Retrace definition from Merriam-Wester.com: “to go over something again in memory, to recall”.
This week I snowshoed a trail I have travelled many times before, from Starvation Lake Road (interesting name for a lake, eh?) on to the NCT. There are two ways to hike from Starvation Lake Road. Going north you venture on to the beginning of the Jordan Valley 45 Chapter of the NCT. Going south it’s the Grand Traverse Chapter. (To learn more about the NCT and its chapters, go to: northcountrytrail.org. This time, I decided to go both ways!
Because the snow in these parts is still very deep (three feet in many places), it is very difficult to travel a long distance, even with snowshoes. It is a vigorous workout and I find myself breathing short and fast. So I thought, why not retrace my steps today? Why not blaze a short half-mile trail one way, go back upon my own footprints, then work my way across Starvation Lake Road to blaze another half-mile trail, then retrace back again? In this way, I see more scenery and also make it easier on my hips, butt, legs, and my one bum knee.
I have snowshoed here many times in the winter of 2018-2019, and always, always the snow, wind, and harsh elements have erased my well-traveled path. Much like life, we often work hard to go where we feel led to go, but adversities wipe away our progress.Sometimes we go westbound, sometimes eastbound, north or south; but always we keep on going. Keep going. Keep going!
The red pines here stand straight and tall, bringing me comfort and encouragement. They are at least 60 feet high and I begin to wonder . . . When were they planted and by whom? Would the forester be proud of his work? By now, the one who laid the seed has passed on and even he has become part of the earth just as the ancient ancestors of this reforested area have. This area was once part of a massive white pine forest. But over-logging wiped out almost all of the white pines that once blanketed Michigan. Here is a photo of the stump remains of one large white pine stump that I took last autumn along this section of the trail.
By retracing my steps, this two-mile journey was much easier. There is a life lesson to be had in this experiment. We don’t always have to journey forward. Certainly, we need to forge ahead with our goals and dreams; but once we learn from our trodden path, we can then revisit the wisdom we have gained and put it into practice.
Don’t be afraid of retracing your steps. Mull over your experiences. Recall your adventures. After all, Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “In the woods we return to reason and faith.”