I had a wonderful opportunity in early February to share about my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail with a Men’s Prayer Breakfast in Huber Heights, Ohio. I was invited to the breakfast by Carl Smith, a teacher at Dayton Christian and one of the members of the church. It was a privilege for me to join in the prayer time with men who wanted to support one another and see God’s truth impact their day-to-day experiences. As we sat around the table, I was impressed by the men’s desires to be good husbands and fathers, to represent Christ in their work and relationships, and to encourage one another in the walk of faith.
I also found out that I was the first “speaker” to be part of their monthly breakfast – no added pressure. I shared a virtual tour of the 14 states embracing the Appalachian Trail and related some of my personal adventures on my life-changing backpacking experience. I took some time after the presentation for questions and answers. This is usually when I know if I have really engaged the group. If questions are slim, the presentation was not very effective. Fortunately we spent another 30-40 minutes responding to various inquiries. The group’s gracious applause at the conclusion was encouraging as well. After we dismissed, there were still a half dozen guys who stayed behind to talk a little more. I know I thoroughly enjoyed the event. I hope that they did too.
Many thanked me for coming and I was as polite as possible, but the truth be told, I am the one who was blessed. It is not only a privilege but a thrill to be able to share my story. I appreciated their gratitude. I am always looking for a group that might be willing to listen to my story. I am a true introvert and public speaking wears me out physically and emotionally, However, I try to never turn down an opportunity to talk about my faith and my thru-hiking experiences.
It has been well over 650 days since I first stepped foot on the Appalachian Trail and seventeen month since I stood atop the big sign on the summit of Mount Katahdin, Maine. But there has not been a day since April 26, 2014 that I have not thought about, and learned from, my life-changing adventure of 5 million steps through fourteen states. One breath of a warm breeze and I am under the canopy in my mind. The Bible is chock-full of hiking language and the challenges of the walk. I love to research and read and write and speak about the trail that God used to teach me about Him, and myself, and my relationship with Him.