Over the last 15 years, I consider myself lucky to have hiked half of America’s national parks and many of the world’s top 10 hikes on six different continents. None of that would have happened, however, if it weren’t for the unassuming beauty of a little state park in eastern Alabama.
I didn’t grow up hiking. My parents took my siblings and I on vacation to Yellowstone, theme parks, and several beaches instead. There we mostly sightsee’d, thrill rode, and relaxed.
That all changed after I enrolled in college. On a whim one weekend, some friends and family members decided to hike Cheaha State Park. Just a two hour drive from my hometown, I went for the company, but stayed for the view—specifically Cheaha Overlook (pictured).
Truth be told, I had never seen anything like it. After a moderate walk through the woods, we arrived at the rock around sunset and I’m sure I uttered something like “Wow!” Looking over a valley that big made me feel small. And I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since.
To this day I prefer wide open spaces over the alternative (i.e. caves kinda bore me). What’s interesting, though, is I didn’t set out to be a hiker that day. Nor do I necissarily identify as one today. Hiking the outdoors is just something I enjoy doing, especially as a vehicle to explore new places or witness the seasons change in my own backyard.
In that sense, hiking Cheaha for the first time was one small step for me, but one giant leap for a hobby that has filled my life and taken me around the globe. I’m forever grateful I tagged along that day. Itchy feet, keep itching.
Write-ups of some my favorite hikes to date: Patagonia | Mont Blanc | Western Brook Fjord | Canyonlands | Monument Valley | Gravity Falls, Costa Rica | Bryce Canyon | Kumano Kodo | High Uintas | New Zealand | Cheaha | Machu Picchu | Zion Narrows/Angel’s Landing—both top 10 hikes that I inexplicably have yet to write about