A few weeks ago Frank and I went on a surprise 11-mile hike. Surprise is the key word here.
We were planning to hike to Raven's Rock, about two miles down the Appalachian Trail. Frank had been there with his college friends a few years before and wanted to show me that pretty part of Virginia. But a wrong turn led us on a different adventure.
The morning started well; Frank surprised me with our favorite hot drinks.
We parked a mile from the trail and on our way in noticed a sign ridden with bullet-holes. Hunting and shotgun territory.
The trail was starkly beautiful, even in wet November.
But when we reached this sign, we went right instead of left - our fateful mistake.
We ended up hiking for almost 7 hours in our quest to find Raven's Rock. Little did we know we were walking away from it the whole time!
We had so much fun though. We talked and sang and told stories as we trudged.
We got so worn out as time went on! I began to make up little theories to pass the time (what? doesn't everyone do that?) and my favorite was about the white paint marking the trees along the trail.
Between every white mark there came a point when we couldn't see the next one, but we kept on going because we believed another one was coming.
"It's an analogy for faith," I told Frank. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
For Christians, there is always another sign of God's guidance coming, even if you can't see it yet. Just like those little white marks on the Appalachian trail.
I mentioned this theory to Frank at some point along the hike. I discussed doing a blog post all about my new theory called "The Theology of Hiking." Better yet, I would write an article! A whole book! Frank pointed out that such a book probably already exists.
Every time we couldn't see the next white mark, I would embellish on my theory. After a few hours of this, Frank said, "Have you ever seen those dolls of Woody from Toy Story, where you pull a string on his back and he repeats the same phrases over and over? You're kind of reminding me of Woody right now."
So I switched to singing inspiring pop ballads instead. I believe Frank especially enjoyed my rendition of Taylor Swift's "You Belong with Me." It was soulful.
After three and a half hours, we finally gave up on Raven's Rock and stopped at a random scenic overlook instead.
We ate our picnic with fingers stiff from the cold. It felt awesome to look down the mountain we'd just climbed.
I thought the trail was a loop and that we were nearing the end of it, but I was wrong. I discovered at this point that we would have to retrace all of our steps. I was the opposite of a happy camper.
Luckily I reeeeally like hiking.
We began to get worried as it got later that we wouldn't make it back before dark.
I had a big scare near the end of the hike. We were about two miles from the trailhead when we noticed a lot of deer running by us, prancing past with their fluffy white tails.
Then I heard a gunshot. Hunters.
I was wearing a fluffy white hat that looked an awful lot like the deer's tails.
So I hid my hat in my pocket and wore Frank's hat for the rest of the hike, just in case.
When we got finally home, Frank calculated the distance via Google Maps.
11 miles, round trip, and we didn't train for it.
We were sore for days afterwards. But man, it was fun. I can't wait to go hiking again.
And after surviving 7 hours alone in the woods, hiking 11 miles, and enduring quite a lot of my singing, our relationship is in pretty darn good shape. If we could take on that, I suspect we could take on anything.