Inspired by our brother Erich, and motivated by our desire for some fellowship-fun with the rest of the church, we recently went on a hike together. The Shenandoah Valley has some great resources, including lots of trails through mountains and hollows to enjoy. So we planned a Saturday when we would hike together in the afternoon then come back to our home for a picnic supper and games. After some research, we settled on the Trimble Mountain Trail in northwestern Augusta County, near the Todd Lake Recreation Area. TMT is a 4-mile loop with moderate and easy parts. We got trail maps and directions off the internet, ready to go.
The Hochstetler family met us at our house, and we caravaned up there, intending to meet Erich, who was driving down on his new motorcycle, at the trail head. But the best laid plans.... We had to drive up and down the area a few times and stop to ask three people before we finally found the well-camoflaged trail head. One problem still: Erich had still not arrived. We searched the road in each direction but didn't find him. No cell service to call him. So we prayed for him and launched out on the trail. Deb "stayed by the stuff" and did some knitting in the van to guard the base camp and watch for Erich.
The first part of the trail was a LONG uphill climb, first through a field, then mostly through woods. We definitely got our exercise. We enjoyed the outdoors along the way, pointing out things like millipedes, bright metallic green bugs, a pretty blue butterfly, and other items to Madeline. Madeline also kept us entertained with her commentary (it was very refreshing to see a young lady so comfortable talking to adults). She also demonstrated how a Queen Anne's Lace flower smells like carrots when you break it.
As the loop (finally) topped and levelled out, we saw some pretty views of Reddish Knob and Shenandoah Mountain. We took a rest up there, and then we heard it -- the crackling of our walkie talkie -- it was Erich! After a few minutes, up he walks to join us. It turns out he had gotten a little turned around among the county roads, and arrived at the van about half an hour after we started up the trail. So, like the trooper he is, he double-timed it non-stop up the hill until he caught up with us. Must be nice to be young! We were relieved to see he was OK and glad to have him with us.
The latter part of the loop was level, then downhill, so it was much easier and faster. We got back to base and the Gatorade after about two and a half hours. We were tuckered, but happy with how it went.
After that, we caravaned back to our house, fired up the grill, and had a great supper prepped by the ladies (THANK YOU!). We got to have the first church-initiation of our new picnic table in the yard. Just as we finished eating, a thunderstorm rolled through, so we hustled our stuff inside (we later found out that a tornado hit a rural area about an hour northeast of us). A friendly game of Pictionary ensued, guy team vs. girl team, and the guys actually won (that doesn't happen very often). After that, it was time for good-byes and going home for some shut-eye.
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!" Psalm 133:1