turning back and would be down in a few minutes. I went across another creek, and when I looked back, there was no sign or sound of human life. How did the family disappear so quickly? Feeling uneasy, I headed back, and after a few minutes, I was relieved to see DH and the family.

In my four mile hike (approximately), I was reminded of several truths:

*It’s more fun when someone shares the experience with you.
*When obstacles appear, you have to step over them.
*You meet a lot of nice people on life’s path.
*The view is different at the top…lonelier too.
*It’s easier to quit than to persevere, but then where’s the reward in that?
*There is beauty all around. Sometimes you just have to get away from civilization to be reminded of it.
*The human body is a marvelous thing, especially the heart.
*Nothing worthwhile is attained without effort.

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