I spent Easter Weekend, and a few days extra, backpacking through Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. Having never been to this area I was not sure what to expect. I had seen pictures from friends’ trips and looked online but that still didn’t prepare me for the experience. Some highlights included visiting with wild ponies, splashing in creeks, bushwhacking, hiking the the highest point in Virginia and eating delicious food. At many points I felt as though I ways on another content, not just a few hours away from my home. The rocky terrain and the vast open valleys made me feel as though I was trekking through the set of The Hobbit. We spent 4 days in the backcountry, picking up and moving camps every night. Each new day came with its own new environment. One day we could only see trees in the distance and the next we were hiking through a mossy forest covered by the canopy of evergreens. One day we had to hike a ways for water and the next day we were swimming in a creek. It was rewarding to know that I was able to see all of this beauty by foot, that I had walked, crawled, hiked, climbed and traversed every mile. On the last day we pulled out the map to figure out where we started, days before, and it was now a peak in the distance.
On our last night we ended up sleeping at Wise Shelter, the 500 mile marker along the Appalachian Trail. There must have been 30 hikers staying in that area and we actually had the opportunity to feed a pair of hikers some dinner. That night we saw people of all ages and all walks of life set up camp together. Some had accents and some didn’t, some where alone and some were in pairs, and some seemed like experienced backpackers and others appeared to be beginners. It was entertaining to witness their community that they had all formed. Many had been hiking together for weeks now, and others had just met at the town before. They all supported of each other, encouraged each other, and shared their belongings and stories with each other. I was glad I got to be a part of this literal milestone on their journey.
How cool is it that nature, and the simple act of hiking along trail has the power to change peoples lives and create such an incredible community?
When I was going into my freshman year of highschool, a mature 13 years of age, I was finally old enough to go on my youth group’s mission trip to Colorado. We road tripped out there in our legendary First Baptist Church charter bus. All of my mission trips were life changing but this one was my first and it introduced me to something I had never been exposed to before….the mountains.
I grew up on the coast of North Carolina and Wilmington is as flat as a pancake so seeing the mountains of Colorado was a brand new experience for me. Our bus even overheated as we navigated up the mountain. We stayed in a very beautiful cabin where you could walk outside and see the mountain peaks. Throughout the week we spent there i fell in love with Mountain life; the simplicity, the natural beauty, the fresh air and mostly the fact that it wasn’t 100 degrees outside.
Our mission work for the week included leading a vacation bible school for children, leading a sports camp in a nearby neighborhood and doing repairs on a local church. I have memories of the children I met and have articles of clothing that are covered in paint from painting the church but unfortunately much of the 9 day trip has turned foggy over time.
However, what has continuously stuck with me over the years was the hike we went on during our last day. This was probably one of the first real hikes i have ever been on in my life and as we reached the top i could hear a waterfall and when i turned the corner and when saw it my heart stopped beating. Instantly the word “yes” popped into my head. Just the word “yes”. Like this is where i’m supposed to be. All at once i was looking at a waterfall and snow at the top of the mountain, two things i had had almost no exposure to. I was in awe of the view and in awe of the Lord’s vast creation. After this trip to Colorado, i wanted more, so much more. I wanted to see it all. Many things in my life may have changed since i was 13 (i no longer have braces) but my desire to see the world has not.
It was because of this mission trip that i decided to come the college in the Mountains of North Carolina and pursue a degree that would allow me to hike and see many more waterfalls well into my future.
Where are some places that you have had that “yes” moment?