Enjoying The Journey

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I think that will be the theme for this year.  “Enjoy The Journey.”  Many of us worry about what’s at the end of the destination; talking about how much fun we are going to have when we get there.  Some of us unfortunately, don’t get there.  They never arrive at a preset destination or the destinations they are working so hard in their lives to reach.  We give everything of ourselves to the end goal and sometimes forget to “stop and smell the roses” or for many of us, forget to stop and have some fun along the way.   So, enjoy the journey.

Hike4Life had a great Hike this past Saturday with a great group of people.  We hit trails in the Blue Hills that we hadn’t traveled as a group before and everyone loved it.  We started with a meet and greet while we waited for a few of our friends to arrive.  Many of the faces were familiar to us but, not everyone knew each other so it was really cool to introduce everyone and create new connections.

261796_207176732815201_1094757838_nAfter everyone had finally gathered, we did a short group stretch and headed out on our adventure.

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The scenery was beautiful; A winter scene, within an evergreen dream.  Under a partial blue sky, we strode on fresh untouched snow and stepped cautiously over rocks slicked with ice.  With each step we stepped further into the unknown, not knowing what the trail conditions were like ahead.

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This group was very energetic, hyped up would be a better word to describe the energy that was felt throughout the hills.  Folks were asking about Deer and other animals, I told them maybe we’d see something if they couldn’t hear us coming from a mile away which drew more laughter.

Up and up we climbed; calves and thighs burned as it was our first crack at the trails since the Walk Off The Turkey Hike in November and by the way my heart was beating it was evident that some of us (me) were out of trail-shape.  After a few more inclines, my body “remembered” and I was huffing it with some of the guys as we ran from the ladies whose attempts at spirituals and songs that never end, echoed across the reservation.  It was so much fun.

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As we neared the top of Chicatawbut Hill, we finessed our way through some low lying branches of Pitch Pine and Chestnut Oak and finally made our way to the second highest peak along the Skyline Trail.

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We were blessed as the Sun poured over us and awarded us with warmth and much needed Vitamin D!

The scenery at this time year is beautiful.  We didn’t have the rich dark green that covers most of our state, so we could see hundreds of neighborhoods and homes that appeared tiny to us from high atop the hill.  Large urban areas normally hidden by thickly lavish landscapes, stood out partially nestled amongst the grey-brown trees that long for the coming of Spring.

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As far as our eyes could see, this was Massachusetts.  No sirens, no noise, other than our breathing and conversation.  Fresh air filled our city-scarred lungs, as we inhaled deeply and exhaling our troubles to be carried away with the wind.

This was where we needed to be.

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We left the comfort of our daily contrivances and the safety of the city, to explore the muddy paths of the Blue Hills Reservation.  Hike4Life is fortunate to have so many good people support us and allow us to present this beautiful area, that is natural, open and free to explore.   There’s no bar, no dance floors, no restrooms and no convenience.   There aren’t any halls or clubs and at times, the element of danger can and is real and so is the thrill of adventure.

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Before the Hike everyone didn’t know each other but, by the end of the hike, everyone was the best of friends.  Hiking is great for team building and camaraderie, group encouragement and care for one another is developed as we trek and ramble through the woods.

In total 11 of us left our boot prints for over 3 miles of terrain, snow and ice.  There were a couple of slips but we made it out unharmed and unscathed.  Overall, we got a great workout, spent some time under a comfortable Winter Sun and everyone genuinely had a great time!

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Our feet may have hurt from walking, but so did our faces from all of the smiling and laughing that we did as we Hiked for our lives!

H4L

Networking in Hiking Boots

huiijI just got home from a great event called, #ROXTWEET, which was a “Tweetup” meetup event where participants exchanged twitter handles, business cards, networked and mingled with like-minded movers and shakers in the community.
hipppThere were a lot of topics and questions and comments and every new connection was “tweeted” on the big screen.  Hike4Life got a shout out from City Councilor Tito Jackson, whom we’ve threatened to kidnap him if he doesn’t hike with us this year.hike4Bumped into a future candidate for State Representative, Eric Esteves.  I also met other great people that are working in education, health and politics.
popppWhen I first began attending networking events, I was told that, networking is “professional flirting”, not sure if I disagree or agree.

You see someone, you smile at them, if they smile back, you go over to introduce yourself, you exchange numbers or cards or emails and you ask if you can meet again sometime, possibly over coffee or lunch and 9 times out of 10 your successful.  Way better odds than regular flirting.
hike4This was our 2nd RoxTweet event and Hike4Life had a great time at the Haley House Bakery & Cafe, tweeting, socializing and putting our name out there to those that do not know that we exist or the service we offer to the community.

Looking forward to building and maintaining new relationships.

J.F. (follow us @hike4urlife)

An Unlikely Journey Into The Outdoors

20131016_143921 I AM, an outdoors enthusiast who likes to backpack and kayak, trail ride and zip-line. I love to camp, hike and climb mountains. I am also part of a very small percentage of African Americans that enjoys the miracle and the magnificence of the outdoors.

I recently realized that I started this blog last year without an introduction as to who I am and who we are.  My name is Jerel and I am the CEO of Hike4Life.  Our journey began a few years ago when 2 close friends decided to gather groups of our friends and take them out on hikes. Thus, Hike4UrLife was born. After a logo change and a name “adjustment” Hike4Life was reborn into the emergent community organization it’s known as today.  We continue to grow year after year and build up new followings and strong supporters.  The passion I have for our mission grows and grows, every day, it’s such an important opportunity for so many people to take advantage of.  We want to be the catalyst of change in our community and in our culture.  It’s a lot of work but, it’s worth it.
VLUU L200  / Samsung L200H4L (Hike4Life) began with a simple idea to hike with our friends and other people from the urban community.  Re-Introducing African-Americans to the outdoors was our main objective however, everyone and anyone were always welcomed to join us and support us. The Urban Community, as a whole suffers from Nature Deficit Disorder, we intend to change that condition.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_deficit_disorder
dock2fel-page-001Our humble beginnings began with a Father’s Day hike at Houghton’s Pond, with about 6 people and a dog, Maxi.  It was a small event, that didn’t take long.  We got a good workout, had some laughs and afterwards, we were on our way home.  After the event, I started to read about trees and plants and took leadership courses to become a certified group leader that people could trust.  I became CPR certified and joined the Appalachian Mountain Club, becoming a certified youth hike leader.  One of our next hikes was our biggest hike with with over 40 people; I enlisted the help of two Group Leaders to help me manage everyone on that trip.

Every year, I look forward to the beginning and the end.

Our Season Opening Hike takes place in April.
H4LSIGNThis hike is a get the winter rust off of you kinda hike.  We usually reacquaint ourselves with our friends that we hadn’t seen over the winter, stretch out muscles that may not have been stretched and hit the trails.  We tend to get a big crowd when the season starts; everyone is very supportive and usually has a great time.   In the middle of the season, attendance tapers off a little bit; the heat, bugs and busy schedules play a factor in how often we get to go out.  We typically go out bi-weekly and it usually works out because everyone can do what they need to get done and if they’re available the following week, they come out with us.

During the season, we have several programs that we offer to the community. Family Fun Hikes, where we invite whole families to come out, bring the kids and have a nice relaxing walk in the woods.  Our Urban Hikes take place in the city, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the streets, the Boston Nature Center is the perfect spot this urban adventure. We also have Hiking 101 at Franklin Park, which introduces new Hike4Lifers to hiking.  We go over important dos and don’ts, the 10 essential items that are necessary for successful and safe hiking, what to wear, what to bring and what to expect in the wilderness.  We had one graduate in 2013, we hope to hand out at least five certificates this year.

Hike4Life is also a strong community partner for other groups and organizations that put on events locally and nationally.  We were proud to represent Massachusetts last year for the African American National Parks Day/Event that took place over two days this past June.  It was a wonderful event that stretched from Martinez, California to Boston.
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The #AANPD is where we visit a National Park or Monument, learn about the history, spend time hiking or listening to stories, sharing our experiences and taking lots of pictures to share with other African Americans around the country.  Our presence in our National Parks is very low; we are trying to raise awareness by participation to let the Parks and the country know that nationally as a collective, we do care about our natural resources and our history that is forever preserved inside our National Parks.

One of our biggest events isn’t a Hike4Life event.  We partner with several organizations to bring the community our R.O.Y (Reclaim Our Youth) Kickball, Cookout & More Event.
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We have a big draw for these Summer events that bring back the old days of kickball fun under the sun, grilled foods, water balloons, music, family and good times.  The adult kickball games are the best and watching the kids play around and get dirty and have fun is a total joy for me.  This year is going to be another stellar year for us.  We’ll be sure to have a R.O.Y. recap blog over the Summer.  (Follow us to make sure you get that update, wink, wink)

Our season ends in November with my second favorite event;
The Walk Off The Turkey Hike.
Thanksgiving TurkeyThis hike comes on the Saturday after the Thanksgiving holiday.  What a better time to go out and walk off some of that guilt from the holiday.  Why is my favorite hike at the end of the season?  I think it’s because it’s a long spring/summer and when it comes to fall hiking, the weather is cooler, the colors of the trees are beautiful and we have hot chocolate and other treats for our Hike4Lifers.  The scenery alone makes this event a group favorite.  Ascending the top of the Great Blue Hill you can see red, orange and yellow for miles and miles.  I can’t wait but, I can.  Don’t want to rush November 2014 too much!
SPONSORS AND SUPPORTERS-page-001I am a fan of this organization.  I am happy for what we stand for and who we stand with and who stands with us.  We have gotten love and support from New Jersey, Georgia, the Carolina’s, Austin, Texas and our great friends in California!

As many of you know, there is a small percentage of African Americans that visit our National and State Parks, Hike4Life along with others are in this effort together to bring Black people into the woods and let them see for themselves that it’s not as bad as they may have imagined or heard or have seen on TV.  The woods are for everyone and everybody.  We will continue to create programs and provide access to the outdoors by promoting discovery, adventure, nature, fitness, history and fun.

Join us as we; get Out of the Hoods and into the Woods!
meee

Follow our adventures at: www.facebook.com/hike4life

Hello Fall

Fall is here.  Funny how September comes and everything we’ve enjoyed during July / August, just seems to vanish over night.  Cold mornings, cold nights.  Crisp clean air and back to school, are all signs that Autumn is upon us.  Now, what we do with this season is up to us.  We can stay indoors or we can get up and get out and enjoy this very colorful season and a favorite of so many.  Hiking, biking, day walking or horseback riding, there are many ways to appreciate Fall.

Hike4Life