Long Leaf Loop

This is the third in a series of posts about my weekly hikes on the Pine Mountain Trail.

img_0409The good news about Labor Day is that you get a day off. The bad news is that it throws your whole week off. It’s been two weeks since my last hike, and in fact, almost that long since I did anything resembling exercise. So needless to say, I was a bit out of practice today. God has a sense of humor, because this hike happened to be the longest thus far (and might be the longest in the series, depending on how I’ve split up the trails).

Mile 3The Long Leaf Loop is a 6.9 mile loop that contains a good chunk of PMT (over 3 miles). I headed clockwise on the loop, starting at the Buzzards Roost Parking Area, although I had intended to go the other way for variety sake. But this was nice too. However, the real payoff, when you hike it from Buzzards Roost toward the FDR State Park HQ, is at the beginning. I bet it would have been awesome to do it in reverse. But alas, I didn’t, and it was still wonderful. Overlook on Long Leaf Loop

The “Triple L” (as I call it), merges with the Mountain Creek Trail for a little while, so there is some double-dipping. Thankfully, it’s the part of the Mountain Creek Trail that I really like, including that part with the downed tree and nice hike by the little creek there.

Mile 4Overall, the hike took a little over 3 hours, and royally kicked my tail. I was pretty beat by the end. It’s not a hard hike, per se, but there are plenty of uphill climbs, and because of the length, you need to take some breaks and keep your stamina up. I regret not packing a few more Clif bars and a second water bottle.

This is from my previous hike on the LLL, but it fits here too.The real treat, to me, are the overlooks on this trail. You get a great view of the Valley on this trail in a number of places on the stretch between Buzzards Roost and the FDR office.

prayer rockI stumbled upon this rock there. I thought it was cute, but was it necessary to mark on the rock? Aren’t all rocks like these obvious places of prayer? I guess someone needed to have a reminder.

Mile 5I particularly noticed the amount of animals I came across, including a handful of squirrels, a couple of chipmunks, a huge spider, three beautiful deer, and I think a fox (I saw a tail, and it looked bigger than a squirrel!). The deer were particularly wonderful. One stared at me for the longest time as I stopped. I felt like we were communicating.

About halfway through, it began to rain lightly. I never mind this, as the trees create great shelter.

Empty PoolFinally, this trail runs up against the Liberty Bell Pool. Such a shame that it has closed. I pray they raise more money to reopen it. If you’re so inspired, visit their site and see all the many reasons why it should be open.

Mile 6My thoughts meandered today. I thought about everything from youth ministry at St. Nicholas to my current favorite TV show, LOST, and how it might end this next season. I pondered the possibility of our house in Savannah selling by the end of this month and what we might do to create our home here in Harris County. I prayed about our stewardship campaign, Vestry retreat (which isn’t until NEXT year), and Lobsterfest.

I did stop on a bridge and worked on meditating on the Scriptures for this Sunday.

Proverbs 31:10-31

Psalm 1

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

Mark 9:30-37

The Collect of the Day really hit home: Grant us,┬áLord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure… Easier said than done, right?

Yet despite anxiety, Proverbs and Psalm 1 talk about how happy people can be when they integrate God into their lives. I especially like the Proverbs passage, which gives a good example of a happy woman. A good example for us all, not just women! James highlights my suspicions that evil is not some outside force working its way into our hearts, but within each of us, and how our actions make such a difference in the world.

The Gospel, which is one of my favorites, talks about who among us is the greatest. Jesus makes it clear, doesn’t he? Makes me think of what a wonderful job Ivy, Abbey, and Madison have done thus far as our youth readers. Aren’t they great?

This weekend, I plan to do more introspection, as I travel up to North Georgia to do some camping, read some books, do more hiking, and get centered again. I’ll have plenty of time to work on my sermon up there.

Finally, today’s soundtrack comes from North Carolina band The Avett Brothers. Thanks to my dear friend Zoe for turning me on to this group! They are a folk/rock band with a fantastic bluegrass sound and even a hint of punk. Their harmonies are awesome, and they have a solid acoustic sound with banjos and guitars. The album I was listening to was Mignonette, which is great, like all their albums. I have a hard time determining which I like the best. They’ve had a couple of concerts recorded on NPR’s All Songs Considered podcast, so if you’re interested, check them out.

That’s it for today!