Just a Few More Steps

Last week I hiked 11.5 miles on the Bruce Trail, following the white blazes through Hamilton’s Dundas Valley. It was a perfect day–clear blue skies, warm sun, cool breezes, and no bugs to speak of.

My hiking buddy and I didn’t have a plan to get picked up at the end of our hike, so we actually had to backtrack to our car, making the total hiking distance (including access points) about 24 km. It took us 7 1/2 hours and it felt REALLY GOOD.

Hiking is a central part of my plan to be more healthy and fit in my thirties (and ongoingly) than I ever was in my teens and twenties. Since my career path thus far has me either on the computer or behind the wheel of a car about 90% of the time, I wanted to find ways to stay active that also involved being outside in the physical world, with sun and fresh air and views that are farther away than my laptop screen.

(I completely made up that percentage, by the way; no actual math involved. But I’m on the computer or driving a LOT.)

As it turns out, hiking the Bruce Trail also provides a wealth of life lessons. Chief among these has to do with the white blaze on the tree in the picture above. That little arrow sign is unusual; they only place those at trail accesses. All the rest of the time, waaaaaay out in the middle of the deep wooded nowhere, all you have is a white blaze on a tree to tell you that you’re still on the path.

A white blaze, in parts of the woods where it’s actually very difficult to tell the difference between the Bruce Trail and a deer track.

A white blaze, at times of the day when the sun dances off tree trunks in deceptive rectangular shapes that can easily lead you astray.

A white blaze, when you have given up hope that your map is accurate and you have no clue how much longer you’re going to be walking before you reach your destination.

And it’s not like they place them every few steps. Sometimes it feels like a short eternity before you see another assurance that yes, you’re still on track, and yes, you’re going to get where you’re trying to go.

On my first long hike–which ended up totaling about 38 km through really challenging terrain–a pattern emerged.

Every time I would start to feel panicked about losing the trail, I would take just a few more steps and a blaze would appear.

At one point, early on, we actually did lose the trail. When just a few more steps–and just a few more, and just a few more–yielded nothing but trees, we backtracked until we found the turnoff we’d overlooked.

But every other time, we were still on track, and a sign was just in front of us. All we had to do was take a few more steps.

“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21, ESV)

In life, we rarely see the whole trail before us at once. It’s a walk of faith: one step after another. And many, many times, we’ll find ourselves surrounded by trees on a skinny dirt track wondering if we somehow missed the way.

The temptation is to freeze. Quit moving. Panic. Go backwards.

But more times than not (90% of the time?), the next assurance that we’re on the right track is just a few more steps ahead.






3 responses to “Just a Few More Steps”

  1. Rachel Avatar

    Thanks, David!

    And likewise, Alexis! (The “miss our chat walks” part … I’m not envious of my new hobby.) We need to get together for some Thai next time I’m in Windsor! Which is hopefully fairly soon.

  2. Alexis Avatar

    Love reading your thoughts, miss our chat walks. Only slightly envious of your new hobby!

  3. David Kennedy Bird Avatar
    David Kennedy Bird

    Good stuff, Rachel!

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