Soaring Above Pulpit Rock

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” – John Muir


I would like to acknowledge the raptor who soared overhead while I sat at Pulpit Rock yesterday.

Above Pulpit

sitting on Pulpit

watching you glide

in those wings you grew

and flew away too soon

even from the other side

you fill a room with laughter

a tear,


like you leaving us

with no chance to say goodbye

and no choice

but to take you with me

each day

everywhere I go.


                   jim brennan

And a huge shout out to Gunnar from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who set out from Springer Mountain, Georgia, in late January, braved two feet of snow in the Smoky Mountains, and made it to Pulpit Rock on April 20th. Trek strong and safe, my friend!

And safe travels to each of the 1,000-plus 2016 Thru-hikers.


About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
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9 Responses to Soaring Above Pulpit Rock

  1. Anonymous says:

    Jim, such beauty in your words.

    Gunnar made it to Katahdin.
    Thanks for the shoutout.

    Sara (Gunnar’s Mom) Raasch


    • Jim Brennan says:

      Thank you, Sara. Glad to hear Gunnar finished the AT. What an achievement! I enjoyed talking with him that sunny afternoon at Pulpit Rock. Tell him I send my best wishes and success in whatever he chooses to do.


  2. Sophie33 says:

    Great, dear Jim! I love the way you write! 🙂 Cool!


  3. LB says:

    Your poetry is so descriptive, Jim. I was almost able to see that raptor!
    Now, I may have already told you this at some point so forgive the repeat if I did …
    Did I already tell you about my 70 yr old friend, Mick “Geezer”, who is thru hiking this year?
    He is keeping an incredible pace, but taking good care of his body and his energy.
    I’m loving following his adventure.


    • Jim Brennan says:

      You meet so many interesting folks thru hiking the AT, and at 70 that is outright inspiring. I met a 67 year old woman last year whose trail name was “Mama Bear.” The thru hikers are so full of energy you can feel it, there is magic in their eyes. Thanks for telling me about Mick. I just read a poem about a ex-con named Mick at Philly Poetry Festival yesterday, perhaps I had a premonition. Does he blog it anywhere? I’d love to follow him and read his story. Thanks again, LB. Can’t wait to read about your next adventure.


      • LB says:

        He doesn’t blog but keeps up with friends by posting on FB whenever he can. If you choose to read, this is a post from the other day. Mick is a multi- marathoner and long distance cyclist. He is an incredibly upbeat individual. His honesty in this post is admirable. Mick’s trail name is Geezer. SL (spaghetti legs) is a friend that he met on the trail; they now hike together.
        “This update has taken longer because life is hard on the Trail! Well, it also has WiFi gaps, phone charging issues, limited Verizon connectivity, and as those issues are resolved my energy resources may be depleted. A perfect storm of excuses.
        SL and I have been slowly progressing. Alas, we have clocked in over 425+ miles and in the next few days we will enter Virginia. My biggest challenge will be trying to get out of my own bed and return to the Trail. SL and I have plans for a few rest days as we get closer to familiar territory, but those days will be filled with trail resupply, equipment adjustment, and reevaluation of any other perceived needs.
        The Smokies were a milestone and warrant a great deal of respect; however, let me alert you to those peaks and valleys north of the Smokies. As the AT snakes between North Carolina and Tennessee over balds and boulders, it tests every fiber of one’s being. Day after day after day. The weather also has a hand in this mental and physical challenge. We crossed one of the North Carolina Balds with over 50 mph winds and a wind chill that still hurts.
        The miles slowly accumulate and the resistance is constant. In a discussion with “Mudpuppy” he questioned me, “Which is harder, riding a bike cross country or walking the AT?” My reply, “No contest, the AT. Because you can’t coast on the AT.” If you don’t invest the energy, you stop.
        Day before yesterday was a great day on the Trail. Fair weather, nice scenery, comfortable walking and a hostel bed at the end. Yesterday was different! Low of 50 degrees with a soaking rain on an alternate route because the Trail was closed. The rain was doing its job in order to put out a fire. A warm shower and another hostel helped to salvage the day. Today was a short day with a vertical climb of almost 1900 feet, but with sunshine and fair weather. At the end of the day we had Trail Angels with hot dogs, beer, chips and a ride to another hostel. What a difference a day makes!
        This is the “Geezer” reporting the latest news from the AT”


        • Jim Brennan says:

          Thanks for sharing this, LB, and in return I’m sharing with readers the message from a downright inspiring 70 year old thru-hiker trekking 2,000+ miles on the Appalachian Trail. Go Geezer! Trek safe and strong!


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