A group of Berea College students, staff, and community members gathered Saturday, January 20th, to celebrate the return of warmer weather as we hiked together at the Pinnacles. We met at the Forestry Outreach Center at 12:30, divided into groups to accommodate hikers’ interests and needs, and made our way on trails along the roadside or up to various Pinnacles. Some of the people gathered had never hiked at the Pinnacles before, while others were quite familiar with the trails.
As we walked together, it was a joy to join in conversation with people we may not otherwise have met. As often happens in Berea, people networked in ways that generated ideas for new connections and new friendships were formed. I hiked the East Pinnacle trail with a group of students and community members. The line of hikers spread out as we ascended, and I found myself in lively conversation with a couple of Berea College students, who offered ideas to help the Center better connect with students. Best of all, these students offered to take the lead in helping their suggestions become reality through connections with their student labor positions, by connecting with community businesses, or through their own expertise. Later, a local business owner and I hatched an idea for a new outdoor activity we can co-offer this spring.
Some weeks, hikers will have the option of hiking with a guide who can teach about the land, water, or sustainable forestry practices. While I certainly look forward to those learning opportunities, this first community hike reminded me that such programming isn’t always necessary. There is much to be said for simply relishing the sense of community that develops when we hike together, appreciating the soil beneath our feet, the plants and animals that surround us, and the fresh air we breathe.
We’d love to have you join us next Saturday and every Saturday at 12:30 for a Community Hike at the Pinnacles. A van will pick up students at the Alumni parking lot at 12:15 and return at 3. Sign up with Student Life to reserve your spot!