Timothy A. Reeder
(This is a guest post by writer Timothy A. Reeder. Mr. Reeder is a former soldier and policeman, and writes

and speaks to groups about Christian faith and dealing with depression and anxiety. He blogs at www.timothyareeder.com.

Tim takes on a trip across the creek and up the hill on a hike of spiritual orienteering…..)
Last summer I took a hike in the Young Conservation Area. Young Conservation Area is a gorgeous 970 acre park with about 6 miles of trails, located in Jefferson County Missouri about 30 minutes southwest of St Louis.  Cutting through the park is LaBarque Creek. LaBarque is normally a shallow, wide creek where I’m told the fishing is quite good. There are also several ponds for the fisherman to enjoy. 
This was my second attempt at hiking this particular park. On my first attempt I made the mistake of trying to follow the Google GPS on my phone. The app was determined to have me enter the park from somewhere in the middle. So after a few hours driving through private neighborhoods and getting some leery looks from the residents I gave up and resolved to try again another day. On my second attempt I printed out a map and followed it. This time I found the park in minutes, just a few miles off of Interstate 44.
It rained the day before I arrived. Other than the trail being a bit muddy it was a gorgeous day for a hike. To begin I followed the small loop trail just off of the parking lot. This led down alongside the creek. I attempted to follow another offshoot trail that lead into some tall grassland. After a few minutes though the trail was so muddy it was almost impassible and the grass was so tall I could not see.  I gave up and headed back to the trailhead.
From there I decided to try the shorter of the main trails, the Taconic Trail. At just under 3 miles I figured it wouldn’t take me too long to complete. There were some gentle hills and gorgeous scenery, and some wildlife as well. I saw all kinds of birds, a few turtles, and several turkeys. Despite the reputation for deer hunting in this area I was there during the wrong season, so there were none to be seen.

At one point I followed a small deer path up from the main trail. It lead up towards the top of a hill and I was hoping for a great view. It wasn’t long though before the path started to fade. I would lose it for a few feet before I found it again. Then eventually the path was completely gone.
I was near the top of the hill now so I figured I could just cut straight up the side without any problems. So I took note of a fallen tree where I was leaving the path and headed uphill. After a while though I realized that the trees were too thick and there wouldn’t be much of a view at the top. So I decided to head back down. Except when I turned around I couldn’t find the fallen tree. I started back towards where I thought it was but I still couldn’t find it. There was nothing resembling the trail anywhere to be found.
LaBarque Creek. Photo by Timothy A. Reeder.
After another couple minutes trudging through the brambles it was official, I was lost. Thankfully there were a couple of guide points that could help me find my way. I heard the creek and I knew that it was to the west, and that the road was just a bit further west of the creek. So I headed west. Sure enough it wasn’t long before I found the creek, although a much different part of the creek than I was expecting to find. I found a shallow point to cross the creek and the road wasn’t far beyond.
As I sat on the side of the creek and tried to dry out my socks I looked up towards the hill. It seemed so far away now, I had no idea how I’d come so far without really knowing where I was going. Sometimes in our lives we can lose our way as well. At times it feels like the path we are supposed to be on is overgrown and impossible to find. But what do we do then? Do we sit down and accept our fate? Or do we find those guide points that will always help us find our way? While we may not take every step exactly in the right place at least we’ll be moving in the right direction.
Young Conservation Area was certainly worth the second attempt to get there. I did not see another person until I made it back to the parking lot. The solitude allowed me to enjoy the natural beauty and get a much deeper experience than I could have gotten in a more crowded park.  
(Copyright Timothy A. Reeder 2014. All rights reserved.)