Shade is essential in the sun of the Grand Canyon. Many people have died in the canyon because of the heat of the sun. The truth of this thought came to bear on my team of three this past summer as we hiked rim-to-rim-to-rim. In our attempt to make it to Ribbon Falls before 11:00 am, we found ourselves several miles away from the shade at midday. When the sun brakes above the top of the canyon walls there is no shade on the trail. The sun beats down on your back, neck and head. The heat becomes pretty intense and your body moisture evaporates very quickly. I remember taking off my hat only to find that there was no sweat ring, my head was dry, and my mouth felt like a giant cotton ball. As we finally arrive at Ribbon Falls surrounded by shade trees and cool water, the refreshment was quickly embraced and enjoyed by us all.
A place of shelter (tent, tarp, or shed) provides a source of warmth and dryness in the pouring rain. One of my biggest concerns about hiking the Appalachian Trail is being caught in a major thunder/lightening storm without any type of shelter close at hand. I have experienced two tense times of storm hiking in West Virginia. Once, I was caught out in a fairly open meadow when I was surprised by a major wind/rain storm. I was being blown off balance by the gusts of wind and then the rain came pouring down in sheets. After about 10 minutes being buffeted by the storm, I saw a wooden cabin and sought refuge. It was empty and wide open so I made myself at home and breathed a sigh of relief. Then I was able to enjoy the storm and watch the rain in comfort. The second experience occurred with another storm that was upon me with little or no notice. This time I was in the woods about 5 miles from my destination. The wind began to bend the trees and branches began to fall both on the left and my right. I was concerned that entire trees were about to let go of the ground below and seek a hike to fall on. I really did not know what to do, so I kept on walking (and praying). Fortunately, that storm passed quickly and the wind settled down about the time arrived back to camp.
In leadership, shade and shelter are also important. Emotional temperatures can get hot; financial problems can make tempers boil; the pressures of getting tasks done can cause tensions. Every good leader must discover some shade. It might come in the form of laughter or a cool glass of lemonade. You might get shade when you phone a friend or enjoy a warm fire. Others find shelter in the words of Scripture or relaxing over a tasty meal. Whether it is a hot shower or a pop cycle the wise leader will find those opportunities to seek shelter.
- Leadership Insights Gleaned from Hard Trails (L.I.G.H.T.) – The Journey (hikeitforward.wordpress.com)