A few weeks ago I grabbed Judah and Amie and headed to one of my favorite places, Jones Gap State Park, a stone’s throw from the North Carolina border and a million miles from distracted days in Columbia.
Weighted down with snacks, books, stuffed animals, and a thermos of coffee, we chatted on and off on during the two-hour drive. At one point I asked Judah to read aloud from Romans 10. Amie had asked the night before how someone could be sure they were a Christian. And so we talked about what it means to confess and believe.
I think that both our older kids are born again, both with very different expressions – Amie loud, confessional, eager; Judah quiet, steady, willing. I’ve seen Amie sob over sin. I’ve heard Judah say very simply, “I know God is real because he’s helped me in hard places.” I have learned so much from both of them.
Our first stop was Tandem Creperie in Traveler’s Rest, my favorite breakfast in the universe. If I ever land on death row, I’ll be choosing my last supper between a pimento cheese burger from the Whig bar in Columbia and a Tandem lumberjack crepe. We loaded up on carbs and more coffee and basked in a glutinous stupor.
Thirty minutes later, we pulled into the park and headed to the ranger’s station. I’d hiked most of the trails there on my own or with friends but somehow missed the Rim of the Gap trail, touted as one of the top five hardest hikes in South Carolina. The ranger took one look at Judah and Amie and said, “You know, I don’t see too many kids that age do this trail. Actually any. Why don’t you try the waterfall?”
Judah and Amie must have smelled the condescending tone. Or else they misheard him. We came for Rim of the Gap and we were going to do Rim of the Gap. Or bleed trying. Which we did.
The weather was overcast and cool, the river water high. We saw all kinds of animals: turkey, chipmunk, butterflies, salmon, snakes, salamanders. We walked, jogged, scrambled up and over eight miles of rugged terrain. I held Amie a few times. We stopped every thirty minutes or so for a breather. From parking lot to parking lot we were on the trail for five hours.
My general rule of thumb is that I like to be hiking slightly longer than I spent driving to get there and back. We did that and then some. I couldn’t be more proud.
There’s something to be said about quantity time over quality time, long hours in each other’s company, with nature unfurling before us one step at a time. Breathing hard, single file, without a word between us is it’s own kind of intimacy. I cherish these memories and can’t wait to share them with Gabe and Noah.