Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bryson a Community Read Book

Pittsfield, Massachusetts is launching a 'one book, one community' project with the reading of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, according to an article by Jen Thomas on the web site posted on 28 December 2007. The article, titled "Pittsfield To Launch Community Reading Project," says that the Pittsfield READS! project was organized by the Taconic High School's librarian Meredith Cochran.

A.T. as Context for Other Trails

The Oneonta (NY) Daily Star's Rick Brockway has a weekly outdoors column in that paper and the 28 December 2007 one is titled "Major trail is in the works." Mostly, he's describing the North Country Trail and the opposition thereto at the eastern end of the Trail. But he begins by setting the context with this description of the A.T.:
"The Appalachian Trail is 2,144 miles, running from Springer Mountain, Ga., to Maine's highest peak, Mt. Katahdin. It crosses 14 states. The trail is used by an estimated 4 million people a year, but only about 175 hikers complete the five- to seven-month journey annually."

Swatara Iron Bridge Mentioned

The Swatara Creek iron bridge in mid-Pennsylvania is mentioned in an article in the Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News of 27 December 2007 titled "State seeks owners, new life for old bridges." The writer, Al Winn, describes the state's efforts to sell off now-closed bridges, including one across the Swatara where a replacement is being planned.
"State and county officials are talking about what to do with the old one.

"For ideas they would need look no farther than a mile upstream from Inwood where PennDOT and the then Department of Environmental Resources moved a bridge from Waterville, Lycoming County, and rebuilt it here in 1986. The bridge is now part of the Appalachian Trail."
That bridge is also one of the few parts of the Trail in Pennsylvania which is not covered with sharp rocks.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hiker Lost Weight Before His Hike

The story in the 25 December 2007 Bainbridge, GA Post-Searchlight, written by Rod McDowell and titled "Little Things to a Life Change," is mostly about McDowell's recent major weight loss. It wasn't magic, of course, just diet and exercise, diet and exercise.

But what was interesting to me was the 'reward' he gave himself at the end of a 'Team Lean contest' wherein groups of overweight people compete with each other to lose the most unhealthy weight. McDowell writes:
"Toward the end of Team Lean, I decided I would reward myself with a hike on the Appalachian Trail. I was in great shape, having gone from 288 to 225, and I felt I was ready to join the legions that trek the nation's longest footpath.

"I think it is very important to have a vision for your newfound fitness once the bulk of your weight loss work is done. So often, people relax, get back to their old ways and let their bodies down after making them healthier. By keeping yourself motivated, you can maintain the vigor with which you strove to lose weight; whatever that motivation may have been.

"As I began to prepare for my hiking venture, I continued my strict diet and workout regimen, spending more and more time at the YMCA, constantly feeling like I was running for that light at the end of the tunnel."
Which is how he ended up on Cheoah Bald at the end of a two week plus hike waiting for his two buddies to catch up with him.

Hiker Now Nature Center Director

Michael Sandy, director of The Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary in Kansas City -- and former Appalachian Trail hiker -- is profiled in the 25 December 2007 Kansas City Star by Jason Noble under the headline "Nature sanctuary’s interim director takes on permanent role."

In the midst of the interview/article Sandy relates that after getting another Kansas City nature center up and running
"I decided I wanted to do some things for myself — like hiking on the Appalachian Trail and spending some time with my family. I couldn’t see taking a leave of absence for that long, so I worked for myself and hiked the trail."
And he went right from hiking to his current position.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Rohrbacher Finishes His A.T. Hike

The Delphos Herald from Delphos, OH has a 24 December 2007 article by Mary Grothause that records the completed section hike this summer by Charles Rohrbacher, a business teacher at St. John’s High School. It is titled "Rohrbacher’s boots made for walkin’."

He started hiking for several weeks during his summer break back in 1998, and followed with hikes in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007. He finally summited Katahdin on 14 July 2007.

Oh, yes, he says he's willing to do it again. You go, guy!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Cross Country Hiker Training on the A.T.

The Evening Sun ("serving the greater Hanover and Gettysburg [PA] areas") has a Steve Marroni article that was published on 23 December 2007 and titled "Man to hug a million 'for humanity'."

The article describes how area resident Josh Howell intends to hug a million people as he hikes across the country and back on the American Discovery Trail during a 9 month hike starting in Delaware on 1 March. It's to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association, and the article tells how is mother was stricken with an early onset of the disease.

Anyway, we also read here how Howell has been physically fit and active. And that
"Getting ready to for his cross-country hike is a full-time job. He hikes as much as he can, hitting local areas of the Appalachian Trail with a 40-pound pack. He calls ahead, setting up Hug-a-Thons and events for his stops along the way."
So if a hiker in southern Pennsylvania wants to hug you in the next couple months, it could be for a good cause.

Jazz Tunes Named for the Trail

The "All About Jazz" website has a review of a recent CD by pianist Yoko Miwa titled 'A Canopy of Stars.' The review is by Dan McClenaghan and was published on 22 December 2007.

In the midst of the review, we read:
"Miwas's more abstract side is displayed on “Appalachian Trail (North),” with a churning, Brad Mehldau flavor, and its sister tune, “Appalachian Trail (South),” that feels a bit more propulsive."
And I confess to not having the slightest idea what that means.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

2006 Section Hiker Headed for Romania

The 'Twin Cities Daily Planet' news site for Minnesotans has a piece titled "Complete Freedom" by Michele St. Martin posted on 16 December 2007. It profiles 63-year-old Ann Richards who is heading off for a 2 year stint in the Peace Corps, assigned to Romania. She is, apparently, an independent-minded woman.
"That independent streak served Richards well last summer, when she spent eight weeks by herself, hiking 587 miles of the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail. 'It was incredibly physically taxing, but my body was up to it,' she said. 'I carried a journal and had a lot of time to read and think,' Richards said. 'I had made the decision to enter the Peace Corps, but I wanted to really think it through.'

"Richards described her Appalachian Trail trek as a 'wonderful experience … I’ve had big blocks of solitude. That precious time when you reflect, resolve, and then completely empty your mind and just flow with the current. I’ve met the nicest bunch of hikers of all ages and backgrounds.' One disappointment, Richards said, was 'there were so few women my age hiking.'"

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Trail as Model's Misdirection

A website called Buddy TV has an article dated 17 December 2007 titled "More from Jenah after America's Next Top Model". It describes some of the story of a woman named Jenah Doucette who appears on the television show 'America's Next Top Model'.
"It turns out she didn't even tell her own sisters that she was joining America's Next Top Model, saying instead when she left shortly before her graduation that she was going to hike the Appalachian Trail."
Ah well, now that the show is over and Ms. Doucette did not "win" maybe she can actually hike the Trail. Or part of it.

Did her sisters actually believe she was going to hike the Trail? Was there a bogus backpack, a pseudo sleeping bag, a fake food bag?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Brady and Stachurski Thru-hike

The Walton Tribune (from Monroe, GA) dated 16 December 2007 has an article by Stephen Milligan recording the completed Appalachian Trail thru-hike by local resident Clay Brady. It's titled "Local man hits Appalachian Trail."

Brady and "college roommate Jason Stachurski, decided to walk the trail while still enrolled at LaGrange College". They graduated in May 2006, and started hiking on 4 March 2007. They completed their hike in October of this year, having spent "almost eight months" getting from Georgia to Maine.
"Toward the end of the trip, Brady and Stachurski had joined into sort of a loose group of nine hikers. 'We called it the Maine train,' Brady said."
And now, according to the article, Brady is thinking of hiking it again.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Skurka Keeps Hiking After 2002 A.T.

The Providence (RI) Journal of 16 December 2007 has an article by Meaghan Wims titled "A walk in the West" that describes a recent long distance hike by Andrew Skurka. He spent seven months hiking 6,875 miles on "The Great Western Loop" from the Grand Canyon north to Oregon and back south again, crossing through 12 national parks.
"Andrew Skurka wasn’t always an accomplished hiker. Though he was a standout long-distance runner at Seekonk High School, Skurka never seriously hiked until he completed the Appalachian Trail in 2002 in 95 days, with a 49-pound pack and not a clue what he was doing."
And now he's covered a lot more miles, including "the never-before-accomplished 7,800-mile Sea-to-Sea Route, from Montreal to the Pacific Ocean, [He] decided he’d be the first to tackle it once he graduated from college [and] finished the route in 2005, in 11 months."

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Food Editor Misunderstands Hikers

An Associated Press story by AP Food Editor J.M. Hirsch and that appears on the WRAL television news site under the headline "Powdered Peanut Butter" on 14 December 2007 begins with the line "Powdered peanut butter sounds like something only a person hiking the Appalachian Trail could love."

Well, maybe. But let's read further:
"PB2 is an ultrafine powder made by roasting and pressing peanuts, a process that removes much of the fat found in traditional peanut butter."
And that pretty much removes the attraction peanut butter has for A.T. hikers, doesn't it?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Jeff Alt's Book Reviewed

A web site called variously "M&C" or "Monsters and Critics" reprints a book review of Jeff Alt's A Walk for Sunshine on 14 December 2007. The positive review, by Jessica Schneider, is said to have originally appeared at a web site called The Moderate Voice. Here, it's called "Featured Book Review: A Walk for Sunshine by Jeff Alt."

The reviewer says nice things like: "...despite his love for nature and the outdoors, he does not sneer down on people who don’t share the same goals as he..."; and "Another good aspect of the book is that Alt doesn’t preach too much in regards to religion."; and "A Walk for Sunshine is a refreshing read, one that I enjoyed more than I thought. And while the narrative is not larded with poetic turns of phrasing like Loren Eiseley, the writing is better than some other outdoor adventure books I’ve read"; and "What Alt describes is more of a “realistic” version of what would happen to a prepared, healthy person if trying to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, is it?"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pennsylvania House Passes Protection Bill

The 13 December 2007 issue of the Pocono Record has an article titled "Bill to protect Appalachian Trail in Pa. approved in House" in it. I know, I know ... you thought the Trail actually was already protected. But,
"'State law enacted in 1978 requires municipalities that border the trail to protect it as a state scenic, historic and esthetic treasure, but municipalities were not required to enact ordinances to do so,' said [Bob] Freeman, D-Northampton. 'My legislation would make sure the Appalachian Trail is appropriately protected from development that could detract from the trail’s natural beauty.'"
I'm not sure what the difference is between requiring protection on the one hand and requiring an ordinance to protect. Especially since the article doesn't say that the municipalities are going to be required to enforce their ordinances. Maybe that will be in the law passed in another 30 years.

Pennsylvania, you'll remember, is home of Eldred Township where the Alpine Rose race track wants to add auto racing noise and fumes to your hiking experience.

"The legislation (H.B. 1281) now heads to the Senate for consideration." Write your state senator!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Ornament Honors A.T.

Hagerstown Maryland's Herald-Mail of 11 December 2007 has an article titled "Jefferson County artist's trail ornament on White House tree" and written by Dave McMillion. The "trail" in the title is the Appalachian Trail. The artist is Sheila Brannan, a stained-glass artist from Shepherdstown, WV.

According to the article, "In celebration of 100 years of the National Park Service, national park superintendents were asked by first lady Laura Bush to select an artist to decorate an ornament representing their park." And the AT's superintendent chose Brannan.

The ornament is to hang on the White House Christmas tree with ones representing each of the other National Park Service properties.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

James "Sudoku" Sharpe Completes His Hike

Janene Holzberg writes in the Baltimore Sun on 7 December 2007 under the headline "Hiking trail is 'about living on your own'" about the just completed thru-hike by Ellicott City, MD resident James Sharpe.

Sharpe had the trail name "Sudoku". The article doesn't give his start and end dates, except to say "between April and October," and the Katahdin photo with the article shows blue sky and snow on the rocks. The reporter includes mention of post office drops, hostels, weight changes (Sharpe gained 10 pounds), 'hike your own hike,' and the social aspects of hiking.

Sharpe's father, Steve, is section hiking.

Kinsman Pond Shelter Replaced

In a short, un-signed piece titled "Give 'em shelter" in the 7 December 2007 "Union Leader" from Manchester, NH, we read about the replacement of the Kinsman Pond Shelter.
"The new shelter was built with weather-resistant materials and is expected to last even longer than the original structure, built in 1966, according to Hawk Metheny, backcountry management specialist for the Appalachian Mountain Club and a member of the board of directors of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy."

A.T. to the White House

Writing in the "Journal" of Martinsburg, WV, Quinn Daly tells the story of Shepherdstown, WV artist Sheila Brannan having been selected to create a Christmas tree ornament for use in the White House. Her ornament depicts the Appalachian Trail.

The article, titled "Artist celebrates park service; Ornament commemorating agency to adorn White House tree," is in the 7 December 2007 issue and includes a photo of Brannan holding her ornament that has "an image of the famous hiking trail that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Adkins Crew Finishes its 2007 Hike

Leonard Adkins writes that
"The longer I hike and the more I learn about the Appalachian Trail, the more convinced I become that its greatest importance—much more than the recreational opportunities it provides—is its preservation of the natural world from the encroachments and destructions of the modern world (such as the Wintergreen Resort which displaced the trail before it became federally protected in the Blue Ridge Mountains)."
This is in the final installment of his series of articles on this year's thru-hike that appeared in the web site supported by various newspapers in southwestern Virginia. The article, titled "At trail's end: The value of the AT is it insures a 2,000-mile strip of land will be left in its wild and natural state," summarizes the end of the hike and contains more philosophizing by Adkins. It doesn't seem to be dated, but appeared around 4 December 2007.

Trail Protection in Pennsylvania

An Associated Press article on the website of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News relays information that the Pennsylvania
"House neared a final vote on a bill that would provide additional protection to the section of the Maine-to-Georgia Appalachian Trail that runs across eastern Pennsylvania. It would require municipalities to adopt land use policies to preserve the trail. Critics say the bill may be unnecessary because of adequate existing laws, requires protection of subjective scenic or aesthetic qualities and does not properly define the corridor to be protected. (House Bill 1281)"
The article is headlined "News from the Pennsylvania General Assembly" and appeared on 4 December 2007. Passage of the bill might forestall further problems like the Alpine Rose racetrack.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fugate in Missouri

Former A.T. thru-hiker Steve Fugate, currently on a cross-country walk "to share his love of life with whomever he meets along the way" in the wakes of the deaths of his two children, is in Columbia, Missouri, according to an article by Stephanie Callahan in the 3 December 2007 issue of the Columbia Missourian titled "Man walking across the U.S. moves through Columbia".