National Take a Hike Day: Hiking Club Spotlight

November 17, 2021 Jaidyn Kamplain

A lesser-known student club on campus is Hunter’s Gatherers and Travelers (HGT), Hardin-Simmons’ very own hiking and outdoors club. The club does not hunt, the only things they seem to gather are Junior Park Ranger badges, and they sure do love to travel! 

HGT members take many opportunities throughout the year to travel across the country and explore various national parks. Fall, spring, and summer breaks are filled to the brim with hours of driving, miles of hiking, and plenty of opportunities to make new friends. (Oh, and lots of s’mores!) 

Junior Park Ranger Badge Collection

“HGT trips always seemed to come at a perfect time. In the midst of the busyness and bustle of school, work, and day-to-day tasks, HGT trips always provided a perfect time to regroup,” shared former HGT member, Joshua Skipworth. “More than that, HGT will always hold a place in my heart when I think about my time at Hardin-Simmons because of the lasting relationships that were built by driving and hiking around the country in some of the most beautiful places the world has to offer.” 

Filled with traditions, HGT exists to build community at Hardin-Simmons and on the road, learn the value of God’s creation, and be inspired to preserve it for generations to come.  

“It’s a unique bond you form with people when you are sweating, not showering for three days, and you all smell like bug spray, dry shampoo, and baby wipes,” joked HGT president and senior, Britni Starr. “We are so much more than just ‘the hiking club.’ You become a tight-knit community when you learn to love people in that rawness.” 

The club existed at one point as both Parks and Rocks, the only co-ed Living Learning Community (LLC), and Hunter’s Gatherers and Travelers, the club that previous Parks and Rocks members would join. The group lived in Hunter Memorial Hall (hence the name “Hunter’s”) and maintained campus recycling to help pay for their travels. Students who participated in the LLC would have the opportunity to visit every national park within their four years at HSU. 

Students at Guadalupe Mountains National Park over fall break, 2021

When Living Learning Communities transitioned into First-Year Seminars, Parks and Rocks combined with HGT to create one large, student-led club.  

“We had to shift our focus as the club has changed and grown. My desire coming into this HGT leadership position was to establish more community,” shared Starr. “Now we’re figuring out how to bridge the gap between trips and campus. Trips make HGT unique, and they allow us to bond so much, but we also want to reach people who are here on campus and stay connected throughout the year.” 

The club continues to go on road trips over breaks and meets throughout the year to connect and unplug together. If you’re interested in joining HGT, reach out via Instagram at @hgt_hsu. 

If you would like to take a hike to celebrate National Take a Hike Day today, here are some great suggestions in the Abilene area: 

  • Elm Creek Nature Trail and Oak Grove Trail Loop at Abilene State Park 
  • Red Bud Park Trail Loop 
  • Lake Kirby Nature Park 
  • Fort Griffin State Park 
  • The Old Zoo Nature Trail in Clyde