The journey is the point?


This past weekend our family went camping at Blue Rocks Family Campground. One of the reasons we picked this place was because it allowed us to hike from our tent site up onto the Appalachian Trail and to a vista labeled Pulpit Rock. The map showed that the hike was approximately 1.5 miles to the top of a 1500 foot picturesque bump. The first 100 yards was rather fun. But this part of Pennsylvania is rocky, make that extremely rocky. In fact, it is so rocky that you cannot take a step without stepping on or over blue rocks. A step onto a flat spot is quite rare. I have heard from hikers that this part of the Appalachian Trail is the hardest of the entire length of the AT.

However, we had a clear blue sky, perfect temperature, and the promise of a great view from the vista. While strenuous due the steepness and the rocks we arrived at the “summit” in good time enjoying the quiet peacefulness of the woods. When we stepped toward the overlook, we were shocked to see a crowd of people waiting their turn to get a good look from the edge. Some of the waiting were hardy hikers carrying packs, tents, and sleeping bags. But others were dressed in clothes not best suited for hiking.

Turning to my left, I noticed a parking lot off through the trees. Ah, so we didn’t need to hike to see the vista after all. We could have driven up and gotten the same view without the effort. For a moment I felt robbed. Not so much because I wished we would have driven up to the vista but because my labors had to be shared with those who came up with ease. But then I realized I didn’t really come for the vista alone but for the good feeling and the experience of hiking up a trail, of being in silence (as much as you can with 3 hyperactive boys in tow), and surrounded by woods and rocks.

While those who drove up have their brief memories of the vista, I get to enjoy the hike even today every time I walk up or down stairs since my knees send me their complaints.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “The journey is the point?

  1. D. Stevenson

    My husband and I went for a walk around a lake on Saturday. As we passed families with their kids (mostly at nearby campsites) I remembered hikes with our 4 less than quiet kids. Those days are gone. I tell myself I’m glad. I don’t think I’m very good at denial. I have tears in my eyes.

  2. I just finished reading your blog about your family’s hike to The Pulpit, on the Appalachian Trail. It is a place my wife and I know well. In 2006, we thru-hiked the AT, so we concur with those who say that the Pennsylvania stretch of the AT is, without a doubt, the rockiest section of the trail. As they say, it is the place where hiking boots come to die. However, it is also a place that drives home the point of the spiritual nature of being on the AT, where perseverance and faith are the only things that sometimes keep you going. Thru-hiking the AT is awash with spiritual significance and surviving each day, and experiencing a life free from the chaos of daily “real world” living, enlightens one to what is truly important in life. You may be interested in a new book about spiritual awakening on the AT entitled, “The Walk – Lessons on Life & Faith from the Appalachian Trail.” I believe it fits well with your focus on both Christianity and psychology.

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