My husband and I went hiking yesterday. I think this is the activity for this area – there are so many trails. With the Shenandoah National Park, Appalachian Trail and Skyline Drive just minutes away, we can get to vistas and views any weekend.
We opted for a 3 mile round trip hike to the bottom of Doyle’s River waterfalls. Beautiful! There was a spring along the way, lovely flowers, a deer munching greens just off the trail. The light dappled between the leaves to the forest floor. After a bit, we were walking along the stream, and the sounds of the water over the rocks was almost dainty and musical. Except for boisterous groups of hikers running down the trail (we let them pass us), the woods had only woods-sounds. The temperature was perfect, and there was a slight breeze. Ideal.
I should have known I’d be in trouble when on the way down, my legs began to shake as I had to step over big rocks. But I reasoned that walking down a steep hill wasn’t something my legs were used to, so of course I was working unfamiliar muscles. I didn’t really consider how incredibly steep this path was. I didn’t think about how out of practice I was – how many years it has been since I hiked a steep one like this.
We stood at the bottom of the Upper and Lower Falls and watched those who’d gone ahead of us scramble all over the wet rocks. They were barefoot and sure-footed, and squealing with delight at the cold water. There were hikers with wet dogs at the bottom – one dog got to the edge of the pool and just plopped down. Another watched faithfully as his owner ate beef jerky, hoping for a morsel. My husband climbed down and dipped his hat in the clear water – a sure way to cool off from the descent.
The hike was 3 miles round-trip, but I think that is an absolute value, because I’m sure it was 1 mile in and 4 miles out. At least, that’s what it seemed like on the climb back up. Towards the middle of the hike, and the rest of the way up, I could take about 20 steps at a time and then had to rest. I knew I was out of shape, but really….!
Round is a shape.
My problem wasn’t my legs, but my heart rate – I couldn’t keep it down. So as I would hike up the hill, I would get about 15 feet and then have to stop to breathe deeply and get the oxygen to my head and muscles. A couple of times when we stopped, I actually “grayed around the edges” as I got dizzy. I prayed that God would help me not pass out!
I got discouraged a couple of times, and assumed that it must have been taking us several hours to hike up, but it was probably more like an hour. I don’t feel too badly about that! In fact, I’m only mildly embarrassed at the many stops I had to make. I’m proud of myself for doing it (what choice did I have?) and for taking my time so that I did it safely. And I’m grateful to my husband who supported me when I felt fuzzy, stopped me from going too fast, and shared all the water with me. He encouraged me every step – I mean every step in a few sections – of the climb back up.
- If I want to live around here and enjoy the sights, I need to be able to get off-road and on-trail. Which means I need to be in better physical – aerobic – condition.
- It’s great fun to share adventures with my husband. And he will always encourage me.
- God climbed with me, and gave me the strength when I didn’t have any. It’s amazing the reserves He’ll pull from. (I think there’s a larger lesson there.)
- Take more water. And snacks. (Man, that trail mix at the top of the climb tasted good!)