It started in 2002 when my wife Norma and I decided to take our three young children on a hiking trip to southwest Utah. Exploring the great outdoors was not something any of us had done before. We were told by avid outdoors fans the first thing we needed to do was outfit ourselves with the proper gear and equipment.
We drove the hour distance to REI out in Conshohocken, PA, (this was way before REI conveniently opened in Marlton, NJ). The staff in the shoe department earned their pay, finding and fitting the five of us with appropriate and comfortable hiking boots. Next came the hiking socks and liners, three sets of each kind for five people. Kaching! We selected our hiking pants, wick free shirts, rimmed hats, backpacks and other assorted gizmo’s and gadgets. A whopping $1,500 later we were ready to head west.
For three incredible weeks we explored some of the most spectacular National Parks in southwest Utah on foot and off road. We hiked through Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon (north rim). We enjoyed the slit canyons in Escalante National Monument and took our own boat ride to see Rainbow Bridge in Lake Powell, a sacred religious site for Native Americans. In every park the kids did the Junior Ranger program and received their badges and certificates in a park ranger led ceremony.
Sunny skies, red rocks, sandstone cliffs, hoodoos and more. Connecting to nature was a transformative experience for all of us, but especially for me. I became The Accidental Hiker, I wasn’t expecting it. But getting out from behind my office desk and computer, and stepping outside, was the start of something deep and meaningful in my life beyond my wife and children.
Now, everyday, I connect with nature in some way, whether it’s walking, biking, hiking, kayaking, or diving. We’ve explored many more National Parks. This summer we are recreating our trip from 2002. Can’t wait!
Dictated by Joel Penn and published by normaeroth.com