Doyle’s River Falls Hike

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.

Lessons learned:

  • 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!)

Peaceful Street Scene

This time of year, the roads in the local area are crowded with thousands of snowbirds who have come here for winter. There are cars everywhere!

Turning into a friend’s neighborhood, the peace that these trees bring to the empty street makes me sigh out loud with relief.

no traffic!
no traffic!

Too many people, too many traffic lights, too many cars, too many stores and restaurants – stop and go – too much noise. Around me and within me. My head can be just as busy as the roads – full of thoughts, ideas, ponderings, pressures all vying for the foremost of my attention.

And then I spend time with God, and it’s like turning off the main road and onto a quiet side street – peaceful, calm, a deep breath of cleansing air. Rest from the chaos of the world, from the chaos in my mind. His rest.

(Jesus to his disciples:) Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

 

Counting Sheep

( Thanks, Mary B!)

On Monday morning, my alarm went off at 7:20am. I hit the snooze button. Beep, beep, beep – I like that feeling of lazily opening one eye and peeking to see – sure enough, 9 minutes has gone by. Did I fall back asleep? Did I dream? Beep, beep, beep – sure enough, 9 minutes later.  And then instead of snooze, I rolled onto my back and started praying – “Thank you, God, for helping me to fall asleep last night. For reminding me of Your Presence and Comfort. For prompting me with Your Word, with verses I memorized as a child – Your Word hidden in my heart.”

Let me back up a few hours:

Sunday night was tough. I had a crying jag – second one in 2 1/2 months, lasted more than 2 hours.

It started with me thinking of my daughter who had visited us the week before – oh, we had such a great time! But then the thought “I live so far away from her” flitted across my mind and my eyes filled with tears. Then I considered the thought a little longer, and the tears rolled down my cheeks.

And I kept crying! Every time I thought I was done crying, I’d think of someone else I miss. The loneliness was overwhelming (I wrote about this in Just Start With Where You Areand the water works wouldn’t shut off. But I allowed myself – this is me working through grief, and it’s a process, tears included.

Finally, when I felt like I was all cried out – it’s exhausting work – I got ready for bed. Looking in the mirror as I brushed my teeth, I saw swollen eyes and a red nose – not a pretty picture! This just made me want to cry again (haha), so I grabbed a couple of tissues to put by my pillow, just in case. And sure enough, I laid down and the tears wet my pillow.

“That’s enough,” I told myself. “But God, what can I think about instead of loneliness, so I don’t keep crying?” I wanted to focus on gratitude, but my heart felt too heavy and I was too tired to shift my thoughts. Then I began reciting Psalm 23 to myself, focusing on each line individually and meditating on the verse.

v.1 The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He is my provider – gives me everything I need. He directs my steps, doesn’t leave me to wander too far off on my own. And He’s my Shepherd – I know His voice; I will follow Him where He leads.

v. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He knows I need rest! 

v. 2 He leads me beside the still waters.  He knows I long for peace, and calm, and gentleness, and He can give me all those things. I started to feel myself relax, breathing slowing, muscles loosening, arms and legs sinking down into the mattress a little more.

v. 3 He restores my soul. Jesus is the only one who can refresh and restore me. I need Him to renew my heart and return me to our relationship. “I’m sorry, Lord, for not remembering that You are always with me. Please forgive my wanderings and restore me to a right relationship with You. Help me to trust You in the midst of my grief, and to know that you have placed me right where You want me.”

v. 3 He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. “Yes, Father, You are righteous.”

v.4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. I thanked Him again for being with me through years of walking with depression. For his faithfulness even when I am not.

I don’t remember the rest – I was asleep. Psalm 23 only has six verses, but I only needed four of them to be able to relax and sleep!

I shared this story with a friend via email the next day, and l love her response: “Well, you were in the arms of the Shepherd, so it was like counting sheep?!?!?”