The Journey vs. the Destination: Bish Bash Falls

Bish Bash FallsIt’s fun to say, isn’t it? Bish Bash Falls. Go ahead, say it out loud–you know you want to.

This Massachusetts state park is beautiful and the falls are indeed impressive, but the hike itself was actually more compelling for me. And in fact, the hike back to the car, not the anticipatory hike to the falls.

It’s a steep and cumbersome climb down and logic predicts that the return is even more breathless.

On my labored way back up I met an Indian family with a grandmother dressed in magnificent sari and flip flops. She had a hard time maneuvering the log bridge across a moderate gap and trickle of water and she was already out of breath. Her family asked about the rest of the trek and I answered honestly that they had a ways to go and it wasn’t an easy path. Grandma decided to turn around.

My steady pace suddenly slowed and this Grandmother and I were now holding hands. I gave her my hiking pole and we began our journey together. This was unfamiliar territory for her–she didn’t know where to place her feet, to look out for tree roots, how to let others pass on the path. And she didn’t speak English. Or have water. I motioned, guided, and shared my drink.

This isn’t a post to boast of a good deed. But to recognize that what feels like home and adventure for one is scary and difficult for another.

I thought about the guides who helped me learn to hike on high school excursions. I thought about the friends who taught me about gear and pacing.

We reached the summit; in this case, the parking lot. And to her it was beautiful. She smiled, pressed her hands together in Namsate style, and did a head bobble I’ve been told can mean many things and knew in this case meant thank you.

In truth, it was a gift for me to stop and enjoy the hike instead of plow through to the top. To experience my comfort in a place that wasn’t always so for me. And to think about the nameless people who have figuratively and literally lent me a hand.

When has someone given you a metaphorical hiking pole?
When has a stranger walked the path with you until you felt safe?

One Response

11.09.11

Truly beautiful: the visual, the writing, the story. A meaningful experience shared.

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