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Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hiking Poles and Wisdom

Bruce and I took a long hike today. We live just outside Rocky Mountain National Park, so going for a hike  --rather than facing the crowds of tourists downtown --seemed like the logical thing to do.
We started out at the Fern Lake Trailhead, hiked to The Pool --a magical place of huge, flat boulders, a wood bridge and a mist-enshrouded water fall. From there it's another 1.7 miles to Cub Lake and another couple of miles back to where we started. The round trip, from our car and back is just under seven miles.
We saw a family of marmots, a long garter snake, hoards of hikers, ducks, and a group of hikers that had taken along two llamas as their pack animals.
My son and daughter-in-law gave me some hiking poles a couple of Christmases ago and I've started to use them whenever we going on a Rocky Mountain hike. The trails are steep and rocky. The poles not only help with balance, and stability for the old joints, but they really help cushion the shock of jumping off a rock to land on hard ground.
Hiking poles are also great for working the muscles in the upper body.
Sometimes we encounter young people, usually hiking in a group.As they pass, they kind of give me a look that says, "Boy, I'm sure glad I don't need those hiking poles. I'm so young and strong; I don't need any help."
Yeah? Well, just wait about twenty years. I'd like to hear you when you get together with your forty-something friends and complain about your aching knees or back or whatever.
Those old-age aches will come to you eventually. Even the most well-seasoned senior athlete feels more pain than a twenty-year old.

My hiking poles keep me humble, because others see my weakness.
My hiking poles remind me to be careful.
My hiking poles force me to focus on the process of the hike and not just the goal.
My hiking poles remind me that I'm getting closer to the end of my days.
  And finally. . .
My hiking poles communicate: "I've hiked lots of trails in my day, taken lots of jolts to the knees and hips, covered many miles and seen many elk, many mountains, many moons."

In the past year I've seen many hikers --usually older --who are also carrying hiking poles. There's a kind of cameraderie when we meet on the trail. Kind of like we belong to the same secret organization. There's an extra gusto in the greetings we exchange. And a knowing look that says, "Yep, I have to pamper the old knees, too."

Gone are the young whippersnapper competetive tilts to the chin: When did you start your hike? I hiked this circuit in an hour. Bet that's faster than you.

But my hiking poles say, "I don't care how long it takes me. I just want to enjoy the journey and get home safely.
So I'll keep using my poles. And when I run into a young hiker on the trail, I'll just "hi" and smile knowingly.

"Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? (Job 12:12)


  1. Hi Dena -

    Great post! I liked what you learned from your hiking poles.

    Each generation must go through their stages. I'm glad I'm past the competitive one.

    Susan :)

  2. Susan, I'm still competitive when I play cards!

  3. Dena,
    Yippee for our trekking poles and the exquisite lessons you've learned and share so beautifully!
    Our trekking poles helped John through those long months of recovery and now your post has encouraged me to get out, move and hike. Abundant thanks from us! Bobbe and John

  4. Thanks, Bobbe and John. I'm so glad John's feeling better. Maybe we'll meet each other on the trail someday!