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52 Godly Men : Men of Today Teaching the Men of Tomorrow » My Journey » Week 25: Go Take a Hike

Week 25: Go Take a Hike

Commander Brandon MilesToday, I took a hike. Not a little kid hike, where you walk for five minutes and call it a day (apologies to little kids). And not a military hike either, when you trudge for thirty miles in -15˚ weather through two feet of snow. No, this was a nice friendly, lovely hike (even though we didn’t take enough water); just long enough to get tired out, but just short enough to allow you to reach the end without the aid of a stretcher and oxygen mask. And to make things even better, I hiked in the company of “Commander” Brandon Miles, my former Royal Rangers leader; an all-around nice guy, and the best man in the world to go on a hike with.

"Little Frog"Just in case you aren’t familiar with Royal Rangers, it’s a program at my church, and Brandon was the Commander of my outpost until I “graduated”. That being said, on with the story. After church was finished, Brandon and I grabbed some chow from Wendy’s and headed off. The place we were going to was a hiking trail almost right next to the Ocoee River, called Little Frog Wilderness. It’s name may seem puny and unchallenging, but Little Frog is composed of almost nothing but switchbacks and steep hills, and it stretches the hike out for 5.5 miles one way. Brandon had only hiked it once, and he only went about three fifths of the way before turning around. I had never been there. Neither of us really had a good idea of how it went or what to expect (which is why we didn’t bring enough water). The result was an incredibly fun time of bonding and beauty, with pain and exhaustion interspersed along the way.

When we arrived at the starting place, it was clearly obvious that the scenery would be beautiful. Mountains clothed with vivid green trees stared solemnly down at us. Sunlight filtered through the branches, making dancing patterns on the ground. And ahead of us, the trail stretched around a hill and out of sight. With this in our sight, we started off with a song in our hearts, ready to enjoy the beauty around us. Along the way, Brandon shared some of his life story. He was married for seven and-a-half years before being divorced, and during that time he had two girls. Their mother is in Florida, and she keeps the kids during the summer. The girls go to school up here though, so Brandon has them for the rest of the year. He said that he got started in Royal Rangers right before I came to the church, and first volunteered as a helper in the class. But as soon as he started helping out, the commander at that time decided to step down, and he asked Brandon to take his place. When I asked him why he decided to stay, instead of declining, seeing as he had just been divorced, he said that it put him into contact with other strong men of God, and kept him from becoming a hermit and retreating into his shell. Also, he felt like he had people depending on him, and he didn’t want to let anyone down.

An Abundance of LifeAt this time, we were around 2 miles into the hike, and the going was getting a little easier. It had been uphill literally all the way, but now we were actually going down part of the time. When we had been hiking about an hour and a half, we came to a little river that ran between two mountains. That was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen. There was an overabundance of undergrowth, a little waterfall, and cool air blowing past our faces. You would have never guessed that we were still in Tennessee; it looked like part of another world. We stopped to cool off, and admire the scenery. It really was a beautiful place, and we felt completely calm and alone, without the roar of traffic or the babble of voices to distract us. Click to see for yourself If any of you who read this happen to be in the area, hike the trail, because the sight is definitely worth the time and effort spent getting there. (click on the picture to get a bigger image.)

After soaking in the magnificence of the place, we continued our trek. We had only hiked for twenty minutes or so, though, before we had to turn around and begin the hike back (I wanted to get back in time for church). However, there was that teeny little difficulty that I keep telling you about; we hadn’t brought enough water. We finished the last of it when we passed by the stream again. Thinking about the long journey back, without anything to drink, was a bit discouraging. But we pushed it down, and tried to occupy the time as well as we could. We talked about people, and we talked about church. We talked about insurance, and we talked about college. We also covered a ton of ground talking about the Atlanta Braves (it turned out that they’re his favorite team too), but not even that could take up enough time. Finally, Brandon declared that he needed a break, and we both sank to the ground, exhausted.

After about a five minute rest, he declared that he felt better, and we got up and resumed our trudging. Now it may seem to you that we wasted the entire trip back, but that isn’t the case. We each learned a lot about the other, and we grew closer in our relationship too. For instance, I learned that Brandon is currently working at the UNUM insurance company. When I asked how he found himself in insurance (he originally wanted to play baseball), he said that one of his friends that he went to college with asked him what he he was doing. When the friend found out that Brandon wasn’t really doing anything, he invited him to take his resume to UNUM, and gave him a name. Well, Brandon did so, and he got the job. I also found out that his number one goal right now is to keep his girls feeling stable. He told me that in everything he does, he keeps the girls’ stability foremost in his mind. That’s one reason why he keeps them in church, and gets them involved; they feel stable.

Brandon, successfulWe kept talking like this for the better part of an hour, but after a while, we just got too tired to talk. Our only goal was to reach the vehicle alive, and fully functioning. Finally, after another hour of hard hiking, we reached the end. Success! We had made it back! We almost collapsed onto the back bumper, and chugged down two waters each. The hike had been incredible and beautiful (on the way there), and filled with aches and sweat (on the way back). But we both grew closer to the other, improved our relationship, and he gave me some unbelievable lessons on life, that will definitely help me through life. Like to always bring enough water.Me, successful

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