The Unexpected Distance

Sometimes we travel farther than we intended.

I love long walks, especially when I’m surrounded by nature. One of my best friends doesn’t like those long walks quite as much. She’s learning to enjoy them more, but when I visited a few months ago, I think she offered to take a walk with me mainly because she knew how much I’d enjoy it.

I encouraged her to ask someone who knows the trails in the area and knows her to recommend a trail. So, we set out for our six-mile hike. There was very little elevation change, an unobstructed trailway, and gorgeous weather. We knew six miles might be a stretch for her first hike, but she had a great attitude about it. And attitude matters!

Never mind the warning about snakes and other critters. We soon settled into a decent pace and enjoyed sharing stories of our lives as we meandered through the canyon.

I didn’t think much of the distance, but after we’d been walking for quite a while, she wondered aloud, “Haven’t we gone more than three miles?” After all, we expected the path to end after three miles, so we’d loop back to complete six miles. We stopped to take a couple silly photos and started to chat with some people on mountain bikes, who gave us the reality: “Oh, you’re almost to the six-mile turnaround point.”

“So…we turn around at six miles?”

Oops.

We were almost there. No reason to stop now. Plus, the kind reality-check people told us we really needed to see the view at six miles, even though it was at the top of the steepest incline of the entire trail.

We were glad we trudged up it. We enjoyed the view, snapped a few photos, then looked at each other. She was tired and uncertain as to whether she’d make the same distance again. But what choice did we have? I think I might have laughed a bit; in between encouraging words of course!

So, we started the second half of the hike we thought would be over by then. At about mile eight, her feet were killing her. At mile nine, we realized we had no cell service, so we weren’t able to call a back-up plan, which we didn’t even have. At mile ten, I offered to give her a piggyback ride, but she opted out, thinking it would only make matters worse if I sprained my ankle or something. At mile eleven, we got the delirious giggles but also got in touch with her husband, who offered to have food waiting for us when we got home.

Then came mile twelve. It was short-lived relief, because my friend remembered we had to park a little way away from the official trailhead. So we probably ended up walking thirteen miles total.

And that was her introduction to hiking. I felt like an irresponsible friend, while at the same time finding it all a bit amusing. Of course, I encouraged her to stretch and take pain reliever as soon as possible.

As you can imagine, we enjoyed our lunch, then we collapsed on the couch to watch a movie…about hiking. And within hours, we were planning a much grander adventure!

Life is often like that.

The distance and demands we experience aren’t what we expect. We don’t feel prepared. We get exhausted and may think we can’t make it. But we do, often because we get to share the highs and lows, the challenges and accomplishments, the laughter and pain with a friend.

And it isn’t long before we’re looking forward to more of the same life adventures with those same people. Because we know we can trust them. We know they’ll endure and persevere with us. And we’re willing to go just about any distance for and with them.

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