Category Archives: relationship

Lessons from the Fire

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Lessons from the fire

What can we learn about life from rebuilding a fire that has nearly gone out? Do the steps to rebuild a fire sound similar to the steps you can take to rekindle passion for your spouse, your church, your job or an abandoned hobby?

I’ve spent many nights staring into the fire and thinking about life. I’ve studied the embers and asked God a lot of questions. The fire has many lessons to teach. Let’s explore one lesson together…with all the steps in how To Rebuild a Fire.

1. When the passion has nearly gone out, move evenly and with moderation in your thoughts and be slow to speak. Haste to speak and act are the enemy of rebuilding passion. It is so easy to make things worse by jumping to conclusions and flinging blame. So be thoughtful and move carefully just like you would with a dying fire.

2. Take a stand emotionally and physically if necessary against the things that are blowing out your passion. The winds of being too busy, too tired, too stressed and too distracted need to be blocked.

3. Carefully lift each piece of your schedule and position the things that excite passion toward the center of your life. Plan to do the things and say the words that brought warmth to your soul and to others when your passion was strong. Go back to what was working. Make many small adjustments like you would with a dying fire until the warmth begins to rise.

rekindle4. Lower your head to the surface and blow gently and steady under the warm pieces of wood. This step is suppling yourself with the tools that are oxygen to your passion. Dating is oxygen to a marriage. A class might be oxygen to a tired old job. Volunteering in a different way might breath life back into your church life. Blow away some of the ash that has covered up your true joy and give it fuel.

5. When your air is gone, hold your breath and gently back away from the fire to get another good breath of air. When we get into life deep with all the doing, doing, doing, you will need to back away from the toxins of your day and draw healthy air in from time with God, reading His Word and listening to Him. Back away from too much doing and focus on being. This will keep you from drawing smoke and ash back into your lungs.

6. Lower your head and repeat the gentle steady blowing under the wood. Keep at it! When you pick something in your life that needs to be reinvigorated, keep at it—don’t give up! Repeat till you get a flame. Be aware that it will often burst into flame just at the end of a long breath when your lungs are empty.

7. Gently add tiny pieces of dry twigs and leaves until the flame begins to grow. Don’t try to change everything at once. Be choosy and be careful.

8. Patiently increase the size of the wood pieces until you have the desired size of flame. Be a good manager of what you have rekindled. What ever heart desire you picked to rekindle is worth managing carefully.

9. Lay larger pieces around the fire to help them dry out and to protect the fire from the wind. Take steps to build in protection for what you have rescued and lay in more fuel for the future to prevent another slow decline.

My Honey is a master at knowing when to step back from the doing and focus on being. She has a connection with our Creator that is a blessing. She is a canary in the coal mine—her sensitivity to what can damage our passion for each other is an early alarm system that I trust. She loves that I do the steps to build a fire.

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What passion do you want to rekindle? I encourage you to write out the actions you will take and get started.

To Rebuild a Fire—When the Flame Has Gone Out

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Bonfire burning bright!

As fascinated as I was reading from Jack London as a child, I’m not going to retell To Build a Fire. I am, however, going to address the art of bringing back the flame when it has almost died out.

Let’s pretend that you built a fire in a fire ring and that you have cleared all flammable items for 10’ in every direction so you can leave it unattended and get your tent ready for bed. You’re crawling around in your tent blowing up the sleeping pad, rolling out your sleeping bag, hanging an led lantern and finding your night time reading. You crawl out and zip the netting. You’re eager to sit with your honey by the fire and oh no! your fire is almost out.

  1. Move evenly and with moderate speed so you don’t blow out what you have left with the wind generated by your hasty movements. Hurry is your enemy here but modulated quickness is your friend.

2. Position your body between any wind and the fire.

3. Carefully lift each piece of wood and lay the warm end in the center of the fire ring where the ashes are the warmest. Watch carefully to only pick up a stick that is cool on one end. Lay the sticks so the warm ends touch and get as many as you can together so their combined warmth begins to rise.

4. Lower your head to the surface and blow gently and steady under the wood. This will blow away some of the ash and allow any remaining embers to be exposed to more oxygen in the air.

5. When your air is gone from that breath, hold your breath and gently back away from the fire to get another good breath of air. This will keep you from drawing smoke and ash back into your lungs.

6. Lower your head and repeat the gentle steady blowing under the wood. Repeat till you get a flame. It will often burst into a small flame just at the end of a long breath.

7. Gently add tiny pieces of dry twigs and leaves until the small flame begins to grow slowly. Once again the key is gently and slowly—no sudden movements.

8. Patiently increase the size of the wood pieces until you have the desired size flame.

9. Lay larger pieces around the fire to help them dry out and to protect the fire from the wind.

If you banked your fire over night with a sizable log, this may work in the morning too. Add a step to the beginning of this list—use a stick to gently brush away the surface ash that has accumulated over any warm spot till you find 5 or 6 bits of glowing ember. Push them carefully together and start with step one above using this little pile of embers as the center.

Practice—practice—practice and this method will save you a lot of grief and provide many happy returns. Your Honey will probably be impressed. My Honey still gasps with delight when that first flame returns with a burst. See my Honey’s guest blog to see what fire was rebuilt on this day two years ago…Happy Engagement Anniversary Honey!

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Is there something in your life where the fire has gone out? Maybe with your Honey? What steps could you take to bring back the flame?

The Best Path Ever

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I (Loral) collect these little signs on our adventures sometimes. This one says “The best path I ever took was with you.” We found it in a little town near Rock Island State Park, a day that taught us about taking our time and building in margin in the Summer of 2015. This sign spoke volumes to me because the two stick figures are so happy just to be together—just like my Hiker and me.

You see, for me, it really doesn’t matter where we go.

We can be walking anywhere—on a city greenway, checking out a neighborhood trail, hiking in deep pines of a Tennessee State Park, or checking out a body of water or famous beach at a National Park/Federal area. We’ve done all of that in the two years that we have known each other.

We can be living anywhere—in our city apartment, our country home, house/pet/baby sitting at a friend’s house (as we often do) or staying in a budget motel, which is necessary when we are on an adventure and encounter a storm.

We can be going anywhere—to our town’s summer festivals, or stop and spend hours at a small quaint town in between destinations. We can even be traveling groupies to attend a concert of our favorite band. We can be traveling just to see family or friends—on a train, in the car or on a plane.

I really didn’t think this level of companionship and enjoyment would be possible, and, although we do have our differences as we’ve shared in several posts, we love being middle-aged nomads.

One of the reasons why it doesn’t matter where we are is that I simply love being with my Hiker! He loves that I go with him (on the trail). And I love to go with him.

He makes it easy because he cares for me so well! Not only does he think of equipment, routes, snacks and all the practical things, but he also feeds my mind with conversation. It can be deep conversations about faith, our future and what’s happening in the world, or it can simply be  “plays on words” that we love as writers. He also has a bunch of eight-year-old humor! And while I know some find it corny, it usually cracks me up—although if I’m tired like I am today, I may not get it at first!

I also really appreciate that he is usually in rocking shape with a physique that puts many men in his age category to shame. I have to work a bit harder than he does to lose that bit of married happy fat I have found, though, but I am working on it! Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some success stories about that this fall!

I guess the point is that when you love and respect each other, the path you find yourself can be smooth or rocky, steep or flat, concrete or grass covered—but it all can be treasured.

I thank God for this amazing man and for the amazing life God allows us to lead together. We’re so grateful!

Are you on a path that inspires you? Do you have a story that you would like to tell to share with others who are just getting out there but you don’t know where to begin? Let me (Honey) help you. I’ve been helping corporations, small businesses and authors help get their message out there for nearly 20 years—and I’d love to help you too. Visit cowriterpro.com for more about my background and please feel free to contact me.

Hiking with Broken Lenses—6 Ways to See More Clearly

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Our backyard. Do you see a weed, an allergen, pretty flowers for a vase or picture? What do you lenses let you see?

Look at a beautiful mountain scene or a pretty flower and tell me what you see…  Do you see beauty, reality and imperfections? What are you focusing on? Are you seeing accurately—whats really there? I propose that we are all hiking with broken emotional lenses.

I’ve stayed in places where the mirror was cracked and my face didn’t look quite right looking back at me. I’ve worn glasses since the second grade and have had to see through real broken glass lenses. Many times on the trail I’ve had to stop and clean my glasses because of sweet, fog or rain. No matter what the condition I am only seeing what I’m seeing—it is altered by my lenses. These are some physical examples of the emotional reality I’m thinking about.

We don’t see what is real with exact accuracy when we look at the one we love. We see what we see—yes! But it comes through our culture, gender, personality, experiences, knowledge…and damage. We don’t really know what the other person is feeling or what they meant by what they said. We get better at it over time but much will always be lost because of our lenses. Here are 5 things I try to do to help me cope with my perception—what I think I see:

1.  First, I ask God to help me see her the way He does. She is His daughter first and His beautiful creation.

2. I try to remember that what I see is filtered. My Honey’s behavior is actually only my perception of her behavior.

3. I attempt to filter what I’m perceiving though who I know her to be. I try to make assumptions that give her the benefit of any doubt in the positive direction of my knowledge of her love.

4. Process any thing that hurts in a mixing bowl of all the times she has told me how positively she feels—loves and respects, trust and highly regards.

5. Ask for clarification when what I hear, see or think I experience doesn’t line up with what I know and believe about her. Then listen carefully.

6. Act on what I believe is noble, chivalrous and of good character. Lead with gracious loving sacrifice.

Do I do this well? No. She may actually give me more credit than that but I know that I am still refining this process. Perfecting the process of seeing clearly is a life long pursuit. These are some of the things that help me deal with my broken lenses and the distortion that I see while I hike with my Honey.  She’s worth all the effort!

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Before you react or even gently respond to your Honey, could you check you lenses a little bit more? Could you be a bit off in your perception of her? It’s worth some thought…yes? She is certainly worth it:)

Fantastical Fireflies—His Perspective

 

If you want to see a fantastical phenom, win a pass to go see the synchronous fireflies in the Great Smokey Mountain National Forest just behind Elkmont Campground. It is like walking into C.S.Lewis’s Narnia gone SciFi. It was whimsical, magical, spectacular, awe inspiring. We walked in expecting something grand and God did not disappoint! What a cool creation!

Several years ago I hiked up to Mount Leconte by myself and sat on the side of the mountain. It was raining so I sat on the back edge of my poncho, pulled my knees up to my chest and sat dozing in the twilight bliss of the rain splattering on my hood. One of the things that was dancing in my mind was wanting to see these fireflies I had heard so much about. I decided that I would get back here to see them the next year.

One thing led to another and year after year went by and I didn’t make it.  This year I was determined to get in and was foiled once again by my timing. You see, the park only gave out 1800 passes this year for viewers and the lottery had closed already when I logged on.  They give out 225 for each of the 8 days of the event and we missed it again!

“Ok,” I said to my Honey, “we are going anyway.” “The fireflies don’t know when the event is and they don’t know they have to mate in this one spot.” So we decided to go near the date of the park event or during it but come down the trail from a primitive campground nearby. I began calling different ranger stations to gather intel about which trail might lead through potential firefly viewing locations and what primitive site was near by. It became obvious that we would be spending a long night on the trail hiking with headlamps out and back from a primitive site and those were booking up fast too.

Discouraged, I tried one more time on a “oh wouldn’t it be nice if” moment and logged on to try to book at Elkmont Campground  in a car camping campsite. What to my bleary eyes did appear? Two sites for one night each during the event! I quickly booked one of them. I told the reservation form that we would have two cars and five people just in case my daughter, Andrea, her husband, Justin,  and our granddaughter, Blakely—that live there—could at least come up and picnic with us.

The visit turned out well too because they had just taken our granddaughter, who was five-months-old at the time,  camping the weekend before and they all loved it. She would now be coming camping for the second time in her first six months with us! They brought a tent and some supplies and met us there.

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I have the baby and everybody else is setting up camp…hehehe!

We pitched a 16’ Kelty Noah’s Tarp as an artificial sky and then pitched both tents, set up chairs and a briefcase picnic table under it. It rained and rained and rained…but cleared up long enough for us to go see the fireflies—just one more “coincident” number three. With baby Blakely in a shoulder supported carrier we  went looking for the fantastic.

Around 9:30 as it really got dark the display picked up tremendous energy. If they had been musicians in a symphony it would have been the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein performing Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man (I was really into that sort of thing in the 80’s). It was jaw dropping awesome. My Honey picked up on the rhythm on the fireflies right away and would quietly count 5,4,3,2,1 and for about 8 secs they would flash like crazy and suddenly go dark…5,4,3,2,1 and bam! they would light up the woods again like 4th of July sparklers gone Fern Gully!

We came out of there stary-eyed and in awe of God’s creation one more time. Wow!

For my Honey’s perspective read her guest blog here:) It’s really good:)!!

Here is a video of a Ranger telling about the event.

Here is a time lapse video of the event one night.

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Pondering Your Path—could there be a little firefly in your life that is really putting on a spectacular show? Definitely go see these guys like we did but don’t miss the spectacular little things that are just as star studded if you look closely enough.

Thousands of Fireflies Make the Woods Magical

A Guestpost by Loral Pepoon (Honey)

Something magical happens when you don’t know what to expect and an experience ends up being far better than you could have imagined. We happened to get lucky and snag the last campsite in the Smokey Mountains at Elkmont campground, in an area where around 1,800 people flock to see the synchronous fireflies once a year during mating season.

I was excited to go and see some fireflies because my husband would be there and we would get to spend time his daughter, son-in-law and our baby granddaughter, but I was concerned about the weather—thunderstorms were predicted. Bears were also on my mind—after all, these mountains are where Smokey the Bear got his name—especially with the baby around. We didn’t have our bear can with us. But, once I saw that the campground looked very well used, my concerns about bears were allayed.

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The Fantastic Five—from Pop’s (Seth’s) perspective!

To deal with the weather, we put up a Kelty tarp, which we borrowed from a friend for shade on our recent beach camping trip. I’m so glad we had that tarp. It’s awesome, and we I’ve been miserable camping in the rain before. But this tarp fixed everything! We could stand up and walk around and gather at a table and hang out with hot beverages and smores without an issue. We were content in our dry campsite, and honestly we thought it might be rained out and there would be no fireflies to be seen. Seth’s daughter wasn’t sure she should wake the baby because it was so late, but her husband coaxed her along.

I also really didn’t feel well. Oh the joys of being a female and the monthly curse. But at least there were facilities here.

All these reasons would have been reason enough to stay cozy in our rain protected campsite instead of walking a short distance to check out the fireflies. I’m so glad I didn’t fink out. If I wouldn’t have gone, I am not exaggerating to say that I would have missed out on an one of the most amazing experience of my life!

I’m so glad we went—WOW! I have honestly never felt more like a little girl in an Alice in Wonderland story. How old was I? Was I in a dream?

 I walked through a dark forest, holding my husband’s arm to guide me, knowing potentially hundreds of people were around us and yet, we couldn’t’ see a thing. Everybody walked fairly quietly and orderly. Then we started seeing a few fireflies light up. Then a few more. A few more steps and then we turn around to thousands of twinkling Christmas light looking fireflies lit up, buzzed, cracking like sparklers. Their lights covered the forest floor, all lighting up at once.

 It was so spectacular. I wish I could describe what happened in a better way for you. After thtey lit up, we began to see a pattern. We would count down…3…2…1 and they would all light up again for a second or two. And then it would go dark again. Then three seconds later, the Christmas lights would appear again.

 We watched them for about an hour within a fairly small area where we were walking around. And it was an hour that I will never forget. Absolutely amazing.

I tell everyone who will listen that it was truly one of the most magical experience of my life.

My mind linked the experience to Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at church, which is always my absolute favorite part of Christmas. It’s so beautiful when that dark room at church lights up with candle light—representing the hope of Christ if we all acted as He did toward one another. I had that same hope and peace during that magical experience walking among fireflies—in awe and wonder at God’s creation.

If you want to go see the synchronous fireflies, you will have to do some planning—and some praying, because there is a lottery, and only a fraction of the people get in. But, if you book your campsite in advance at Elkmont, you are automatically in. Try a weeknight for best success.

I promise you it will be well worth it. You may even find it magical—like I did.

(Read my husband’s account of the same experience...it’s so interesting how differently we remember the same event!) That’s one reason why everyone should write. We all have a different take on everything we do! If you would help writing a blog, article or book, please visit cowriterpro.com, and contact me

Keeping the Edges Wild

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A Happy Birthday day at No Where Farm

Today is my Honey’s birthday—the Honey that I want on the trail with me that inspired this blog. To honor her I want to tell you about a special place that we visited for her birthday last year.

Before Loral and I met, she had been fascinated by the music of a particular artsy married couple. She loved how they looked at each other when they sang and just felt that they had something that she wanted some day with a Godly man.  She went to a few of their concerts and owned most of their CDs. This was her history with Over the Rhine—the couple: Linford and Karin.

When we began to date she introduced me to their love songs and their songs about Ohio (one of our all time favorite places is the Mawmee River in Grand Rapids Ohio).  I fell in love with their music too and it became a staple as we dated, got engaged and married.

Last year this couple, Linford and Karin, bought a farm in Ohio that they named Nowhere Farm. They had asked their fans to crowd source fund the rebuilding of an old barn on the property. It would be a place for musicians to come for training and a small venue. Their fans had crowd source funded at least one album in the past…Meet Me at the Edge of the World, I think.  We pitched in on this project to the tune of the price of two concert tickets and got invited to come see the place.IMG_2193

Instant birthday present! My Honey would rather have an experience than a gift. So we dropped everything and chased this birthday experience. Keeping the Edges Wild—a meaningful phrase that has made it into their music—fits well here for us because we are usually through planners. Linford would later tell us from the stage how his dad had advised them to leave the edges wild. And how they incorporated that into the cultivation of their land and into their music.

Hand in hand we toured the barn they are rebuilding. We picnic snacked on the pot luck style table of goodies and visited the outdoor barista. We walked the property and sat on the hood of our car staring dreamily across the pasture land and dreaming about our future…still pinching ourselves about how God had gifted us with the present.

Then the concert! What an experience for us—a couple of love birds getting to be loyal fans. We sang along outlaid and to each other like it was just us in the tent. The music was fabulous and the location was beyond charming. Karin told the crowd, “without you we’d be homeless” and Linford quipped, “Everything we own we bought with a song.” In their back yard about 500 of us enjoyed a concert. They told an interviewer later that they felt like we had truly celebrated with them.IMG_2192

We get to go back there later this year and will relive that birthday experience at No Where Farm. Happy birthday Honey! In our hiking adventures lets continue to Keep The Edges Wild.

Christmas in July – Getting to Talk to Grandma on Time

Our Christmas Cabin
Our Christmas Cabin

Last Christmas was our second one together—we’ve been married almost two years now. We got to Celebrate Christ’s birth by combining lots of traditions and making some new ones. We celebrated with family before and after the big day. But on the 25th and 26th we rented a cabin in the Cumberland Mountain State Park in Tennessee. What a deal—there were running a winter half off special and we rented this cabin for a great half price winter deal and got two nights for $95.00.

We packed in the things you would expect: gifts, meal supplies, Christmas goodies, firewood, Bible, books, candles and of course, hiking gear.

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Jesus is the Light of the World—reading the story of His birth from Luke together.

Christmas day afternoon we headed out for the trail head of the Pioneer Trail Short Loop. Here is a great map of the area.

We thought we would enjoy a rainy stroll across a suspension bridge and complete the entire 2-3-ish mile loop in a couple of wet happy Christmas hours. This would get us back just in time for the family call to my Honey’s Grandma…well…or should I say Wow…that is not exactly what happened.

We left our warm toasty cabin in our rain gear covering us from head to toe. I was so delighted because my Honey is not fond of walking in the rain and was genuinely up for it this day. I love to hike in the rain so much that even at work I can feel the phantom weight of my backpack on my shoulders when a heavy down pour passes our office windows…and I smile…can’t wait for the next stormy adventure.

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A flood level Byrd Creek

We walked almost due West on the blacktop between the cabins until we reached a little access trail on the left just before the cul-de-sac.  When we reached the Short Loop we turned right and practically skipped the .2 miles to the suspension bridge. So happy to be alive and to be together on Christmas. Byrd Creek was so swollen under the bridge that it barely squeezed itself underneath.

I was practically giggling at our good fortune of getting to see such power, be in a storm and still be safe. (I wasn’t actually giggling…of course…because guys don’t do that, right?) I’m not a storm chaser but pretty close.

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Making an unusual Christmas memory

We turned left headed toward the famous bridge of arches that you see in almost every picture of this park. It was 1.6 miles away and we didn’t know if there where other bridges to cross except that one.

Shortly after turning left on the other side of the suspension bridge we got an inkling of what might be ahead—a runoff creek, the kind you only see in a storm, was so wide that we had to do a little stone hopping to cross.

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My Honey proving to be very agile crosses like a champ

We actually crossed 8 of these in that next mile—there are usually on two during normal wet periods but no limits on Christmas day!  My Strider Writer crossed every water obstacle like a champ! In several places the trail led down to the edge of the water and we had to make our own way through the trees to find the trail again.

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Hey Kemosabe! Where is the trail?

This was eating up a lot of clock and the scheduled time to call Grandma was rapidly approaching.  Hmmm…we decided to test the first bridge we came to at right about one mile and see what could be done to cross. Pleasant surprise to find this bridge…we might make it on time. It was completely in tact and solid but the far side was under three feet of water for the last 5 or 6 yards.  I went first with two hiking poles testing the ground ahead before each step—there was no current. When I crossed safely on what felt like poured concrete underneath, I turned around and went back to get Loral.  We plodded slowly through the ice cold water up to our knees to get to that call with Grandma.

This is my best “over the river and through the woods” story ever! We made it to the cabin door in time of the call. All the wet clothes went in a pile on the porch and into a thick warm blanket my Honey went. Within 10 minutes, (I wanted to do all I could to show my appreciation to her for coming on this foie that was out of her comfort zone) I had a fire started and a hot cup of her favorite tea in her hand while she talked to Grandma. It was a video call so we got to see and say hi to all those that had been able to make it to Kansas.

Mission accomplished…we got to Grandma on time!

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Do you have something going on that is turning out to be much different than what you had planned? How can you make the most of it? Is there a warm blanket, toasty fire or hot cup of tea that you could metaphorically add to make it better?

 

Component hiking-getting used to the backpack

Hiking the Volunteer Trail in Mt. Juliet
Hiking the Volunteer Trail in Mt. Juliet

The spot we chose for this bit of fun practice was Long Hunter State Park. We made our plan, packed the backpack and drove to 2910 Hobson Pike, Hermitage, TN 37076-4027. It is an easy trail that is about 11 miles long if you go all the way to the camp site at 5.5 miles. It runs along the edge of Couchville Lake with the water on your left or generally toward the west.

We use I-40 E and take the Mount Juliet exit (226). Then we head south on Mt Juliet Road (before you turn off of it the name will change to Hobson Pike). Watch on your right for some signs that make the way pretty well and turn left on Bakers Grove. Just about the time you get your truck straightened out you will need to turn left. This will take you about .5 miles to the trail head.

One of my favorite sources for info in our area is Cloud Hiking.  They have an awesome map of this trail and a really detailed section by section description of what to expect. If you are into blazes (I use them religiously) the trail we took was blazed white and the day loop is orange.

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The lake shore is very rocky in places. This made for a great place to eat out lunch.

In the parking lot we pretended that we were going to be gone overnight, went through the check list of activities in our heads and loaded our packs…well I had a large pack and she carrier a little day pack for this practice adventure.  After a bug spray experiment, we hiked the first .5 mile or so to the intersection where the day loop goes left. It circles around counter clock wise for 4 miles back to this intersection. It is only .7 or this day loop, however, to a great picnic spot with a nice view of the lake. You would only have to carry your picnic basket a total of 1.2 miles each way.

Go to the right like we did and it is 5 more miles to the camp site. From the parking lot to the camp site and back is 11 miles. Add a mile of the pavement out and back for a pretty decent practice 1/2 marathon that I used when getting ready for the Music City Marathon. The reasonably level trail makes the practice much more fun for me than the blacktop.

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Some prickly pear beside the trail.

In the camp site at the end of this 5.5 miles I’ve camped with some buddies a couple of times. I loved the abundant dry cedar dead wood. Both times there were plenty of fallen limbs for a decent fire. Nice benches and a fire ring make for some nice amenities in an other wise primitive camp site.

My Honey and I used this trail to do a little component backpacking on this trip. We have a couple of epic trips we want to take but like writing or anything else, you have to start at the beginning and prepare.  My Honey works out this idea in the world of writing at  cowriterpro.com. We needed to work out a lot of kinks in backpacking—one at a time. We have learned that to try too many new things at one time is a disaster.  This day hike was about getting used to a backpack.

Since I had always hiked with the guys and everybody packed to be self sufficient with only the occasional sharing of some kitchen supplies, I was experimenting with just adding her things to a complete pack. My Honey carried a few things in a hydration pack and got used to the idea of and the practice of getting anything else she needed out of the big pack.

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Just a hydration pack today

She was accustomed to carrying a large bag with most day use things handy in that bag no matter what was on her back.  So we practiced by eating a meal and by setting up a hammock camp for a quick nap and then loading it all up again.  It was a good learning experience for both of us and we just had a good time being outside together.

We learned that we both have to carry a real backpack. I can take a larger portion of the weight but she has to have at least a 30 liter pack too. Even if we got a 90 liter pack for me, it might all fit but the weight would be more than I could carry and still have fun…pack mule doesn’t work well as my middle name!

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My Honey soaking up the sun and resting her toes by Couchville Lake

We soaked up a lot of sun and had lunch on the rocky shore of Couchville Lake. We reclined luxuriously together in a hammock under a dense canopy for a little nap. We got some good exercise, practiced a component of backpacking and headed home when it got dark.

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Stopping for the simple details that make it special

Mission accomplished. Next trip-new lesson-repeat. we don’t really care how long it takes to master all the skills and get on with the epic trips as long as we are making progress. We build concept and skill on concept and skill. We are up to a week of camping—hiking combos from base camps and/or two nights in a row of primitive backpacking…and enjoying our progress.

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Pondering your path—what big thing do you want to do? From hike the grand canyon to making an elaborate quilt filled with childhood memories to a long vacation through the castles of Europe…what component could you practice first? How could you make an enjoyable small project be a step toward completing the whole?

As Jesus once said, “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it?” Then break the plan down in pieces and practice them one at a time.

Longing for the Spring

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Justin, Andrea, Loral and I at the Trail Head in Spring of 2015

It’s hot in Tennessee right now and I am enjoying it but really missing the Spring…I’m a bit nostalgic actually about a particular spring when we got to take a trip in 2015 with my daughter Andrea and her husband Justin. They are leaving Tennessee soon to go to Texas to seminary and they will be missed for so many reasons including the hiking.

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Me and my Honey—the monkey and the snail

I’m remembering a fun afternoon hike we did on House Mountain in Corryton TN. Justin gets all the credit for how well it turned out because he picked the spot. We were layered up a little because it was chilly standing still but a bit warm while climbing. The route changes elevation pretty quickly—I’m guessing about 1000 feet up over about .8 of a mile. The extra layer came on and off every time we stopped to see a pretty view or just to stop and visit.

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What a gorgeous view…and the scenery is not bad either:)

House Mountain State Natural Area is the official name and there is a great write up on it at backpacker.com. The entire loop is 3.7 miles but we took the middle trail to the ridge line and back down because of time for a total of 1.6 miles.

It is just NorthEast of Knoxville and depending on where you are in Knoxville it could be as little as a 20 minute drive. You take I-40 E out of Knoxville to Rutledge Pike then left on Iduema and then left on Hogskin parking on right.

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Starting a hike together—this day on the trail—soon on the highway going west

We loved the rock features and the views. I have to take my Honey back again to do the complete trail and honestly I need to go again to see the scenery. I was having such a good time talking and laughing with family that I don’t actually remember a lot of it. Sometimes these trips where you can’t remember the trail are the best kind. I was there for the fellowship and the trail just made a good setting for it. To focus on the relationship when we are hiking with someone else especially family is something we have learned to do.

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You never know when you will get to do it again—so cherishing the time together when you have it is a must!