Mollyhugger Hill to Dowdell Knob Intersection & back
4.2 miles, 2 hours

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

View of the Lake at Montreat Conference Center

View of the Lake at Montreat Conference Center

After a week away, I’m back! I spent the last week up in the mountains for the Diocese of Atlanta’s Presbyter’s Conference at Camp Mikell then up to Asheville, North Carolina for a meeting of the Happening National Committee, on which I serve. I got to meet a lot of new clergy colleagues at Camp Mikell, as this was my first conference in this diocese. As always, it was a pleasure as well to spend some time with Bishop Alexander and Bishop Whitmore. I was recently appointed to the Happening National Committee to fulfill another priest’s term. This committee is the governing body of the Happening program, which exists in many Episcopal dioceses all over the country. We meet all over the country and focus on being a resource for leaders of these programs, including a bi-annual Leadership Conference which will happen in July. This meeting was a scouting trip for that conference, and we went to the Montreat Conference Center to make sure it would fit the needs of the 150 youth and adults who will come to the conference this summer.

Happening National Committee at Grace Episcopal Church in Asheville

Happening National Committee at Grace Episcopal Church in Asheville

In between the trips, I had about 24 hours to kill, so I decided to go hiking in between Toccoa and Asheville. However, I didn’t have much of a plan, and my GPS sent me in the wrong direction. I finally went into Asheville and asked for directions. However, when I finally got to the trail I wanted to hike, I realized I had no map, I was by myself, and no one knew where I was. There’s a fine line between bravery and stupidity, so I chose to just call it quits and head to my meeting early.

I got up early on Sunday morning and got back, but not in time for church. Thank you to Tom Jones for filling in for me!

So that brings me to today. I decided to do a short hike today since it’s my daughter’s birthday and we are having some festivities this afternoon. I started at Mollyhugger Hill again, and hiked the connecting portion of the PMT between Big Poplar and Dowdell’s Knob.Mollyhugger Hill

Kinda Creepy, huh?Today was really rainy, and I almost didn’t go, but you just have to hike in the rain every once in a while. It was a little creepy with all the fog, but that only added to the tranquility of the hike. This is a great little trail that is very easy. There are quite a few rock gardens to crawl over, but nothing really difficult. Around the Whiskey Still Campsite, the trail can get a little confusing as it’s not marked so well on the rocks. I think the first time I hiked this, I ended up taking the trail to the campsite and quickly learned it wasn’t the right way. But it was no problem finding the trail again.

Rainy day on the trailI got dripped on about halfway on the trail, but nothing too bad. My wife texted me while she was shopping in LaGrange and told me to prepare for a storm, so I put on my anorak and booked it back. However, when you’re hiking in the woods and it rains, it takes a while to get really wet because of the natural shelter. However, by the end of my hike, it was raining pretty steadily, and I was getting soaked.

Hiking Preacher in the rainThere is something beautiful about getting caught in the rain, though. Baptismal images aside, sometimes you just need to let the earth drench you. I did just stand there a couple of times and let the drops hit my face.

Before I got out of the car, I decided to read the lessons:

Job 38:1-7, (34-41)
Psalm 104:1-9, 25, 37c
Hebrews 5:1-10
Mark 10:35-45

I especially identified with James and John in Mark 10 who ask Jesus to do whatever it is they ask of him. How many of us use Jesus like this?

Mile 12Mile 13

For once, I didn’t listen to any music on this hike. I had been listening to NPR on the way up, and I prayed an MP3 version of Morning Prayer on the way back. Although, as I’m writing this, I’m listening to a band called Son Volt, who I’ve been a fan of for many years. The front man for Son Volt is Jay Farrar who started a band with friend Jeff Tweedy called Uncle Tupelo back in the late ’80s. They were among the many groups of bands that made up the “alt.country” movement in the ’90s until they broke up to make their own distinctive bands, Wilco and Son Volt. These guys were doing much better country music in the ’90s than what was being played on the radio. Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, and Wilco really were my gateway bands to more traditional acoustic, bluegrass, and Americana music. Son Volt more fully carried the torch of Uncle Tupelo, especially with their first two albums Trace and Straightaways. Farrar’s voice is very distinctive as well, which makes his music great. If you like the Country music of the ’50s and ’60s, you might enjoy Son Volt. Better yet, check out Uncle Tupelo.

Next week, I’m planning to complete Big Poplar Loop by doing the Sawtooth Trail. Maybe it won’t be raining, but that probably won’t stop me. 🙂Jeff+