Life on the Edge…(The Trail of Tears – Chapter 20)

“Bre, my backpack is too heavy,” I said. “I don’t feel like I can go any further.”

“Let me carry it for you,” she said.

“It’s really heavy, Bre. You don’t want to do that.”

“Of course I do,” she said. I reluctantly handed over the backpack and she shouldered it like it was a bag of feathers. “You know, this is just like it was when Simon carried the cross for Jesus.”

Her words penetrated the core of my being. “Wow, God sent you to carry my cross for me,” I said. Then I broke down. There I stood in the middle of the busy trail, with tons of people passing by, bawling my eyes out. I didn’t care who saw me. At that moment, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross became more real, and I began to fully grasp it’s significance. It was an amazing moment and one that I will never forget for as long as I live.

Life on the Edge…(Chapter 19)

Katelyn was such a joy to meet. I wished her and her family well, and then they were off. I inched further along, but then realized that I was pushing it too much and couldn’t continue. I was going to hurt myself badly if I tried to do more.

I had heard about the Sub Dome steps. The leader from one of the hiking groups I’m in had told me that the Sub Dome steps are enough to make you curse. He’s a professional hiker and in great shape. If those steps were difficult for him, I just knew there was no way I’d make it. Plus, there was no sign of my group and I was certain that they had gone up the cables by then.

My backpack was ridiculously heavy and I just wanted to find a place to sit down and wait for everyone. Just as I was about to find that seat on the sidelines, I heard a familiar voice call my name. I looked up and saw Bre heading toward me.

Oh no, they’re already coming back. I bet they’re so upset with me for just now making it here.

I felt horrible and embarrassed. But Bre was glowing, oozing with joy, and…smiling?

“Joyce, we waited for you!”

You did what?

“Oh, no,” I said. “You shouldn’t have done that.”

I was thinking that the entire group was held up waiting for me. I wanted to find the nearest rock to hide under.

“I thought y’all had gone up by now and were heading back down.”

“No,” Bre said. “Andy, Mike and I waited, but the rest of them went up. I was going back to get you so that the four of us could go up together.”

There are absolutely no words to describe what happened next.

Life on the Edge…(Chapter 6)

We had just left the Happy Isles Nature Center and arrived at the trailhead. The steady incline began shortly afterward and, as I foreknew, I began to lose the lead. I had such a rush from being in front of the group that I hiked faster to try and maintain the lead. That was a bad idea. I was already tired from the lack of sleep and by exerting myself so much at the beginning, I used up what little energy I had in reserve and became instantly exhausted.

I’ll just stick with Ms. Rosemarie, I thought. Rosemarie is a beautiful woman in her mid-70s, who accompanied us on the hike. This was her fourth trip to Half Dome. She was my inspiration. I believed that if a 70-something-year-old woman could do that hike, then why couldn’t I,being less than half her age, do it too?

Rosemarie knew the art of pacing. She steadily walked at the same pace, using her walking stick, and never stopped. I also knew the art of pacing. I had trained for weeks at the gym on the treadmill with the incline as steep as it would go. I practiced my breathing technique as well. However, training doesn’t amount to anything if you don’t utilize the skills you learned.

There I was, keeping time with Ms. Rosemarie, and thinking of my mission to Half Dome. The trek was a mission for me. Other than food and water, my backpack contained another piece of precious cargo. Just as Frodo’s mission in The Lord of the Rings was to take the One Ring back to Mordor to be destroyed, I carried something that I wanted to leave at the top of Half Dome, which represented a piece of me that needed to be destroyed.