Following a conference I attended a few weeks back in Nashville, I stopped on my way home in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While there, I visited Clingman’s Dome, which is also the beginning of the Mountains to Sea Trail, a 1000 mile trail stretching across North Carolina, and ending at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
I only completed roughly one mile of the trail, but it was a symbolic start to an adventure I hope to engage over my life. Hiking continues to become my favorite hobby, and teaches me a great deal about nature and who I am. It is rare that I go hiking and do not learn about a new native plant or animal in the area. I learn about the history of the area as well as the local culture. It brings me closer to the people I hike with and closer to God through spiritual exploration.
I hope to hike on this trail for the next several years and probably decades (with 1200 miles, this will take a while), with many people and on occasion, on my own. Hiking furthers my understanding of myself, others, and life in general, and focusing on a trail that traverses the state I call home, particularly the rural areas of the state, allows me to engage and reflect on my academic and ministerial pursuits.