Hiking Our Hearts Out

Once a week, we go hiking with a group of local homeschoolers. It helps that we live five minutes from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, but we go other places, too. Last week, it was Panther Creek State Park. Next week, it will be Seven Islands Birding State Park.

Fern Branch Falls

Fern Branch Falls

The thing is, the National Park is so immense, some of the trails are still an hour from my house. So even if the destination is in the Smokies, we still have to drive for 30 minutes or longer. What can I say? America is big. That’s what this Israeli family told us last week, when we were at Grotto Falls and started chatting with them. “America is big.” They could not believe how long it would take them to get from point A to point B.

Israel, on the other hand, is tiny. I told them my sister had visited their country, and she was shocked how the bus tour took them from destination to destination in about 20-30 minutes tops. Somehow, when you read in the New Testament about “a day’s journey,” you don’t think they meant “by foot.” But they did.

Besides meeting people from all walks of life, on the trail we meet wildlife. Turkey vultures and deer last week. Two weeks ago, a black bear. Thankfully, we were in the car when we spotted the black bear in the woods. Whew!

Exercise, fresh air, time in nature, fellowship with friends – these hikes check all the boxes. Children will grow up to be interested in nature and conservation if they have been exposed to the beauty of the natural world and our parks. So, every week, I get over my distaste of driving, and take my kids hiking. It’s good for the soul, mind, and body.

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