Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 29, 2014

Three Men and a Dog | 2

Thru-Hiking the Lone Star Hiking Trail

Hansel and Gretel discovered that dropping bread crumbs in the woods is a poor navigation aid for helping you find your way home. Unlike these siblings from the famous German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, we had much more reliable ways to navigate the 100-mile Lone Star Hiking Trail. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I tried to keep Yogi Berra’s humorous advice in mind before starting our long trek through the woods: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

Map
As I studied the maps of the Lone Star Hiking Trail and read Karen Somer’s excellent guidebook, I added my own notes to my maps. I marked potential campsites, the location of footbridges, where other hikers had warned of dogs, where to find water, and places where it might be easy to take a wrong turn. I also downloaded Maprika as a backup to my paper maps. This smartphone app gave me access to all eleven segment maps and interfaced with GPS to note our exact location on the trail. Very cool.

Trail Blaze
Perhaps the best navigation aid on the actual hiking trail are the trail blazes. These rectangular pieces of silver metal are nailed to trees along the route and indicate which way to go — straight ahead, right, or left. The loop trails are marked with silver blazes with a particular color band. Since we did not intend to hike the loops on our thru-hike, we did not follow these blazes. One hiker cautioned that if you fail to see a blaze after hiking 100 feet or more, then you had better go back to where you saw the last blaze and look again. Good advice.

After completing our thru-hike, I am especially grateful for those who took the time to nail the blazes to the trees. I can’t imagine doing this hike without the benefit of these handy navigation aids. There were a few places along the way where it looked like the trail might go off in another direction. But, thanks to a strategically positioned blaze we knew exactly which way to turn. After a while, spotting the blazes became second nature and gave us a great sense of security that we were headed in the right direction.

Trail Mile 77
We also appreciated the helpful trail signs at places where trails intersected. There is just something comforting about knowing where you are in relation to where you’re headed. Additionally, every mile on the trail is marked with a mile marker either nailed to a tree or posted on a free-standing sign. These helped us to mark our progress and to know how much father we needed to go in order to reach our campsite each night.

Trail Signs
The one thing that all of these navigation aids have in common is that they were put in place by particular individuals for the benefit of those they would never meet. I don’t know how many times I breathed a word of thanks that someone had taken the time to clearly mark the trail for me so that I would not get lost in the woods and would find my way home.

IMG_5958
Like the folks who nailed the blazes to the trees, each of us should keep in mind that we do the same for those who will come after us. Every decision we make, how we treat others, whether or not we forgive, every act of kindness, how we express appreciation, how we handle difficult situations, and more — these are the blazes that our children and others will see. More than once along the way I thought about the message of “Find Us Faithful,” a song made popular by the Gaither Vocal Band and also by Steve Green. The chorus sums it up:

Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful

More to come about the adventure of three men and a dog along the Lone Star Hiking Trail. Thanks for reading about our journey.

See if you can spot the trail blazes in this short video I took along the way.


Responses

  1. Congratulations on completing the Thru. You’re an inspiration as several of us are forming a Men’s Wilderness Small Group. I know its short notice, but we’re having our first meeting near Parking Lot #2 and we’d love to break some bread with you. http://wildernesssmallgroup.blogspot.com/ All Peace and Joy to you.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Kent. I am excited to learn about your Men’s Wilderness Group. When will you guys meet at Parking Lot 2?

      I look forward to following your adventures on your blog. Thanks for including the link.

      • We’ll be there before lunch on the 5th, then hike over to a primitive site on the Little Lake Creek Loop, just south of FS211A. I’m bringing the hot dogs:

        http://wildernesssmallgroup.blogspot.com/2014/03/our-first-trip.html

      • Sounds fantastic. I would love you join you but I leave for Egypt on Friday, April 4. Hopefully we can connect at another time. In the meantime, I will keep up with you through your blog. I have already read through all of your posts and love what you are doing. Thanks for leading men in this strategic way. Let’s stay in touch.


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