We were headed into the Little Grand Canyon of Shawnee National Forest, taking in the blessing of an unusually cool early August day, when we turned a sharp 180 degrees and began descending quickly down a single track path. Before us was an ominous sign: "Caution: Difficult Trail" (see above).
This is a pretty unusual occurrence in our hiking experience, certainly for the Midwest. And that's when it hit me. I wish 2020 had come with a big old warning sign about the difficult trail that was in store for us all. Maybe then we all could have been a little more prepared for the immense changes headed our way. I couldn't help but think of the similarities in 2020 and the hike we were now on. The quick descent, the cautious footing, the slips and slides, the falls... But just as in our struggle with quarantine, imminent illness, and possible bodily harm, one thing shines out even in the darkest of the woods: we are all in this together. My little family sticks together. We watch out for each other; we extend a hand in the tough times; we draw in near. We even extend kind word to those we pass and offer them any encouragement or advice we think might help.
That's all we really can count on when the world seems to be falling apart. Draw your loved ones in closer. Stick together. Offer help. Stay positive. Those simple lessons of the trail ring true when the trail gets difficult.