Wolfden Loop Part 2

WJSP Tower Parking Lot to Mile Marker 20 and back: 6 miles, 3 hours 15 minutes

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

img_0647I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is that this is my last Hiking Preacher post. The good news is that I’ve gotten such a great response to it, that I decided to rename my blog The Hiking Priest! I changed it to “priest” because, even though I am a preacher, priest encapsulates more of who I am. This will definitely not be my last post about hiking, however, as I will continue my weekly hikes in preparation for my sermons. Today concluded my second trip on the PMT, and it’s definitely become part of my spiritual discipline. In fact, I can always tell if I’m having a bad week and directly connect it to the fact that I didn’t spend time with God on the trails.

img_0635img_0634

To conclude this round on the PMT, I hiked the last 3 miles from the WJSP Tower parking lot (in Warm Springs–MAN, that tower is big!) to where I left off last time, Mile Marker 20. This section of the trail is my absolute favorite! It is easy in some parts, difficult in some parts, and is definitely the most beautiful part of the trail with it’s many creeks, rocks, and waterfalls.

img_0641A six-mile hike is nothing to sneeze at either. I am pretty tired now afterwards. I slipped a couple of times, and my ankle is pretty sore. But it was certainly worth it!

People have asked me which trail I would suggest for people if they can only do one and I would definitely suggest this one. Beware though! It’s got a number of steep inclines and a few places where you really have to climb over some big rocks. In fact, you also have to traverse many creeks by stepping on well-placed rocks, and the rocks can get quite slippery. Be sure to take a walking stick or two and some waterproof boots when you hike this one.

Csonka Falls

Csonka Falls

Because of the amount of rain we’ve had, the creeks and waterfalls were all really high. This made the trail extremely muddy in a couple of places. Good thing I have some Nikwax shoe cleaner!

Big Rock Falls

Big Rock Falls

It was a fun hike though, with lots of stops to just admire the beauty. Hiking in the winter has become really great for me because you can see the views even more through the trees. I think many people agreed with me, as I saw a number of people on the trail today, many out for day hikes and a few that were camping at Bumblebee Ridge or Old Sawmill. A good friend of mine and former parishioner from St. Peter’s and I are planning to camp on the PMT some time soon and both of these are great spots. They’re far enough back, but you have easy access to the creeks. Both have great natural fire pits too.

Slippery Rock Falls

Slippery Rock Falls

There are four larger waterfalls (“Larger” is definitely subjective here. We’re in West Georgia, you know!), Csonka Falls, Big Rock Falls, Slippery Rock Falls, and Cascade Falls. Csonka and Cascade have great pools of water that are great for dipping in when it’s hot. But all of them have fantastic rock formations that are just beautiful. Any one of them would make a great place to just sit, pray, and relax.

Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls

Just above Cascade Falls is the actual Wolfden for which the trail is named.

Just above Cascade Falls is the actual Wolfden for which the trail is named.

Today, I prepared my Christmas Eve sermon. I pretty much had it plotted out, but the hike helped me organize it better in my head. Here are the lessons for Christmas Eve:

Isaiah 9:2-7
Psalm 96
Titus 2:11-14
Luke 2:1-14(15-20)

To give you a little preview, my sermon is focused on the Incarnation and what that means for us. What does it mean to have “God With Us” (“Emmanuel”)? How does that inform how we should treat one another? This most magnificent story will be told to us yet again and so it’s easy to forget what it can mean. It’s also such a rich story that there’s a million different directions the preacher can go. Ultimately for me, the Christmas story is one about God’s radical love for us. For me, it’s less about Christ coming to save us from sin, and more about the fact that God cares about us enough to want to be with us. Now that’s Good News!

On the ol’ iPod today was the “best of” compilation called Upsy-Daisy Assortment by ’80s alternative band XTC. These guys had been making music for over 30 years until their breakup in 2005. I first heard them in the early ’90s with their album Nonesuch, which includes my favorite song of theirs The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead which has some very intriguing parallels to Jesus.¬†XTC caught some flack for their song Dear God, which talks about the issue of theodicy (“how can God allow evil?”) and concludes with a statement of disbelief in God altogether. I tend to think songs like this raise important issues and give us permission to ask questions. Who hasn’t been puzzled by theodicy?

Molly bought me this compilation CD a few years ago and I love it. I love New Wave pop artists like the Talking Heads, and XTC is very much in keeping with that genre. Check them out if you like that sort of thing.

Well, that’s the end of that! To commemorate this round on the PMT, here are the pics of all the mile markers!

One down, 22 to go!Mile 2Mile 3Mile 4Mile 5Mile 6Mile 7Mile 8Mile 9Mile 10Mile 11Mile 12Mile 13Mile 14Mile 15Mile 16Mile 17Mile 18Mile 19Mile 20img_0648img_0639img_0636

Jeff+