On Saturday morning, I sat at the dining room table, sipping coffee while trying to decide what to do with the day. The youngest child, awake much earlier than her sisters, wanted to know if we could do something fun. My husband asked what she’d like to do, and her immediate response was that she wanted to go for a picnic and a hike.
Two hours later, four of us had packed a cooler with drinks and snacks and loaded up in the car. (The oldest child has become a bit too cool to hang with her family on a Saturday.) We stopped for KFC—because what’s a picnic without fried chicken?—and headed for the state park.
We paid the outrageous entry fee into the park and drove a couple of miles until we arrived at our usual picnicking spot. While we ate, I checked out the park trail map because we wanted to try a new trail instead of the same one we always hike. My husband mentioned that he remembered seeing a friend’s photo on social media of a spot called King’s Chair. I found the destination on the map along the blue line and we agreed we’d take that trail.
Upon entering the trail head, we saw a sign that noted the entire trail being six miles. There was nothing to tell us exactly how far to King’s Chair. We weren’t concerned, though. We had a backpack full of bottled waters and sports drinks and snacks. Not too far into the trail, a gentle rain began to fall, which was a welcome break from the heat. We took the first fork off the trail to a creek overlook, where we took a quick look, then turned around and headed back to the main trail.
We hiked uphill for what felt like forever. My calves and glutes were none too happy with my determination to keep going. We stopped occasionally for water breaks and to rest. After an hour and ten minutes of climbing, eyes focused on the ground in order to avoid tripping over roots and rocks, we saw a sign notifying us that King’s Chair was just ahead. About the same time we saw the sign, we heard a rumble of thunder in the distance. Still, we forged ahead.
About ten minutes later, we arrived at a clearing in the woods, the sky wide open before us. We hurried over to the edge of the cliff, taking in the sights below us. We basked in the beauty, as well as in our accomplishment. We gathered up for a family selfie, and because we’re all addicted to our phones and carry them everywhere, we each had to take our own photos.
When I finished capturing the pictures I wanted, I walked around a bit, taking in the scenery. I happened upon what had been a campfire. As I walked closer to inspect, I noticed a sign pointing further up the trail that read, King’s Chair. Huh? We weren’t actually at King’s Chair yet?
The thunder was beginning to get louder and becoming more frequent. We knew there would be a storm in the very near future. But we’d come this far. We weren’t going back down the mountain without visiting that dang Chair. So we hurried straight up another trail until there was a no doubt we’d found the place where the King must sit. It was a magnificent sight to behold. Being scared of heights, I freaked a bit when my overly-courageous middle daughter and her dad stepped out on the edge of the rock where the drop off was straight down the mountain.
We spent about three minutes at King’s Chair, and because we could clearly see the storm clouds moving toward us, we quickly started our descent. What took us nearly an hour and a half to climb only took forty-five minutes to hike down. We got rained on a bit more, but the thunder kept its distance.
I keep thinking how we’d have missed King’s Chair had I not been walking around, exploring the area. We would’ve missed the majesty. We would’ve settled for less without even realizing it. We would’ve put in all that time and effort for only half the beauty. We might never have found out any differently, but how frustrating would it be to get to the end of our hike and discover that we hadn’t gone far enough?
What if we get to the end of our lives and find out if we’d just taken those extra few steps, life could’ve been so much more beautiful? What if exploring the unfamiliar is what finally leads us to the destination we’ve journeyed so long to find? What if it only takes a going a little farther to find what you’ve been looking for? It’s worth the effort. What if that thing you’ve been hoping to see in your life is just ahead? Don’t quit.