A Nine-Mile Hike. Virginia Photographer

Sometimes the thing you think you shouldn’t be doing with your day is exactly what you should be doing. That’s how Saturday was for me. My youngest daughter, Madison, organized a nine-mile hike, four hours away from our home with several Irish dancers from different parts of Virginia. Originally she had three adult drivers for the group leaving Virginia Beach, but two had to cancel leaving her with too many teenagers and not enough drivers. Enter Mom.

True confession… I was reluctant to go, not because the hike seemed daunting or I didn’t want to be with the teens going. I love hiking. I love being outdoors, and yes, I love teenagers. I was reluctant because my “to do list” kept scrolling over and over in my mind like movie credits on repeat. I kept thinking of all I wouldn’t get done if I went. I was focused on how I wasn’t going to be “productive” if I didn’t spend my Saturday editing pictures, doing laundry, and cleaning bathrooms.

Thankfully, God was gracious to change my attitude, and I actually began to look forward to the drive and the hike.

Our trip got off to a rocky start…a blocked tunnel meant rerouting to go a slightly longer way.  As we approached what iPhone Maps indicated was the entrance to the park,  I told the girls in my car, “Guys, this looks like a driveway. There are three mailboxes at the end of this road. This is not what a national park trail entrance looks like.” (You don’t live 52 years without learning a few things.) They all assured me that the map said we were there…just a mile down the road and we’d be at our meeting spot. Well, a mile later we were at a dead end after passing three houses on the little road (a.k.a. driveway).

Hannah suggested we use Google Maps to find the park, and 20 minutes later we arrived at our destination. The three O’Reilly brothers from Northern Virginia were already there but our friends from JMU were lost.

Once our JMU friends arrived, we set off on our nine-mile hike. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day with clear blue skies. The hike was moderately-difficult and included a very fun rock scramble to the peak of Duncan’s Knob about halfway through the hike. The top of the scramble provided a great place to have lunch and hang out.

After our 4 1/2 hour hike, we went to Harrisonburg to eat dinner at Chick-Fil-A and then drove four hours home.

Fun. Tiring. And so worth it.

As I was hiking and later as I was driving home, I thought about my reluctance to spend a day not being productive and realized that the hike was actually what I needed most that day. Time to walk, and think, and hang out with amazing young people. Time away from the ordinary tasks of my life. Time to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. Saturday was time well-spent.

*I am especially grateful to Stef for convincing me to NOT take my “real” camera on our hike. Love my iPhone camera for days like today!


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