turnA Turn in the Trail

The trail twists and makes another turn, I lift my eyes, hoping to see the narrow, wooden building perched on the edge of a cliff. Three-mile Resthouse seems further away than the sign had promised when I left Indian Garden.

I leaned on my hiking poles, hoping to ease the load on my legs by doing some of the work with my arms. When the building came into view, I heaved a sigh of relief and a drop of water hit my cheek. Who would have thought I’d get emotional over seeing an outhouse?

“Just three more miles until I reach the top. I can do this,” I assured myself. For the last month I’d worked overtime day after day to complete our school’s accreditation report. I managed to turn the report in 12 minutes early on Friday. Hiking the Grand Canyon with a group of kids seemed like a lovely release from all that stress.

Many times, whilst sitting in committee meetings and synthesizing everyone’s opinion into a coherent document, I would remind myself that if I could hike from the rim of the Grand Canyon to the river and back again in one day, I could endure working on the report for just one more hour.

Out of my four Grand Canyon rim-to-river-to-rim adventures, this had turned out to be the most difficult. In a strange turn of events, by the time I reached Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse, I had started to tell myself that if I could finish the accreditation report on time, I could finish this hike.

The gooseberries along the Bright Angel Trail had bloomed, and thousands of bees hummed encouragement as I shuffled up the trail. The bountiful blossoms blotted out the smells of sun-baked mule exhaust (most of the time). Nevertheless, every step seemed like a burden.

Encouraging Words Along the Way

Life is hard. but we can choose to let our burdens weigh us down, or learn to turn them into blessings. #burden #blessing #hope #GrandCanyon #extremehikingBy this time, I had passed, and been passed by the same hikers over and over again. We started exchanging grimaces of commiseration. By the third time I passed the same group of people, we called out encouragement to each other. “You can do it!” I said with a grin.

“Looking good,” they answered back (a blatant lie, I looked like a wrinkly overripe tomato with scary hair). My feet felt lighter, though, as I kept pushing myself onward.

When the Kolb Studios building came into view, I knew I really would make it. One more turn, a tunnel, a few switchbacks, and I would arrive. Sixteen and a half of the toughest miles I’ve ever hiked would turn into a memory.

But the encouragement from strangers would remind me of my greater purpose. All too often I get caught up in my own little world of problems and perplexities and I forget that God wants me to encourage others. Friends, family, strangers, it doesn’t matter. Paul tells us to encourage each other and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

In my hustle and bustle and competitiveness, I forget that others need encouraging. God must smile when I get myself into situations where he can point out lessons like this to me. Sure, I could have finished the hike without encouragement. But encouragement sure made a difference! It turned my burden into a blessing.

God asks us to encourage each other and build each other up. In doing so, we lighten our own burdens. #hope #encouragement Click To Tweet

So, I’ll take my turn at encouraging you. Life is hard, but our Father’s arms are soft. The way might seem dark, but Jesus is our light. Whatever burdens you right now, know that help is a prayer away—and if you can’t come up with the words, others will pray for you (including me, just let me know).


  1. I miss The Canyon!

    And I do understand having tears in your eyes on seeing the dunny. One of the issues associated with pancreatic cancer is incontinence, and I don’t leave home any more partly due to that. Diapers aren’t my bag, hahaha.

    God does have soft arms, but right now I need the hard lash of the rough side of His tongue to keep going…rather like a drill instructor I knew at MCRD San Diego…”Do you think the Viet Cong are going to wait while you get hydrated, LADIES??? Do you think they’ll give you a hand to get up, an then give you a HUG, maggots? Drop and give me fifty!”

    (Contrary to popular culture, Marine DI’s were not in the habit of using profanity. They didn’t need to.)

  2. Beautiful Anita. I’ve not yet made it to the Grand Canyon. Thanks for sharing. I did get to hike many trails this past summer in the Rocky Mountains to see some beautiful waterfalls.

    Great reminder for us to be mindful that others need encouragement.

  3. Love this! I got so close to the top of the mountain last summer. There were so many times that I wanted to give up. But I just kept going. I’m in the 52 spot this week.

  4. Scary hair provides power to get through tough moments. I write this with the image of my own hair from this morning, which looked like I’d stuck my finger in a light-socket, following 45-minutes of kickboxing.

    Anita, I appreciate your encouragement. I know others do, too. Thank you for sharing so honestly with us and for reminding us that we can do it. The trail is hard, but we are more than conquerors.
    Marie recently posted…Five Minute Friday: TurnMy Profile

  5. I I love this Anita! From experience as hard as the hike was I think finishing the report was more grueling! You’ve accomplished a lot in a The last little bit!!! Congrats! And don’t forget how your words encourage your readers; because they do!!! Thanks for sharing your wisdom once again, Cindy
    Cindy Wilkins recently posted…Many Shades of HappyMy Profile

  6. I love the way you write, your fresh choice of words and analogies. You write vividly and with purpose.
    I felt that I was there with you cheering you on and being cheered in my own uphill trek of life.

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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