A River Ran Through Me

Hiking: “A strenuous walk in nature’s beauty that you can’t look up and enjoy or you’ll trip on a rock and fall off a mountain”
This basically sums up hiking for me.
As I was walking recently with my family and our friends, my thoughts began as per usual on every hike I’ve ever been on:
“It’s breathtaking out here. I love walking, why don’t I come out hiking more often?”
Precisely two hours later I fell off a log crossing an ice cold stream, semi baptized an unwilling friend, wrecked my ankle and broke off a branch with my leg.
I approached a fairly steep incline with one of my young guys in the church and very cleverly let him carry the conversation the entire way up. Why? Was I being polite and a good listener? Not really, I wasbreathing. I could hear conversation by a couple behind us and the embarrassed, laboured expenditure of valuable air in their lungs and thought to myself: “Suckers! They’re out of shape but not smart enough to hide it like I am.”
A friend of mine suggested the hike, but he actually knows what he’s doing out in the wild and that can be intimidating. I personally feel like it’s a little arrogant to show up with a decent backpack, trail mix, proper gear and a knowledge of nature. Why can’t he show up like the rest of us who are quite certain that if we got lost and separated from our snacks it’s completely possible to panic and die within a matter of hours lying on plants we could actually eat.
And he starts the hike with what I assume is a normal conversation amongst hikers: “Hey, my hiking buddy (definitely not you) said you can cut a ____ into the skin of a ____ tree, hang a pail on it, and come back and drink the tree water!”
Is this a joke? I was occupied with my hiking inadequacies already and now he tells me I can drink tree water? He seemed sincere but maybe they do this to every newbie? Someday I’ll be telling someone about tree water and they’ll quietly smile and say “You don’t hike much do you?”
It’s not the little spiders that made the cobwebs that are still in my hair and in my mouth that I’m really afraid of (I should probably close my mouth while hiking through trees but no one told me), it’s thethought of those terrible spiders from the Hobbit swooping down and carrying me off that gets me. In fact the hike really made me appreciate the entire Lord of the Rings franchise more as they seemed to spend a lot of time traipsing around out of doors with scary things like rain and bugs.
Are there such things as Stone Giants in the mountains? I’ll tell you what I told my kids.
“They wouldn’t be allowed to put it in a movie if they weren’t real.”
I should probably stop saying that because it really struck terror into my own heart this time…
The first part of the hike went relatively well and actually ended in a little meadow where we took a break for lunch. It was picturesque, I took the hiking boots off that I’ve had for twenty years (funny how the soles are still as good as new) and dipped my feet in the river. The birds were singing and everyone was having a grand ol’ time.
Roughly fifteen yards away things started to go horribly wrong.Wehad decided (not me as I would never be entrusted to decide something on a hike) that we needed to cross the stream over a log and it was going to be a bit tricky. One of the real hikers just up and jumped in the water to help people cross as the log was slippery and I will be completely honest and admit that she is a girl (most girls are but it’s still admirable for me to admit she was…). One of our lovely young ladies from church was helping people step onto the log as well.
They had safely transported several people across the raging waters, including children, when I stepped up.
Did I slip and drag Amy into the river?
Yes I did.
Did everybody see it?
Yes they did.
Do my daughters think less of their dad?
Yes they do.
I learned a valuable lesson that day…
That we should probably leave the house more often and come back bruised, sunburnt, and with our legs, ankles and confidence destroyed?
Partly.
But we have one heck of a funny story to tell. That’s worth something, right?
Corey Kope

Pastor. Father of 4 beauties. Devoted husband, Liverpool fan, and Jesus follower.

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