Monthly Archives: January 2014


wolf rocks mapSo we bought a book about hiking. It was a Christmas present one year. I really can’t remember which one of us bought it. It is called 50 Hikes in Western Pennsylvania or something sexy like that. It has maps and geological symbols and longitude and latitude degrees. Tom loves it. I was looking for the listing called “nearby restaurants” in the index. Strangely, it is not there.

And the goal was to do all 50 hikes in one year. One hike each weekend. It’s been maybe five years now and we’ve actually visited most of the hikes in book. But the greatest thing was that we were using the guide book together to plan for future hikes. We would talk and compare and decide together. Sound’s easy right? Really? If you are married and have a pulse, then you know that planning anything as a couple can be the most challenging part! Tom likes to hike uphill and I like to hike downhill and wait at the bottom for the car to come and get me. Tom likes “rally course” hikes (one big circle) and I like destination hikes (hike out to a scenic point, eat lunch, then return on the same path). We’ve learned to embrace our differences. Laying down our “will” builds trust and respect. I’ve found that opening up to Tom’s preferences has taken me to destinations I would have never experienced  (I’m still talking about hiking here…).  Letting others lead is humbling but good practice for a Christian!

Within the cryptic pages of the 50 Hikes book, Tom found a real gem that will satisfy any hiker. Laurel Summit’s Wolf Rocks Trail. I guess I don’t have to tell you that it is in Western Pa…the book title, remember. This is the most beautiful place we’ve ever hiked.  (But I have not yet been to Hawaii.) It is a lush green mossy jungle of rhododendron, mountain laurel and pine trees. It looks like Narnia, smells like Christmas, and blooms from July to October. The destination is a Heritage Point type of outcropping of rock that overlooks a big wide panorama of forest. After visiting a few times we realized that one of the rocks looks like a wolf…Wolf Rocks…we are learning to pay attention to that kind of stuff. Names usually mean something. While the joy of this hike is certainly “in the journey,” the destination is stunning. As you make your way toward your heavenly destination as a couple, remember to let the journey take your breath away. Plan it together and allow your differences to take you to places you’d never go alone.

Just a few hike details: This one is worth the drive up into the Laurel Highlands. It is a fairly flat hike but physically demanding because it’s very rocky and uneven. Bring a sweater—even in August. Just down the road behind the parking lot is a real live bog complete with carnivorous plants and wild cranberry bushes. There is a picnic area at the entrance that is inconveniently located downwind of the outhouse.


Posted by on January 7, 2014 in Lessons from the Trail, The Hikes


Baby It’s Cold Outside

Ok, this may not be the greatest week to begin your challenge to hike 52 weekends in a row. It’s cold outside. But we went anyway and it was beautiful. The first hike of 2014 was the “Nature Trail” at North Park. That’s seriously the name of the trail. It really captures the essence of the whole nature and trail thing all in one catchy name. Much like calling a restaurant, “The Place You Eat Restaurant.” The “Nature Trail” is gorgeous in the snow. The stream was frozen and so was my backside.

Don’t be a baby. Put on some boots and at least hike out to the mailbox together…photo 1 photo 2

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Posted by on January 5, 2014 in The Hikes


Becoming One

 “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”  Genesis 2:24

See also Matthew 19:4-6, Mark 10:8 and Ephesians 5:31. Maybe the Message Bible says it best as it translates 1 Corinthians 6:16-20 “There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.”

Becoming “one flesh” is more than skin on skin. It takes an intentional ongoing commitment. We must spend time and energy becoming one emotionally and spiritually as well as physically. At Heritage Point, the two trees grew on the rock ledge, and as they grew they became one. Different, yet knitted together, they could face the wind, snow, and the challenges of the elements. As two trees standing as one, they were stronger than as one lone tree.

This business of becoming one is of great importance to God. His message is in the design. We are made for intimacy.

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Posted by on January 1, 2014 in The Word


Heritage Point

Tom and I barely knew one another when we got married. Well, at least it seems that way when I look back on things. Engaged only 3 months, we were still getting to know one another on our honeymoon. It was our first time. Hiking.

Pipestem State Park in West Virginia has some beautiful hiking trails. And since that’s where we went for our 4 day honeymoon, we hiked. We did other stuff too (coming soon: Golf vs Hike) but it was our first hike together.

Just a slip of a girl along side the man of her dreams, we headed to Heritage Point, an outcropping of rocks that overlooks the Blue River gorge and our little hotel located on it’s banks. (Cool fact: The only way to get down to our hotel was by cable car. Inconvenient but very romantic.) The “point” at Heritage Point looks as if a pile of huge grey boulders were about to go over a cliff and were suddenly stopped by the hand of God. The windswept pile literally hangs over a sheer drop that eventually ends in the river. Between the two most prominent rocks there is a tree. It appears to be growing right out of the rocks. Short, scrappy and stunted by wind and snow, its roots reach down around the boulders into pockets of soil beneath the point. But when an observer looks more closely, it is not one but two trees, a pine and a cedar, so intertwined at their base that the needles and branches seem like they come from the same trunk.

Two Trees at Heritage Point

I hope I don’t need to unpack that obvious metaphor for marriage. Two become one. Different, yet the same. Reaching deep for nourishment. Standing on the Rock. You get it.

Who do you wrap your life around? Who grows along side you steep cliffs of life? We’ve returned to Heritage Point many times, with our kids and by ourselves, and have seen 27 years of growth in the two trees. They seem stronger each year. And together they are certainly stronger than either of them would be alone on the edge of a cliff. 


Posted by on January 1, 2014 in The Hikes


Your Weekly Quote

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages”   –Friedrich Nietzsche (See, even Nietzshe knew the secret of a great marriage!)


Posted by on January 1, 2014 in Quotable


Let’s Start with Some Definintions

october 2009 014Tom and I try to do some kind of hike every weekend. Rain, snow, heat, stomach flu, whatever, we try to get out there.
So technically, what is an actual “hike”? What’s the difference between hiking and walking? If we commit to “hiking” every weekend, what will “qualify”?
You can’t believe how often I have been asked this question. These were the same people who asked the teacher, “What’s the minimum length of the essay? Can it be double spaced? Do I have to use a pen? Are you taking off for spelling?”
Geez. Ok, sometimes it’s a walk around the neighborhood and sometimes we drive to a cool State Park and do a three hour strenuous trail hike. We’ve found that getting out of the routine, away from the kids (and the phone and the computer and the TV) is good for our relationship. We’re outside, looking around at what walks, crawls, flies, or grows. We see things together. We can talk, or not talk. We can walk quickly or slowly like a slug. We can relax and breathe and reconnect. So whatever your definition, make it happen. Plan on it and don’t be a baby. Some of our best times were in the worst conditions. Sometimes when life is at its busiest is when you need your time together the most. (And yes, take the kids with you once in a while…it’s really good for them. But make sure to save your best times for just the two of you.)
And some weekends you just embrace what life brings you. Like the time a walk through the LLBean Store was considered the “hike” for the weekend. (But we did park a long way from the store…) The key thing of course is that you are doing this together as a couple. It’s something that is getting you out of the house and out of the routine. It’s outdoors and uses energy and you have to wear shoes (unless you are at the beach). There, that’s the definition: Be together, outdoors, moving, with your shoes on.

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Posted by on January 1, 2014 in Lessons from the Trail