Low Visibility

"I am pretty sure the trail head is over this way..." 

Those were my words as I peered out into the veil of fog early this past Saturday morning. We had the pleasure of using this past weekend for some back-country staff skills training. And in just two days, these mountains gave us a beautiful variety of conditions.

Sunday was crisp, sunny, and a high visibility sort of day. Saturday, on the other hand, brought a swirling mixture of rain, freezing rain, fog, wind, and a few brief moments of still, thick, chilly air. I certainly understand the temptation to value a crisp, sunny day more greatly than a rain-soaked foggy day. And though a temptation, it is certainly inaccurate.

Low visibility days, on a backpacking trip, can be an incredible opportunity. They are the days where you look more closely at your immediate context. Because you cannot look miles off into the distance, you are left only to look more closely at what is near to you- the trail beneath your feet, your traveling companions, or the chaotic wreckage of an upturned root system that you pass by. Beauty in the little things reveals itself. That which we would normally not commit our attentions or interest to has an opportunity to take front stage- to teach us something. 

Low visibility days are also days where you move a bit slower. Due to slick terrain and reluctance of the next 30 feet to come into view you are forced to alter the speed at which you progress. And because you are moving more slowly you develop a deeper attentiveness to each step’s placement, each inhale and exhale, each shift in pressure of your pack on your body, and each moment of muscle soreness. Being forced to slow down gives us a keener sense of our circumstances… and how can we be effective in our circumstances without even understanding them.

Beyond the trail, life offers us these two kinds of days also. We have periods in life in which we can see well into the future with some measure of certainty and assurance. But we also have those times in life where it feels that we cannot see our next step. We creep along being only able to see what is right in front of our face or to our sides. Sometimes we find that our immediate circumstances are comfortable and other times we find that our circumstances are precisely the opposite. However you find things to be on a foggy day, the blessing of the fog is it’s restrictive nature. In the fog of life, we discover the well from which we draw on for our strength; we discover our immediate circumstances, and we can begin to accurately assess how we are responding to them.

So rather than avoidance of it, we at AML wish you joyful travels through the fog.