A faded red ribbon, hanging from a low branch on a scraggly pine tree. Thank God, I wasn’t lost.
It was the summer of 2008, and I was attempting to climb Wheeler Peak on a trail I had never taken, one that, because it wasn’t an official Forest Service route, was unmarked with the usual signage and unshown on my map.
Early on a July morning I had driven northeast from Red River to the trailhead, then hiked alone up the four-wheel drive road to Middle Fork Lake. Later, I planned to intersect the well traveled Twining Campground Trail, which is the most traveled route from the Taos Ski Valley to Wheeler.
But in between I had to bushwhack a couple of miles through high grass and dense forest, stepping over downed trees and sometimes wading through marshy springs. It was easy to get lost.
Except that some kind soul had once marked the path with red ribbons, now faded with time. Problem was there weren’t nearly enough of them. So I had walked 20 minutes or more, wondering if I was lost.
Was almost ready to abandon the trip, to walk downhill and find civilization again, to save the hike for another day. And then I saw the next ribbon.
King David had a similar experience. One doesn’t have to be alone in the mountains to feel lost. In the midst of the kind of tough times that makes one wonder if he’s on the right path, the psalmist says, “Turn to me and be gracious to me . . . . Show me a sign for good” (Psalm 86:17, 18).