“This has got to be the longest trail in the world,” I complain. “How many hours have we been out here?”
“It’s ten miles from start to finish. It seems longer to you because you’ve never done it before. I warned you it would be too tough for your first hike, but...” he shrugs.
The new boots I’m wearing feel like they weigh ten pounds each; I’m pretty sure once I take my socks off, I’m going to find shredded flesh where my heels used to be. I begged to come, but I didn’t know it would be this hard and tiring. I’m grumpy, too. John, being the experienced hiker, has irritated me with his constant advice. He’s turned into Mr. Know-It-All. Before this fiasco, I used to like my husband.
“Where are we going to camp tonight?” I ask again as I brush away the bugs.
“At the top of Chilhowie, Sandra. I’ve told you that five times already.”
He’s getting very close to becoming a casualty on this trail, I think as I glare at the back of his head.
“You don’t have to act like I’m an imbecile, ” I mutter under my breath. Though I’m a novice, I think I’ve done fairly well keeping up with him. Of course, he pointed out to me the many mistakes I’ve made along the way, and this has set my teeth on edge.
The emotional distance between the two of us burns my heart. I’d wanted to have time alone with him. I’d imagined conversations, laughter, and even a little flirting on this journey. But it hasn’t been that way at all. I’ve worried him no end in my ignorance, and I’m not happy being told what to do by the “expert”. First, he couldn’t believe I started this hike in brand new boots. Then he was critical of all the stuff I packed in my backpack. When he turned out to be right, and I couldn’t carry the load any more, he’d carried my backpack, too, but couldn’t resist saying, “I tried to tell you.” Grrr. I don’t dare say anything about the condition of my feet.
The last hour of the hike we barely speak to each other. Finally, when I think I can’t take another step, he points to a sign that says “Camp Chilhowie.” I moan in anticipation of blissful rest, and as we walk through the campground, darkness settles over the hilltop like a heavy curtain. My mistakes have cost us daylight and, in minutes, I can’t see anything beyond the campfires and lanterns.
I point to a clearing on the outskirts of the campground. “That looks like a good spot.”
He scans the area as he shakes his head. “It’s too far away from the others. There’s got to be a reason why no one has claimed it.”
I stomp my foot in frustration. “John! Can’t I be trusted to even choose a spot without a lecture?” He sighs and gives in wearily.
In the glow of the campfire, John starts. I try to help him set up our camp, but I have no idea what to do. I locate a level place and with little assist from me, he pitches the tent; he’s fussing and grumbling the whole time. We finally fall into our sleeping bags in exhausted huffs. So much for togetherness.
The sound of John’s Bible pages shuffling wakes me. He glances my way and keeps reading.
“Not even a ‘good morning’, huh?” I grouse.
“I’m heading for the shower, John.”
“Okay.” He keeps reading.
I shrug myself out of the sleeping bag and open the tent flap, and when I look out, I gasp. I can see that in the dark last night, I directed John to pitch our tent on the rim of a precipice! Angels must have kept us from hurtling over the side when we stumbled to bed because the path we took is no more than two feet from the edge.
“John! Look!” He scoots over to the opening and leans out.
His astonished face turns pale and then he bursts into laughter. He grabs his Bible and holds it out to me, his finger pointing to a verse.
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall*,” I read. I feel my face flush and my heart pound at my foolishness.
“Next time, John, I’ll listen and learn,” I promise with a shaky laugh.
*Proverbs 16:18, The Holy Bible, New International Version
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