Chattanooga Hikes: Trek 3


“Wow, I didn’t even know this place existed!”

This is only appropriate response when you discover over 30 miles of walking, hiking, and biking trails just a few miles outside your front door.

Enterprise South Nature Park is a gloriously pruned tract of land across the parking lot from Volkswagen’s manufacturing plant in Chattanooga. On a clear day you can look towards the brilliantly lit VW logo and see Lookout Mountain’s Point Park as you enter and exit the park.

Newly paved and landscaped, this once abandoned dynamite manufacturing locale hosts dozens of trails for casual walking, bike-riding, scenic hiking, and even roads for your leisurely Sunday drives.  It’s best to stop by the Visitor’s Center when you enter to pick up a color-coded layout of the diverse and winding paths. Being mine and Abigail’s first time, we simply started walking down the first path we saw – Poe Run Path, which after a mile ambiguously becomes Hidden Lake Trail.  Several minutes later, we split off on the Hidden Lake Overlook.  It’s not as scenic of an overlook as you might imagine compared to the rest of Chattanooga’s trails, but you do get a nice view of the hidden lake, as well as the picnic area on the opposite bank.

From there we looped around and took the paved roads back to our car.  All in all we walked between 3.2 and 3.5 miles.  Had we not both been under-the-weather, we would have loved exploring all the ins and outs around the park.  As the trails are so well kept and do not vary much in difficulty (all moderately easy, it seems), Enterprise would be a great area to get away for the day.  In fact, I highly recommend it.  Take a day for yourself and get lost in the splendor of the outdoors.

Perhaps my favorite part of the area, and certainly a main contributor to the park’s popularity, is the 100 old dynamite bunkers.  No, those flora-ridden mounds with ventilation shafts are not, in fact, hobbit holes.  What once held tons of explosives during WWII, and the rundown roads that lead to them, are now a fascinating scenic additive.  Chattanooga never is one to be short of something unique, I’m so thankful to say.

Total Hike Time:  1.5 hours

Three down, thirty-seven to go.

Chattanooga Hikes: Trek 2


“Quintessential Chattanooga.”

That’s the phrase that comes to mind when one walks the Riverwalk at Chickamauga Dam.  Whether you’re riding a bike grabbed from one of the many bike-rental stations around town, or slowly strolling along people watching, this path connecting the Chickamauga Dam to Downtown is magnificently beautiful.

For those that missed Trek 1, my wife Abigail and I have begun a journey to hike Chattanooga’s 40 most beautiful trails during the year 2015.  Our selections are made from Five-Star Trails Chattanooga, Your Guide to the Area’s Most Beautiful Hikes, by Johnny Molloy, which was likely our favorite gift from this past December 25th.

The Riverwalk itself is a 3 mile out-and-back concrete path, going from the Dam to the Fishing Park and back again.  If you’re feeling adventurous – which, if you’re reading this, you likely are of the adventurous type – then you might want to make the additional 5.2 miles cruise along the path all the way to the Downtown waterfront.  Better yet, you might want to rent a bike for the day, meander along the Riverwalk, and grab a kayak downtown for a relaxing row around the Tennessee before settling down for a nap in your hammock.

For those walking, look out.  Abigail and I were almost run over by half a dozen bicyclists; not because they were being rude, just because it’s a popular place to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon, and the pathway’s never more than 6′ wide or so.  It did make for a fun game of “who can hear the bike first,” though!  (We don’t recommend this game if carting children.)

In addition to following the flowing river, we both enjoyed the pieces of art scattered along the trail.  Waterways and public art – quintessential Chattanooga – what’s not to love!

This is a great place to take kids, as well.  At the Fishing Park, the side opposite the Dam, there’s a massive playground, with bathrooms and picnic areas and all. It truly is a solid choice for a family outing.  Take your diapers and charcoal, and enjoy the outdoors away from the downtown hustle and bustle.

We took our jolly sweet time, and the 3 mile round trip took us roughly an hour-and-a-half. As far as hiking goes, this wasn’t much of one.  To be honest, it doesn’t justify writing a post about it aside from making the commitment to write about each of the 40 trails we’ll do.  However, it was still in a book of the 40 most beautiful trails in the Chattanooga area (with an hour-and-a-half radius), so that’s definitely saying it’s worth your time to enjoy.  Trek 3, though, we’ll make sure to break a sweat.


Kenneth D. Burke

A Life Filled With Prayer

My friend and college Resident Assistant tragically passed away in a hiking accident in the Swiss Alps nearly a year-and-a-half ago. In remembrance and respect, our school held a memorial service for him. Of course his parents were there, and during the service his mother read a few notes from a journal he kept. One of the notes read, in effect, that there are two books he thought everybody should read:  Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God, and Paul Miller’s A Praying Life. I read The Reason for God shortly after that service, and it’s easily one of the best books I’ve ever opened. If you haven’t read it, and despite what you believe or are unsure about, I strongly recommend you find a copy.  A year after finishing that, I’ve finally begun reading A Praying life.

It’s not necessarily the greatest book ever written, and I’m only half way through it at the time of this writing.  But it’s exactly what I needed. Its message is exactly what each of us need – a life filled with prayer.

This concept is not simple. It is not easy. But how many truly good things are easy to grasp?  Miller makes the assumption that the reader is already a member of the Christian community, but thankfully he does not get bogged down in using religious mumbo jumbo or “Christianese.”  He doesn’t explicitly say this, but what Miller is really advocating is a combination of faith and dependence, which manifests through prayer.  Dependence on God, to realize we’re better off not doing things on our own, and instead should rely on the One in whose image we are created.  Faith, to believe that our requests, our sufferings, our burdens, our desires, however seemingly trivial, actually do matter to God.  When these two aspects come together, what we inevitably get is prayer in some form or another.  The stronger the combination, the more prayerful life we live.  The more prayerful life we live, the more fulfilled we are able to be.

Sometimes God allows people to suffer to make us realize we need Him.  Lately I’ve been suffering with some prolonged issues (nothing life-threatening, but miserable nonetheless).  I also hadn’t been praying at all.  The last two weeks I’ve spent thirty minutes to an hour throughout each day talking with God – sharing my thoughts and feelings and desires, and asking strength and for His guidance to be apparent to me.  What’d’ya know, those issues I’ve been suffering from for months are almost entirely cleared up now.

And the thing is, this happens every time.

I find that my life is better when I’m dependent on God.  Then, for some reason, I think that, because life is swell, I don’t need Him.  How’s that for logical?  I become prideful and arrogant, and think it’s all my doing. And then life becomes rough once again, causing me to recognize my need for God, again, only for the same cycle to continue.

I get caught up in making money, in being wise, in spoiling my wife, in being the guy everybody likes.  I lose sight of what actually matters.  I neglect what keeps life going well.  I neglect who keeps life going.

What Miller brings to light what many of us already know – that life dependent on God is better than life independent of God.  He creates this picture with accounts of his own life.  He lives what he writes.  I’m sure he’s not perfect, and he makes that clear, but why would someone have to be perfect for God to take care of them?

Dependence on God and faith that He’ll come through, even in the small things, is what prayer is all about.  I pray because I recognize a need, whether it be for smooth traffic on the way to work, or for a dying relative.  Similar to the way someone might seek out an advisor to help with their finances, I should seek God to help me through life.


Kenneth D. Burke

Blind Spot

As I covered in my last post, I’ve a new goal to read 52 books in 52 weeks. I don’t necessarily intend to read a book a week or to write a new post a week during this time, but I do intend to share my readings and meanderings along the way. The first book I finished is Gordon Rugg’s Blind Spot.

A professor of mine received it as complementary gift, and added it to the Free Pile on the table outside his office. Clearly, somebody didn’t think it was any good. Years after picking it up, I finally decided to crack it open.

Apparently, you really can judge a book by its cover. In essence, Blind Spot is about experts making mistakes because they’re caught up in a particular paradigm and blind to the solution for the particular problem at hand. What’s interesting is that in these instances, it is far easier for a non-expert to come up with the answer. It sounds insulting, but it really does happen all the time, and Rugg uses decades of research to back it up.

Parallel to experts’ mistakes is the tale of experts being unable to thoroughly explain why they do exactly what they do in given situations. We’ve all been there. For those of us who aren’t grade school teachers, try explaining how and why you do math the way you do. Among others, Rugg uses examples from interviews with a geologist. When different stones were presented to him, he’d give their appropriate names and a few characteristics. What’s interesting, though, is that several of the stones had like characteristics, but the geologist couldn’t articulate why he could tell the difference between stones. Our brains work by association for labeling. We become accustomed to seeing things in a certain setting or form, so when we see x, y, and z characteristics come together in q form, we know we’ve got marble. This inability to explain our processes, and the tendency to live within certain paradigms goes for nearly all professionals – physicians to electricians to magicians. It’s really fascinating how much we take for granite…(ba dum tss)

I do financial planning for a living. For me, this book is relevant because there are situations when I want to recommend standard implementations for families in textbook situations. But I have to be careful that I’m not caught up in regularities so much that I miss what’s unique about their particular situation, which should inevitably change the optimum financial strategy. On the flip side, I know how certain strategies will look short and long-term, and thus what should be done when and where, but I can’t always articulate the minute differences and emotional effects they have along the way.

Is there much to take away from this book? Not really. It’s mostly a series of social science research experiments written for the general public. However, it is a very easy read, and Rugg does well not to get caught up in scientific mumbo-jumbo. It also was a great subject change for me between Tolkien’s LOTR and studying for the Series 6. If you enjoy psychology or coding you might like this book. Otherwise you might read the first two chapters and leave it to collect dust.

It was interesting to think through how this seemingly small concepts presented likely play into other areas of life such as politics, cancer research, teaching, business, etc., and strongly reminded me of the good folks at the Chalmers Center who created a beneficial paradigm shift in the way the world treats the poor by looking at the situation differently than the poverty alleviation experts of the world at the time.

Two books I’m reading now are Paul Miller’s A Praying Life and Tim Ferris’ The 4-Hour Work Week. I plan to throw in a few more serious and thought-provoking articles, as well as some humorous ones, along the way. If there’s any topic you’d like me to give a shot at, comment below and I’ll get it done! I look forward to challenges that help me grow and develop my skills.

Please help support me and my passion by following this link.


Kenneth D. Burke

Challenge Accepted

For my first posting I’m going to do something a bit risky, and possibly idiotic.  I’m going to try my hand at a challenge.  While I was constructing an idea of what type of website I wanted to create, and what subjects I thought would be good to discuss, a friend of mine challenged me to write about worms.  “Honestly!  If you can write about worms, you can write about anything!”  So, for my first attempt at creating an enthralling and interactive site, I’m going to give two cents on a random member of the non-anthropod invertebrate community.  This one’s for you, Savannah.

Unless you love fishing, gardening, or invertebrate zoology, you likely couldn’t care less about what’s coming.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re actually disgusted by the very thought of Eisenia Fetida or Lumbricus Rebellus.  Rather than making this a long, boring report on the specific science of worm biology and life, which the nerd in me would outrageously enjoy doing, let’s make this fun.  Fun fact #1:  There’s over 2,700 different types of worms, which is pretty diverse for something without eyes or appendages.  To put into perspective how diverse this population is, Charles Darwin spent 39 years studying earthworms – yes, 39.  Next time you want to complain about a paper you have to write or a speech you have to give, be thankful it’s not on helminthological mating habits.

Pragmatically, earthworms are great for gardening.  Interested in having your own herb and pepper garden?  Fantastic! Grab a few worms, specifically one of the two types referred to in the latin above, and you’ll have much healthier soil with much less effort.  Earthworms, not all, but most, are composting machines.  Anything compostable that enters your soil or fertilizer becomes food for these squirming mongrels.  This food allows them to secrete their slime, which contains nitrogen, a vital nutrient for healthy plant growth.  On top of this, by tunneling, worms till the earth, mixing the subsoil with the topsoil.  In turn, this all means less maintenance for a healthier garden.  If you decide to try this, I suggest obtaining the European Earthworm (Lumbricus Rebellus), as they handle cold climates better than most, meaning you can have those fresh ingredients year-round, depending on the plant itself, of course.

For those of you who didn’t leave the page after discovering the topic, I’m sure some of you are reading this expecting some discussion of parasitic worms, maybe even with a frightening picture or two.  Trust me, the last image I want in my head is Pinworms feeding off E. coli inside of me or Trichinella Spirallis traveling through my bloodstream or Lymphatic Filariae causing genital elephantiasis, so I’m not going to discuss parasitic worms.  I’ll leave that for your own research.

If you’ve made it down to this part of the article, I guess it wasn’t too eccentric of a topic to start with, and I’m thankful for your attention span.  I’m hoping to release an article a week from now to the end of the year.  To do so, and to do it well, I’ll need feedback and ideas from as many people as I can get.  Help me. Please.  Give the link a share on social media, make a comment below, send it around the office, subscribe to this site, refer a friend – it would mean far more to me than you can imagine.  I could not be more appreciative of any and all advice and support.


Kenneth D. Burke