|"What's a footlog?" I asked Dean. I was soon to find out.|
One of the trails my husband and I hiked on our recent camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains was the Kephart Prong Trail. Littered with golden leaves, it wound through the forest two miles up a mountain along a gurgling creek and several waterfalls to a hiking shelter near the summit.
The trail crossed the creek at several places—four to be exact. Bridge number one was a nice one-lane footbridge constructed of wooden planks with a log railing on one side. I crossed it no problem.
|The first foot bridge. I didn't know what was ahead.|
Then we got to the second bridge, but it wasn’t called a bridge—it was called a “footlog”—a split log about 25 feet long spanning the creek 10 feet below. It, also, had a log railing on one side only, which in places arched away from the bridge.
I’ve always had a fear of heights. When I was nine, my father had to peel me off the second landing of a fire tower because I was screaming and clinging to the steel grate step in terror. I never overcame my acrophobia.
On the first bridge I was fine. I felt secure on the wooden planks. But stepping on a narrow log with moss growing on it was another story.
While my sweet hubby was too busy taking pictures of this historic event to be of any help should I fall into the rushing stream below and knock myself out on a rock, I focused on a point on the log about three feet in front of me, put one hiking boot in front of the other, used my walking stick for balance, and counted my steps aloud. And, of course, ignored Shutterbug behind me.
|"Don't look down!" Dean told me. I didn't. He took this picture.|
Then we came to the second footlog—green with moss, gray with age and missing chunks of wood—scarier than the first one. Using my focus and counting technique and ignoring the fear, I made it across, even though the couple behind us turned back when the woman refused to cross it.
|The second footlog. Notice the wood missing and how the railing arches away from the walkway.|
|Halfway across! Notice how well I am concentrating.|
|The third (and nice) footlog|
I wasn’t any less afraid crossing the footlogs on the return trip as I had been going up.
But I learned something. No, I didn’t overcome my fear—I walked through it.
We all set out on a trail called life. It goes up and down, winds over rocky and smooth terrain. Along the way we encounter our fears.
But we don’t have to turn back. We don’t have to overcome our fear, either—indeed, sometimes you can’t.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? From You, Father God, the maker of the mountains and my guide through this hike called life. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Psalm 121