unlike God himself a trail in the woods is a gentleman. It does
not force itself on the one who uses it. Yet it invites. It leads
off in a direction though no two travelers experience it the
same. There is both safety and adventure.
before the helicopters started chop-chopping up the Cline Valley
I planned a solo trip into Pinto Lake from the Kooteney Plains
side. Some of you may know this enticing piece of the Rockies
and that the hike is a good 44km using the current Recreation
Trail. What you may not know is that the old Forestry Access
map for the Whitegoat Wilderness only showed a longer guess-and-by-golly
trail on the north side of the Cline River. I never found even
that. For two solid days of that hike I had no trail. No faint
depressions, no blaze or wear marks that showed me that others
had come this way in recent memory. With the contour map I compassed
my way accurately enough and knew roughly what to anticipate
up ahead. But the bushwhacking and niggling sense that I was
well 'off the beaten track' prevented my full enjoyment of such
soaring summits as the Whitegoat Peaks and Minster Mountain.
chest-deep fords on Macdonald and Cataract Creeks left me drenched
and squishy-footed. But later as the day's light faded I picked
up the faint outlines of an old horse track. Years of neglect
had left many deadfalls over the route. Just as darkness came
the path showed clear definition and my relief could finally
yield to exhaustion and rest. I didn't even set up the tent.
'call of the wild' is perhaps not all it is cracked up to be.
I for one like a trail in the midst of the unkempt beauty. God
has provided such a path. The landscape of life is more rugged
than most expect. Some travelers bushwhack through dense trees
uncertain that a grand view from a ridge or hillside will never
appear. Others find it hard to remember where they spotted their
last spiritual benchmark. Not to mention where to journey from
to Bunyan, perhaps we could stretch tradition and add 'Trails'
to the spiritual disciplines! There is a submission to the trail;
one has to let it lead. The route it follows is established by
a prior knowledge of the lay of the land. Then, sure that the
way is laid, the hiker is free not simply to hike, but to experience
all that the Trailmaker has to offer.