The Red River Death March

This morning I was remembering an event that happened at least twenty years ago—maybe longer. We had taken a trip to Santa Fe and Red River, New Mexico.  That area is such a beautiful part of the southwestern United States and an easy drive from Oklahoma.  We have been there several times, and enjoy the beautiful scenery every time we go.  The memory that popped up this morning is what we now fondly refer to as “The Red River Death March.”  Did that pique your interest?

So I had this bright idea that Jerry and I would take a day hike.  To say that he wasn’t interested would be an understatement, but he reluctantly agreed.  We got a map of the various trails in the area and picked out one that we thought would be doable.  Now I need to preface this story by telling you we had absolutely NO experience in hiking.  But how hard could it be?  So we set off in our sneakers with one plastic water bottle each.  Unprepared.

We walked for a bit, maybe about forty-five minutes or so, on a fairly even trail.  “This isn’t too hard,” I thought.  “I wonder how far we have to go.”  Eventually we saw a large open area…it was a parking lot!  Well that was strange.  What was a parking lot doing on the trail?  Then we saw it.  A sign.  “Trail Head.”  What the…?!  You mean we haven’t even gotten on the trail yet??  And we could have driven our car to this point?  Jerry was already suggesting we call it good, but oh no.  By golly, I wanted to hike this trail.

So off we went, already a little tired.  The trail began to ascend as we walked up the mountain.  Now I am pretty sure this was designated an “easy” hike, maybe “moderate” at most.  But a long hike for me was once around the mall.  Again…unprepared.  Up we went, the altitude getting higher, the air getting thinner, huffing and puffing and one of us grumbling.  By now Jerry is NOT a happy camper!  At one point he even threated to turn around and leave me, but that was something he would never do, so we kept climbing higher.  

Finally we were rewarded.  We reached the end of the trail and there was a beautiful lake surrounded by pine trees. The view was worth the sore muscles, although I’m not sure Jerry was enjoying is as much as I was.  I would have loved to have sat on a rock for about an hour just to enjoy the beauty, but by now we were about 2 ½ hours in and the weather was beginning to change.  A light misty rain had changed into ice and or course we had no jackets.  We needed to get back down the mountain before dark.     

Well we discovered that going down uses an entirely different set of muscles than going up.  Oh yay!  More places to be sore.  And the trail was getting slippery.  At one point I went skidding down on my rear!  At least I was making good time.  Did I mention Jerry was not happy?  Finally we reached our car, exhausted, sunburned, wet, and tired.  But we had bragging rights!  We survived The Red River Death March!  And now we can laugh about it.

As I was remembering our hike this morning, I thought about our walk through this life.  There are times when it is easy and we can just enjoy the journey.  But there are other times that may be steep, slippery, and uncharted.  We had better be well prepared for our life walk.  I can’t even imagine doing it without God.  My preparations include staying in the Word, being prayed up, and hiking along with a group of other Believers.  At my age I can look back and see all the trails God and I have walked.  But there is still an unknown trail ahead, and time is getting shorter.  Night is coming.  The one thing I know for sure is that I don’t have to walk alone and I can trust Him.  My verse for this year is Psalm 77:19.  I just keep putting one foot in front of the other as God reveals the path.

Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters— a pathway no one knew was there!