A number of years ago I had the pleasure of hiking on a weekly basis with a friend and co-worker who had moved to Colorado from Nebraska. We didn't really have much in common except that we were both female, were nurses and loved the outdoors. Enough for me! And that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
We hiked all over the place. She purchased a book written by a man who had hiked virtually every known trail along the Front Range of Colorado and every week we would choose a new trail, load up with high carb snacks, Gatorade, Water and moleskin for our boots, and off we'd go.
One weekend we decided to take a chance on one of the trails on the Air Force Academy. We were psyched. This was our thing and this particular day there was not a cloud in the sky, none of the high winds that plagued us from time to time, and the temps were just right..not too hot, not too cold.
We parked the car, gathered all our gear, stretched, and started up the trail. About two minutes into the inclining switchbacks we began to hear the voices of little boys. Cool! A cub scout troop was making their way back down from an overnight stay on the trail and we stepped aside at one of the turns and let them pass. The scout leader said something about having fun, but watch out for the skinny sections of the trail. What? Okay..we'd done skinny sections before.
We hiked up and up and up, stopping more than usual due to the rapid increase in altitude. This particular trail was right on the Front Range and from our vantage point we could see clear to Kansas (okay...yes, that is a slight exaggeration, but you catch my meaning) and the scenery was outstanding!
We began to walk again..and there in front of us was the skinniest section of trail I have EVER seen. EVER! There wasn't even room for one adult foot to step on this section. We stood there for the longest time deciding whether or not to go for it because should we slide we would fall several hundred feet straight down and I don't know...falling wasn't my idea of the best way to enter Glory.
Finally, my friend offered to be the brave one and go across. Are you sure, I asked. She rocked her head back and forth evaluating the narrowness and potential danger of the trail, then said, yes, I'll go. Clearly the stretch of trail wasn't more than about twenty feet across but it was frighteningly narrow and covered with those tiny little rocks that are many hiker's demise causing them to slide.
A few minutes later and she was across. Piece of cake, she says. I look at her like she's lost all her senses in her fear and said, I don't know. After many accusations from her side of the trail about me being a chicken or fraidy cat, I finally stuck my tongue out at her and sat down on the ground.
Come on, she says.
Come on, indeed, I thought. I gave her one last look and said, okay but on my terms.
Whatever it takes, she says.
So it began, the scariest 10 minutes of my entire life. I started scooting across this narrow stretch of trail staring at Kansas in the background singing, "Amazing Grace" at the top of my lungs. I'm certain every cadet at the Academy wondered where that horrid sound was coming from. Or maybe they wondered where the angel was who was spreading such a wondrous message of grace on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
I could hear pebbles falling down the side of the mountain as I scooted. Between each scoot I kept singing, collecting my wits as the sweat (and yes, women sweat in these circumstances..they do NOT perspire!) poured down my face. I made it about halfway and told my friend, I can't do this. I really can't do this, and began to scoot back in the other direction.
It is noteworthy that my friend is not a believer and was embarrassed to no end (even though we were the only people out there) for me to sing a "church" song that echoed all over the USAFA.
I was a wreck inside and out but so thankful I had stopped the hike. I found out later that the trail continues much like that for its entirety as it is a training trail for the cadets in their survival week. I've often wondered about those cub scouts and how in the world they made it back there. Little feet for skinny trails, I guess.
But isn't that the way life is? Skinny trails that we depend on God to help us across.