Hike to Help 2019 – Lessons From the Trail

This past weekend was the 4th Annual Hike to Help, a challenging outdoor fundraiser sponsored by Loving Community, benefitting the kid’s mentoring initiatives Boys2Men, Grow Girls and Men of Distinction. The two day, one night wilderness experience was lots of fun and yes a little cold! Our adventure on the Ouachita Trail in Southeast Oklahoma raised $1,800. Thanks for all who hiked and supported the cause!

And with any adventure you walk away with stories to tell and lessons learned. This being our 4th annual Hike to Help, a portion of our campfire stories took a nostalgic bent, reminiscing on prior hikes and participants. I’m almost certain the stories grew in legend! Having time to gather my thoughts from this year’s hike (and soak my sore muscles) here’s five quick personal take aways from Hike to Help 2019. 

Life, as are mountain trails consist of a series of ups and downs. Try as I may, I’ve never found a flat and scenic trail! As the beauty of mountains are forged out of upheaval, such is life. Not always easy, but beauty can emerge if we have eyes to see it and are willing to not give up and persevere. 

Speaking of seeing it, if you don’t slow down to look, you miss much of the beauty awaiting each turn on the trail. Properly embraced, mountain hiking as life is about the journey and not so much the destination. Slow down, enjoy the scenery.

Recognized in the discipline of slowing is the fact that you can’t stop the hands of time! What I could accomplish, and the pace I could maintain at age 28 is far different than what I can do at 58. I am slower! My options are to either bemoan the loss of my youth or embrace the new rhythms and abilities of my age. We all age, which is different in mindset than merely getting old. 

This year we introduced a coed experience to our hike and had our first female hiker. I know not novel for hiking, but it was for our traditional guys trip. Debra more than held her own physically and added a richness to the trip by her laughter, conversation, spirituality and rich life experiences. Undoubtedly we are better together be it gender, race, religion or creed. The mountain is not discriminating and neither should we be. 

The tension of technology even finds its way into the remoteness of the mountains. No campfire conversation is complete without a little gear and equipment talk. And undoubtedly technology has revolutionized backpacking equipment. The new stuff is more compact, weighs less and leverages the genius of invention. And yet, most of us drifted off to sleep not looking at the heavens overhead but the screens on our devices. Truly it is hard to unplug in a plugged in world. 

Overall it was a great trip! Participants are already talking about next year. I left the trail on a Sunday and on Tuesday I was at Valley Ridge Elementary School with a group of 4th and 5th grade boys in our newly started Boys2Men mentoring program. I brought my backpack as a prop and letting each of them hoist it on their backs. Their eyes grew big as their world expanded just a bit with the dreams of what it would be like to hike on a mountain trail. I love seeing kids dream! Thanks for your support for Hike to Help!

See you on the trail,

Jim

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