COLUMN/PERSPECTIVE: The spiritual experience of hiking the Appalachian Trail – Brunswick News

The Apostle Paul saw the light on the road to Damascus.

The Rt. Rev. Frank Logue and his wife, Victoria, have seen it repeatedly on the Appalachian Trail.

Unlike Paul, the Logues were not blinded by what they saw but the trail has spoken to them about the beauty of creation and, like Paul, theyre written about it.

The Logues are coauthors of several trail guides, including Appalachian Trail Hiker: Trail-Proven Advice for Hikes of Any Length and Best of the Appalachian Trail: Day Hikes. They also wrote and photographed, Guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

He likened it to telling people where the trails greatest hits are located if they dont have the time to hike the entire 2,200 miles from Springer Mountain, Ga., to Mount Katahdin, Maine, as they once did seven months to the day, from March 2 to Sept. 2 in 1988.

As with many people, that hasnt been enough. Theyve gone back several times to hike sections.

Places you may not know to do, but places we think are worth the hike, he said of the books.

Asked if he had only one hike left, where would he go, Logue said, Id go to western Maine and the last section of the trail, he said. It goes through timberland, probably the remotest spot on the trail.

But he said Georgia has places just as stunning.

Thirty miles north of Blood Mountain is as pretty as it gets, he said.

Victoria Logue said she and her former Boy Scout husband were equally eager to hike the trail.

My family camped. My father was in the Navy from New England to Hawaii, and they saw a lot of the outdoors at his duty stations, she said.

On the trail, the Logues had one small tent and all the weather.

They were snowed in a couple of days at Rainbow Spring Campground in North Carolina and farther up the trail an April snow chased them into a barn with gaps in its walls. They had the company of 13 scouts and their leaders.

We were forced to leave because we ran out of food, she said.

They soon found clear hiking because it hadnt snowed a few miles down the trail.

They kept hiking north and by the time they reached New England, she said, we were so used to getting rained on we just kept going.

For many couples, being sore-footed and bone weary in miserable weather would make for some unhappy days, but Victoria Logue said they were prepared for all of it.

Shortly after they got married, they spent two months in Kathmandu Valley, where We learned how to get along. And they were prepared to write the guides from the time they met when he was a staff photographer, and she was a writer for a Warner Robins newspaper.

Their days of writing trail and scenic highway guides are likely behind them. Now 59, she said she is concentrating on devotional books and as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, the 57-year-old Logue is on the road a lot for his ministry.

As with her husband, Victoria Logue has a favorite hike in mind.

I would probably want to do a hike in Europe, St. Cuthberts Way in England, and she also wanted to walk the Way of St. Francis in Italy, she said.

She spoke of writing devotionals, but to hear them talk about the trail it is clear their Christian faith is bolstered as they hike.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail was for us a spiritual journey, that changed their walk from journalism to ministry and trekking those long distances changed the way they live, Frank Logue said.

Patience, endurance, goal-setting cant be matched in any other way, he said.

Had it not been for hiking, they would have never written any books and, after the experience, he started a church from scratch, King of Peace in Kingsland where he ministered from 2000 until 2010.

Asked about his favorite trail experiences, spiritual or otherwise, Logue said he had several, including When the rhododendron are blooming in the southern Appalachians, as the trail follows dark tunnels through the thickets, he said.

The smell of the balsam fir on the high places, when youve been on Roan Mountain. Ive done it again and again even on a foggy day. That is just amazing to me, he said.

Then you think of fall in New England, walking the Long Trail/AT in Vermont, he said.

They have seen places that come to mind instantly, the high, breezy meadows of the Grayson Highlands in Virginia, Cumberland Mountain, Clingmans Dome in the Smokys and Charlies Bunion, a rock knob with a 360 degree view.

Sometimes, you have those places to yourself and hear just your own breath and the wind in the trees. Sometimes its just you and the sound of your soles padding on the rocks and roots that other hikers feet have polished to a sheen like a drill sergeants boots.

There are places in the mountains you can feel Gods presence. I dont know an atheist who hasnt had the hair go up on the back of their neck out in nature. It can be a spectacular waterfall, maybe a grouse, walking up on a deer that doesnt bolt.

You cant predict when it will happen because it can sneak up on you in those cathedrals of trees or in some less remarkable places where a icy, clear stream tumbles over rocks, he said. He agreed theres more to it than intelligent design. Its the work of a loving God who created it in a way we can enjoy.

There is a sense we were created for each other. The flower wants to be admired in a way that is beautiful to us.

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COLUMN/PERSPECTIVE: The spiritual experience of hiking the Appalachian Trail - Brunswick News

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