“Be careful not to compromise what you want most for what you want now.”
The last post on this blog was barely hot off the press when I realized there were significant conflicts in my fall training schedule.
The draft race plan was being discussed over coffee this past Saturday when I announced to my husband that this semester’s Swift Water Rescue class may interfere with the half marathon race that fits so nicely in my schedule. This came after an earlier realization that my chosen winter marathon would conflict with a trip that accompanies a new job I’ve recently taken on. Rescheduling the marathon to December requires that I work around both mine and my son’s graduation ceremony. The calendar was a mess!
We were discussing the half marathon race when my husband asked, “What is your priority? The race or school?” I admitted that if he had asked me that question before I went to bed the night before my answer would have been the race. With the sanity that came with morning light, I realized my priority should be school. There would be other races.
School began for me in January of this year. In one of those first classes, Land Based Activities (aka Hiking), our group hike was on the Lakeview Trail. Driving to the trailhead in the school’s big white van, Paul explained to us we were on The Road to Nowhere.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Swain County gave up the majority of its private land to the Federal Government for the creation of Fontana Lake and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hundreds of people were forced to leave the small Smoky Mountain communities that had been their homes for generations.
The Federal government promised to replace Highway 288, which would eventually be covered in water, with a new road. Lakeview Drive was to have stretched along the north shore of Fontana Lake, from Bryson City to Fontana, 30 miles to the west. And, of special importance to those displaced residents, it was to have provided access to the old family cemeteries where generations of ancestors remained behind.
But Lakeview Drive fell victim to an environmental issue and construction was stopped, with the road ending at a tunnel, about six miles into the park. The environmental issue was eventually resolved, but the roadwork was never resumed. And Swain County’s citizens gave the unfinished Lakeview Drive its popular, albeit unofficial name “The Road To Nowhere.”
This was to be the site of our family outing on Sunday with my son, who has been visiting for a few days. I remembered from school that the trails in this area were interlinked creating a loop… meaning we shouldn’t get lost. We got lost trying to find the road to nowhere, and we remained in a perpetual state of “lost” for the duration of the hike… which lasted a good bit longer than we all expected.
Along the way, however, we saw wild orchids and adorable, itty bitty frogs. We walked for almost 2 miles along the shore of the Fontana River and marveled at the beautiful waterfall. We climbed into bursts of cool air and crossed rocky river beds. Finally we made it back home exhausted and hungry. That road to nowhere had taken us somewhere indeed.
My life is a little like the road to nowhere. Eight months ago I confessed to my instructors I had no idea what I would do with the skills they would teach me. School seemed to have no identifiable end or purpose. Along the way, however, I have discovered so many things I enjoy, like hiking, wilderness medicine and experiential learning. I’ve become a Wilderness EMT and taken a job in the field… a job that will carry me to Belize next February (more on that another day).
So, the innocent quote I discovered by Zig Ziglar comes in handy this week as I confirm my fall and winter race calendar. It’s easy to become deterred from a path you’re unsure of, or become distracted by whatever excitement lies straight ahead, and in the process jeopardize something much more valuable that awaits us down the road.
At the moment, my race calendar is still under review.