Outdoors with Tom Venesky: Take a hike? No offense taken

By Tom Venesky - [email protected]
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There have been times when I was tempted to tell someone to ‘take a hike.’

I bet you have as well.

But if anyone told state Sen. John Yudichak to take a hike over the last few months, he wouldn’t be offended.

In fact, Yudichak has been busy doing just that, hiking the entire 165 miles of the Delaware and Lehigh Trail. It’s a journey that began in May, originating in Bucks County, and concluding earlier this month at the River Common in Wilkes-Barre. Along the way, Yudichak hiked or biked through Lehigh and Carbon counties, a route that showcases the region’s blend of industrial history and nature.

Yudichak, who promised to hike all 165 miles of the D&L Trail if the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl, did more than uphold a promise when he took that last step in Wilkes-Barre on July 13.

He also raised awareness.

Yudichak’s hike highlighted the rich history of the corridor, which dates back to the 18th Century when the Delaware and Lehigh canals were used to transport goods during the Industrial Revolution.

His walk also helped spark the ‘Get Your Tail on the Trail’ campaign, an initiative founded by St. Luke’s University Health Network and the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor to encourage healthy outdoor lifestyles close to home.

Also, the hike renewed the focus to close several gaps that are preventing the trail from being completed, including a 4-mile stretch in Mountain Top and three miles in Wilkes-Barre.

“We’re very stubborn when it comes to getting these projects done and very resourceful, so we’ll continue to work with our great partners,” Yudichak was quoted in a story by Times Leader reporter Jennifer Learn-Andes, referring to the Wilkes-Barre trail completion.

But there is something else that Yudichak accomplished with his hike.

In an age when cell phones and other electronic devices gobble up much of our time and reduce our physical activity, Yudichak showed it’s still possible to turn things off and realize the benefits of a simple walk.

Yudichak said his 165-mile hike was rewarding and inspiring.

Those are elements that can be found on any walk, whether it’s deep in the woods or on a trail through an urban area. A good walk is a great way to exercise and an even better way to free your mind of the daily trappings of civilization.

That’s why initiatives such as the D&L Trail are important. It offers more people a place to walk and exercise close to home.

It’s a chance to explore history, nature and even communities and places that we may just know as names on a map.

And it doesn’t cost a thing to hit the trail and go for a walk, just a little bit of motivation.

Still, there is one more thing that Yudichak accomplished on his trek.

While he wanted to bring more attention to the trail and the benefits of walking, he also transformed the meaning of the phrase ‘take a hike.’

It’s not such a bad thing after all.

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By Tom Venesky

[email protected]

Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVenesky

Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVenesky