Thursday, May 31, 2007

Feel Like You're on the A.T. When You're Not

The "brand new, 2 1/2-mile trail along Messalonskee Stream [was dedicated on] Saturday as part of National Trails Day. The trail is the newest addition to the Kennebec Messalonskee Trails system, which courses through five towns." That's what the article by Amy Calder titled "Trail dedication Saturday in Oakland; 2.5 mile path along Messalonskee Stream offers vigorous hiking, views, wildlife" in the 30 May 2007 issue of (associated with a number of Maine newspapers) says.

Then town Recreation Direction Eric Seekins adds that
"'It's like being up north in downtown Oakland, all at the same time," he said. "You feel like you're on the Appalachian Trail but you're two minutes from your house. It's just beautiful.'"
In case you haven't heard of this trail system,
"Founded by Peter Garrett, Kennebec Messalonskee Trails is a 6-mile trail system located in Waterville, Winslow, Fairfield, Benton and Oakland, and organizers plan to increase it to 24 miles. The trail system includes scenic routes along the Kennebec River in Benton, Fairfield and Waterville, as well as a stretch along Messalonskee Stream in Waterville."
And just when you thought it was safe to go into town!

Trail Mentioned as One of the Greatest

The Associated Press story by Anne Wallace Allen, headlined 'Web sites detail three epic U.S. trails' in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer of 30 May 2007 mentions the Appalachian Trail along with the Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail as the three "greatest American trails of them all."

National Trails Day Events in Shenandoah

The Rappahanock Times Community Newspaper website has a story about the series of hiking events slated in Shenandoah National Park for National Trails Day. The lists includes a 2 mile "Appalachian Trail Ramble" with three different starting times. The idea is to get folks out of their cars on the Skyline Drive and out walking on the actual skyline. Title of the article is "Park event to help hikers get 'Beyond the Trailhead'" and it's by Kevin Allen, dated 30 May 2007. The PATC is helping organize the hikes.

Was Hiker, Now Mayor

The 30 May 2007 issue of the Frederick (MD) News Post has a profile of incoming Burkittsville mayor Debby Burgoyne in it, that was written by Karen Gardner and is headlined 'Nowhere to grow, and she likes it."

It opens with the words
"Debby Burgoyne discovered Burkittsville as a college student while backpacking on the nearby Appalachian Trail."
Then, later, it mentions that
"Burkittsville sits at the base of South Mountain and is a mile from the Appalachian Trail. Burgoyne, who has multiple sclerosis, still takes walks on the Appalachian Trail whenever she feels up to it and rides her mountain bike on the C&O Canal."
You never know where that Trail can take you in the end.

AP Story on the AT Appears Again

That Associated Press story on the three big hiking trails appears in the MSNBC web site under the title "See America — on foot! It's hiking season, so get out there this summer" on 30 May 2007.

Georgians Thru Hike in 3 Months and a Week

The Catoosa County News from Ringgold, GA has a story in its 29 May 2007 issue by Randall Franks titled "The long way home: Two cousins conquer the Appalachian Trail." It records the completion of a thru-hike by cousins Grant "Bear Bait" Harris of Catoosa County, and Jeff "Jolly Roger" Richardson of Whitfield. They left Springer on 3 February, and summited Katahdin on 11 May. Richardson's father
"said that the duo made better time than expected.

"'Mainly because it has been too cold to do anything but keep hiking for much of their time on the trail,' he said."
Harris adds that
"'The fact that there was no one out there,' he said, 'we got bored so all we did was walk as far as you could, as fast as you could, and try to get home.

"'Once we hit up north, we had the ability to slack pack — where you do not actually carry your full gear, someone will drop you off at a point and you walk back to them or walk ahead and they will pick you up,' he said."
Then, too,
"By the time they arrived in Pennsylvania, they gave up their cook stoves for in-town meals. Grant said they would swap work on a farm or in a restaurant for places to stay."

Keep an Eye Out for Aussies

The Sydney Morning Herald of 30 May 2007 has a travel article headlined "CYBERTRIPS: It's hiking season: See America - on foot!" in it. The footer mentions that the article is "sourced direct from an overseas news agency [the Associated Press] as an additional service to readers." It gives readers a real quick set of pointers to web sites for the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, and to American hiking sites in general.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Trail Mentioned in Northern Virginia

The Loudon Times-Mirror of 29 May 2007 has an article titled "Time to take to the trails" by Lynn Wolstenholme. It begins with mention of
"a new piece of the Potomac Heritage Trail, an 800-mile network [the NPS website says 425 mile corridor"] of trails that runs from the Chesapeake Bay through Washington, D.C., to the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania."
Then continues with references to National Trails Day, and Loudon County, VA trails. And ends with this sentence:
"And on the western border of Loudoun, near Clarke County, is the Appalachian Trail, which can be a day trip, weekend trip or six-month trek. The Appalachian Trail runs from Georgia to Maine."

Shooting On or Near The Trail

The web site of WDBJ channel 7 television reports on 29 May 2007 under the headline "Authorities name person of interest in Rockbridge County shootings" that the
"Rockbridge County authorities now have a person of interest in a shooting that sent a camper to the hospital.

"They're looking for 25-year-old Kevin Anthony Howard of Toano, that's near Williamsburg."
It isn't clear to me exactly where in Virginia the shooting took place. The article describes it as
"a campsite shooting in the Jefferson National Forest yesterday morning [i.i., 28 May]. The shooting was one of two that took place yesterday near the Arnold's Valley section of Rockbridge County.

"The sheriff says the man,who was shot in the hand and the leg, is recovering from surgery. He's expected to be okay. But today we learned the suspect, Kenneth Howard, was also a camper who had set up just 20-yards away from the victims. It's news that's unnerving to a lot of hikers coming through the area."
Then the article quotes some Appalachian Trail hikers -- "Catchup" and "TK Express".
"In her past life, she was a teacher in New Hampshire. Now as a retiree', "Catchup", as she's called, is hiking the Appalachian Trail making her way through an area where a camper was shot.

"'I think the main thing is we need to stick together as a community of hikers and really look out for one another,''" says "Catchup."

"It was early Monday morning when investigators say a man pulled open the flap of a tent on Petite's Gap Road and fired inside. News of the event is filtering down the trail, but hikers aren't fazed. They say there are things they do to stay safe.

"'We do have a radio to keep up with the outside world. But we're out here to hike and that's our plan,' says "TK Express."

"They also use handles or nicknames. Most folks have cell phones. There are also logs along the trails to keep track of a person's comings and goings. Hikers says this is a close knit community that sticks together. When they camp for the night, they stick to specifically designated sites that are well off the main road.

"Sheriff R.W. Day says they're still looking for Kenneth Howard and the red work truck authorities believe he's in. If anyone sees Howard or the vehicle, they're asked to call their local police."
There's a photo of suspect Howard on the web page.

Guns and the Trail

On a web site apparently called simply "TMZ.COM" there is a paparazzi photo of a celebrity named Ashton Kutcher wearing what is apparently a handgun under the title "Ashton Packs (Heat) for Camping Trip" that was posted on 29 May 2007. He's out in California someplace. One of the comments by members of the general public is this interesting remark:
"11. Actually when we go camping we always take a gun in case of wild animals and also other aggressive hikers(there ARE some crazies out on the trails). And when we are bored we sometimes target shoot beer cans (yes even with hand guns). So where I am from it is very common to see people with firearms of all sort on the trails.

"But I live very close to the Appalachian Trail on the east coast. I've never been to Malibu so someone would have to tell me how wild the camping and hiking can be out there......

"Posted at 2:04PM on May 29th 2007 by Tick"
Yeah, okay, please let me know just what part of the Trail this person lives near.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hiker Not a Hack

A letter to the editor from Priscilla J. Jenkins in the 28 May 2007 issue of the Kennebec (ME) Morning Sentinel (with the headline "Deane Jones isn't a 'hack,' but has 'high integrity'") defends Jones against the accusation in someone else's earlier letter to the paper in which Jones was called "a party hack." Jenkins, in defending Jones, mentions that
"He is a registered Maine guide (one who hiked the entire Appalachian Trail), retired from the printing business, and now is serving the children of his town also by driving a school bus."

Monday, May 28, 2007

WONDERFUL Pictures of Hikers!

There's a wonderful story in the 27 May 2007 issue of the Knoxville News Sentinel. It's written by Morgan Simmons, and illustrated by the photographs of the paper's photojournalist Paul Efird. The title is "A.T. trail pix; Hikers say 'cheese' for sandwiches."

The photos are shot against a plain white background, and were posed at Davenport Gap, at the north end of the Smokies. There are 8 hikers pictured: Bill Sugrue, 62, of Falls Church, Va.; Raymond Quan, from New Brunswick, Canada, and Jeff Palmer, 62, is from Cazenovia, N.Y.; Hans "Story" Uecker, 29, Dillon, CO; Peter "Flapjack" Priole, 37, Staten Island, NY; Elliot "Skittles" Tracey, Dillon, CO; Dave "Chaco" Dalrymple, of Austin, TX; and Allen "Rebel Dreamer" Davis, 22, of Smithville, N.C.

Great photos, and a little note about each hiker including how long it took each one to hike through the Smokies. Somebody get these folks to publish their photos elsewhere for broader circulation. Were there more taken? On more days?

Eldred PA Car Club Still on the Agenda

Like a bad dream that won't quit, the Alpine Rose Resorts Motorsports Club proposal in Eldred Township is still on the agenda in Pennsylvania. The article by Howard Frank titled "Alpine Rose Car Club DEP Hearing Postponed" in the 27 May 2007 issue of the 'Pocono Record' newspaper in northeast Pennsylvania spells it out.

The heart of the article is this:
"Last September, a state hearing board revoked the storm water discharge permit for the club, saying the DEP [Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection] erred in issuing the permit.

"The board ruled Alpine had failed to prove it considered alternatives to the increased discharge and runoff into the Aquashicola Creek, a high-quality cold water fishery, for which state law permits no degradation.

"Since then, a new plan was submitted by Alpine Rose, and the DEP scheduled the hearing for Thursday.

"The DEP postponed that meeting, saying it was not prepared to issue a draft permit or denial for the public to consider."
For those of you who don't remember this bad-proposal-that-will-not-die, here's how this article summarizes it:
"The project features a four-mile road course within a private club on 360 acres near Upper Smith Gap Road in Eldred Township, adjacent to the Appalachian Trail.

"The membership-only club would allow car enthusiasts to drive their own vehicles at speeds of up to 120 miles per hour."
And this isn't a bunch of yahoos tooling around in their broken-down pick-up trucks: it costs $30,000 to join, plus
"a one-time $3,000 processing fee. Annual fees are $4,000. On the 10th anniversary of the track, investors are promised a 75 percent return of their initial $30,000 investment. Those leaving before the 10th year will receive 75 percent of their initial investment, and the membership will then be resold by the club. After 500 memberships are reached, the cost of a membership will increase to $38,000, the annual dues will rise and the 75 percent return on the initial investment will no longer be available. Total membership will not exceed 1,200 and no more than 25 cars will be allowed on the track at one time."
I'm not great at math, but does that make sense to you? Spend $33,000 now, plus a total of another $40,000 over the next 10 years, for a total of $73,000 in order to get back 75% ($22,500) of the initial $30,000. Seems like I'd not really be making anything on that deal. Maybe they're rich yahoos.

There's a good chronology of events leading up to this postponement in the article. The Sierra Club helped out with the last series of legal battles that were spearheaded by the ATC and the Blue Mountain Preservation Association.

Fort Wayners Hike in the Smokies

Phil Bloom, in the Fort Wayne (IN) Journal Gazette of 27 May 2007, has an article headlined "The pursuit of natural happiness; Family hikes bring peace," in which he profiles the Didier family. Four members of the family make regular drives all the long way from their Indiana homes to the Smokies just for the joy of a weekend of hiking. One of their favorite hikes includes a stretch of the Appalachian Trail.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Newfoundland Connection

Newfoundland's newspaper, the Western Star, carries Dave White's article "Looking forward to the first day of summer; it's just a month away" in its 24 May 2007 issue. White writes about a variety of summer outdoor activities people might pursue in the area, including hiking on the International Appalachian Trail. He says that
"People who record such locations, events and occurrences report that four million outdoor enthusiasts make trekking some portion of the International Appalachian Trail each season part of their annual healthy, outdoors routine.

"Others, breaking it into manageable pieces, reportedly aspire to traverse its entire rugged length, about 5,550 miles from Georgia in the United States up the Eastern Seabord, into the Maritime provinces."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Thru-hiker now on PCT

Ray Clark, Appalachian Trail thru-hiker in 1998, is now on the Pacific Coast Trail, as told in Sean Nealon's article "Riverside man hiking from Mexico to Canada" in the 'Press Enterprise.' of 25 May 2007. He's hiking to raise money for Parkinson's disease research. See his blog. His trail name is "Sole to Soul."

Friday, May 25, 2007

International A.T. Section Work Approved

Cory Hurley writes in the 24 May 2007 issue of 'The Western Star' under the headline "High and mighty; Appalachian Trail extension will meander around spectacular Lewis Hills" just what it says.

The relevant lines are:
"The committee responsible for the Lewis Hills section of the international trail network recently met to finalize plans for the $64,000 project to be completed by September."
This stretch of the International Appalachian Trail is in western Newfoundland.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Plant Theft Along the Trail

Dolly R. Sickles writes in a staff gardening blog at the WRAL.COM website (from the North Carolina 'Research Triangle' area) on 23 May 2007 under the headline "Plant Clippings | Flattery OR Felony?" that she has taken plant clippings from A.T. lands. Specifically, she writes about having rooted plants from home gardens and then adds
"Oh, then there's the laurel that I was able to keep alive for a while that we got off the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. If I'm in civilized company, I ask before clipping. On the other hand, I have been known to station my husband as the lookout so I can take a quick clip."
Yeah, oops!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Canoe Trail Like the A.T. - - - AND a Hiker/Paddler

Matt Crawford writes under the headline "Anglers need to conquer canoe trail" in the 22 May 2007 Burlington (VT) Free Press that "They officially raised the curtain on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail last year." And, you're right, we're encouraged to
"Think of it as sort of an Appalachian Trail for paddlers, connected by a series of lakes, rivers, ponds and significant streams."
Probably, though, it's likely to be a little flatter than the Appalachian Trail. And it's 740 miles long. And runs through 4 states and one Canadian province. Other than that, it's like the Trail.

Actually, we should know later this year. The NFCT website has this news note on it:
"Another potential through-paddler is currently hiking the Appalachian Trail, and has the goal of becoming the first person to complete a thru-hike and a through-paddle in the same year."
Following the link to his web site, we discover that the possible first double-thru is Jason Bivin. He started hiking in mid-March.

He writes in his 2 May blog post that
"My plan is to hike as far as I can get by the end of June. I am hoping this mark will at least be Delaware Water Gap, but it would be nice to have gotten through NY and NJ. From there, I will get to Old Forge, NY and begin my paddle around July 4th'ish... Many have said they would like to come paddle and I am hoping everyone will have the opportunity. I would then complete the paddle by Mid-August or so and then come back and finish my thru hike of the AT."
He was at Trail Days. His trail name seems to be "TDS" or "Totally Different Subject". Good luck!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

European Trail "Like" the A.T.

Newburyport, MA City Councilor Larry McCavitt and his wife, Karen, are recently back from hiking 250 miles on the historic Camino de Santiago in France and Spain.
"'It's like doing the Appalachian Trail,' McCavitt said. 'A lot of people find it an interesting way to travel across the country.'"
That's according to the article in the Daily News of Newburyport dated 21 May 2007 by Stephen Tait and headlined "McCarthy: Council wasting paper on printed agendas."

Hikers Cathy and Gary Pastva now on Bikes

Cathy and Gary Pastva have "hiked the Appalachian Trail" and are now about to embark on an 11,000 mile bicycle ride around the United States on a bicycle built for two, according to the article "Wanderlust bug bites Cape couple" by Johanna Crosby in the 21 May 2007 Cape Cod Times. Doesn't say when they hiked.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Trail Days Described

Becky Campbell writes in the 20 May 2007 Bristol Herald Courier about Trail Days in Damascus, VA under the headline "Thousands descend on town to celebrate role as hikers haven."

The heart of the article reads:
"Town Mayor Creed Jones said in his 17 years of living in Damascus, this is the biggest Trail Days ever.

"It’s so big, he said, next year the town may have to rent property to park all the cars.

"'It gets bigger every year. People see the town, and it’s beautiful, and they tell their friends about it,' Jones said.

"Vice Mayor Marina Farmer said the parking areas – and campground – have been running over.

"But it means big bucks for the town’s economy."
Still, the mayor notes later down in the article, as much as Damascus loves hikers, they make more money off bicycles.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Barefoot Zaleski into Tennessee

Barefoot hiker Ronald Zaleski of Flanders, N.Y. has made it into the Johnson City, TN - Bristol, VA area, judging from the article in by Caitlin Sullivan on 17 May 2007. It's titled "Working for change, one bare foot at a time."

We have mentioned him before. He's a Vietnam vet who stopped wearing shoes 35 years ago when he left the military. And now he's trying to raise awareness about post traumatic stress disorder. Zaleski aims to finish his hike around 4 July. The article says he'll put shoes on again then.

His web site is

Injured AT Hiker Rescued

Amber Miller at (Bristol, TN and VA area) has a short piece on 17 May 2007 titled "Injured hiker rescued." And that's what it's about.
"The hiker twisted her ankle and was unable to get out on her own, but getting to her was difficult for the Carter County Rescue Squad because of all the overgrowth on the access road from Nave Hollow Loop."
Then it was a 15 minute ATV ride down the hill, but a total rescue time of 3 hours. All for "only minor ankle injuries."

Maintainers Praised

There's a great article by Lindsay Nash in the Asheville, NC Citizen-Times on 17 May 2007 titled "Maintaining mountain trails - Area volunteers work to keep paths passable." It's a paean to the maintainers who keep the Appalachian Trail open and hikable. Just for example,
"Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, a group of mostly retired men pack their chain saws, work gloves and picks into a truck and head out to the trails.

"The men are part of a volunteer work crew organized by the Carolina Mountain Club, the region’s oldest and largest hiking club with 800 members.

"The club, which boasts some 5,000 volunteer hours on the Appalachian Trail alone, is constantly working to keep about 400 miles of the AT and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail clean and green."
The article continues with descriptions of other volunteer opportunities -- such as on the upcoming National Trails Day (2 June this year) -- and mentions the ATC's role. Good piece!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hiking Siler Bald

In the Smoky Mountain Sentinel has a piece by George Owen titled "Siler Bald: A Great Beginning Hike" in its 16 May 2007 issue. Owen describes a 4 mile round trip hike to the summit of Siler Bald that includes a stretch on Appalachian Trail footpath. Nice description of some of the wildflowers there at this time of year.

The article also appears in the Blairsville, GA 'Union Sentinel' of 17 May 2007.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Looking for Lions in Shenandoah

The project to take a census of predators in the Shenandoah -- and possibly confirm the existence there of mountain lions -- is briefly described in the Charlottesville, VA 'Daily Progress' of 15 May 2007 under the headline "On the prowl for a mystery." Specifically,
"A group of volunteers and research scientists last month began installing infrared cameras at 350 sites near the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland to try to capture images of predators."
And so on.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"Model T" Honored for Fundraising Hike

The Clarksville 'Leaf-Chronicle' of 14 May 2007 has a brief, unsigned article in it titled "Tate helped the homeless; Local hiker walked for Salvation Army drive and raised $30,000."

It's about 4 time thru-hiker J.R. "Model-T" Tate. On his last hike, the piece says, he raised more than $30,000 for the Salvation Army. And, apparently rather recently, "the Salvation Army [I'm guessing that would be one of the local branches, not the national church body] presented Tate with the Others Award during its annual Fundraising and Appreciation Dinner."

Monday, May 14, 2007

A.T. Jumping Off Point for Climbing the Seven Big Ones

The Masachusetts 'Republican' of 13 May 2007 has an article by Kenneth L. Ross titled "Investor tackles mountainous challenges" in which the Trail gets a mention.

It's about Michael R. Matty, executive vice president of St. Germain Investment Group. It seems that about 18 months ago he was browsing in a bookstore and someone pointed him toward Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods." The article continues:
"'I immediately started hiking on the Appalachian Trail and I climbed Mount Greylock (in the Berkshires) in January 2006,' [Matty] recalled in an interview the other day."
And from there he has
"climbed Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, and by next January he expects to have climbed two other of the Seven Summits - the tallest mountains on each of the continents - Mount Elbrus in Russia and Aconcagua in Argentina."
I guess you can do that when you're vice president of whatever it is.

NY-NJTC Work Planned

Fred J. Aun writes in New Jersey's 'Star-Ledger' of 13 May 2007 about the work being done on the Appalachian Trail by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference in preparation for the meeting of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at Ramapo. His piece is titled "Appalachian Trail gets some repairs."

In particular, he says,
"High on the to-do list is the repair of an AT bridge in Vernon.

"Built last autumn by the Conference, the bridge carries AT hikers over a wet section of the Vernon lowlands just west of Wawayanda Mountain between Route 94 and Canal Road. Make that "carried" hikers over the water; the span was knocked out of place last month when the normally demure stream it traverses flooded from a nor'easter deluge."
It's quite a structure. I remember hiking over it the summer after it was completed.

Grandma Gatewood Ultra-lighter

The Birmingham (AL) News of 13 May 2007 has a piece by Russell Helms titled "Hiking lite: Less weight equals more fun."

There's nothing really new in this piece about, well, how light weight gear makes hiking go more easily. BUT, Helms introduces the topic saying
"Back in 1957, at the age of 67, Grandma Gatewood thru-hiked the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail in Keds tennis shoes, carrying a wool blanket, a plastic shower curtain for shelter, and a homemade denim laundry as a pack. Her gear certainly wasn't as light as that available today, and her motivation wasn't just to save weight, but to make do with what she had.

"Before companies such as GoLite began selling gear aimed at ounce shavers, lite hiker pioneers such as Grandma Gatewood and Ray Jardine took matters into their own hands to make homemade tarps and packs."
Ah, to be pioneers! It's a short news piece, but the author also brings Thoreau and Muir to bear before he ends.

(What would Gatewood, Muir and Thoreau have thought of being an entry in Wikipedia?)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Wind Farming in Maine

The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram staff blog "Down to Earth: Thoughts on Maine's Environment" by John Richardson dated 12 May 2007 opens with these words:
"Maine may have turned a corner this week in its effort to lead New England in the development of wind power.

"First, Gov. John Baldacci decided to create a task force to come up with rules, laws and siting standards for attracting wind energy projects to the right places. And second, the company behind a doomed wind farm plan in the western Maine mountains resuscitated the project by scaling back from two mountain ridges to one and moving a couple miles farther away from the Appalachian Trail."
The new wind farm plan, Richardson writes, "won’t get a free pass. The 18 remaining turbines will still be visible from the Appalachian Trail and could still affect birds and other wildlife. Those kinds of potential trade-offs will come with every wind energy plan."

Brief Mention of the A.T.

In an opinion piece titled "Mick Flynn: Take a hike; What is your favorite film? Why?" in the 12 May 2007 'Journal & Courier' of Lafayette and West Lafayette, IN, Mick Flynn writes:
"We were just passing time, while hiking the Appalachian Trail, taking turns describing our favorite films. The 'we' refers to my twin sons and me during their rite-of-passage hike at age 13."
Sounds like a nice idea, but he doesn't explain when or how long the hike was. (The article's really about films and emotions.)

He ends with the thought that "Hiking is like that, lots of time to talk and to listen."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Vinona "Fire Hazard" Christensen and Other Trail Names

There's another article about Indiana hiker Vinona Christensen in the 11 May 2007 Noblesville Daily Times. Written by William Fouts, it is titled "Introducing Trail Companions: Vinona Christensen introduces her friends from Appalachian Trail."

Saying that "A right [sic!] of passage for Appalachian Trail hikers is receiving a trail name," the article consists mostly of impressions about some of Christensen's fellow hikers: “Chuck Norris” and “Tigger,” “Kokopelli” of Atlanta, Ga., “August” a screenwriter on his 2nd thru-hike, “Bubba” who may end up going by “Wikipedia;” and two who have had to get off the Trail, “White Bear,” and his wife “Cujo”.

Christensen's trail name is “Fire Hazard” due to her camp stove mishap resulting in a burned hole in another hiker’s pack.

And . . . it's a "rite" not a "right."

Hiker and Haircutter

Rick Laney writes in an article titled "Clean canvas: Popular hair salon hikes to Maryville" in the 11 May 2007 issue of The Daily Times ("serving Maryville, Alcoa and Blount County, Tennessee") about former Appalachian Trail thru-hiker Travis Hall.

Hall was a southbound thru-hiker, but the article doesn't say when he hiked -- except to mention that it was directly after finishing his 5 month and 5 day hike that Hall got married. There's a little about his hike, including that
"Hall said being a hairstylist led to some interesting conversations around the campfire while hiking the Appalachian Trail.

"So many of the hikers are construction workers and outdoorsmen. Many of them worked for outdoor outfitting companies.

"'When they asked what I did, it was usually pretty funny — you don't meet many hairstylists on the Appalachian Trail.'"
Most of the article is about Hall's successful hair salon business and that he and his wife spend their free time hiking the other trails in GSMNP.

So, if you're hiking through Maryville, stop in at Canvas Hair Design and trade trail stories. Maryville is some 40 miles west of Gatlinburg.

Student Ecologist Starts Thru-Hike

Brendan Wiltse is the subject of Rebecca Steffan's article "Student has contributed to understanding of Lake George ecology" in the 11 May 2007 issue of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Wiltse is a graduating senior at Paul Smith's College in northern New York state. And he's embarking on an Appalachian Trail thru-hike between college and grad school.

Much of the article is about Wiltse's research into the natural history of Lake George, his having obtained and analyzed core samples from the lake bottom, and his conclusions about the effects of long-term drought on lake ecology.

A.T. Hiker Now on the P.C.T.

The Jamestown (NY) Post Journal of 11 May 2007 carries an article by Anastasia Conklin titled "Trek Raises Funds For Watershed Conservancy." It documents a hike of the Pacific Crest Trail by one Sara Lampo to, in part, raise money for the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy.

Lampo is an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker.
"Recently, Ms. Lampo accomplished what her father calls, her biggest challenge — hiking the Appalachian Trail which led her through 14 states along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains.

"'There are countless differences and beauties about the trail,' Ms. Lampo said. 'I guess I just like the challenges of a long trail.'

"While she did the Appalachian Trail for herself, she said that when she wanted to hike the Pacific Crest, she didn’t want to be so selfish. So she did some research into two organizations in places she calls home — the Chautauqua County Watershed Conservancy and the West Virginia Rivers Coalition."

Friday, May 11, 2007

Trails Help Towns

The Appalachian Trail is mentioned in an article by Lois Carol Wheatley in the Bristol (VA) Herald Courier and Johnson City (TN) web site. It's titled "Blazing a path" and appeared on 10 May 2007.

Speaking of the ways that recreation trails can bring economic well-being to depressed areas, she writes that
"There can be no better example than Damascus, which calls itself “Trail Town, USA” and boasts that it sits at the crossroads of the Appalachian Trail, the Virginia Creeper Trail, the Trans-American National Bicycle Trail, the Iron Mountain Trail, the Daniel Boone Trail, the Crooked Road Musical Heritage Trail and Virginia’s Birding and Wildlife Trail."

Using GPS to Stay Connected to Home

Douglas Gantenbein, "the Gear Guy," answers gear questions for Outdoor Magazine. The Tacoma, WA News-Tribune carries his column. In its 10 May 2007 issue, under the headline "Three options offer some hope of tracking Appalachian Trail hiker" he answers this question:
"When I turn 40, I’m going to hike the Appalachian Trail. I would like to take a GPS unit, and my wife would like a way to keep track of my progress. Is there anything out there that can meet the need? – Glenn, New York"
Well, good ... until the battery dies, or you drop the unit down the side of a mountain, or leave it at a shelter, or whatever. Then you'd better hotfoot it to a phone to inform your home folks that you're still alive and still moving.

Trail Days Schedule Announced

The Johnson City, TN TriCities.Com web site, connected with the Bristol Herald Courier, has an article introducing the Damascus, Virginia "Trail Days" celebration to the uninformed. It's headlined "Damascus gears up for Trail Days" and is written by Lois Carol Wheatley.

The article summarizes the 21st annual festival -- held, this year, on 17-20 May -- and includes the hourly schedule of events. Some 10,000-25,000 people are expected.

If you like that sort of thing.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

One Community Reads Bryson

In the Norwell (MA) Mariner of 9 May 2007 there's an article by Matt Dunning titled "Norwell Reads program highlights the great outdoors." It highlights the 'one book, one community' program in Norwell. Duplicated across the country, it involves getting lots of people in the community to read and discuss the same text in a relatively short period of time. Builds community. Builds literacy.
"Now in its third year, the Norwell Reads program has become something of a tradition. According to Jeanne Ryer, the featured tome in 2007 finds the town trading American history for nature’s majesty.

For this year’s Norwell Reads initiative, the program’s selection committee chose New Hampshire-based author Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods,” which chronicles Bryson’s trek from Georgia to Maine along the Appalachian Trail. According to Ryer — who in addition to coordinating the Norwell Reads program serves as the reference and adult librarian at the public library — upon returning to his native New Hampshire after living abroad for 20 years, Bryson wanted to reconnect with his homeland, thus his decision to walk the trail in its entirety."
For more information about the Norwell Reads Program, visit the public library’s Web site at, or call Jeanne Ryer at 781-659-2015.

Cleaning Dishes, Avoiding Illness

The Fort Wayne (IN) News-Sentinel has an article in its 9 May 2007 edition that comes off the news wire from the McClatchy Newspapers. It's titled "Dr. Collins: Three-wash system will keep camp dishes clean" and is by Paul Collins.

He mentions that
"one study of the Appalachian Trail indicated that up to 56 percent of the hikers got sick at one point or another during the trip. Even groups that kept to a regular routine had a 45 percent chance of some or all of the members getting sick at least once."
His solution -- taken from researcher Joanna Hargreaves -- is a system that would be totally unworkable for backpackers: a three step wash-up of all cooking and eating utensils. First, a detergent wash; second, a chlorine wash; third, a clean (as in, boiled) water rinse. It could work in group camping settings, but hikers can't carry the 3 pots, detergent, and chlorine, let alone the fuel to boil that much water every day.

I usually cook by boiling a little water on an alcohol stove and pouring it into the plastic bag that's holding my dehydrated meal. It's a lightweight single use system. Haven't gotten sick yet.

Another Maine Wind Farm Proposal

This just in from the Kennebec (ME) Morning Sentinel: developers are now suggesting they could build their wind turbines withouht touching the Redington range.
"That would leave 18 wind turbines on Black Nubble Mountain, located farther from the Appalachian Trail and with less environmentally sensitive habitat. Lee told commissioners the new proposal calls for putting land on Redington into conservation, according to a recording of that meeting."
The article by Alan Crowell in the 9 May 2007 issue is titled "Reduced wind-farm proposal readied".
"Because Redington Pond Range, at just about 4,000 feet, is home to more sensitive habitat and also several miles closer to the Appalachian Trail, a new proposal that only featured turbines on Black Nubble, at about 3,700 feet in elevation, would appear to address many of the objections to the plan."
The article doesn't spell out how much of the approval process needs to be gone through again, if any.

Boy Scouts Hiking the Trail in Virginia

There's a 'Scout News' article in the 9 May 2007 Free Lance-Star out of Fredericksburg, VA that shares the news
"In April 2004, Boy Scout Troop 170, sponsored by the Fredericksburg United Methodist Church Men's Group, began a three-year backpacking program to hike the 108 miles of the Appalachian Trail that pass through Shenandoah National Park from Afton to Front Royal.

"The last weekend of April, Scouts and leaders finished the final section of the trail when they passed the northern boundary of Shenandoah National Park near Front Royal after a two-day, 25-mile hike."
All well and good. But what about those guys who joined the troop in the last 2 years? They're missing sections, so the troop will have to continue doing this over and over, won't they?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Blazes Like the A.T. Blazes

Liberty University has cut down trees and moved rock on the side of a mountain there in Lynchburg in order to decorate the bare spot with the university's monogram as an advertisement of the school's presence.

One of the university's news releases about the project, titled "Final touches on monogram gazebo complete" and written by Dave Thompson, includes the notion that the various "many miles of new trails" that are "wide, well-built and excellent for hiking or mountain biking" will be marked "in a format similar to the markings on the Appalachian Trail."

Actually, given what they've done to the side of the mountain, I think they've long since passed the point of marking anything in a similar manner to the Trail.

Good luck on that mountain biking, too.

It's STILL Like Walking the Trail

The Boston Globe of 8 May 2007 has its own article about retiring Unity College janitor Jimmy Hubbard's 2.5 mile walk to work totaling up to 16 Appalachian Trail hikes over the 25 years he's been at the college. The Associated Press article is titled "After 25 years, custodian makes final walk to work".

It's Like Hiking the Appalachian Trail

The Waldo County (ME) Citizen of 8 May 2007 carries a nice article about the retirement of Unity College janitor Jimmy Hubbard titled "College community walks 2.5 miles in Hubbard's shoes".

Hubbard has been at the college 25 years and walked the 2.5 miles to and from work each and every day. Someone estimates "that Hubbard's treks to and from work amount to walking the Appalachian Trail some 16 times."

More or less.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

It's Like Having Hiked the Appalachian Trail!

The University of Louisville tells us on their web site -- under the headline "Trek T-shirts show Kent School’s team spirit" -- as of 7 May 2007 that
"Forty-five Kent School faculty and staff have walked more than 2,500 miles in one month for the University of Louisville’s virtual hike of the Appalachian Trail."
You think about it, though, that's not as clearly-written as it could have been. It must be a total of 2,500 miles divided up among the 45 employees.

Mostly this is a way to interest university employees in exercising, but there is another tie-in:
"Trek the Trail is intended to motivate UofL faculty and staff to be more active, McKim said. It also shows support for Brian Buford, a UofL employee who is hiking the trail this year.

"'I’ve aspired to do what Brian is doing,' said Noell Rowan, an assistant professor at Kent School who is on the Kent School 3 team. Originally from Georgia, Rowan said she has walked parts of the trail. 'I thought if I could do (the trek), it would be nice way to support Brian.'

"'Some of us do know and love Brian, and thought it was a good way to show support,' Singer said. Even Kent team members who don’t know Brian said they are inspired by him."

Monday, May 07, 2007

'Heads up!' You Turkeys

There's a piece in the Pottsville (PA) Republican [or is it the Republican-Herald?] by Ron Steffe on 6 May 2007 that could be of interest to Appalachian Trail hikers. It's an article turkey hunters titled "State forests prime setting to bag turkey."

Twice in the article, Steffe mentions that access to good Pennsylvania hunting grounds can be had "by hiking on the Appalachian Trail." This is true.

While hunting on the Trail itself is not allowed, hikers need to remember that the Trail in Pennsylvania runs through a lot of Game Commission and State Forest property and that hunters have the right to hunt there.

Memorial Greenway to A.T. Proposed

Bern Ewert, writing an editorial in the Roanoke (VA) Times of 6 May 2007 under the headline "Build a Memorial Greenway" suggests building -- as a memorial to the shooting victims at Virginia Tech -- a memorial greenway:
"a memorial that could be used for research, improve the environment, be peaceful and a place for active recreation or peaceful contemplation enjoyed by one person, or as a part of a group or with family members. This would be a place and a project that would be as vibrant in 2050 or at the beginning of the 22nd century as it would be today. This is a project that would be used by new students, their friends, parents and alumni, year after year after year.

"My thought is that we should build a greenway from Virginia Tech to the Roanoke Valley and on to Smith Mountain Lake. This "Memorial Greenway" and bike path (no cars) would go from the campus to the Roanoke River headway, run parallel to the river, cross near the Appalachian Trail, down into the Roanoke Valley and under the Blue Ridge Parkway on its way to Hale's Ford."
He figures it would be more than 60 miles in length, and that his proposal might finally get the planning that's been going on "for years" to fruition.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Peter Flapjack" Priolo on the Trail

Andrea Boyarsky has an article in the 5 May 2007 issue of the Staten Island (NY) Advance titled "'Flapjack' is hot on the Trail; Westerleigh hiker is making name for himself as he treks the Eastern Seaboard for charity." It's an update on the thru-hike attempt of New Yorker Peter Priolo.

Priolo goes by the trailname "Iron Pete" (recognizing his Iron Man Triatholon experience), but the Trail has given him the name "Flapjack" because he made some really good pancakes at a hostel one morning.

His hike is raising money for "Fisher House, a not-for-profit organization that allows family members of military personnel to be close to their loved ones during hospitalization for illness, disease or injury." There's a blog, naturally. At the time of the article he'd gotten to Gatlinburg. He runs down hills, by the way (read his blog entries heading into Gatlinburg and Miss Janet's).

King's 'Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon' Reviewed

There's a new review of Stephen King's book The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon online at BlogCritics Magazine under the title "Book Review: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King". The review's by Howard Dratch.

The book has an Appalachian Trail theme to it. It first came out in 1999, I believe.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Rockfish Gap Area Changes

Does the Rockfish Gap area really look like a war zone? Well, according to Dave McNair's article in 'The Hook' issue 0618, titled "ONARCHITECTURE- 'Baghdad' on Afton: Three down, five to go" that might be the case.

The article comments on the decline of the US 250 crossing of Afton Mountain after Interstate 64 was completed and traffic began bypassing the area. Several buildings in the area are either falling down or have been taken down by their owners.
"Indeed, while developments have spread like kudzu in the valley below, perhaps this most spectacular location for a development has remained barren. In fact, another [Rockfish Gap Tourist] information center volunteer, John Wright, tells the Hook that hikers coming off the nearby Appalachian Trail have likened it to a war zone.

"'They call it Baghdad," he says. "That's how bad it looks'."
I'm gonna guess that most of those quoted hikers haven't actually been in Iraq.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Appalachian Trail in the Library this Summer

Blairsville, Georgia's 'Union Sentinel' has yet another article touching on the Appalachian Trail. This time it's the local Union County Public Library getting into the act in the 3 May 2007 issue.

In an article titled "Vacation Reading Program at UC Public Library," we read the following announcement:
"This year's theme will be "Reading Takes You Everywhere" and will center on The Appalachian Trail. We are in the process of turning the Children's Area into The Appalachian Trail with everything from vines and trees to a tent and sleeping bags for camping. Our local United States Forest Service office has donated many posters and trail information to us and will be loaning their black bear to us this year."
I can't help but wonder about that black bear: live? stuffed? toy?

This is a marvelous reading program idea! Give them an award!!

Roan Mountain Appalachian Trail Activities

The Roan Mountain Naturalists Rally is described in the 3 May 2007 article in the Bristol Herald Courier titled "Roan Mountain Naturalists Rally to feature hikes, birdwalks, much more" Here's what it says specifically about the Appalachian Trail:

May 6
8:30 a.m.: Bird Walk with Larry McDaniel, meet in first field on right after passing Visitor’s Center; Appalachian Trail conservancy Rare Plant Slide Show and Walk with Jamey Donaldson and Julie Judkins, meet at the Conference Center.

9:30 a.m.: Slide Presentation.

12:30 p.m.: Rare Plant Hike; limited to 20; bring bag lunch; sign up at (828) 254-3708 or
That's on the weekend of 4-6 May 2007.

Chestnut Fans on the Trail

The American Chestnut tree (and its long-hoped-for recovery) is is subject of Joanne Kittle's article "Where there be mountains, there be chestnuts" in the 3 May 2007 issue of the Union Sentinel from Blairsville, GA.

The Appalachian Trail connection comes at two spots: at the beginning she writes that
"One Appalachian through-hiker counted more than 40,100 growing [chestnut] trees on his hike in 1999."
And the second spot is this:
"Next year, 2008, will be the 25th anniversary of the American Chestnut Foundation with celebrations planned. One of the events will be at Neel's gap and another event will be a walk of the entire Appalachian trail with volunteers carrying chestnut "batons" which will be passed on from one to another and counting of the number of saplings and trees on the trail. It is moving to see the sprouts as one walks the trail but also sad in that most of the saplings succumb to the blight after they grow about 12 feet tall."
Of course, more chestnut trees would be a good thing. But would it mean more white tail deer, too? Or would they go back to eating chestnuts and not stripping the forest understory?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Hudson Highlands and the Whole A.T.

Julie Cerny has an article titled "Hiking the Hudson Highlands via the Appalachian Trail" in the Putnam County (NY) News and Recorder issue of 2 May 2007. It's a short, semi-poetic, semi-impressionistic piece about reasons people hike the Appalachian Trail that places the Hudson Highlands area (think Bear Mountain and the Hudson River crossing) into a larger context.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Great Eastern Trail to the West of the Appalachian Trail

Rome, Georgia's 'Rome News-Tribune' of 1 May 2007 has a story that runs somewhat to the west of the Appalachian Trail. It is by Andrea Freygang and is titled "Hiker blazes a new trail: Woman plans to walk all the way from Florida to New York."

The story is about Sue "Hammock Hanger" Turner who has been hiking northward on the Great Eastern Trail since 2 April on the 1,800 mile trail.
"'I'm a long-distance hiker, and I volunteered to be the first person to ever walk this,' said Turner, who has walked nearly 3,000 miles on other trails. 'I enjoy being out there — I find it peaceful'."
The story says, further, that
"the inspiration for the Great Eastern Trail started with the late Earl Shaffer, the first person to walk the Appalachian Trail. Shaffer said hikers needed a trail further to the west."
The trail, sponsored by the American Hiking Society, still has numerous roadwalks, as did the early A.T. And she's got an online trail journal.

Another Adkins Update

The Charleston (WV) Daily Mail of 1 May 2007 has an article titled "Faux-spring leaves hikers feeling the cold after they shed their gear" by Leonard Adkins that serves as the newest update on the intentionally slow thru-hike that he, his wife, and their dog are making of the Appalachian Trail this year.

Adkins writes about the snow that followed the warm weather, and how hikers coped after having mailed home their heavier winter gear. The Adkins clan dealt with it by flip-flopping to Damascus and hiking south for a while when the snow hit around Erwin, TN on 7 April.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

U. of Maine Outing Club Honored

The University of Maine Outing Club was recently honored by the National Park Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for its more than 50 years of trail maintenance work. What a record! Only eight other such awards were given.

"The outing club has proudly maintained a 10-mile section of the Appalachian Trail near Moxie Bald Mountain for more than 50 years." So reports Dana Bulba in the 30 April 2007 issue of "The Maine Campus" under the headline "Outing Club honored for work on Appalachian Trail last fall."

I wonder who and how old the oldest member of the Outing Club is.

Greenway Roadblock Recalls Appalcahian Trail

"When we think about progress we just think that it took about 75 years to build the Appalachian Trail. We just need to keep pushing." that's what one organizer of the Eastcoast Greenway bicycle path says to their having been more or less rejected by Surfside Beach, NC. That's in an article titled "Bike path sees hurdles; Surfside throws kink into Eastern seaboard project" by Josh Hoke in the 30 April 2007 Sun News from Myrtle Beach, NC.

...well, 75 years only after a manner of speaking. And then when you figure that the A.T. is constantly being re-routed, maybe it still isn't "done."

Aaron Faust Reports in on his Hike

The 30 April 2007 issue of the Williamsport (PA) Sun-Gazette carries "the first installment" of hiker Aaron Faust's account of his attempted thru-hike this year. It's titled "Appalachian Trail: One state down. 13 more to go!" He's raising money for the American Cancer Society.