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Moose, beavers, hiking, and the connectional church

An early morning hike in the Wasatch mountains during the General Assembly brings encounters with God’s creation and good friends.

Photo by Sue Coller

Salt Lake City – Sue Coller is a teaching elder commissioner from Homestead Presbytery, and she is my clergy coach. When I told Sue that I would be attending the 226th General Assembly (GA) in Salt Lake City to write for the Presbyterian Outlook, she immediately offered to take me hiking. 

Sue grew up in Salt Lake City and knows the trails around the city well. She texted me on Monday, July 1, during a lull in the assembly business, telling me she would pick me up at 4:50 a.m. on Tuesday for a hike so we could catch the sunrise on the trail and be back in time for opening worship.

Photo by Sue Coller.

True to her word, Sue picked me up before the crack of dawn, and we drove for about 45 minutes to the trailhead at Silver Lake in Brighton. The early morning air was crisp and invigorating, a perfect prelude to our adventure. As we set out on the trail, the first light of dawn began to paint the sky and the sun eventually crested over the mountaintop and lit up the trees and mountainsides around us. 

The beauty of God’s creation was on full display as we hiked. The Wasatch Mountains loomed majestically around us, their peaks catching the first rays of sunlight. Silver Lake itself was a mirror, reflecting the sky’s colors and the surrounding trees in perfect symmetry. We paused to take it all in, the tranquility of the scene filling our hearts with awe and gratitude.

As we made our way back down, a surprising and delightful sight greeted us: a beaver crossing the trail right in front of us, dragging a tree it had just felled. It was a remarkable reminder of the vibrant life all around us, often unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of daily life, particularly during the hectic pace of a General Assembly.

Back at the trailhead, we were greeted by yet another wonder of nature: a moose wandering near the parking lot. It was a majestic creature, moving slowly and with a grace that belied its size. We watched in quiet fascination, feeling blessed to have witnessed such a rare sight.

Photo by Sue Coller.

Being in Salt Lake City with the mountains so close, it was a joy to take a quick trip from the city and the assembly to experience the beauty of the mountains and these unexpected encounters with wildlife. It was a reminder of the blessings that come from embracing the opportunities that come our way.

The next time a friend offers to take you on a hike, even if it means getting up really early, say yes! This is one of the joys of the GA — to spend time with Presbyterian friends from around the country, to enjoy what the host state has to offer, and to bask in the beauty of our connectional church and God’s creation.