Category Archives: The Hikes

Places we’ve walked and hiked.

The Second Time

The first time was Heritage Point.  It was not a super challenging hike but by the time we got back to the hotel, we were clearly hooked and stoked to find a new trail to conquer.  The State Park Ranger, Ken, told us about another hike that takes to you a remote Patrol Cabin at the top of the mountain behind our hotel.  “Very strenuous, very steep,” says Ken.   We’re all in.  Ken gave us a pretty stern warning.  “It’s a tricky hike, not well traveled.  Take your time.  Be careful.”

Careful Shmareful.  We were young and strong and good looking.  We could climb Everest if we could afford a Sherpa.  I had a cute matching outfit on that I bought especially for my honeymoon, matching socks and little white sneakers too.  Tom was rocking a pair of cut offs.  We were so ready.

The beginning of the hike takes you on a trail that parallels the BlueRiver.  Beautiful swift water over the billions of grey-blue rocks.  Cool, breezy, fragrant.  We are loving this.  Then we make a hard left and begin what I will call the “assent.”   This stretch is not so beautiful.  It’s a rugged, ugly, and neglected road bed.  There is evidence that this was a popular place to leave your trash back in the 70’s.   It is riddled with fresh mountain spring water.  This is a romantic phrase for mud.  My adorable sneakers are no longer white.  My socks now match the car door from the brown Maverick abandoned beside the “trail.”  But the promise of a Patrol Cabin at the top of a sunny mountain beckons us “come!”  Make it to the top!  Be a part of the mountain!

We continue upward.  The sun comes out.  We march even higher into the steaming humid mountain air.  My honeymoon outfit is soaked with sweat.  (Tom wasn’t supposed to see me sweat until after the first full year of marriage.)  There are black flies the size of tator tots.  There are swarms of gnats that have an unmistakable affinity for eyeballs.  Mosquitoes pour out of the “mountain springs.”

Did Tom and Amy bring any water for the trip? A map? Bug spray?  Sunglasses?  A cell phone?  A camera?  No way, we are two crazy kids punch drunk with love…in the 80s!   We don’t need no stinking bug spray!

A few clouds form and block the sun.  We notice the sudden drop in temperature.  It must be only 117 degrees now.  There’s a bit of wind too.  We hike ever onward.  The Patrol Cabin awaits.  It’s windier now and getting dark.  My mascara has made it down to my chin.  I’m sore, thirsty and miserable.  Tom is swatting flies like a 5 year old with a piñata but staying ever positive.  We can make it!

But we don’t.

vacation 2010 009

Tom at the Patrol Cabin in 2010. We finally made it.

Ranger Ken was right.  A few items in a backpack would have eased the journey.  A map would have told us that we had only a short walk ahead of us that leveled off to meadow at the base of the Patrol Cabin.  But only years of experience reveal this kind of wisdom.  Marriage is a long hot journey. But there is a map. There are perils, irritations, and trash piles. Prepare well.  Don’t quit too soon.  Keep climbing. You want to finish at the top.


Posted by on January 8, 2014 in Lessons from the Trail, The Hikes



This hike was recommended by a friend of the blog…

Not sure the joy is in the journey, but what a Destination!!

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 7, 2014 in The Hikes



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

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 5, 2014 in The Hikes


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