‘Holy Hikers’ group explores northwest Arkansas with a spiritual focus

First UMC Eureka Springs member D. Rude reads a Gospel lesson during the Palm Sunday hike, which included the Stations of the Cross, and a celebration of Holy Communion at Hawksbill Crag.

By Amy Forbus

Round Top Mountain in Jasper. Eden’s Falls and Hide-Out Hollow along the Buffalo National River. Hawksbill Crag, Kings River Falls, Lake Leatherwood, Glory Hole, White Rock, Triple Falls. The Swinging Bridge near Oark.

The Holy Hikers of First United Methodist Church Eureka Springs have visited them all, exploring Creation and deepening their walk with God as they walk the trails on monthly hikes. A time of table fellowship at a restaurant near the day’s chosen hike caps off each excursion.

“Holy Hikers does entail a tad bit of holiness and a great deal of adventure and fellowship; for some reason they just can’t get used to my offensive driving I learned in Iraq, but it’s fun to watch the older crowd squeal in delight as we bound over bumps in the road looking for the next trail,” said the Rev. Blake Lasater, a former military chaplain and current pastor of First UMC Eureka Springs.

“We usually take 15 to 20 folks, and many outside the church are now joining us,” he said. “They range in age from 8 to 83.”

The Rev. Blake Lasater prepares to baptize Tom Marler at Kings River Falls.

One recent highlight: the group hiked to Kings River Falls for the baptism of Tom Marler, a 70-year-old U.S. Army veteran “with a new heart—spiritually and physically,” Lasater said.

Palm Sunday’s hike featured Hawksbill Crag as the destination, and incorporated the Stations of the Cross as drawn from a Celtic ritual Lasater discovered during a visit to Scotland.

As the weather gets warmer, the Holy Hikers plan to continue their monthly outings, but perhaps with a new activity, Lasater said.

“We are going to switch to kayaking in the spring and see where all that takes us.”