While out hiking the trails of Blue Knob State Park last month I thought about the direction of Hike by Faith for 2017 and the years ahead, but before I could do that I needed to take a look back at 2016.
This past year has been one of our best as we began our partnership with Gear Forward, grew through our social media channels, and built relationships with brands and the outdoor community. We even launched our first major project #LHX2017, a five day, four night adventure on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail with a group of experienced backpackers from across the country and Canada. Our adventure begins April 23, 2017, but our journey began this past August. Our goal is to raise awareness of Gear Forward, collect used and new outdoor gear for non-profit organizations with outdoor programs, inspire others to get outside, and connect as a team.
As I continued to think about this past year I found my mind and heart wrestling and a little troubled. Something was not sitting right. As usual, I found a quiet location on the trail, sat down, brewed some coffee, enjoyed the view from Pavia Lookout, and began to piece together my thought that were troubling me.
While the growth of Hike by Faith as been good, I realized what was bothering me. I had forgotten the purpose of Hike by Faith.
To inspire people to get outdoors for overall (physical, mental and spiritual) health. Connect them to nature and to others to build community. And collaborate with the outdoor industry, and communicate the needs of our wildlife, forest and land preservation.
My own time in the woods started to become more about getting the next photo or video to create content. I realized things for me flipped in the reverse. I went from the outdoors being a priority and sharing my experiences being second to doing the opposite.
So what will 2017 look like for Hike by Faith?
We’ll be going back to it’s roots. Getting outside first for our personal enjoyment and then sharing our experiences later through social media to continue to inspire others.
We’ve decided to provide ALL our services through Hike by Faith for free. Meaning guided hikes and backpacking trips. The only cost to those attending would come from fees such as permit and facility fees as well as some minor expenses for the bigger events.
Our purpose will remain the same; inspire others to get outside, connect with nature and connect to the outdoor community to build relationships.
Or website will continue to undergo some changes. We’ll be focusing on telling stories of our adventures and what is happening within the outdoor community here in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania offers over one million acres of state forest and park land. All of which is open to the public with no entry fees. Those public lands offer over 6,000 miles of recorded trails, not to mention the unrecorded game land trails and old logging roads. So in 2017, we’ll become more region specific in hopes of inspiring our local communities right here in Pennsylvania and even beyond.
We’ll also be putting a focus on educating others about the benefits of getting outside. How it has a healthy and positive effect on our overall health (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual).