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Local couple completes all State Park Challenges
Keeping up with the Broecklings
Delene Broeckling takes the helm of the kayak as she and Nat paddle through a waterway at George L. Smith State Park in Twin City. - photo by Photo provided.
Nat and Delene Broeckling of Richmond Hill are a couple that love a challenge.

What started out as a way for the Arkansas transplants to get to know their new home state of Georgia – exploring the state parks – turned into a two-year adventure.

The Broecklings had decided to do all three Georgia State Park challenges, and last month became the first people ever to complete them.

The physically arduous challenges included the Canyon Climbers’ Club, in which participants have to complete hiking trails at four different parks; the Muddy Spokes Club, a mountain biking challenge incorporating trails at 11 parks; and the Park Paddlers’ Club, which allows a choice between canoeing or kayaking the lakes and rivers in six parks.  

“The bike rides were fun,” said Delene. “They were more of a challenge than just riding up and down your neighborhood streets, and it’s something neither of us had ever really done.”

Nat enjoyed exploring the waterways by kayak, where he said it was easy to get immersed in the natural surroundings.

“The kayaking trips that I liked were in the narrower channels … people in a pontoon boat can’t get up here, this is nature,”
he said.  

While they do love being outdoors, the Broecklings had little to no experience in each of the three areas of the challenge. They just brought their lust for life and a picnic lunch.

“We’ve always been active, but we’ve never pushed ourselves like this. We’re not perfectly fit, but I know if we can get out and ride a bicycle up and down a mountain, we have to be healthy or we wouldn’t be able to do that,” laughed Delene.

In addition to the health benefits, the Broecklings said they got to see much of Georgia’s natural beauty and created lifelong memories in the process.  

“It was really neat because we spent a lot of time in the woods in different hours of the day, from morning to evening, and the shadows are completely different,” said Nat.

They were awarded T-shirts for completing each challenge.

“There’s a great feeling of accomplishment to finishing a 12-mile mountain bike trail,” said Nat.

The Broecklings have now taken to creating their own challenges. They completed a four-hour walking tour of Savannah and added their own pub crawl. They’ve bicycled all of Savannah’s squares in one day. They have a goal of visiting every Major League Baseball park in the country (they’ve already been to 17 of them). They have plans to make the 20-mile kayak trip down the Ogeechee River between Love’s Seafood and Ft. McAllister State Park. And, they plan on participating in the new Georgia State Park

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