This weekend my husband, my sister, her husband, and I went on an 8 mile backpacking trip through the buffalo river wilderness. If you’ve never been to this area of Arkansas, I highly recommend it. It is the site of the US’s first National River and the home place of the famous Arkansas Elk Herd. It is beautiful, untouched land.
We hiked what is probably the hardest section of the Buffalo River Trail. There were peaks, valleys, and paths all over our trail. It was hard. We stuck together and encouraged each other.
Because the central feature of the Buffalo River Wilderness is the Buffalo River itself, you can’t hike without coming across a valley where some river or stream flows across the trail. It was in these valleys that I really began to understand the life that happens in the lowest points of the trail. Valleys contain water. They contain life. The valley is a valley because this geographical feature allows life to grow.
When you’re in the valleys of your life, don’t think of it as a pit to dig yourself out of. Think of it as an opportunity for life to grow. You don’t live in the valley. You grow there until you get the strength to hike out. And that’s the hard part…. climbing out.
There were many points on our hike where we had to hike in the worst direction….up. I had to come up with a strategy to keep me motivated to climb out of the valley. I found that if I looked at the top of the hill for a point to get to, I became discouraged by the amount of distance I had to trek. Instead, I began focusing on points just ahead of me, within reach. I didn’t allow myself to look at the top because it would only be discouraging.
I find this is true in my life. When I’m in the valleys, looking at the top of the way out becomes discouraging. Instead, focus on one point at a time and, before you know it, you’ll be on flat land again.