“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.” John Lubbock

“Odyssa” and “Bear Bait”

Sometimes, the answer is right in front of your face and you just can’t see it, you know?

I realized today that I had been having this exact problem.

For awhile, I’ve been a bit worried about something. I’ve felt anxious that it seemed that Jonas has not found that thing. Jonas has found a lot of things in his young life…but I worried about him finding that thing. The thing God created him to love or to do…the thing that causes great joy and a spark of life.

Tonight, I realized he’s had it for a long time. I just didn’t realize that was his thing.

It started at Parent/Teacher Conferences at 4:00 this afternoon in his math teacher’s room.

“He talks about hiking and the Appalachian Trail a lot,” she mentioned. “He’s reading this book…”

Jason and I chimed in, “A Walk In The Woods.” (by Bill Bryson–excellent book for anyone, by the way.)

“Yes! That’s it!”

Then his English teacher.

“He loves the outdoors and hiking and the Appalachian Trail, it seems.”

Then his technology teacher. Then his World Civ teacher.

After Parent/Teacher Conferences, we caught up with Jonas, eating a slice of pizza in the school media center and headed to the truck to drive to Evansville to hear Jennifer Pharr Davis speak at the North Park branch of the Evansville Library. Ms. Davis holds the world record for fastest thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (Hiking approximately 2,200 miles in 46 days) and has hiked the entire AT three times. She’s hiked over 12,000 miles on various trails around the world. Her story is wonderful. After her lecture, she took questions. Jonas asked her some great questions.

He and Jason were second in line to buy her book and have her sign it.

Jason asked her, “Could you make it out to ‘Not Yet’ and ‘Bear Bait?'” He asked.

“Those are your trail names?” She asked. “You’re ‘Not Yet…'”

“And he’s ‘Bear Bait,” Jason said, pointing to Jonas.

“Wait,” Jennifer said. “Were you on the trail this year?”

“Yes,” Jason replied. (They hiked Fontana Dam to Clingman’s Dome during Spring Break.)

“Hey, I heard about you guys!” She exclaimed.

The AT Community is a small community, with about 2,000 Thru Hikers making the full journey each year. Stories are told, names are shared. Jason and Jonas were in the Fontana-Clingman’s area around the time many Northbound Thru HIkers were there. It’s completely plausible that some of the ones they met–Goundhog, Skillet, Crazy Frog, Great Legs or one of the others–might have carried a story or their names with them as they hiked.

As I watched both of the guys I love react to that news, slowly it came together for me.

It really should not surprise me that both ‘Not Yet’ and ‘Bear Bait’ love the same thing. Backpacks, long trails, the community that forms in trail shelters and at campfires, stacks of rocks marking the way, beauty in mountains and landscapes…that is what brings joy and causes life to make sense for them.

Today was a good day.

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