Dowdell Knob Loop
Approx. 4.3 miles, 2 hours, 15 minutes
This is the eighth in a series of posts about my weekly hikes on the Pine Mountain Trail.
This week, Dowdell Knob was open! I went on Tuesday rather than Monday because I had to get the bulletin and newsletter ready before Thanksgiving. It wasn’t quite as beautiful a day as it was last week, but it’s hard to mess up the view at Dowdell Knob! I really needed this hike after a stressful couple of days. I found myself getting grumpy and down, and once again I find that if I feel myself getting this way, it’s time to lean on the spiritual disciplines we have for ourselves. In my case, I had to get out on the trail, do some praying, and even write some thoughts down in my journal.
When I got there, I just spent about 30 minutes sitting on a rock and looking at our beautiful county. The trees looked like a checkerboard of autumn reds, oranges, and greens. Even the foggy, overcast cloud covering made a nice blanket, reminding me that we are covered by grace and that everything will be just fine in the end. Somehow I got a really sense of that peace in those moments.
Franklin D. Roosevelt certainly spent a lot of time at Dowdell Knob, thinking over the many major and much-heavier problems of the world during World War II. And while my thoughts don’t deal with that level of concern, it was nice to know that Dowdell Knob serves as a traditional spot to ponder the questions life throws at us. The grassy/rocky overlook reminded me a lot of one of my favorite spots in the world, on the hills of the Isle of Iona in Scotland. Sitting there and looking over God’s beautiful creation at Dowdell Knob transported me to that Celtic scene as well, which also served to calm my soul and bring me to peace. I also enjoyed reading the information they have about FDR and his trips to Warm Springs. I think he and I have a lot in common in regards to our affinity for this beautiful area.
The trail itself might be my favorite of all. My suggestion when you reach the trail is to head east toward the WJSP-TV Tower on the loop, as it’s a bit more downhill than going the other way. Today’s hike was a bit slippery, with millions of wet leaves covering the trail. Like much of the PMT, it’s a rocky hike, too, so you really have to watch your step or you could really slip and fall, especially after a rain. The loop is connected by the white-blazed Boot Top Trail. And the Brown Dog Campsite is on this trail too. It’s just a great hike and one you should really do.
This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, and the readings are:
I thought a lot about the “Second Coming” and how we tend to imagine it coming. However, much like the first coming of Christ, I can’t help but think it’s not going to be anything like what we expect. Instead, I propose we think about the upcoming Christmas as being the “next coming,” and make our Advent a truly preparatory season for expecting Christ to come yet again into our world, not with great fanfare or Hollywood special effects, but in a much more subtle way. Even in the catastrophes of life, Christ comes.
My musical selection of the week is a new band for me. I first heard them on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts. Horse Feathers is a band from Portland, Oregon and is a great indie folk band in the tradition of Iron & Wine and Bon Iver. They have such a gentle sound, with acoustic guitars, violins, and cellos. Justin Ringle’s vocals are so mellow that they are almost undecipherable, but when one is in need of something calming, you don’t need heavy vocals or lyrics. If you like mellow or lo-fi sounds, check out their album House With No Home. Here’s a link to listen to one of their songs, Working Poor.