Monday, May 18, 2015

What Should I bring To Family Day?

This month's Family Day is a bit easier kind of camping than we usually do. Normally we hike into a spot and camp, which requires a good deal of specialized equipment, but this time you're going to be camping a few feet from your car, so you'll be a bit more comfortable and have easy access to things that don't fit well into a back pack.

The first thing you need to know about the campsite is that it is "primitive", and by that we mean no plumbing or electricity. One couple who are participating in this years event has a chemical toilet and are providing it for everybody to use, but you should bring your own toilet paper.  Put it in a zip-lock bag to keep it from getting wet from rain or dew.

A folding chair is a good thing to have, as well as a folding table, or a small non-folding table.  There are no picnic tables at Neiderhoffer. You're just looking for something to put your plate on besides your lap. The chair should be light enough for you to comfortably drag it around the camp.  There's going to be a lot of visiting with other folks. The sun moves, and that means the shade does too, and there's going to be times when you're going to want to move out of smoke coming from the campfire.

One of the most useful camping items to own is a bandanna. Keep it in your pocket or tie it around your neck. They have too many uses to list here.

A small battery operated fan is a good idea, and so is a flashlight.  Bring extra batteries for everything that requires them. Walmart sells some very inexpensive fans designed to be hung inside a tent, and this is where you should use it the most. Any flashlight will do, but a headlamp is one of the more useful forms of light at night as it allows you to use both hands.

A big floppy hat is a very good idea.  It will keep the sun off of you and will deflect ticks. You should bring some DEET based insect repellent, but use it only on your skin as it has an ingredient that is harmful to synthetic fabrics. Sunscreen is a good idea as well.

A pair of flip-flops or Crocs is a good idea for walking around camp, and into the water.  There's no "beach" at the lake, so if you go in you should have protection on your feet.

Bring all medicines your are currently taking, as well as some aspirin and a small first aid kit.  You don't need to be able to do surgery, just some antiseptic wipes, band-aids and gauze pads. Inform on of the Leaders of any medical conditions of which the should be aware, and keep a card with the phone numbers and e mail addresses of people who should be contacted in an emergency in your wallet or pocket at all times

Water.  Bring lots.  My personal rule is that if I bring water home I've brought enough water. I generally bring a case or two of the 16 oz water bottles AND  a gallon jug or two.  A cooler to keep it and other food items in is a good idea. Ice cubes in the cooler is not the best way to keep things cold as that generally means the stuff in your cooler gets waterlogged as it melts. (you have no idea what can get ruined after being waterlogged). One or two of those blue ice things is good, and along with those I freeze about half my water and put the frozen bottles in the cooler. These do the same thing as ice cubes do and provide you with a good source of really cold water for a couple of days. At the beginning of the day, I'll toss a couple of unfrozen water bottles into the cooler and drink them. Try to avoid sugary drinks, and alcoholic beverages is actually a bad idea in the heat.

You'll need to bring food enough for the following meals:  Breakfast, lunch, and snacks for every morning you're going to wake up out there except Sunday (we'll be leaving before lunch on Sunday). To keep things simple, these should be "ready to eat" meals that don't require cooking (its going to be hot outside).  I usually bring Pop Tarts for breakfast.  For lunch I bring tortillas and have peanut butter and jelly tacos. Healthy snacks are great, Go Go Squeeze or other similar fruit is fast and easy, and I really love getting some of those Mandarin Orange fruit cups to put in the cooler first thing in the morning for a quick, cold snack. Dried fruit like raisins, apricots, etc. are also great. I find it convenient to "graze" on snacks all day long. Friday night and Saturday night are going to be Pot Luck Fellowship dinners, so bring something to contribute to that effort.

Its a good idea to bring food that doesn't need to be kept cold, and stay right away from anything with mayonnaise in it. All your food should be in some kind of seal-able box or bag, and to hang it from a tree to keep it away from ants and mice. If you have an extra cooler, these make fairly good places to put food for that purpose that don't need to be hung from a tree to get the job done.  I use one of those big buckets that kitty litter comes in.

If you're going on the hike, make sure your shoes are up to the task. There are plenty of opportunities for short walks in the immediate vicinity of where we'll be camping, but if you don't have good hiking shoes, or if you have brand new ones that haven't been broken in, you shouldn't go on the Saturday hike. There's nothing more miserable than  finding out you have a blister half way into a hike.

If you're being loaned a hammock, a light weight sheet might be a good idea.  Even in the summer you can get chilled at night, and most of the time a simple cotton or silk sheet will be all you need.  You might not use it, but if you need it and don't have it, you'll be uncomfortable. A pillow is also a good idea. If you're bringing your own shelter, a pad and light sleeping bag are good things to have.

You need at least one pair of socks for each day you'll be waking up out there, and I always bring at least one extra pair besides. A change of underwear for each day is a good thing, and jammies for sleeping. Nobody will be making fashion judgments out there, so you can wear the same clothes each day.  Bring a sack to put your dirty clothes in. If you want to swim, you might want to bring a swim suit.

Rain gear is a good idea, either a poncho, rain suit, or umbrella will work.  We'll have some covered areas that folks can sit under in the event of any rainfall.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Texas Wilderness Ministry Family Day Information 28 May - 1 June 2015

This post is to recap and assemble all information and discussion regarding the Texas Wilderness Ministry Family Day at Neiderhoffer Lake in the Sam Houston National Forest near New Waverly Texas 28 May - 1 June, 2015.

If this is your first visit here, or if this is the first you've heard of the Wilderness Ministry, we are a rather ad hoc group of Christian hikers, backpackers, and campers who use their hobby to bring Glory to God and to connect with Him through His Creation. Everyone is invited to our trips, just be prepared to listen to folks talk about God.  We are non-denominational, and invite men, women, and children.  We just ask those bringing children to be responsible for their children's safety and behavior. There is no charge and we do not expect donations. Occasionally a member may come up with an idea of how we may be a blessing to others or mention a need, but any contribution one makes to such causes is completely voluntary.  Becoming a member is simple, just ask to join the Facebook Group linked to here (I told you we were rather ad hoc).

Usually our trips involve hiking to a primitive campsite, but we recognize that this activity is not one favored by all members of the Family, so we decided to have one that was more sedentary.  This site is still primitive (there is no electricity or running water), but this is a car camping location and you don't have to go any further than the shore of the lake if you don't want to.

The Ministry part of the trip usually takes place as discussions around the campfire and during the meal, but we ask all participants to spend their time in Creation with open hearts so that they may hear God speaking to them, and to share if the Spirit moves them, so discussions may occur at any time.

Each trip has a theme, and we try to have one every 8 weeks. The theme for this trip comes from Deuteronomy 6, and is explained in the post linked here.

Neiderhoffer Lake is in the Sam Houston National forest and is available for use by groups through a permitting process.  The maximum number of people allowed by permit is 20, and we currently have 10 people signed up for this trip.  You can sign up for the trip by placing your name on the spreadsheet linked here. We will be having Pot Luck Dinners on both Friday and Saturday night, so please give us an idea of what you might be bringing as part of the meal(s). We will serve dinner at 8 PM each night. If you have any camping equipment that might be of communal use and are willing to let 19 other folks use it, please make note of that as well. We actually have 21 available spaces as one of those signed up on the spreadsheet will be leaving Saturday morning, so if you can't arrive until then, you can take his spot.

Thursday arrivals should expect to work.  We will need to gather firewood, set up the camp, determine and mark off parking and camping areas, cache water for those who will be hiking on Saturday, site the sanitary and cooking areas, and anything else that might come up during the set up process.

Friday is "arrival day" for most folks, and most activity during the day will involve people coming in, some Fellowship, helping to set up, and catching up with friends.

On Saturday there will be a totally voluntary hike of about 4 miles.  We will be scouting locations and accessibility of Forest Service approved campsites to be used during deer season. Water will be cached on the route on Thursday to insure everybody is properly hydrated.  We will shuttle hikers over to the point where the LST intersects with FS200 as shown on this map and hike east to inspect the campsite at mile 51.3 to see if its suitable for group camping during deer season, continue east until the trail crosses FS206 where we will have some water cached, then to the intersection of the unofficial blue blazed Niederhoffer Branch trail shown on this map to return to the lake:

We're told that Niederhoffer is clean enough for swimming, the fishing is reportedly good, and some folks will be bringing kayaks.

To get to Niederhoffer, use this map to get to Four Notch Road near New Waverly, Texas. Then go to this map to follow FS200 to FS269.  There is a gate with a combination lock on it and we will post the combination on the Facebook page about a week before the Trip.

My God bless you, keep you safe, and we hope to see you there.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

More Info on the Next Ministry Trip May 28-31, Neiderhoffer Lake, New Waverly Texas.

Discussion continues on the Facebook Page

The theme comes from Deuteronomy 6:
Deuteronomy 6: 
(6) These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. (7) Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (8) Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. (9) Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

What we'll be asking is for those who attend to find a Bible Passage that speaks to them and write or print it out on something and affix it to your tarp or tent, perhaps big enough so that folks walking by can see it.  That will be the "Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." part of the event.  Those passages will be what we'll talk about over the campfire after the Fellowship Pot Luck on Friday night.  If you're not as familiar with your Bible as you think you might need to be, I'm going to ask folks on the Facebook Page to post a few suggestions.  We're not looking for you to prove how well you know your Bible, or who can pick the best passage. This is not a Contest.  No Prizes will be given (at least earthly ones). But if something speaks to you, we hope you share it with us.

On Saturday morning, we'll be giving folks passages from Deuteronomy and Leviticus of the commands given to Israel by God during their time in the Wilderness placed inside ziplock sandwich bags.  We're going to ask that you "Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads." and wear them that way all day long. I'm going to see if I can find some wristbands and head bands for you to use, but right now plan on bringing something of your own. You can read them before you put them on, and during the day.  We're also going to ask that you "Talk about them when you sit at home (in your camp or around the campfire) and when you walk along the road ( or on the hike), when you lie down and when you get up. We'll also be discussing them around Saturday night's campfire.

None of this is mandatory.  Most of us will be doing it as an expression of our Faith, but none of us will judge you if you choose to be an observer and just enjoy our company as much as we enjoy yours.

There will be a purely voluntary day hike on Saturday of about 4 miles.  We'll be exploring the route from where the LST starts a road walk west of Bella Karolyi's Gymnastics camp on FS200 and hike east past the intersection of the LST with the 4 Notch Trail to find the Blue Blaze trail that heads back to Niederhoffer.  Thursday volunteers may take that route out of Neiderhoffer to mark it where it intersects with the LST to make it easier to find and cache some water there.

Otherwise, enjoy the Fellowship, kayaking and swimming in Neiderhoffer, laying in your hammock, and just enjoying God's Creation.

Friday, December 12, 2014

5 -8 February, 2015---Exodus In The Piney Woods

Exodus In The Piney Woods

Perhaps the book of the Bible that best displays God's use of the Wilderness as a school for His people is Exodus.  The story of the Israelites 40 year wandering through the Wilderness is one of God's instruction and provision and the way he transformed them into a cohesive society built around the idea and practice of Worship.

The Wilderness Ministry is built around the idea that this instruction continues today, if we only pursue it through our trips into His Creation and open our hearts and our minds to the lessons He has for us there.

In the upcoming weeks, we will be exposed to popular culture's rendition of the Exodus Narrative, replete with special effects and dubious interpretations of scripture. Hollywood seems to be of the opinion that they can use the story of Pharaoh and the Israelites to further their greater glory and line their pockets.

But this is what Scripture tells us about that story: 

Romans 9:17New International Version (NIV)17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
On the weekend of 6 -8 February, we will attempt to follow God's interpretation of what he was doing during Exodus.

The locations and general hiking plan will be the same as was attempted at our second trip shown here.

We will focus on Exodus 15.

There will be a Fellowship Pot Luck Friday night at LSHT Parking Lot #8, followed by a hike to Neiderhoffer Lake. This time I have gotten confirmation from the Forest Service that we have the site reserved for the weekend. There is a limit of 20 people allowed at the site, so email me at sargevining at yahoo, PM me at Hammock Forums, or post on the Wilderness Ministry Facebook Page.

Now, I'm going to ask attendees to do something a little strange, take a Leap of Faith if you will, to help us understand a bit of what the Exodus Narrative is telling us: leave camp Saturday morning with empty water bottles. Those of us who own water filtration devices should carry them.

Exodus 15-27 tells us:

22 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.[f]) 24 So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”
25 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink.There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. 26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.
When we cross one of the several creeks that cross the trail between Parking Lot #8 and Neiderhoffer Lake, we'll filter the bitter water. When we arrive at Neiderhoffer we will enjoy the spring fed waters to be found there. There will also be a supply of bottled water and some snack food staged there.

We need a couple of volunteers to show up Thursday to help with set up at Neiderhoffer and shuttle people back to parking Lot #8 on Sunday morning. I will be going directly to Neiderhoffer on Thursday and will hike to Parking Lot #8 on Friday morning to meet folks arriving for the weekend.

This can be considered a beginners to mid level experience hike. The terrain is mostly flat, the distance is 4.2 miles. Friday night will be car camping, but on Saturday you'll need to pack everything you need (except water) for lunch and dinner Saturday and breakfast Sunday morning.


Yesterday's mail brought the final paperwork.  Its official now.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

So Here's The Plan

I asked LostAgain to do a scout of a couple of possible Friday night campsites that I'd located on Google Earth just north of Merit.  I asked him to check into pull overs, pull ins, or room on the shoulder where roads crossed or ran parallel to the trail.  To cut to the chase:

So, to summarize, no good places to pull over, the back roads are single lane, no shoulder, abutted by private land, tending to dirt and not well marked. The trail itself is easily accessed, but there really is no place to park one vehicle, let alone several, save one spot near the cemetery. And lastly, there just didn't seem to be any suitable trees to hang from, and the trees that did look good were all blocked at the lower end by heavy brush. The last thing too, is that the trail is immediately adjacent to private land. As in there is no buffer. If you pass between the brush and trees along the trail, you're on somebody's land. And I'm talking by steps, not yards. The roads are also not in the best shape, and like I said, narrow 1 laners that require you to pull over if approaching someone coming in the opposite direction (which actually happened to us). 
The trail IS in good shape if you're BIKE-packing. But for hiking (at least at the point we were looking) it's basically a dirt road with few places to pull over for parking a car. Like I said, if you're walking town to town and carrying plenty of water it's great. But, places to pitch a tent or hang a hammock are few and far between. In looking at it I think it was envisioned as a day hiking/biking trail, not a thru-hiking or hike/backpack/camp trail.
 I gave this a lot of thought and prayer, and here's what I came up with:

This trail is closer to the kind of walk Jesus and the Apostles would have made in the three years of His ministry than any we've walked before: a well worn path between towns traversing or going by homes, farms, and orchards----places where people live and toil.

The campsites Don scouted were near road crossings and he didn't hike down the the trail anymore than a hundred yards at the places he stopped---he didn't do any kind of extensive hiking of the trail along the points in between.

So we're going to what They did and trust God to find us a place to sleep Saturday night.  We won't do any Friday night camping, at least as an organized group (you're welcome to look at the maps and give it a shot, or sleep in your car in the parking lot in Celeste).

We will meet at around 0900 in Celeste in the parking lot of the Exxon Station on Hwy 69 right where the trail crosses the highway (click on  "View Map" on this web page: and go to Street View ).  There we will decide who's vehicle will be left there for the termination end of the shuttle, then drive down to the trailhead in Farmersville  with the goal of getting there by no later than 1200. We'll stop a couple places on the way where a road crosses the trail to cache water The trail from there to Merit is 5 miles long, which should take us about three hours. The trail from Merit to Celeste is 7.7 miles long.  Somewhere along that 7.7 miles is a place God will provide for us---and that's where we'll camp. Sunday morning we'll wake up and walk the remaining distance to Celeste.

Since we'll be waiting for folks to show, we should exchange phone numbers so we can know if anyone can't make it or needs help.  Contact me on HF or throught the Facebook page with yor number, and I'll give you mine.

Peace and joy be with you, and see you on the trail.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Weekend of Oct 4---NETT---North East Texas Trail.

Well, we're back to themes.

Fellowship and Service---that's what will make this one work.

The North East Texas Trail is a relatively new multi-use trail, a Rails to Trails project begun in the 1990's and still under development---although the part we're contemplating right now represents the first third of the most developed part.  Here's an article printed last year in Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine:

We're looking at is a 12.7 mile hike, divided into two days on a very easy trail.  We'd start at the trailhead in Farmersville and hike approximately 7 miles to a point along the trail twop or so miles north of the town of Merit, then the next morning hike into Celeste. This would require a hiker's shuttle. While everybody else hangs out at the trailhead, a couple of us would drive to Celeste and drop off one or two cars, then jump into another car head back to Farmersville where we'd all head out on the trail.  When we get to Celeste, we all pile into the cars there and drive back to Farmersville to pick up our own vehicles.

There are also a number of road crossings where water/food/gear can be cached to make our packs a bit lighter and give us the ability to cook a bigger, better meal for Saturday night.

Here's a short description of the trail from Farmersville to Merit:

Map to the trailhead here:,-96.359719,166m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x864bf6f363adb2e5:0xdd02fe6a2f5dcdba?hl=en

Here's the description of the trail from Merit to Celeste:

If you go to that map and then to switch to the satellite photo and follow the trail to Merit, you'll see where FM1101 crosses the trail.  In that area, there looks to be a lot of trees and a stock pond is nearby if water for filtration is needed.  Now, this trail is made on an old railroad bed, which means its likely higher than the terrain on either side, and there's likely to be barb wire fence on both sides.  What we can't tell from that satellite view is how far from the trail is the fence, and is the ground between the fence and the trail level enough for a decent campsite---although with hammocks this is less an issue that it would be if we were camping in tents.


We need to be of service to each other for the shuttle and for a pre-hike recon of possible campsites between Merit and Celeste, and to provide food and water for caching along the way.

Who's in?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Trip Report--27 June 2014

Its taken me a couple of weeks to put this post together.  Part of it was "busy-ness" with church, work, and life, and part of it was I was struggling with a way to digest and describe what I felt was a wonderfully rewarding experience that occurred in the context of several things going wrong. In a purely secular sense, some folks might even consider this trip as something of a failure in several respects.  But then, there IS a reason why these are not trips that are organized with any real secular intent.

The "theme" of this trip was to be "Faith".  The destination for the Saturday hike, Niederhoffer Lake, was chosen for several reasons that I thought might be illustrative of the concept. My plan was to give a short talk at the beginning of the hike explaining that the folks embarking on the trip should put their Faith in God, and not me, as I'd never been to that lake and I have been lost TWICE in the same area looking for another lake and then once arriving at the lake I would reveal that the distance traveled---4.2 miles---was the "best guess" estimate of the distance Jesus walked on the water to the boatload of Disciples, who had been in a terrible storm for that distance as well.  What happened was that God gave me a lesson about leaning on my own understanding and putting Faith in men to provide and not Him.
John Moore and I met at Riverpointe Church where we transferred his gear into my car for the trip to LSHT Parking Lot #8, then made a quick trip to Subway to pick up some sammiches to eat once we got there. An hour or so later found us in the parking lot of the HQ for Sam Houston National Forest where I was supposed to pick up the permit to camp at Neiderhoffer Lake---and where I learned my lesson about leaning on my own understanding and putting my Faith in the wrong place.

I'd first heard about Niederhoffer Lake on the Lone Star Trail Hiking Club's Yahoo group. There had been a discussion about a camp out they had had there for Trail Days. I made inquires to the Group about how one goes about securing the site and was told the process entailed going to the SHNF HQ and signing for it. I asked if I'd have any trouble getting the site if I went in the day I needed it and was told there'd be no problem at all. At least that was my understanding. Which I leaned on. You see where this is going, don't you?

So anyway, John and I walked into the HQ office, my understanding barely holding up under the strain it was taking from my leaning on it so hard, and were greeted by a courteous and cheerful staff behind a rustic counter. In answer to my inquiry as to the availability of Niederhoffer Lake, the young lady flipped open a day planner where we could plainly see that a group of 20 campers were already at the lake, had been for the last week, and would be for several more days. As I'm also involved in planning another hike that was supposed to have Niederhoffer as a destination campsite at the beginning of August I inquired about that date. As she flipped through the day planner to get to that August date, it became fairly obvious that Niederhoffer was not the rarely visited site that one could have by taking the time to wander into the office on a Friday morning and picking up the keys. The lake had bookings every weekend all summer long. It was at this point that my understanding completely collapsed due to its taking a load for which it was not designed.

God had not forsaken us, as there is an excellent alternate campsite convenient to Parking Lot #8, but the idea of a 4.2 mile hike to illustrate Christ's walk on the water and the distance/time the Disciples had been in a boat tossed about by a raging storm had gone right out the window, as had my plans for the little speech I'd planned on making. To make matters worse, the maps I'd posted had shown a clear trail to a well marked destination along with a narrative description of the trail and landmarks to look out for. The alternative site was a shorter distance, but on an unmarked trail that doesn't show up well on the map----and I'd gotten lost trying to find it before. Twice.
John and I arrived at Parking Lot #8 around lunch.  This was the first time he'd set up his hammock and tarp other than a quick familiarization and gear check we'd done at church one afternoon. We added a ridgeline to his Skeeter Beater to hold the bug net up off his face and to guarantee a consistent hang, and then added some quick shock cord line tensioners to his new tarp, then I hung the Big  Green Weenie and a new DIY tarp I'd traded an old ENO Doublenest for. We took a short jaunt down the first half mile of the 4 Notch Loop to judge trail conditions and to test out a rig I'd made to mount my Chrome Dome hiking umbrella to my pack harness so that I could use both hiking sticks while the umbrella is in use.  It met with marginal success as John had to do some quick stepping a couple of times to keep the umbrella out of his face.

The Big Green Weenie with a $5.00 gear hammock and DIY 13' tarp

John's Skeeter Beater and Hennessy Hex Tarp
Uncle Mike showed up shortly after our return, followed in quick order by Justin, Sooz Wells, Croaker Choker, and Lost Again (we're working on trail names for those without them). In short order, everyone had gone about the business of setting up hammocks and gear and started preparations for the Pot Luck dinner.
Uncle Mikes Home In The Woods

Justin's Dream Hammock

And his brand new pack

My HHDJ & Hex Tarp, loaned out to Sooz

Josh setting up his HH

Justin watches as Uncle Mike gets things going in the kitchen
Then came the bounteous repast
Charro Beans

John's Chili

Corn Bread 

Sausages and Taters

Nope.  Not a bucket of sand. 'Nanner puddin' with a topping of  crushed Vanilla wafers and Oreo cookies
See?  We eat healthy.  There was a salad.

Sausage and beef

The Corn Bread nicely browned

Some damage been done to that puddin'

After dinner, we engaged in a few hours of "campfire fellowship". It was noted that this Ministry has been set up to provide what could be described as a 'safe environment" to discuss our Faith. As we listened to the chirping of the tree frogs and the whine of the cicadas, it was noted that these were among the many sounds of Creation that God put in place to teach us music, and how feeble our attempts at recreating those sounds really are.  It was also noted that such things prove God's existence. Not the sounds themselves, but the fact that we have been created to appreciate them as beautiful.  Being able to appreciate the beauty of a sunrise or the songs of the forest, for instance, gives humankind no evolutionary advantage over other animals, it must serve some other purpose or hold much larger meaning. 

The next morning brought with it evidence of one of the drawbacks to camping in a hammock:  its hard to wake up early.  Waking up early is easy in a tent.  You're uncomfortable and haven't slept well anyway. Late rising made us change our plans yet again. We decided that decamping, to include packing and stowage of all the impedimenta associated with the Pot Luck would take too long and result in our having to hike during the hottest part of the day, so we decided to do an out and back to Hidden Lake.  Uncle Mike had to leave as he was giving a sermon on Sunday, Sooz and Justin decided to do some hammock maintenance, then head for home, leaving four of us to go on the hike.

Lost Again, John, Me, Croaker Choker

We followed an old logging road to the lake.  I turned on my Maprika and Backpacker GPS Trial apps on my tablet so that I could follow our progress on the maps posted to the LSHT website, and to record the track for future reference.  This would be the third trip I'd made on this track---and I'd gotten lost on the first two. The hike was interesting, if uneventful, except for our meeting a box turtle on the trail, and an hour and a half later we were negotiating the creek crossing just south of the lake.  The drought had left a lot of debris in the creek channels, and when the recent heavy rains came all that stuff floated down creating what was essentially a combination battering ram and scrub brush---God's way of altering the landscape to suit His desires.  Trees near the edges of the creek had fallen into the creek bed, the trunks and roots creating obstacles along the sides and creek bottom, while the leaves and branches created obstacles at the creek edge.  Choosing a route down, over, and up the creek was a challenge.


Arrival at Hidden Lake was just a minute or so after the crossing, and we were rewarded with a great view of the lake and a lot of cooling shade near the shore. We shucked our packs and set about eating lunch.  As I squirted peanut butter and jelly packets into my Ezekiel pocket bread slices, I glanced at the map and recorded track on my tablet.  The track recorded 2.1 miles from our departure point at Parking Lot #8 to our lunch spot at Hidden Lake.

Hidden Lake

Ezekial pocket bread, penut butter and jelly--the lunch of champions

Takin in the view

Our hike back was as enjoyable as the hike in, although we could tell it was getting a lot warmer and that storm clouds were coming in. With one eye on the trail and another on the clouds (when we could see them through the trees), we trudged on.  The last quarter mile or so was road march on the Forest Service road and we did not enjoy the benefit of any shade, although my umbrella did an excellent job of addressing that for me. The clouds were looking ominous and the wind was picking up so we hustled a bit to get to camp.  Just as we all reached our hammock set ups, the drops began to fall. As soon as I laid in my hammock, a cooling breeze came up and washed over me, as thunder started to rumble in the distance. Before too long, the wind had picked up to a respectable clip, and a flash of lighting and a thunder clap sounded, and it seemed as if it had happened just on the other side of the trees.  But we were all safe in our nylon cocoons, hammocks gently swaying as God played a symphony of raindrops on that tarp, wind in the branches, and thunder rumbling off in the distance.  Everyone enjoyed a long, cool nap.

As I lay there I realized that the trip out to Hidden lake was 2.1 miles, as was the trip back. God had given us that 4.2 mile hike I was looking for---but he did it on His terms, not mine. He even provided us with a storm.  But in that provision, he kept us safe and comfortable. The four of us pretty much agreed that nothing could be added to the enjoyment of this trip by spending another night---and I had the feeling that God had taught me all he wanted me to learn.  It seems to me that he was saying "Forget about the themes.  You came here to learn from Me through My creation. Let my creation do the talking." Then He forgave my lack of Faith and my leaning on my own understanding and rewarded us all with exactly what we needed at the end of that hike.
An even greater lesson, I believe, is that The Lord does approve of what we are doing, but He underlined the notion that it is He who is the Teacher, and his tool will be the Wilderness. So, from now on, no more "themes". God said yes to the campfire fellowship, yes to walk in the woods, yes to listening to Him through Creation, and I think He also said "Thanks for the help, but if you come to meet me here, I don't need any."