Tuesday, January 1, 2019
#52familyhikes: What We Learned From Our Year of Adventures
Charlotte nature preserves to the sandy dunes of Hammocks Beach State Park on the coast of North Carolina, from the peak of Mount Mitchell (the highest point on the East Coast) to the sedan-sized boulders of Devil's Marbleyard in Virginia, from the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mecklenburg County greenways. Every time we laced up our boots, we gained a precious and unanticipated gift of a bonding experience, an important life lesson or a poignant and lasting memory.
Here are some of the most compelling takeaways from our year of adventures:
We got to know each other better. Turns out Jeff can recall a remarkable number of silly old show tunes, which was especially handy when cranky hikers needed a distraction. More importantly, though, we all became more in tune with one another. During long hours on the trails and in the car, we came to better understand what makes each other laugh, and how to be gracious and supportive when one of us would just as soon cry. Being alone together in nature heightened our understanding and appreciation for the roles we play in our family.
We gained a greater appreciation for our environment. We became nature savvy and more confident in the wild. We can all identify poison ivy and know how to tread carefully where snakes might be basking. We pause to marvel at wildlife, rather than blindly passing it by. We no longer take the environment for granted and we intentionally talk about things we can do to preserve and protect it.
We laughed. Oh, the things that are funny after hours on a trail. We've all gotten really good at answering nature's call in the woods. We have a secret warning call for when fellow hikers are encroaching. And, yes, we use it more often than not to trick each other. It never gets old.
We covered new ground. We saw how beautiful and dynamic our state is and learned to appreciate what's outside of our urban Charlotte bubble. We saw stunning views and discovered splendor in rural countrysides, shadowy valleys, expansive waterways and groomed city recreation areas.
I'm not sure what our next challenge will be. Maybe we'll try to visit all the North Carolina state parks or tackle part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail or explore more sections of the Carolina Thread Trail. I do know that what we set out to do will just be the beginning of the adventure.
Thanks for following our journey. Happy trails in 2019. May you embark on a challenge that brings unexpected gifts.