On a day off

What do pastors do on a day off?  Laundry?  Often.  Errands?  Frequently. Lawn mowing? Sometimes.  Checking in with family?  Of course.  Hikes?  Not enough.

So Friday I headed up to a portion of the AT west, or “south” in the trail’s larger scheme, of the Susquehanna River .  I climbed up a mountain and walked along a ridge, turned around and came down again—about 12 miles in all. My daypack was about 16 pounds which included a camera.  But when I took it out at the beginning to take the first shot above, the battery was dead.  So these pics are only from my android.

I began to see the need for me to use hiking poles.  My balance isn’t what it use to be over the rocky, unstable trail.  I took 5 bottles of water and should have drunk them all since I am pretty sure I was dehydrated over the last stretch of trail.  I was dripping sweat by the time I got back to the car, and I had a whopping headache that evening.  BUT even though feet, legs and back were aching the last several miles, I was not hurting at all the next day.  No blisters either (older broken in shoes).  Next time, more water and hiking poles.

On this section of the trail, a lot of my time was spent looking down to watch where I was stepping.  The ascent (and therefore descent) had a lot of loose rock.  Along the ridge there were rock screes that crept into the trail, so the challenge was to look for solid flat places to put my feet.  The advantage was that the concentration demanded I leave the details of the work week and an undone sermon behind to pay attention to the present moment.  The disadvantage was that a few times I finally looked up to discover that I had veered off the trail!  

In looking down to pick my way around stones, I noticed many of the smaller creatures that share this space.  I avoided stepping on plenty of granddaddy long legs.   There were a couple of kinds of millipedes or centipedes (I don’t know which).  One kind was hanging out together in a rock puddle.

A little brown toad about an inch in size hopped off the trail and was so camouflaged I would never have seen him except for the movement.  Too camouflaged, in fact, for me to try to get a photo.  I passed a young hemlock that hadn’t been taken by the blight.  A spider wasp with a purplish black body and golden antennae flew, or more like floated, by slowly as if it were royalty in a parade.

After crossing my path, a green walking stick climbed a tree.

A patch of butterfly weed was covered in dew in the farmer’s field, and fungi was prolific on the mountain.

Think of all I might have missed if the trail had been easy.  Keeping my eyes on the ground and noticing the details can be delightful….as long as you look up every once in a while to check where you are going.  Life in the congregation is like that too.

And sometimes its good just sit down and take in the long view.  That’s what this pastor did on her day off.

Pipeline headed to the Susquehanna.