So I am sitting at home sick, bored out of my mind right now. I finished the HDM trilogy and the Harry Potter book and am not sure I am up to starting a new book at the moment. I may attempt to start the Two Towers. I have never read the Tolkien LOTR trilogy before… I finished the The Fellowship of the Ring a month ago, before HDM and Harry Potter stole my focus… So I may do that…
So after CIY, we were supposed to go do a high ropes course on Saturday, but lovely Tennessee rain thwarted those plans. The ropes company told us the ropes needed a full day to dry out, so they were giving us a full refund. Josh and Patrick were trying to research things we could do instead, since we had that entire Saturday to play with. We ended up picking the Piney Falls park, which supposedly had this towering waterfall that fed into this swimming hole after a short hike. So we piled into the vans and drove for an hour to this park.
The directions were a bit unclear, and we took a wrong turn into the woods. The road led right to the front porch of some secluded house of a bewildered Tennessee man (whose name was Yank, no lie). I am sure he appreciated having two 15-passenger vans and a minivan caravan into his front yard. I thought he was going to whip out a shotgun and aim it at us. No joke.
Luckily, we circled through Yank’s front yard unscathed, and finally found the parking area where we were supposed to get out and start the half mile hike to the falls.
We reached a clearing with one path leading off to the left and another to the right. The website had said to take the beaten path, so we did, except it led to the top of the waterfall, not to the bottom, where we wanted to swim. Still, it was a spectacular view, albeit a little scary.
So we went back to the clearing and made for the other path which said “Loop Trail.” Now, we should’ve realized that this name fittingly described the path we were about to take, but it was the only other path we saw, so we decided to go for it.
What was supposed to be a “half mile hike” ended up being an hour+ of scrambling and slipping over moss covered rocks, fallen tree trunks, streams and muddy, slippery hills. It was kind of fun at first, like something out of Lord of The Rings-ish, but after awhile, I thought to myself, “Oh no, we’re going to end up on the 11 o’clock news… the church youth group who disappeared into the woods and never came out.” Many of us fell numerous times, and had bruises, scratches and cuts to show for it.
And then after what seemed like it would never end, the rocky river bed finally led us to this enormous swimming hole, with an 80-foot tall waterfall pouring into it. The place looked even a bit sacred and untouched, as though few people before us had gone swimming there.
We spent about an hour there, swimming and jumping from the short cliff into the water. I only did this once… Josh said he was going to go ahead and look for a shorter path back to where the vans were. Turns out, there was a shorter path, and it would take us all of 10 minutes to reach that original clearing where the paths diverged. When we reached that clearing, we realized that the shorter path had been hidden by fallen trees.
I thought about how life is often like that. Sometimes God leads us down the Loop Trail, the path that’s difficult and long, and we get all bruised and scratched because of it, when all the while there was this hidden path that could have taken less time and involved less pain. But I somehow think that the 80-foot waterfall and the tranquil beauty of the swimming hole would’ve seemed less beautiful or less sacred if we had taken the easy way. Looking back on it, I am glad we took the hard way… there was a lot of beauty and mystery that we saw along the way… And part of the fun was just sticking together and being “lost” together….
And that is what the waterfall taught me.