Big Poplar Loop Part 1

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

Fox Den Cove

I got a late start today on the trail because Molly had a dentist appointment. So I ended up getting up to Fox Den Cove around 10:30 a.m. on a truly perfect day for hiking. This is the first of my two-part hike on the Big Poplar Loop, which stretches from Fox Den Cove to Mollyhugger Hill. Big Poplar is the longest loop of the PMT at 7.8 miles. Included is the 5.1 mile section of the PMT and the 2.7 miles of the Sawtooth Trail. My next hike will be the Sawtooth. Today, I did the 5.1 stretch which was really great.

This is a long stretch, so it’s a one-way trip for me. So I had to book it in order to meet Molly at Mollyhugger Hill for pick up (how many people can say they met Molly at Mollyhugger Hill?). I got there right at the 2 hour 15 minute mark, and ended up getting there way before Molly did. Despite the length of this great trail, it went by really quickly. I guess I had a lot on my mind.

Big Poplar Loop

Big Poplar has some great hills and, even more interesting to me, some great valleys. These valleys are so quiet and peaceful and in some places, very dark when it’s cloudy. There’s plenty of evidence of some burning that’s happened in some of the woods, and I was surprised by the number of downed trees there were. The trail is mostly pretty rocky here, and I almost lost my footing a couple of times. There are a couple of creeks to cross, but not as many as the other trails.

Mile 7Mile 8Mile 9Mile 10Mile 11

Rain Shelter for Animals or Trans-dimensional Portal?The trees are really incredible on this trail, and I got a couple of shots of this one, which would come in mighty handy in a rainstorm. Although, I’d be afraid to get in there in case something else was already in there or in case it was some doorway to another dimension. Looking at it, you just can’t tell. 🙂

The other highlight of this particular hike was the wind. The wind on Monday was pretty strong, and it made me stop and listen to the chorus of the trees swaying. It was downright musical. At some points of the hike, it felt like a gigantic fan was blowing on me to keep me cool. That Spirit is quite a helpful gal, ain’t she?It's amazing how this could happen to a tree...

I was deep in contemplation about two things. First, I was reflecting on the great trip our youth group had to Newnan for the Foursquare Tournament. I ran into the youth leaders from St. Thomas in Columbus and we discussed the possibility of doing a convocational youth event. I used to do these in Savannah and had a regular one called Celebration, which was a youth Eucharist which was a lot of fun. Instead of regular sermons, we played games, had small groups, watched video clips, and then all came back together for communion. Maybe this is something we could do here.

Second on my mind was our house in Savannah. I got a phone call from the realtor on the hike and found out that because of some setbacks with the inspection and the result of the inspection, it may be another week or two before we can close after all if we do at all. I’m not getting too hopeful for this one. There’s some work that needs to be done that we just can’t afford due to the low sale price of the house. So there’s a chance they could still back out. We’re in limbo with this thing right now, so I’m hopeful, but not too excited.

Of course, I also worked on my sermon for Sunday. Here are the lessons:

Job 1:1; 2:1-10

Psalm 26

Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12

Mark 10:2-16

I’m really interested in the fact that the last few Sundays, the Gospels have been talking about children or “little ones.” Two weeks ago, Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” Last week, he said, “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.” This week, he says, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” I love these sayings, and don’t think it’s an accident that Mark included them back to back like this.

However, I’m also interested in Job and the fact that people are generally OK with God and Satan playing chess with Job’s life. I’m certainly not OK with that. But again, that might not be the point. It does bring up the point about why bad things happen to good people.

Today’s soundtrack was brought to me by NPR’s All Songs Considered podcast of a concert by singer/songwriter M. Ward. M. Ward, or Matt Ward, has such a smooth sound from his guitar to his smokey voice. He does music that ranges from bluegrass/acoustic to 1950’s rockabilly to quiet, bluesy tunes. My sister-in-law Sally turned me on to him a few years back. He’s also known for a project he does with actress Zooey Deschanel called She & Him. If you like ’60s Nancy Sinatra, you’d like She & Him. NPR is amazing for giving the world so many free podcasts of such great artists. It’s really great if you like modern music. Since I have kids, and no real desire to see over-crowded and sweaty rock shows anymore, I love that I can still keep up with good music and concerts. Molly and I loved to go to shows when we were in D.C.

Mollyhugger HillAnother great hike and the last one for a few weeks. Next week, I’ll be up at Camp Mikell for Clergy Conference, and the week after that, Tai has the day off from school and it’s Bronwyn’s birthday, so we’ll be celebrating!

Jeff+