A few days ago I went for a hike–Flag Rock above Farmington, Utah. Near the summit, I met a man coming down. I judged him to be in his mid-fifties. He was in excellent shape, and had a contagious smile. He wore shorts, a T-shirt, and a Denver Broncos hat that looked like it had seen many a sunny day.
“How’s it going?” he asked.
His smile was completely disarming–even affectionate. I didn’t know this man, but I was half tempted to shake his hand and tell him how nice it was to meet him.
“I’m doing well, how about you?”
“Doing great,” he said. “Have you done this trail before?”
Have I done this trail before. How to answer that? Should I tell him that I’d been going through some rough changes in my life? That this hike had been my escape when things got really bad? That I’d climbed to Flag Rock in the rain, in the snow, and in the middle of the night? That sometimes the only thing that cleared my head, and reminded me that I was alive, was the freezing wind turning the sweat on my beard to ice?
“Yeah. I’ve done this trail before,” I said.
Another smile. “Well then, you’ll be happy to know the north side is finally clear.”
“No more ice?” I asked. I usually came up the south side, and returned the same way. The north side was covered in slick ice, and could be treacherous.
“No more ice.” He said. It’s 95% gone. I also cleared all of the fallen trees and limbs except for one. It’s really beautiful, you should definitely go down that way.”
With a wave of his hand he was gone. The whole exchange had taken a minute.
I never caught the man’s name. From the summit, I saw him talking to another group heading up. He probably shared the same information. The same encouragement.
I walked down the north side, and it was in fact a beautiful hike. I decided I need to be more like this man whose name I never learned. I want to share information that helps people on their journey. I want to improve the trail, even if it’s only a little bit. Because every bit counts.
And when a lot of people all pitch in, even just a little, sometimes amazing things can happen.