Camping Out in Hell

I’ve been reading Hiking Through which is a great book about a man who lost his wife, quit his job, and set out to hike the Appalachian Trail. I so want to do that (sans the losing my wife part).

I have always viewed hiking the Appalachian Trail as a journey I probably will never be able to take. But I’d like to. I love hiking and camping but have never been able to partake much since my family hates it. Oh, they like pitching a massive tent in a state park campsite as long as we have sleeping pads, entertainment, and can get close to the bathrooms. We also can’t “rough it” too long – one night, maybe two max. My wife doesn’t care for it much at all, but has done it for me and the kids. Maybe someday.

The worst camping I’ve endured was during my Army days. I was stationed in Ft Sill, Oklahoma during the summer. I don’t think they believe in shade in that state. I’m not sure if there is a religious opposition to it or an aversion to trees, but the sun has free reign there. And reign it does. In the summer it feels like a preview to hell. The kind of place you don’t stay in (at least in that season). You just soldier through.

Regardless of whether we are hiking or not, we are all on a journey. We move, we grow, we push on, we persevere. Everyone’s journey necessarily involves some hard times – they can’t be avoided, unfortunately. In the book, the author talked about being on top of a mountain in Virginia when the roughest storm he had ever seen surprised him. He grabbed onto a tree to wait it out and literally thought he might die. Hopefully, your hard time isn’t that bad. But it might be that bad to you.

I can’t know the emotional depth of your bad time and you can’t know mine. Every one is unique to the person and situation. I know one thing, the only way to get from Georgia to Maine is to keep walking on.




I stumbled on that Churchill gem recently and love it. I don’t know of another quote so small yet so profound.

Keep going.

If I plop down and focus on the misery of my surroundings, they will engulf me in their flames. I have to keep going.

I am hiking through my hell. If you haven’t seen one yet, you most likely will. They have a way of sneaking up on you. When it gets hot, I encourage you to pick up your pack and keep going. Camping out in hell does no one any good!


This is an atypically somber post from me. I feel compelled, therefore, to leave you with my own pearl of wisdom:

It is okay to roast a wienie over hell’s fire, just make sure you have a long stick.

14 thoughts on “Camping Out in Hell

  1. In the summer we live near the AT. Every so often I put my foot on the trail, peer through the brush and decide that is far enough for me. Thanks for the pep talk, I certainly needed one today.

  2. Keep going, I will. I’m in my hottest hell yet, but the Lord is here with me. And he’s with you, too.

    I’ve taken a hiking excursion on the Trail. Although it was great, I made it pretty dismal. You see, I was haunted by the possibility of meeting a bear. So anytime I heard the simplest thing, I’d nearly lose my mind. My sister and her friend wanted to throw me off a cliff. And you can imagine what happened when I heard a deer rustling nearby. Ha! I need to do that again, minus the drama.

    1. The Lord is with us both, Mike. Move on. In the Old Testament, they would even gird their loins. But I’m not going to suggest that. People look at you funny.

  3. Mark, you must have been on a base at Ft. Sill. We have lots of shade trees in Oklahoma. But it is hot as hell for sure. We all go through “hell” ocassionally. The Churchill quote is a good one. Lord bless you, brother!!

    1. I never saw a tree there! Since it is a field artillery base, the ones we did see weren’t oaks, they were targets!

      You are made of stout stuff, my friend.

      1. You were too good of aims and blew all the trees to smithereens. Lol. I’m in the NE part of the state where there are lotttttts of trees, but it is hot.

  4. Mark, I remember many camping excursions we were on. I also remember the time when you burned your hand!! Not so fun that time. You brought back some very fond memories!!! Love you, Mom

  5. i’ve always thought i’d like to hike the trail too – have you ever read bill bryson’s boo, ‘a walk in the woods’ ? i think you’d love it. love the churchill quote too )

  6. A long stick indeed!
    Thank you for my laugh this morning. Not at all a somber post but a wonderful message! I’m sure I’m not the only person benefiting from such wise words this morning. Enjoy your weekend! 🙂

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