My husband has worked from home for the past two years, and, having a flexible schedule, we hike several afternoons a week. A mere ten minute drive away is Oregon State University’s McDonald Forest, which features several short and well-groomed, yet interesting, trails.
We’ve been hiking McDonald since our son was eight weeks old; first he went in the backpack, but now that he’s bigger, he goes in the all-terrain jogging stroller. We do let him “hike” the last half-mile.
Frequent hiking has been a blessing. I hope we find some good trails when we move to Michigan, though I know it’s tough to beat an Oregon forest for beauty.
Which brings me to my first reason for loving our family hikes:
1. Nothing Beats an (Almost) Daily Dose of Nature.
When we lived inside the Washington, D.C. Beltway, we often took a “hike” on a local nature “trail” near our house that, at the time, I thought was the perfect respite in the middle of a rough-and-tumble Prince George’s County. Now that we’re back in my native Oregon, I can see how nature-starved I was living in Maryland. You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone, right?
The “admirable works” of nature, says Ven. Louis of Granada,
“do not speak or testify to [the] truth [of God's providence] in human voices, which could never reach the ends of the universe. Their speech and testimony is their invariable order, their beauty, and the art with which they are so perfectly made. This type of language is heard in all lands and it draws men to the worship and veneration of the Creator” (Summa of the Christian Life, I.1).
2. I Found the Joy of Running on the Trail.
I used to hate running, vehemently. However, one day, unable to keep up with my husband’s quick walking pace, I decided to jog next to him. I jogged a 3.5 mile trail next to him. And when I finished, I realized, “Hey! I just ran 3.5 miles!”
And so my love of running began.
3. We See Friendly AND Well-Behaved Dogs.
My parents have a couple of dogs. They are friendly to us, especially the black lab, but they are only so-so in the behavior department. But other people bring their dogs to McDonald Forest. Dogs that are well-behaved. After all, one can’t bring a poorly-behaved dog on a public trail.
My son loves to pet the puppies taking a walk with their masters at McDonald Forest.
4. My Husband and I Date, Oregon-Style.
Try taking an hour-long hike several times a week with your husband and see if your marriage doesn’t get any better. Answer: it will. Walking or running through a beautiful environment, breathing crisp air, with your sweetie gets the conversational juices going.
We talk about our work, our pursuits, our life, our son, our families, and our hopes on the trail. We’ve planned our future on the trail. We’ve expressed our concerns and worries and anxieties about this-and-that on the trail. We’ve fought and made up on the trail.
No fancy dinner, no wine, no babysitter – just comfortable clothes, a bottle of water, the diaper bag, a stroller, and gas in the tank to get us there. Hiking is a perfect date.
How about you? Do you like to hike?