Saturday, March 31, 2007

Urge Congress to Preserve Land Near Unicoi

The web site out of Tennessee, of course, has an article posted in its 30 March 2007 edition titled "Cherokee Forest Partners Issue 'Urgent Message'" which begins as follows:

"Sam Brocato, the Executive Director of the Partners of the Cherokee National Forest, passes along this 'urgent message.'

"Brocato asks interested parties to "send a letter of support to our congressional folks on appropriation of federal funding for purchasing Rocky Fork tract in Unicoi County, TN. Surrounded by Cherokee NF and with Appalachian Trail on one side. (see sample letter [in the full article])"

...then further down in the article:

"At 10,000 acres, it is the largest unprotected wild mountainous property remaining within national forest boundaries in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. About one-third of the tract lies in Greene County, TN; the remaining two thirds are in Unicoi County, TN.

"The property contains mixed hardwoods of various sizes and is prime habitat for bear and other wildlife. Over a mile of the Appalachian Trail passes through the property, then skirts it for several more miles."

Land acquisition and preservation = good.

AT Hiker Now Heads to Continental Divide Trail

Ian Cropp has an article titled "One Hike indivisible" in the Vail (CO) Times on 30 March 2007 about a guy named Andy Linger who hiked the Appalachian Trail 10 years ago, and is now heading out on the Continental Divide Trail.

Linger mentions a few things about his AT hike, stuff he learned about long distance hiking, comparisons to what he's expecting on the CDT, and so on.

It's a pretty nice article. And you can follow him on this year's hike at his website where he'll be updating readers with a handheld computer (which the article doesn't explain how he'll be powering or recharging).

Here's a link to his 1997 Appalachian Trail hike journal. His trailname was/is "Skygod."

Friday, March 30, 2007

Thousands on the Trail

OK, I'm not completely sure what this means, but I'll report it anyway.

The Traverse City (MI) Record-Eagle of 29 March 2007 has an article (part 5 of 5) by Al Parker titled "In it for the long run; Traverse City's Kenny Thomas went from a 5K to this summer's 100-mile ultra race." That part makes sense.

What I'm not sure about is the mention of the AT: "In November, Thomas followed up with an even more remarkable performance in the JFK 50 Mile in Md. ...

"The event made history by becoming the first ultra race to ever attract more than 1,000 runners. The starting line, along the famed Appalachian Trail, posed problems for many runners. [emphasis added]

"'The first 15 miles or so was along the trail and was rocky,' said Thomas. 'You really had to watch where you stepped.'"

First of all, if they want 'rocky' then they should run in Pennsylvania, not Maryland. But is this saying that last November there were over 1,000 people running "15 miles or so" on the Appalachian Trail??? A) I don't want to be hiking anywhere near that kind of crowd; and 2) [remember Paul Reiser in 'Mad About You'?] what would that kind of pounding do to the trailbed?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spring Break Option

The Roanoke (VA) Times mentions the Appalachian Trail as an option for spring break in a short piece by Katy Allamong of Giles High School titled "Alternative Spring Break Destinations" in its 27 March 2007 issue.

All we get is in the second paragraph: "The more adventurous ones go to the Grand Canyon, skiing in Colorado, while some hike the Appalachian Trail."

By the way, since when do high school students go on trips like this -- or of any kind -- over their spring break?

Appalachian State U. Students as Maintainers

An article in the "Appalachian Online" publication of Appalachian State University, in Boone, North Carolina, brings us an article about a new trail maintainers' club at the school. It is written by Allison Casey, and titled "Appalachian students give back to local trails" in the 27 March 2007 edition.

"The Appalachian State Trail Crew, formed in spring 2005 by a group of student thru-hikers, works on building new trails and maintaining current ones around the Boone area."

The club has built 150 feet of trail at Elk's Knob. "The Appalachian Trail Crew also works with the Appalachian Trail, Grandfather Mountain and The Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club."

Hiking Leads to Simplicity Classes

The News & Observer from North Carolina has a 27 March 2007 article by Missy Baxter that's titled "Sweep out those mental dust bunnies; Spring is a great time to clean your mind, simplify life and refocus on goals." It focuses on a Simplicity Class taught by 'life coach' Janet Harrison from Cary, NC.

"An avid adventurer, Harrison learned the benefits of leading a simple life while hiking the Appalachian Trail. She continues to utilize the skills she learned on the trail in other aspects of her life.

"'I discovered very soon into my journey along the Appalachian Trail that I had overpacked my backpack and that I didn't actually need most of the things in there,' she recalled. 'In life, it's like we're all hauling around too much stuff in our backpacks. I think that's an analogy we can all relate to...that we've got to lighten our load, mentally and physically.'"

The article doesn't say when Harrison hiked, but it does mention that she has been teaching "life and work skills" for the last 10 years, both to individuals and at a corporate level.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Indiana Hiker Sets Off

The Noblesville (IN) Daily Times has an article about a local woman named Christensen, aged 49, who will attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Setting off on Palm Sunday (1 April 2007) I think, I can't tell anything more about the article because it seems to be blocked behind some obscure log-in process. The message I get says I can't see it unless I log in, but I can't see how or where to do so. The headline should be something like "Woman Hits Trail for 5oth Birthday."

No, wait! I found an ugly html version. William Fouts is the author. The hiker's name is Vinona Christensen. Her daughter is sending her packages to her. She's planning on emailing updates and photos (but don't expect an easy job of finding them on the newspaper's site).

Designer on the Trail?

Here's an article out of State College, Pennsylvania (home of Penn State U.) in the Centre Daily Times of 20 March 2007. Written by Pam Sitt of the Seattle Times, it's titled "Wrapping with DvF, dress diva."

Here are the salient paragraphs at the end:

"Von Furstenberg is frequently inspired by nature, and regrets that she has never had time to hike during her visits to Seattle.

"'I'm a big hiker. I hike at home in Connecticut because we have the Appalachian Trail, and I hike everywhere I travel,' she said. '... Obviously, not in London.'

"Struck by a sudden vision of the glamorous Diane von Furstenberg hiking up a mountain in heels, I asked, whatever do you wear?

"'Shorts and a T-shirt and sweatshirt and hiking boots, what else am I going to wear?' she replied. Of course, I said quickly, and tried not to be disappointed. Secretly, if DvF came out with a line of designer hiking gear, I would consider taking up hiking. For a minute."

Ah, well. So, anyway, when you're passing through Kent, CT and the Indian reservation and all . . . keep an eye out for famous fashion designers on the Trail.

Tuscarora Trail Worker is AT Thru-Hiker

The Martinsburg (WV) Journal has a weekly column that is a "series of 28 stories that will run every Monday about interesting finds a little off the beaten path in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle." The one dated 26 March 2007 is by Robert Snyder, and titled "Pathway treats hikers to long walk in woods".

The Appalachian Trail is mentioned throughout the article, but as a reference point when, for example, some other path crosses it. Good descriptions of the side trails. In particular there is mention of Katherine Rindt. "Rindt, along with her husband Jon, who through-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1996, have become trail workers, and now spend much of their time keeping the trails in good working order for hikers, bikers and backpackers." They work on the Tuscarora Trail.

Kentuckian on the Trail

The University of Louisville is contributing a potential thru-hiker this season. He is Brian Buford of the university's human resources department. He's their "manager of organizational effectiveness." Maybe that's why he says that organizing the food drops, getting house and cat sitters, and arranging to have his bills paid while he's away -- all that organizational stuff -- was easy.

His biggest challenge, he says, will be "staying motivated day after day after day for six months."

"'I’m going to need external motivation,' he said, which is one reason he invited UofL faculty and staff to 'join' him as a fitness challenge through the Get Healthy Now health management program." They're going to form teams that should each log, as a group, the same mileage he does every day. See the web site.

Buford has already had a going away party (photos on his own web site), but I don't see where it says just when he's heading out to Springer. He'll be the one with the Pee Wee Herman figure hanging from his pack.

Slackpacking Defined

A sidebar to a Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune 26 March 2007 article by Barbara Baird, titled "Bank on the right backpack; A good fit could make difference on certain hikes," gives us a definition of 'slackpacking' that includes mention of the Appalachian Trail:

"Slackpacking is a colloquialism in the hiking world, a verb that means a hiker prefers shorter daytrip hikes off the beaten trail if possible. Slackpackers shun packs and spend their nights on their own pillows atop mattresses at home or in the comfort of hotels. Many slackpackers have hiked the entire 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail without spending a single night around a campfire. Slackpackers keep personal trail maps and mark off which section they have hiked, putting it all together when finished to form a complete hike from start to finish."

There you go. Not exactly the way I would have defined it, though. Slacking the entire AT? Can't quite picture that.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Connecticut Couple Tries for Triple Crown

The Norwich (CT) Bulletin of 25 March 2007 has Jessica Durkin's article headlined "Canterbury pair to take on 3,000-mile trek up Continental Divide". The pair are Melissa Pysz and Scott Zilaitis.

They thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2003. Then tackled the Pacific Coast Trail three years later. They start on the Continental Divide Trail on 14 April.

"The couple do the trails south-to-north, in 25-mile-per-day increments. They already have organized 30 self-addressed packages filled with provisions, such as snacks, toilet paper and canned food, Pysz's parents will "mail drop" to the couple at 30 locations along the trail."

New England National Scenic Trail Proposed

The online version of the Boston Globe for 25 March 2007 carries an editorial about a proposal for a new National Scenic Trail: the New England National Scenic Trail. The editorial is titled "From Monadnock to the Sound". US Representative John Olver from Massachusetts has filed the bill to sponsor the creation of such a trail. It would run about 220 miles, mostly along the Connecticut River valley. There is, of course, reference to the Appalachian Trail.

"The goal of planners is that the scenic trail will have a single trail blazing system, but with few through hikers, since overnight camping would be permitted in only a limited number of locations. Of course, decades ago planners of the Appalachian Trail did not envision through hikers for its 2,175-mile length, either. Congress should designate the path as a new national scenic trail and let the walking public decide how best to use it."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Retired Couple Starting a Thru-Hike

Tom Becnel of the Sarasota FL Herald-Tribune has a column titled "Retired couple limps toward Appalachian Trail" in their 24 March 2007 edition.

It's the story of George "Borrowed Time" Whitman and his wife Carol "Guide Dog" Whitman. Long-time New Englanders, they've done long distance sailing, and last year drove a motor home up to Alaska and back. So now, at ages 75 and 64, they're starting a thru-hike. Despite what sound like a lot of medical problems.

Still, it sounds like they have the time and the right attitude. Follow along in their online journal.

Hiking in the Smokies in the Fifties

The Orangeburg (SC) Times and Democrat brings us Thomas Langford's "High Adventure" story on 24 March 2007. He recounts some of the mountain adventures of L.P. Thackston Jr., a retired radiologist from the area. Before he went west to climb in Alaska and the like, Thackston did some Appalachian Trail walking:

"Covering an 80-mile stretch across North Carolina and Tennessee, its [i.e. GSMNP's] magnificent forests had been bisected with the famous Appalachian Trail. An outdoorsman since boyhood, L.P. eagerly accepted their invitation to join the next excursion. Thus began five years of climb-hiking on this main trail and side trails of 4,000- to 6,000-foot mountains, cooking freeze-dried chicken or beef for supper, oatmeal for breakfast, and resting sore back and leg muscles overnight in the little lean-tos furnished by the National Park Service. They paused and drank in the magnificence at occasional vistas and got used to the sounds of grouse slapping their wings."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Mountain Mama's Hostel at Davenport Gap Closed

The Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times has a brief article by Mark Barrett, Staff Writer published in their 23 March 2007 edition under the headline "Appalachain [sic] Trail way station closed".

Barrett reports the news that "Mountain Moma’s Kuntry Store and Hostel, a popular stop for long-distance Appalachian Trail hikers looking for a bit of civilization, has closed indefinitely, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy."

That leaves a stretch of more than 100 miles between Fontana Dam and Hot Springs without a near-Trail commercial business, according to the article. The ATC web site's "Trail Updates" page has details for hikers about retrieving packages already sent there. Don't send any more, though.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Two Connecticut Hikers Setting Out

The New Haven (CT) Register of 22 March 2007 announces the departure of two hikers from Connecticut on planned thru-hikes of the Appalachian Trail. Reporter Jim Shelton writes under the headline "With their backpacks packed."

Mike Lockett, of Hamden, CT is the first, leaving for Springer on 28 March. Then Greg Huse of Madison, CT leaves on the 29th, planning to start hiking on 1 April.

Lockett is using the Trail Name "Circadian," while Huse is going with "Ronin." Both plan online trial journals at Huse also has announced one on the Korean-language web site

Though only 41, Lockett reportedly "took early retirement" to make his hike. Thirty-four year old Huse is reported to have stirred up pre-hike controversy by announcing "a live telesummit, during which clients would pay a fee to learn about the logistics of conducting a through-hike." The controversy was over the points that he hadn't any personal experience thru-hiking at that point, and that much of the information he would have been sharing for a fee was already freely available elsewhere. So the telesummit was canceled.

But the hikes go on!

Highlands Conervation Act Partially Funded

An article by Laura Incalcaterra in the Poughkeepsie (NY) Journal News on 22 March 2007 and entitled "Federal money will flow to Highlands" mentions the Appalachian Trail as one of the components of the the Highlands area covered by the Highlands Conservation Act of 2004:

"The Highlands links the Appalachian Mountains to the Berkshire Mountains and stretches from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and New York and into Connecticut. The Highlands includes the southern and eastern edges of Dutchess County, including prominent features like the Fishkill Ridge, Mount Beacon, Depot Hill, the Appalachian Trail, and the Taconic Mountains in the Harlem Valley."

The point of the article is that Congress has just now, for the first time, appropriated any of the money allowed under the act, $1.98 out of the $10 allowed by law.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mike Osmund Heading for the Trail

The television stations get into play on this blog, too. WTSP-TV channel 10 in Tampa, Florida has a piece on its web site as of the end of March. The piece is by Beau Zimmer and titled "Heart attack survivor goes the distance to change his life." You read about the hiker here earlier: restauranteur Mike Osmund.

A.k.a. diabetic and heart patient Mike Osmund.

There's a link from the above page to the video story as it appeared on the air.

As of 3 April, he's still alive and hiking. Got as far as Franklin, NC (ca. 108 miles from Springer). See his online trial journal for details.

Ft. Wayners Pointed to ATC

Indiana's Fort Wayners (Wayniacs??) are pointed to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and to our Trail in a 21 March 2007 issue of the Fort Wayne (IN) News-Sentinel's article by Wendy Zang titled "Adventure Web: Appalachian Trail Conservancy (".

The notice is just a very quick summary of what the ATC is all about. Almost as short as this blog post.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Andrews NC Aldermen Encourage Walking

Gabby Hudson, a staff writer for the Cherokee Sentinel from Murphy, North Carolina has a piece in the 20 March 2007 issue headlined "Zoning issue addressed by Andrews aldermen". That would be the Town of Andrews.

I'm a little confused about just what the relevant paragraph means, though. After summarizing other business discussed at the aldermen's meeting -- matters like zoning proposals and a request from the local housing authority -- there's this:

"Board members informed the public of a new fitness program that would encourage young and old to walk the Appalachian Trail. The trail is 2,168 miles of walking trails. The walk would consist of walking through areas of downtown that will be marked with small blue hearts so walkers can calculate every tenth mile they walk. Groups participating include Cherokee County Schools, County Extension office, Andrews Recreation Department, Andrews Chamber of Commerce, County Ministerial Association, Far West Mountain Economic Partners, New Millennium Gym and Valley River Trails project.

"Several walkways, at different locations around town, will be marked with blue hearts every tenth mile. All who register will be provided educational and motivational materials. A weekly progress report will be posted in the post office."

So . . . . are folks going to walk 2,168 of downtown? Are they going to be doing it all day long? Or taking a 1 mile loop each day for the next several years? Or does the Trail loop through Andrews, NC? Or will their downtown loop be extended to the Trail? Or do they hope people actually leave Andrews and hike from Springer to Katahdin? Or what?

Florida Hiker Brandon Berryman Starts the Trail

The Florida Emerald Gold Coast web site -- which, I think, is connected with some newspaper or other, although that's not real obvious from the web site -- has a piece about another fundraising Appalachian Trail hike about to be launched.

The notice is headlined "Local Man to Walk Appalachian Trail for Children." It doesn't carry a byline. But it appeared on 20 March 2007.

Brandon Berryman (or "Berry" one time in the short article) is setting out from his Fort Walton Beach, FL home on 24 March, intending to hit Springer on Sunday the 25th. He's raising funds through pledges per mile for "the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast."

Adkins Update from Two Weeks In

The Charleston (WV) Daily Mail shows up with a trail update from Leonard and Laurie Adkins ... and Mac, their dog. Dated 20 March 2007 under the headline "On the Trail: Hikers often given new names once their journeys begin" Adkins mentions a number of hikers that they've met already.

The trio are hiking intentionally slowly this time, partly in order to meet more thru-hikers as they pass by.

One of particular note is PawPaw, a retired pharmacist from Florida. He's a mere 89 years old! So if PawPaw makes it to Katahdin, be ready to make a change in your record books.

Meanwhile, Adkins is keeping an eye on the shelter registers and keeping track of hikers he's met. "Although they may have dreamed of doing the trail for years, some were just not mentally prepared for its rigors, such as temperatures dropping into the teens at night, a gain and loss of several thousand feet in elevation day in and day out, cold air being blown about by 25 mph winds, and walking through rain storms that last more than 24 hours.

"Mary Ann has been laid up in a low-cost motel for close to a week waiting for infected ingrown toenails to heal. Jim, a missionary who had just returned to America from Tanzania, appears to have dropped out two days into the hike, while Robert, who was carrying close to 90 pounds on his back, has not been heard from in more than a week."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Part of Appalachian Trail Sort of Like Europe

The TRAVEL Q&A column by Elissa Leibowitz Poma listed online as "Special To The Washington Post" on 18 March 2007 -- although I found it at the digital home of the St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch -- has some pretty wild, and far-ranging questions posed and answered. The one of relevance here is this:

"Q: Is there a North American equivalent to the European hike from town to town? I'd like to hike during the day and spend the evening in a small town."

Hmmm, what do you suppose the answer includes? How about this? Citing information from Andrea Ketchmark, outreach coordinator of the American Hiking Society, part of the answer is:

"On the East Coast, Ketchmark recommends the Appalachian Trail section from North Adams, Mass., to Kent, Conn. The 140-mile stretch of the National Scenic Trail passes through such quintessentially New England towns as Great Barrington, Mass., rife with bed-and-breakfasts, shopping and Berkshires culture. Info: Appalachian Trail Conservancy, 1-304-535-6331, For more structure, Country Inns Along the Trail (1-800-838-3301, has self-guided trips in Vermont, including an excursion along the Long Trail, with stays in eight inns. Cost: $1,155 per person double."

Cancer Survivor and Hiker on Bear Mountain

Lauren Terrazzano writes a column in Newsday. In the 20 March 2007 edition of this New York newspaper, it is titled "Feeling on top of everything, briefly."

She writes about a March hike up New York's Bear Mountain on the Appalachian Trail with a few friends. Not the biggest mountain on the Trail, sure, but then most of you readers have twice the lungs that Terrazzano has. As in two. She lost one of hers to cancer in 2004.

Kind of puts some things in perspective.

She concludes her column with "That's the thing about cancer. There are a lot of peaks and valleys. One minute you're on the top of the mountain, the next minute you're at the base of the trail again."

Florida Hiker Mike Osmond to Hike

In the Bradenton (FL) Herald of 19 March 2007, there's an article by staff writer Robert Napper headlined "A heart, a brain and courage; Mike Osmond, two years removed from a heart attack, plans to hike the Appalacian [sic!] Trail".

It's one of those familiar this-guy's-gonna-go-hiking articles. And, as the subtitle says, this particular guy is only two years past a heart attack.

"Osmond, 50, said his wife, Cindy, cried when he told her his plan. And his doctor has advised the heart patient and diabetic not to take on the vigorous task."

The article makes it sound like he's about as prepared as can be, what with hiking the 20 miles between his two restaurants numerous times. "He has been training for four months by walking a treadmill at a local gym with the pack on, and practices for the ups and downs of the mountain trail by walking stairways in local parking garages."

Osmond's big concern sounds like it will be the mental work of long distance hiking. Local gear shop guy, Louis Calcorzi -- who did half a thru-hike in 2002 before having to get off the Trail due to a stress fracture -- has been helping in the planning. His wife seems to be reconciled: "Every 30 days, Cindy will mail food and heart and diabetes medicine for him to pick up at Post Offices along the trail."

And, yes, the web site: "To follow Bradenton restaurateur Mike Osmond as he attempts his journey across the Appalachian Trail, go to the "As Mentioned" area of"

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Grafton Notch Protection

The folks at the Nature Conservancy have released a 16 March 2007 announcement that starts

"Federal funding awards for two Maine forest conservation projects – Grafton Notch and Lower Penobscot Forest – were announced today by Governor John Baldacci, the Maine Congressional delegation, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and The Forest Society of Maine (FSM). The Grafton Notch project, which was the nation’s top-ranked USDA Forest Legacy Program (FLP) project in federal fiscal year 2007 (FFY07), received $2 million for the protection of 3,688 acres of forest and recreation lands in the Mahoosuc Mountains of western Maine, just north of Bethel."

Appalachian Trail hikers in Maine know the area. "The Grafton Notch project would permanently protect 3,688 acres of stunning landscape, adjacent to one of the most rugged and most popular sections of the federally protected Appalachian Trail."

"Descending to the southeast from the 4,180-feet crest of Old Speck Mountain, one of Maine’s highest peaks, the Grafton Notch project area offers plentiful opportunities for recreation, hunting, sustainable forestry, and protection of diverse forest and riparian habitats. It is surrounded on three sides by Maine Public Reserve Lands and Grafton Notch State Park, a very popular tourist destination, and is adjacent to Mahoosuc Notch, one of the most rugged sections of the federally-protected Appalachian Trail (AT). The parcel is also in the viewshed from the AT, both from Mahoosuc Notch and from the Baldpate Mountain section of the trail. The Land for Maine’s Future program has already awarded nearly $1 million to this project which will help ensure its completion."

Appalachian Trail Runs Through Shenandoah

Reporter Mike Holtzclaw writes in the Hampton Roads, Virginia Daily Press under the headline "Take a hike, everybody; Drop in on the Appalachian Trail or explore Shenandoah." The online article is dated 18 March 2007, but I'm reading it on the 17th. Anyway....

He's mostly writing to encourage his readers to leave the flat Tidewater region and head for the hills, at least for a while.

Holtzclaw's opening paragraphs read, "When you start out on the Appalachian Trail, you don't have to hike all the way to Georgia or Maine. But the point is, you could.

"Shenandoah National Park offers some of the best hiking trails on the East Coast. The famed Appalachian Trail, more than 2,000 miles long, cuts through the heart of the park - but that's just the centerpiece to a large, lovely network of trails."

I love that: "you don't have to ... but you could."

I think something like that pretty much every time I'm on the Trail. 'There are folks way down that way, or way up that way, and if I stood here long enough I'd be able to shake their hands as they continue on to Maine or Georgia. I wonder how many other people there are at this moment walking this Trail and exchanging energy with it and me?' That's how I think sometimes. If I were just hypersensitive enough, maybe I could pick up the vibrations of their footsteps reverberating all the way to where I'm standing at the moment.

And I don't have to hike all the way to Maine or Georgia on that particular day . . . . but I could. If I just kept going, I really could.

Worth Mentioning?

The Appalachian Trail serves as a location device for a small village in New York. At least in one reporter's mind.

The Times Herald-Record, which serves New York's Hudson Valley and the Catskills out of its home base in Middletown, has a 15 March 2007 article titled "Unionville neighbors wage neighborly mayoral contest" in which reporter Simon Shifrin writes, "Well, it's hard to run a cut-throat campaign in this village of 600 along the Appalachian Trail, where all residents can call each other neighbor. The last time Unionville even had a contested race was 14 years ago."

S-o-o-o-o, when you get to Unionville, watch out for the friendly campaign signs?

Still, I find it interesting how the Trail can be used as a point of reference by different people for different reasons.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Old Boy Scout and the Trail

The Norwalk (CT) Citizen-News of 15 March 2007 has Lauren Garrison's article headlined "The Honor of a Lifetime" describing the volunteer scouting career of one Frank Waters. He was being honored by being given a lifetime membership in the local troop he'd helped lead for more than a quarter century.

In his time as scoutmaster, "The troop hiked the Appalachian Trail, canoed in the Adirondacks and went white-water rafting. 'We never lost a scout and never had any serious injuries,' Waters said proudly."

"Now, at 77, Waters has decided that 'the poor old bones don't work as well as they used to and so hiking the Appalachian Trail now has to be relegated as a memory'."

Well, what a good memory to have.

Old AT Route Being Recycled in Virginia

Roger Mannon has an article in the Floyd Press, serving Floyd County, Virginia, on 15 March 2007, titled "Trails advance slowly; Group enthusiastic about future effort."

It's about a group in the area called "Trails to Floyd" that hopes to create trails on a series of seven different corridors there. Way, way down at the end of the article it says that three of the possible "Longer trail corridors include town-to Mabry Mill, town-to-Indian Valley, and the Old Appalachian Trail route, which roughly parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway."

Well why not?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Proposed Blue Blaze in Virginia

At a web site called (which is operated by Media General's Interactive Media Division (IMD) in partnership with WJHL-TV and the Bristol Herald Courier ... all down there in the Tennessee-Virginia border region), there's a 14 March 2007 article by the Bristol Herald Courier's reporter Debra McCown headlined simply "Trail trek."

McCown writes about the plans for the Clinch Mountain Trail, a planned 22 mile trail which will run through a big piece of land saved from developers by the Nature Conservancy. The Conservancy calls the property the Brumley Mountain Preserve.

Toward the end of the article there's this: "
In the future, the trail may connect with the Appalachian Trail at Burke’s Garden in Tazewell County – a suggestion of the late Charles Kennedy, who lived atop the ridge and was instrumental in saving the mountain from development."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

News of Adkins' Hike Starting

Now it's on WDBJ-7 television in Roanoke, Virginia's web site since about 13 March -- taken, they say, from an Associated Press story in the Charleston (WV) Daily Mail at Here it's headlined "Notable Hiker Ready to Take the Fifth."

It's the story about Leonard and Laurie Adkins stepping off on their fifth Appalachian Trail thru-hike. Well ... his fifth. Her fourth. Their dog's second.

I don't remember this closing, though, from the earlier versions of this story: "He is presently an Appalachian Trail Natural Heritage Monitor, aiding the A-T Conference and National Park Service in overseeing the welfare of rare and endangered plants."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Teens to Trails Conference

In the 12 March 2007 updates to the KeepMeCurrent.Com web site (which, it appears, is backed up by a variety of newspapers in Maine), there's a story out of Windham, Maine under the headline "Teens To Trails conference first of its kind" and the byline "National Teens to Trails Conference."

Sounds pretty interesting: "A new organization calling themselves Teens To Trails wants to ensure increased opportunities for teens to get away from their TVs and video games and back outside. The conference will be their kick-off event."

And here's the Appalachian Trail tie-in sentence: "Also on hand will be knowledgeable staff from Maine’s premier trail systems including Baxter State Park, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Maine Island Trail, and Appalachian Trail."

The conference is on 24 March at the high school. In hunting around for the group's obligatory web site, I found mention of the conference at a lot of other places, so the publicity is pretty widespread. Again, I think it sounds pretty interesting. Where was this sort of stuff when I was a kid?

Tenn./N.C. Area Blue Blaze Trail Mentioned

The Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel has a piece by Linda Lange, dated 11 March 2007, and titled "30 great trails to hike regionally." It's got very short, rated descriptions of different hikes in the area, including:

Grassy Ridge is just off the Appalachian Trail about 2 miles north of Carver's Gap in North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest. It's about 2.5 miles each way with about 600 feet of elevation gain. 'It's a favorite winter spot, due to its elevation of over 6,000 feet,' says Ron Shrieves."

This is in the "moderate" section.

Adkins' Hike in the News

The Bluefield, Virginia television station WVVA (its network is the one with the peacock ... NBC, right?) has a blurb on its website that says it's an Associated Press item dated 12 March 2007. It's titled "Fifth Time's A Charm".

It's a pretty brief announcement, more or less, that Leonard Adkins, his wife Laurie, and their dog are startinh out on repeat thru-hikes. (His 5th, her 4th, its 2nd.)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Kathryn "The Bag Lady" Zimmerman Leaves Springer

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle from upstate New York has an article in its 11 March 2007 edition headlined "Do It!: Always in walking distance; Fairport woman answers call to conquer Appalachian Trail." The column is by Leo Roth.

It's all about a prospective thru-hiker who was launching off from Springer that same day: Kathryn Zimmerman, trail name "The Bag Lady."

The article includes all the usual things about the Trail and one's chances of finishing. Zimmerman recently retired at age 57, and decided to go for it. She's been training by doing the usual: she "walked, cross-country skied, snowshoed — even went to the gym — wearing her backpack." Well, maybe not everybody's "usual."

She's an experienced hiker and backpacker. Her trail journal is online.

The "always in walking distance" part? An old Steven Wright joke that Zimmerman carries as her motto: "Anywhere is within walking distance, if you have the time," it reads. Like Katahdin.

Life-changing Events Apart from the Hiking

Charlie Spring writes in the Joilet (IL) Herald News on 11 March 2007 writes under the headline "Loss of job proved a life-altering road," about having lost his job 3 years ago when the manufacturing plant where he was manager closed up shop. And then about the struggles, financial and personal, that unemployment and subsequent under-employment brought to him and his wife. Not much to do with the Trail, I know.

Except this: he wraps the article in a Trail metaphor.

First sentence: "For a long time I've wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail because I've heard it is a life-changing experience."

Then come his stories about how being out of work radically changed his life.

Then the last sentence: "So in a manner of speaking, I managed to walk the Appalachian Trail."

Some folks don't have to spend half a year walking in order to be changed.

Greenway the Same but Different

The Jacksonville, Florida Times-Union of Sunday, 11 March 2007, carries an article by reporter Mark Woods about the East Coast Greenway headlined "Tourists Would Take Green Path."

Down a ways, in the middle of the article, comes the inevitable comparison to the Appalachian Trail:

"At a meeting Thursday in Nassau County, organizers said the East Coast Greenway will be like the Appalachian Trail. Only much different.

"The Appalachian Trail is about getting away from cities and people. This is about connecting them.

"To say that it's an ambitious project is an understatement. It's 800 miles longer than the Appalachian Trail. And its path, through 15 states and the District of Columbia, comes with myriad mind-boggling logistical hurdles."

Like it. Only different.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

"Huff" and "Puff" Story

The Times West Virginian (out of Fairmont, WV) carries a story on 10 March 2007 by Marvin Gelhausen under the headline "2,200-mile walk; Taylor County’s John Garner has goal of traveling entire Appalachian Trail".

It relates the story of Garner's NOBO hike from Harpers Ferry to Katahdin last summer, summiting on 12 August. He wants to complete the southern half of the Trail this spring or summer.

Garner started out with his brother in law, Ed Heavner, who eventually had to get off the Trail due to unspecified health issues. They took the trail names "Huff" and "Puff."

The article tells a number of their experiences, some things they learned on the Trail, and refers to food, shelter, and weather issues.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Stranded Hikers Rescued in TN

USA Today of 9 March 2005 has an article datelined Gatlinburg, TN and headlined "Rangers rescue four hikers stranded on Appalachian Trail" that relates the story of a rescue of 4 North Carolina hikers who had to be brought out of the mountains (including one hypothermic hiker pulled out by helicopter). They had set off without equipment needed to survive the rain that turned to snow ... 8 inches of the latter.
"The group "was found by six backpacking students from Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., .... Four of the backpackers stayed behind while two others went for help.

"... the hikers took cover at the Derrick Knob shelter, elevation 4,880 feet, in Sevier County, Tenn."
The other three hikers walked out with the rangers the 8 miles to safety.

"Breadless Horseman" Hike Sans Bread and Horse

The 9 March 2007 issue of the Winston-Salem (NC) Journal has an article by Lisa O'Donnell that's headlined "Get Out!: Gluten-free hiker to help spread word." It's the story of soon-to-be AT hiker Gordon Jenkins.

Jenkins has celiac disease, a digestive tract disease that means he shouldn't eat gluten. Not a big deal, right? Except when you stop and think about what it is thru-hikers eat a lot of: wheat-based carbohydrates, like Ramen, like bread, like pizza, like energy bars....

So his mom has been preparing and dehydrating gluten-free versions of meals for him to eat on the hike. Pretty good story about adjusting things to suit one's needs.

And, yes, he's also hiking to raise funds for the Celiac Disease Center, at Columbia university, which is supposed to be keeping track of his hike on its web site.

Jenkins's own hike web site is also slated to keep track of him as he hits the Trail on the 17th of March as the "Breadless Horseman." (Maybe he'll run into "Uncle Buck" who is starting his hike to cure leukemia on the same day.)

"Breadless Horseman" Hike Sans Bread and Horse

The 9 March 2007 issue of the Winston-Salem (NC) Journal has an article by Lisa O'Donnell that's headlined "Get Out!: Gluten-free hiker to help spread word." It's the story of soon-to-be AT hiker Gordon Jenkins.

Jenkins has celiac disease, a digestive tract disease that means he shouldn't eat gluten. Not a big deal, right? Except when you stop and think about what it is thru-hikers eat a lot of: wheat-based carbohydrates, like Ramen, like bread, like pizza, like energy bars.

So his mom has been preparing and dehydrating gluten-free versions of meals for him to eat on the hike. Pretty good story about adjusting things to suit one's needs.

And, yes, he's also hiking to raise funds for the Celiac Disease Center, which is supposed to be keeping track of his hike on its web site.

Jenkins's own hike web site is also slated to keep track of him as he hits the Trail on the 17th of March as the "Breadless Horseman." (Maybe he'll run into "Uncle Buck" who is starting his hike to cure leukemia on the same day.)

Vermont and Appalachian Trail Mentioned Together

Something called RISMedia, which seems to be a real estate industry publication, carries a piece datelined 12 March 2007 -- which I'm reading on the 10th, so I don't know either just what that date is supposed to mean. The piece is by John Rosenthal and titled "The Perfect Vacation for Every Month of the Year."

You have to scroll down to October to find that the "perfect vacation" spot for that month is Vermont. After describing the beautiful tree colors and farm scenes and all, he writes "Route 100, which runs the length of the state, is an excellent driving tour; the Long Trail, a 270-mile predecessor of the Appalachian Trail, is one of the finest hiking trails in America."

And a Long Trail End-to-End hiker, I have to agree.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Earl Shaffer Mentors a Ph.D.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article by recently-minted Ph.D. and now assistant professor of journalism at the University of Minnesota at Duluth, John Hatcher. It's titled "Writing With My Boots on" and is dated 8 March 2007.

He mostly writes about how a lot of scholarly work -- especially a dissertation -- is possible only through daily determined effort.

And he writes that he drew inspiration during his own recent dissertation work from Earl Shaffer. "I had become intrigued with Shaffer in the spring of 2005 when I spent a week hiking the Appalachian Trail with my stepfather. He has hiked the entire length of what is affectionately called the AT, and he gave me a copy of Shaffer's book, Walking With Spring, when we finished our hike."

Shaffer's "approach was straightforward: Get up every day and walk. That's it. Walk. Every day."

"I began to understand that, like backpacking, scholarship -- at least a long-term project like a dissertation -- isn't accomplished in inspired bursts of energy. It's less glamorous. The work can be tedious and grueling. There is always something more interesting to do. I saw that completing the task would have less to do with my intellect and more to do with my determination -- nourished by the support of so many people who kept me moving down the trail."

Thursday, March 08, 2007

"Uncle Buck" Hikes for a Cure to Leukemia

The Daily American, "Somerset County's Newspaper," (in Pennsylvania) has an article by Vicki Rock titled "Local man to hike trail in nephew's honor" in its 7 March 2007 issue.

Somerset resident "Mark Shaffer is going to hike the entire Appalachian Trail in memory of his nephew, Eric Shaffer, 24, who died of leukemia" a year ago. It's a fund-raising hike, like so many others, but this one is also somewhat poignant because the elder Shaffer had been thinking about hiking the Trail someday and only learned at his nephew's memorial service that the younger Shaffer had dreamed of making the hike himself. Mark takes the first step on 17 March, the anniversary of Eric's death.

Shaffer has himself a web site to chronicle the hike. His chosen trail name, Uncle Buck, is what his late nephew called him.

East Coast Greenway Patterned on the AT

The "Nassau Neighbors" section of the Florida Times-Union at has an article dated 7 March 2007 titled "Group wants Nassau to be part of East Coast Greenway" and written by Kevin Turner. It's about the East Coast Greenway reaching into Florida, and about people actually wanting it to come through their town.

Fernandina Beach, Florida resident and trails supporter Mike Pikula, is quoted. "'It's a noble objective. It's patterned after the Appalachian Trail,' he said. 'The focus is on planning it from a high level, but the implementation is on the state level, and they turn it over to local governments.'"

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Mother Earth Possible Mention

Mother Earth News may or may not have an article (titled "Whiter Wind?") about wind farms that mentions the Appalachian Trail and Redington. As I'm writing this, the original link I was given leads to an "error" page at Mother's site. Searching the website from its home page leads to another mention of the article, but clicking on the link gets me nowhere.

Maybe it'll be working when you try it. And, no, I haven't tried looking in the paper version of the magazine.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Trail in Georgia Barely Mentiond

This article barely mentions the Appalachian Trail, but its premise is sort of different, so I thought I'd record it anyway: In the March 2007 issue of Outside Magazine, writer Eric Hansen has an article titled "The School of Sap." It begins so:

"OUT HERE IN NORTH-CENTRAL GEORGIA, where the rental-car map ends and the Appalachian Trail begins, where the meth epidemic is matched only by the Waffle House epidemic, where every interstate off-ramp leads, eventually, into forested hills or naughty little glens down by rivers—out here, art is going to happen. Trees will draw."

Okay, that's the only mention of the Trail in an article about conceptual artist Jonathon Keats, who has been tieing pencils to Leyland cypress trees and letting the wind move the branches while he recorded the movements in 'drawings' on pieces of paper fixed underneath the pencils.

Still ... it's an interesting way of locating the action: "where the rental-car map ends and the Appalachian Trail begins."

Monday, March 05, 2007

Bike Path Also Like the AT

I've heard this one before, but the Journal News from the lower Hudson River valley (as in Yonkers and thereabouts) published an article on 5 March 2007, written by Ken Valenti under the headline "East Coast greenway bike path takes two routes through Westchester."

It's about the bicycle greenway trail being built/linked up and down the entire eastern seaboard. Here's the part I've heard before:

"Envisioned as an 'urban sister' to the hikers' Appalachian Trail, the East Coast Greenway is designed to link downtowns and encourage local cycling as much as offering a challenge for adventurous pedalers who brave the entire route."

There's that 'gold standard' again.

I'm also waiting for the first hikers to say that they walked the 3,000 mile length of the thing. My guess is that it'll happen sometime before the Greenway is actually and officially completed end-to-end.

Part of Alaskan Trail Officially Like AT

Okay, maybe not "officially." But it was in the Outdoors News Wire of 4 March 2007, where Paul Nickodem wrote about "Alaska's Chilkoot Trail."

Somewhere down in the middle of the trail review comes this: "The beginning of the trail was very surprisingly Appalachian Trail-like, very deep and woodsy, and also boggy at times. Coming over the first big hill, the trail became a quagmire of boot grabbin' mud. The trail was not the pushover that I thought it might be since so many people do it every year; it was a rough trail, with lots of rocks, especially on the Canadian side."

There you have it: the Chilkoot Trail is "surprisingly Appalachian Trail-like". You heard it here second.

Appalachian Trail DVD in the Making

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming of the Portland (ME) Press Herald writes in the 4 March 2007 edition of that paper about an interesting video project. Under the headline "Producing DVDs on Appalachian Trail has up, down sides," Fleming tells about Jane McMichen's visionary project.

"The outdoor project the Jonesport Web designer envisions is one that would help bring those with disabilities into Maine's wild areas, and encourage those who spend too much time on the living room couch to go to state parks." What is it? Nothing less than a DVD travelogue of the entire Trail.

McMichen wants to document and highlight sections of the whole length of the AT, keeping an eye out for the lesser known and visited spots.

Yet, she now also realizes that this could bring heavier use and crowding to the Trail. So she is also planning on incorporating Leave No Trace segments.

"McMichen has not hiked the entire trail. She has completed sections of it. Her expertise is in video production, and that's what she hopes to bring to the Appalachian Trail DVD set. It will not be a documentary, but more of a travel book on video. It will take her years to record the entire trail, and involve intense weeks covering small sections. But it has become her personal goal."

Of course, there's a web site.

Thru-Hiker Now on Cross-Country Walk

Appalachian Trail thru-hiker Debbie Schachner (class of 2000) is profiled in the 4 March 2007 issue of the Belleville (IL) News-Democrat in an article by Suzanne Boyle. It's headlined "Changing the world step by step; O'Fallon's Debbie Schachner walks across the U.S. to help people in Kenya"

She's walking across the country on the American Discovery Trail in order "to raise $47,000 to build a library in Timau, Kenya." The article reports that she started in the Spring of 2005. "She has 1,700 miles more to go on her quest, but she temporarily put her backpack away late last fall so she could earn money to pay for her trip back to Kenya."

Shachner "began taking day hikes when she started college, then hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2000 and worked at a wilderness school in Wyoming during the summer of 2002." A teaching job took her to Kenya, where she came to know their need for a library.

Check it out! (Library pun intended.) She starts hiking agian on 11 April, the day after Easter.

Josh Wengard on Fundraiser Hike

The Canton, OH Repository published an article in its 4 March 2007 issue, written by David Kaminski and headlined "Giving to charity will be six-month adventure for Lake Township man."

It reports that Josh Wengerd is setting off from Springer on Monday, 5 March 2007.

"He is doing it because he is 23, healthy and adventurous. He is doing it because it runs in the family. His father, Norman W. Wengerd, a former senior executive at Mercy Medical Center, bicycled from California to Massachusetts a few years ago. He also is doing it to raise money for a local social service agency, the Stark Prescription Assistance Network. "

Julie Judkins Profiled

The Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times carries one of those 'get to know your neighbors' pieces in its 3 March 2007 issue, written by Lindsay Nash and headlined "Trail advocate protects, conserves and promotes AT." The focus of the article is Julie Judkins, resource program manager with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

She writes that Judkins "works in the Asheville office of the ATC to protect the plants along the trail and control non-native invasive species, like kudzu, Oriental bittersweet and multiflora roses. Judkins also advocates for the trail, preaching Leave No Trace ethics...."

This is the nice, informative kind of piece you usually only read in the AT Journeys magazine.

Hiking Mishaps Recollected

In the 2 March 2007 issue of the Watertown TAB & Press, from Needham, MA, Kenneth Mirvis writes in his column about a proposal to make Wednesdays walking days for the folks associated with the Lowell School.

In supporting the idea of walking for health, recreation, and sanity, he recounts that "Recently, I reconnected with some of the guys from my Boy Scout troop. We’ve recollected a couple of hiking disasters along the Appalachian Trail in Georgia from 40-something years ago. One had to do with ice; on the other, we lost the trail and spent a day or so wandering through the mountains with a few compasses and a topographic map. Fortunately, we were still young and stupid enough to have had a great time! Today, we are planning a third shot at the same stretch of trail, this time with spouses and kids."

Nice idea. The hiking it again part, not the wandering lost part. Also the Walking Wednesdays part.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Vermont Winter Snowshoe Hiking

The New York Times has an article in the Travel section of its 2 March 2007 issue by Sam Hooper Samuels that is headlined "Keeping a Natural Silence on Snowshoes in Vermont."

The gist of the article is that snowshoes are a great way to get around on the snow, and that Vermont's hiking trails are a great place to do that getting around. Of Kevin Burke, from Connecticut, the article says, "In summer, he has enjoyed hiking the Appalachian Trail, which has a 150-mile section in Vermont, as well as the Long Trail, a 272-mile path between Massachusetts and the Quebec border. After joining the Green Mountain Club, he learned that the same trails could be used year-round with snowshoes."

Adkins and Adkins Hitting the Trail

The 27 February 2007 issue of the Charleston (WV) Daily News has an article by Monica Orosz titled "Notable hiker ready to take the fifth."

She's referring to Leonard Adkins being about to launch off on his 5th hike of the Appalachian Trail with his wife Laurie (on her 4th). The article recounts some of Leonard and Laurie's hiking background, how they met on the Trail, how the vet says that their 13-year-old dog is fit enough to accompany them.

The idea this time is to take it easy, rather than to rush to Katahdin.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

New York-New Jersey Trail Conference Profiled

Ralph Ferrusi writes in his column in the 1 March 2007 Poughkeepsie (NY) Journal about the NYNJTC. It's kind of a summary profile that gives folks a good idea of what the club is about. The headline is "Hiking organization benefits thousands of us." They are, of course, the maintaining club for a goodly chunk of the Appalachian Trail in New York and New Jersey.

Ralph writes a hiking column every Thursday in that newspaper.

Trail Magic Ten Years Long

This is a really neat piece. Be sure to click through to the newspaper and read it.

In the Great Falls (MT) Tribune of 1 March 2007, Karen Land (trail name Spork), who is the paper's outdoor columnist, writes under the headline "Letter from the trail sparks memories" about having received a letter -- not an email, but an actual paper and envelope letter -- from someone she met very briefly during her thru-hike in 1997.

"Spork" got hit with giardia while climbing Mt. Greylock. She had to get off the Trail and head to a hospital, leaving her pack on the side of the Trail.

Except that on the way down the mountain she and her partner met up with a stranger who reached the pack and marched it off to Bascom Lodge where it could be shuttled to the hospital.

Now, 10 years later he writes to her with a poignant message.

Like I said, click the link or whatever it takes to get to the column, and read it.

"Model T" Tate to Speak

A note by Linda Stahl in the Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal of 1 March 2007 under the headline "Writer to speak at bird club dinner" tells us that Junius R. "Model T" Tate will be speaking in Louisville "at 7 p.m. March 8 at Quest Outdoors, 2330 Frankfort Ave."

Model T finished his 4th thru-hike last fall and drew a large audience at the 2006 Quest Outdoors, according to the article.

By the way, the headline doesn't refer to Tate but to a presentation by Scott Weidensaul. He's an excellent nature writer. If you have a chance anywhere to hear Scott, take advantage of it. And read his books, too.