Friday, September 10, 2010

Couple Finishes All Three State Park Challenges

Nat and Delene Broeckling of Bryan County are the first Georgians to complete all three recreation challenges sponsored by Georgia’s state park system. The couple earned bragging-rights t-shirts and the pride of knowing they completed the Canyon Climbers, Muddy Spokes and Park Paddlers clubs.

The Canyon Climbers Club entices hikers to complete trails at Amicalola Falls, Cloudland Canyon, Tallulah Gorge and Providence Canyon state parks, while the Muddy Spokes Club sends mountain bikers out to tackle 11 state parks. The Park Paddlers Club encourages canoers and kayakers to explore six of Georgia’s lakes and rivers, including George L. Smith State Park near Statesboro and Crooked River State Park in St. Marys.

Nat is a project engineer for Rayonier Performance Fibers in Jesup, and Delene owns Curves Fitness Center in Richmond Hill. Their daughter attends the University of Georgia. The couple moved from Whitehall, Arkansas in 2007 and decided that exploring state parks would be a good way to get acquainted with their new home.

“We have literally seen the landscapes and nature of Georgia from the ground up,” said Nat. “We have crossed the state hiking, biking and paddling, enjoyed breathtaking sights, and gained knowledge about the history of the state. Our experiences and memories will last a lifetime.”

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ State Parks Division created the Canyon Climbers, Muddy Spokes and Park Paddlers clubs to encourage people to exercise in the great outdoors. Many would agree that climbing a 1,000-foot canyon or biking a 12-mile trail is more adventurous and challenging than spending 30 minutes on a step machine.

“I think the park clubs are a great way to challenge residents to ‘Get out. Get dirty. Get fit’,” said Nat, in reference to the agency’s activity-inducing slogan.

Among their favorite paddles were Stephen C. Foster State Park in the Okefenokee Swamp and George L. Smith State Park near Statesboro.

“It was neat to paddle through the cypress trees at George L. Smith,” said Nat. “There’s a marked trail out in the lake, and you were in the middle of everything.”

To learn more about outdoor recreation at Georgia’s 48 state parks, call 770-389-7401 or visit The website offers maps, photos and telephone numbers of each state park, as well as the recreation clubs.

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