Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What Goes Up...

I am not a hiker. I didn't know this until 3 hours into my first real hike.


When what was supposed to be a fairly easy 4 hour hike in picturesque Hallstatt, Austria turned out to be a 10 hour one, Taylor feared I was ruined for hiking forever.

I grew up going to the beach. Vacation to my family was synonymous with relaxing in the sun not self exertion (unless it involved strapping boards to your feet and flying down a mountain - for this they make an exception). The Inces on the other hand went toe to toe with Mother Nature.

And liked it.

Enjoying Mother Nature to the Kellams meant taking a dip in emerald colored water 30 feet away from a freezer full of popsicles, a lounge chair, and a NY Times bestseller.

For the Inces it meant driving to Colorado in the middle of summer, the heat blasting in the Suburban (aka Nathanael's Revenge),  camping, and of course hiking.

So when we started talking about moving to Scotland, I dreaded all of the hiking in my near future. Taylor assured me that it was more like hill-walking and that I would definitely enjoy it.

We live close to a "mountain" here in Edinburgh. You can even see it out of our kitchen window if you are over 6 feet tall and stand in exactly the right spot. And believe it or not, I optimistically looked forward to getting "into" hiking despite my previous bad experience which included me crying as I sat down in the middle of the path refusing to go on, Taylor pushing me in the back with his Bible as he read the Psalms aloud and pleaded with God that I wouldn't be so wimpy, and Nathanael finally silently throwing his hands up in the air and sprinting ahead of us (literally) so that he could actually see the summit of the mountain since I made it clear that I wasn't going past the rest stop. To my credit, we had been hiking for 6 hours already and still had to go back down. And going down ended up being almost as hard as going up. . .

Our hike up to Arthur's Seat proved the same.

Call me naive, but I didn't even have second thoughts about going in the first place.  It was even my idea to take advantage of the small window of sunlight Edinburgh had to offer one Tuesday afternoon lest we miss our chance and Edinburgh turn to grey once more.  Taylor of course readily agreed and dropped his studies (knowing he should take advantage of this rare opportunity before I could change my mind no doubt).

What I hadn't anticipated was taking Seth.

I had been given many accounts of hiking up to Arthur's Seat from various people around the city (ok, let's be honest, I drilled anyone I knew or randomly overheard discussing it on the street), and their answers were always the same.

"It's easy.  It took us 45 minutes up and back. No problem."

Yada, yada, yada.

I believed them.  And they were probably telling the truth.  I just forgot the minute detail of bringing a four month old with us.  No, I didn't forget to bring Seth.  I just didn't mentally prepare how I'd handle a hike with him strapped to my fearless hiker-happy husband.

Our trip up the hill was a little steep, but for the most part, the path was wide and grassy - maybe I should have caught on and stopped right there.  Anxious to see the vista of our new city from the top and wanting to show my husband I could enjoy hiking with him, I pressed on.

We reached the top of the first hill and the view was spectacular,

but Arthur's Seat was blocking the best part of the city.  We carried on but not until after running into a septuagenarian Scotsman hiking alone in his loafers, shorts, and not without his walking sticks of course!  He merrily recounted the time he and his wife took their 4 month old son up to the Pentland Hills, and how his wife got quite irritated with him when the baby started turning blue from the cold.  Thanks.

We could see lots of people on top of Arthur's Seat,

and I scurried to keep up with Taylor as he strode up the side of the hill.  This one, however, was rocky and even steeper than the first.

Forget worrying about my own footing. What are we doing up here with a 4 month old (who is totally asleep at this point)?!

I kept looking left and right to see if people were giving us, are you crazy? expressions.  They weren't. So I let that console me and tried not to think about it. We picked our way past elementary school children, teenagers, parents, grandparents, and shortly made it to the top.  The view made me forget my misgivings instantly.

But they quickly came back as we made our way back down.

Taylor spotted some stone steps that led down the mountain on the side closer to our flat (the opposite side from where we climbed up).  The only problem was that we were here.

Not at the top of the actual stairs.  I was scared. Again my head swiveled from side to side to check out those around us to see if people were looking at us incredulously.  Taylor was standing in front of a "trail head." More like a footprint here and there made by some large rabbit and maybe a daring teenager.

"See.  Here is a trail marked out.  I will get us to the stairs," he promised confidently.  I wasn't buying it and began to balk, backing up and tripping over my feet.  Before I had the chance to protest, Taylor pulled me up on my feet, stopped me in my tracks,  and said,

"Do you trust me?" He didn't wait for a response.

"Am I the experienced hiker or are you?" Again not waiting for a response.

"Robin you've got to trust me even though you can't see where you are going."

He wasn't trying to be pastor-y or profound, but the weight of his statement silenced me instantly.  It hit me how that is such a picture of my walk with Christ.  I balk when I reach a trail head that I don't recognize, but I have to trust Him.  Trust that He knows the way better than I do and even though it may be hard, it is good.  It can even lead to an easier way down in the end.

So I decided that I would resist the urge to argue with my husband, and trust that he knew what he was doing better than I did.  And you know what?  We made it to the stairs.  And easily walked down the rest of the way.

A few steps into our descent, Taylor pointed to some colorful dots in a sheer crevice in the rock face.

Upon closer inspection, it dawned on me that those were some of the people we had seen up at the top.

"Aren't you glad I didn't take us down that way?" Taylor laughed.

Yes, yes I am.

Don't worry. They made it.

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought for it never ceasing bearing fruit."  Jeremiah 17:7-8


Abigail said...

GREAT post!!

Alex said...

that's really cool! glad you all got to go up there, when i first came to Edinburgh that was one of the things I did. looks like a day with great weather too!

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