the weblog of Alan Knox

Replay: Lessons from the Appalachian Trail

Posted by on Oct 15, 2011 in discipleship, personal | Comments Off

Replay: Lessons from the Appalachian Trail

Three years ago – and it’s hard to believe that it has been three years – I joined my son, Jeremy, and a friend of mine and his son on a three day hike on part of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. When we returned home, I wrote about several “lessons learned” in a blog series. (The first post was called “Lessons from the Trail 1 – Introduction.”) The introductory post is below, as well as links to the other posts. I really enjoyed our time on the trail, in spite of the problems that I encountered. I hope I’m able to do something like this again soon.

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Lessons from the Trail 1 – Introduction

From Thursday, October 9, through Saturday, October 11, my son, Jeremy, and I joined my friend, Jim, and his son, Jason, on a hiking and camping trip through a very small portion (21 miles) of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. If you are not familiar with the Appalachian Trail, it winds its way through the Appalachian Mountains for over 2100 miles from Maine to Georgia. We started in Pennsylvania where the trail ran near the home of Jim’s father, who dropped us off at our starting point, picked us up at our destination, and offered wonderful hospitality before and after our trip.

Our hike started in Pine Grove Furnace State Park and ended just over 21 trail miles and just over 50 hours later in picturesque Boiling Springs, PA. During the hike, we saw many beautiful sites, almost ran out of water, battled very sore muscles, and learned alot about ourselves. In fact, this series is not going to be about the hike, per se. I am not going to share my trip diary, although I did keep one. Instead, I want to share some “life lessons” that I learned on this trip.

Now, I recognize that 21 miles is not a long way to hike for many people. In fact, we passed some hikers who were walking the entire length of the AT over several months. One man who passed us was running our route in less than one day. However, for two 40 (+) year old men and two teenage boys, it was a long hike.

I was surprised at how much I learned about life during this hike. Some of these lessons I learned through my own quiet meditation (well, mostly quiet… there was some grunting and groaning) during the hike. Other lessons I learned while talking with Jim or the boys. It seemed like every turn in the trail, every ascent or descent, every rocky ridge, every ache and pain offered more lessons, if I was willing to learn. I tried to learn. Perhaps you can help me.

As I share these various life lessons, I encourage you to help me and others learn about life together. Perhaps you have a story to share; then please share it. Perhaps you have another perspective; then share that. Please use my hiking and camping trip as an opportunity to “exhort one another”.

(By the way, if you’re interested, I’ve posted pictures from our trip in a Facebook album.)

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Lessons from the Trail Series:

1. Introduction
2. Preparation
3. Watching
4. Burdens
5. Leaders