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Sabbath Day – The AT in PA

July 20, 2016

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This post is for Thursday, July 14.

This was the day on which we gathered from all across the county for prayer and action in response to the killing of two black men by police officers: Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. We were also coming together is response to the killing of five police officers and wounding of others by a lone gunman in Dallas. More of this later.

In honor of the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016, I set out earlier this year to hike 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail which runs 2200 miles from Georgia to Maine. Today I reached and surpassed this goal, completing 107 miles with a hike over Mt. Minsi and Mt. Kittatinny in the Delaware Water Gap. Next goal: either 10 percent of the whole trail or parts in all 14 states through which it passes. Which will come first?

To fit in a hike today I had to get up at 5:30. I was out the door a little after six and drove through beautiful Northern New Jersey to the state line. After crossing the Delaware River and into Pennsylvania, the first exit (310) is for Stroudsburg. There is a trailhead for the Appalachian Trail at the intersection of Mountain and Lake roads.

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It was a rainy day and the trails were misty. As I climbed Mt. Minsi and reached the summit, there was absolutely no view of the neighboring mountains or the gap itself. I could hear the water rushing by, but could see nothing. Three hours later, this was still the best I could manage.

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The hike took me from Mountain road, over Mt. Minsi, and along Kittatinny Ridge, through Tod’s Gap to Kirkridge Shelter and back. Thirteen miles.

Mt. Minsi has a ring of Rhododendron which are encountered on the way up one side and again on the way down the other. They form an arbor through which the trail moves – hauntingly beautiful in the mist. It was alive with the last of the pink summer blooms.

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Also in abundance were the mid-summer wine berries, ready for snacking.

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My last trail photo is the best view I had of Mt. Tammany, across the Gap.

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Back in White Plains, hundreds and hundreds gathered for an interfaith, county-wide march under the banner “The Line Has Been Crossed.”

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I counted nearly 40 Presbyterians at the march, with a good representation and participation from the congregation I serve. My colleague, The Rev. Lynn Dunn, offered one of the prayers along the way. It was great being with my church family on such an important evening.

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