Monday, November 03, 2008

How to Hike

The Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette of 2 November 2008 carries an article by Cristina Rouvalis titled "Checklist for long-haulers on the Appalachian Trail."

The article gives a couple really quick and basic pointers about how to prepare. It also mentions that Peter Greninger, outreach specialist at REI in South Side Works, will be giving "a talk on backpacking essentials at 10 a.m. Nov. 15 at Jennings Environmental Education Center at Slippery Rock University." Also quoted is John Fletcher, information assistant for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Rocky Run Shelter Restoration

Susan Guynn writes in the Frederick (MD) News-Post under the headline "Trail 'magic' at Rocky Run; New and restored shelters await hikers on Appalachian Trail" on 2 November 2008. She describes the reaction of some of the first hikers to use the newly restored Rocky Run Shelter.

The bulk of the article, though, gives a nice history of the shelter and the site. Very interesting.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Tennessee A.T. License Plate Progress

The Maryville (TN) Daily News of 2 November 2008 tells us that there are "Applicants needed for Appalachian Trail license plate." Joel Davis reports the need to have 1,000 applicants for the plates before any can be distributed. There are only about 300 names on the list now, most from east Tennessee.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Derek Andrews Finishes Thru-Hike in October

"Hampton Bays hiker conquers Appalachian Trail" is the headline over the article by Vera Chinese in the 31 October 2008 Southampton (NY) News. The article records the completed thru-hike this summer by University of Vermont student Derek Andrews. He summited on 10 October.

His father, Stuart Andrews, thru-hiked in 2006.
"After soliciting the advice of his father, Mr. Andrews said he made only minimal preparations prior to the start of his journey. ... Protein shakes and bars, freeze-dried foods, ramen noodles and Pop-Tarts were the staples of his diet. 'I went extremely minimalist,' he said. ... In terms of expense, Mr. Andrews said that some people can spend thousands of dollars hiking the trail while others can do it for virtually nothing. He estimated that he spent about $5,000 on equipment, lodging, food and—his largest expense of all—local bars. 'That's the big expense,' he said, smiling. 'You go to town and you just want to relax.'"

Thru-Hiker Karen Lund on Her Feet

Runner, and thru-hiker, Karen Lund writes under the headline "Footloose and Fancy Free" in the 31 October 2008 Kansas City (MO) Tribune about her feet. As a runner, she says, she obsesses about her feet. And looking back to her thru-hiking days,
"Yeah, I know, it’s hard to imagine a 37-year old woman’s feet could still be growing, but in the world of long distance hiking and running, this phenomenon isn’t uncommon.

"Before I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1997, veteran hikers warned me that I could end up needing a new pair of boots a few months into my journey - not because they were worn out, but because of my feet spreading in every direction from day-after-day, continuous pounding. And they were right, I had to buy new hikers mid-trip because my feet expanded one size. It might seem wild, but it’s true."

Hot Springs, NC and Trail Mentioned

There's a passing mention of the Appalachian Trail in a 31 October 2008 piece by Stacy Smith Segovia's "Four-day whirlwind exhausting and exhilarating" on the web site of the Clarksville (TN) Leaf Chronicle. She meets family at Hot Springs, NC for a family wedding, and says this of the famous trail town:
"I'll tell you about some other attractions of the tiny mountain town, ones you can check out yourself. We had heard that Hot Springs was on the Appalachian Trail, and that is more true than we suspected. Stylized "A" symbols are stamped on the sidewalk running through the town's thoroughfare, Bridge Street. And that IS the Appalachian trail.

"A cool al fresco bar sits on the street, serving a wide selection of specialty beers to appeal to through-hikers' granola sensibilities. Across the street is an adventure gear shop. Walk a mile and a half along the trail and you can scramble up a hillside to scenic Lovers' Leap."
Let's hear it for them 'granola sensibilities'!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Rails to Trails to the Appalachian Trail

Christopher Baxter of the Allentown (PA) Morning Call reports that Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has granted $200,000 to Palmer Township in order to convert about 1 mile of railroad to trail. This adds to "a very extensive bike path system" in the township. Eventually, "local officials plan to extend the path in the future to connect to the Appalachian Trail." The article's 31 October 2008 headline is "Palmer gets $200,000 to extend rail-to-trail bicycle path; State grant will pay for a one-mile addition to system."

The same news appeared in the Allentown Morning Call on 30 October under the headline "Bushkill Creek bike path will be finished."

The report on this appearing on something called the SYS-CON web site reports "from the wires" under the headline "Pennsylvania DCNR Awards $283,000 for Outdoor Recreation, Open Space in Northampton County" in more detail. For example, there we read that the Keystone Fund grant is to
"Palmer Township, $200,000, to include the construction and installation of a paved trail, new decking on three bridges, signage and landscaping. This a part of a much larger system of greenways trails planned in Northampton County stretching from the Appalachian Trail to the Delaware River Trail".

A related editorial in the 30 October 2008Reading (PA) Eagle opines that trails are good, but have to be done right. And they offer an example of one that apparently was done poorly. Under the headline "Critical connection is people, not trails" they say
"The recent case of the ill-fated Hay Creek Trail shows what can happen even to a laudable idea when poorly executed. The proposed 9.7-mile trail would have wound southward from the Thun Trail near Birdsboro, through Union, Robeson and Caernarvon townships and New Morgan, following an abandoned railroad bed. It would have connected to the 140-mile Horseshoe Trail, which runs from Valley Forge to the Appalachian Trail in Dauphin County."
BUT the planning process took so long that when the work was finally to start "it had likely slipped the minds of the property owners." And pretty much died.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Maryland A.T. Shelter Work

Erin Cunningham's article in the 27 October 2008 issue of the Hagerstown (MD) Morning Herald-Mail describes the restoration of the Appalachian Trail's Rocky Run Shelter "about one mile off Reno Monument Road in the Boonsboro area." The article is titled "Rocky Run Shelter on Appalachian Trail restored." Maryland Park Service Ranger Tammy McCorkle is quoted several times explaining the historic nature of the 6 person shelter.

Potomac Appalachian Trail Club volunteers did that work as well as building a 16-person shelter nearby "from a 'log kit'."

Maintainer Dave Jordahl Profiled

Trail maintainer Dave Jordahl from the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club is profiled in the 27 October 2008 article "Volunteer keeps trails clear and footworthy" by Stephanie Miot in the Frederick (MD) News-Post.

The article describes his work clearing blow-downs, building water bars, and all the rest. While he usually has 2 or 3 volunteers with him, the day of the reporter's visit, he was working alone.

Good story!

Maintainers / Volunteers Repair Bridge

Heather Stauffer reports in the 27 October 2008 Carlisle (PA) Sentinel that "Mt. Holly bridge project shows Appalachian spirit." That is, she describes the volunteer crew effort to replace a bridge in Mt. Holly Springs, PA.

ATC staffer Ted Martello is quoted extensively through the article. He explains that the team used two gypsy moth infested white oak trees to form the base of the bridge. They used 27 foot sections that were about 15 inches in diameter. The planking was hauled in form the road. Thanks, folks!

(This story is also reported, with different quotes and details shared, under the headline "Group replaces Appalachian Trail bridge in Mt. Holly," also in the Carlisle Sentinel, also by Holly Stauffer, also on 27 October. Go figure.)

Hike the Trail - See the Colors

A portion of the Appalachian Trail's Pennsylvania footpath and its vistas are highlighted in the 25 October 2008 issue of the Reading (PA) Eagle. See the "Peak performance for fall foliage in Berks County" article by Elizabeth Giorgi.

Martyann Gutierrez, president of the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club, specifically recommends the A.T. in Berks County, PA, along about "Pulpit Rock and the Pinnacle located just off the trail" for views of fine fall colors.

Trees in New Orleans Tied to Trail

The Associated Press is reporting on WXVT-TV Delta News - on 28 October 2008 - under the headline "Group to hit tree planting goal in N.O." that
"Hike for KaTREEna is the not-for-profit started by Monique Pilie. After Katrina, she hiked the Appalachian Trail and pledged to plant one tree in the city for each of the 2,175 miles she hiked.

"That last tree is set to be planted Thursday afternoon."
We reported on this earlier on, back when Pilie was hiking.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lost and Found

WFMZ-TV has a story titled "Search Ends Successfully on Blue Mountain" on its web site from 26 October 2008 that recounts the discovery of "a 42-year-old woman and her dog were [who] rescued around midnight after being lost on Blue Mountain for about 10 hours." The searchers used thermal imaging to locate her, spotting her when she flicked a lighter. [An earlier version of the story included the line: "Officials say the woman called emergency officials on her cell phone and said she and her daughter were lost on the Appalachian Trail."]

The same story appears in the Pottsville (PA) Republican & Herald newspaper on 27 October in an unsigned article headlined "Rescuers find woman who became lost hiking." It adds that the woman had phoned for help when she realized she was lost, but her phone later lost its signal. About 60 rescuers aided in the 4 hour search.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Trails Connecting to the Trail

Parsippany, New Jersey's Daily Record of 26 October 2008 has an article titled "Effort to link Mount Olive trails beyond N.J. borders set to begin; New network's starting point: Turkey Brook Park" by Meghan Van Dyk that mentions the Appalachian Trail.

Township officials are starting work on a local trail system that will mean
"Hikers one day may be able to start a trek to explore the sites along the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains in Georgia or the peaks of Mount Katahdin in Maine right from their backyards in the township's Turkey Brook Park."
That's always something that gives me pause when I stop to think that I could keep on walking this or that trail I'm on and eventually connect up with the A.T. and then make my way to Springer or Katahdin -- given enough time, of course.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

SO-BO "Long John" and "Casey Jones" Near Completion

Greeneville, Tennessee resident John Stone graduated from high school this spring and made the decision to hike the Appalachian Trail southbound. He started on 6 June. As of 25 October 2008 - the date of the "Local Hiker Treks 1,700 Miles Along The Appalachian Trail" article by Nelson Morais in the Greeneville Sun -- he had made it as far south as Roan Mountain.

Stone was taking a week or so off to refuel at home (with hiking buddy Nathan Karcz from Virginia). The pair was heading back to the Trail, aiming to finish at Springer about 14 November.

Stone "said he budgeted $4,000 for the trip, but so far, for food, lodging and equipment replacement costs, he said he has spent close to $6,000."

Ed "Raccoon" Benton Summits in September

The Anniston (AL) Star for 25 October 2008 has a photo and report of the successful thru-hike by Golden Springs, AL resident Ed Benton. It's under the headline "Hiking the Appalachian Trail."

Benton hiked from 22 March--25 September. He "was recognized recently by members of his church, Greenbrier Church of Christ, who presented Benton with an engraved rustic plaque with his trail name, Raccoon." Benton's wife Cathy joined him from time to time and was given the trailname "Lipstick."

Was Hiker, Now Gardener

The Northern Virginia Daily, out of Strasburg, Virginia, has a 24 October 2008 article about a local couple's wildlife habitat gardening. It's by Sally Voth, and titled "Collective habitat: Couple turn their yard into a home for wildlife."

Kimberley and Andrew Fisher are their names. And, "The Fishers, who met 10 years ago when the Englishman was hiking the Appalachian Trail and she picked him up and drove him into town, strive to make their 3 acres as wildlife friendly as possible. ...The couple, both avid gardeners who married on the Appalachian Trail about 4 1/2 years ago, have only been in their home about a year."

Friday, October 24, 2008

International A.T. Talk Given

"Paul Wylezol, chair of the International Appalachian Trail Newfoundland and Labrador, and Arne Helgeland, chair of the Bay of Islands section, spoke to members of the Corner Brook Rotary Club" on 23 October. All that according to the article titled "Rotarians get a visual update on Appalachian trail work" by Cory Hurley in the 24 October 2008 issue of the Western Star newspaper out of Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Loduska Patel Completes Thru-Hike

The Eufala (AL) Tribune from 22 October 2008 carries a brief note by Anastasia Harbuck titled "Owner, dog team completes Appalachian Trail."

The team members were Loduska Patel and her dog Luna. At the top of the note is a picture of the pair exchanging a high five on top of Katahdin, at the sign.

The teaser promises more in a longer article in the weekend edition.

The Homeplace, Catawba, Virginia

Remember eating at 'The Homeplace' in Virginia? There's a very favorable review of the Catawba, VA restaurant in the 22 October 2008 Collegiate Times under the headline "The Homeplace dishes out classic Southern cookin'." (Collegiate Times is owned by the Educational Media Company at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA.)

Most of the review sounds like a "regular" restaurant review, and then we read:
"Speaking of location, The Homeplace is a popular stop for hikers on the Appalachian Trail.

"'If you're in our parking lot and you look back south at the mountain behind the restaurant, the trail runs from the top of the mountain,' [owner] Wingate said. 'Hikers have said The Homeplace is the best restaurant on the Appalachian Trail, which is over 2,000 miles. It's hard for me to imagine, but we don't mind taking the credit -- it's quite interesting.'"
Read the whole review to get some history of the place, a quick profile of the owners, and either a recollection or a preview of the great food.

Cousins Hike PCT Over AT

A story titled "For the Pacific Crest hikers: Back to work" in the 23 October 2008 Jacksonville Florida Times-Union recounts the successful 6 month Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike by 29-year-old Matt Balanky, from Jacksonville, and his cousin 35-year-old Ben Webb. Both were dissatisfied with their post-military civilian jobs and used the hike to get direction. Balanky conjured up the idea of a long distance hike; Webb suggested the PCT over the AT. The article ends with the thought that "Both say they'll hike again, but nothing this ambitious. Balanky still wants to walk the Appalachian Trail. But this time, he said, he'll take 20 or 30 years to do it."

AMC's A.T. Day in Connecticut

The Greenwich (CT) Time of 23 October 2008 carries an article by special correspondent Scott Gargan titled "Hike the Appalachian Trail - in Connecticut." It highlights the upcoming AMC Appalachian Trail Day on Saturday 25 October.

Gargan provides some description of various sections of the A.T. in Connecticut. He quotes a few of the Appalachian Mountain Club's guides, who will be leading hikes on AMC Appalachian Trail Day, which is itself described as
"not only a celebration of the 71-year-old national landmark, but a salute to the hundreds of volunteers from dozens of organizations that have worked to preserve it."
For a complete list of events, visit the AMC web site's page about it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A.T. License Plate for Tennessee?

If you and 999 of your friends sign up to get an Appalachian Trail license plate in Tennessee, then the promise of such a plate will become a reality. That's the thrust of an article by Anne Paine in the 22 October 2008 issue of the Tennesseean and its website ("Middle Tennessee's primary online source for local news" owned by the Gannett newspaper folks who also bring you the Tennessean newspaper there in Nashville). The article is titled "Motorists could help Appalachian Trail" and outlines the steps Tennessee drivers need to take to get the fundraiser for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy rolling.
The license plates will cost $35 in addition to the regular vehicle registration fee. ATC will receive $15.56 for each plate purchased or renewed.
If I lived there....

While $15.56 doesn't sound like much, keep in mind that the 3-year-old North Carolina A.T. license plate has, according to the article, raised over $200,000 for the Trail.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

You Want Fries with your Trail Towns?

Now several miles off the Appalachian Trail, Fries, Virginia is hoping for a revitalization, according to the Rex Bowman article "Will Fries' ship come in? A Grayson mill town sets its sights on the lure of the New River" that appeared in the 20 October 2008 issue of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The town is on the banks of the New River, and Bowman points out that "the Iron Mountain Trail, once a part of the Appalachian Trail, runs along nearby ridges. With a river, mountains and trails, the town could try to seduce outdoor enthusiasts."

Could be that this will become a thriving new "trail town" near Grayson Highlands. It's worth keeping your eyes on it anyway.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Damascus, VA and the Virginia Creeper Trail

The 19 October 2008 article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Jack Horan, titled "Virginia mountain town a biking haven; Rail bed converted to natural bike path that can be coasted down," only mentions the Appalachian Trail in passing. But it's a worthy read for hikers because it adds to one's knowledge of the area around the friendliest town on the Trail. Besides, when you get near Damascus and find yourself on a gravel footpath with bicycles zipping past you, well, now you'll know why they're there and where they're going.

Peak-Bagging New Hampshire Family

The 19 October 2008 Boston Globe has an article titled "A family's peak portfolio" by Allan Fen that refers to the Appalachian Trail. Fen recounts his family's quest to climb all 48 of New Hampshire's 4,000-foot mountains over several years. And certain of those peaks are on the A.T. The story also quite naturally refers to the AMC huts, and to A.T. thru-hikers. Nice read. Great family activity!

Back from Blogging Break

The weather's finally turned fall-like here where I live -- and while the hiking s still fine, it's almost time for the hunters to be out after the whitetail deer in force -- so it's surely time to get back to noting the news about the Appalachian Trail. I'll try to do some back-filling, too, of news stories that I have missed since going on hiatus.

Friday, October 17, 2008

ATC as Map Source

An article proclaiming the joys of bushwhacking -- "Fill in the blanks on hiking maps; Off trail, plenty of adventure" by Tim Jones in the Concord (NH) Monitor of 17 October 2008 -- mentions the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Appalachian Mountain Club as possible sources for "recreation maps" that one could use to locate "blank spaces" that could stand a little off-trail exploring.

Iowan Thru-Hiker Still Getting Around

Molly Nicholas, a staff writer for the Valley News Today out of Shenandoah [sic!], Iowa, writes about Robert Birkby in a 17 October 2008 article titled "Sidney native shares adventures in Siberia, elsewhere."

Birkby is a native of Sidney, Iowa and left a teaching job at the University of Missouri to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. The article doesn't mention what year he hiked, but it does say that "He carried with him only what he needed to survive and spent five months on the trail."

He went from the Trail to Seattle pretty much on a whim. But that led him to round-the-world expeditions with Scott Fischer's 'Mountain Madness' adventure tour company. Fischer and a group climbing with him in 1996 were most notably remembered in Jon Krakauer's book "Into Thin Air." Birkby then turned to "Student Conservation Association (SCA), which is a non-profit organization that offers conservation internships to high school students." And he has more recently focused on writing a number of books.

Bryson's Books Reviewed and Inspiring

Two recent notices of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods have come to my attention.

First is a short review of it online at English language site of the New Straits Times from Malaysia [Malaysia!] on 17 October 2008. There Su Aziz writes under the headlines "Read: Come along for the ride!" that "It’s a humorous book that is also interspersed with informative details of the trail's history and ecology."

Second is from a web site called World Hum; Travel Dispatches from a Shrinking Planet" and their travel blog dated 17 October 2008 with the title "What We Loved This Week: Idlewild Books, the Appalachian Trail and Flowers on the Turnpike." There, contributor Joanna Kakissis writes: "I lived in North Carolina for six years and never managed to step foot on the Appalachian Trail, despite hiking vicariously through the likes of Bill Bryson, Scott Huler and Eustace Conway (via Elizabeth Gilbert)." After finally getting on the Trail while at a conference in Roanoke, VA, she got inspired. Kakissis adds, "I started planning big. Anyone want to take off three months and hike the entire Maine-to-Georgia trail with me? It’s only, uh, like 2,175 miles." [Do I need to comment that that's planning for a very fast hike.]

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Kent, CT: Trail-Friendly Town

"The Unwashed and the Upper Crust in Connecticut" is the headline over the New York Times article on 29 August 2008, written by Christopher Percy Collier. It describes the scene when A.T. thru-hikers make their way through Kent, CT.

Collier draws a strong contrast between the high-rent look of the natives and the low/no-rent look of the hikers. But, he continues with some stories about the friendliness of Kent's residents.

Several thru-hikers are named in the article: "Bones and Mudbug (whose names off the trail are Andrew Simpson and Tyler Geymann) ... Six Iron ... Holly Hammond, a red-haired hiker in her 20s who had several states behind her ... [and] Clay Whitson, who had been on the trail since starting several months earlier in Georgia." And several businesses and their owners are highlighted.

UVA Class Takes a Hike

Aaron Lee writes under the headline "7 Make Pilgrimage on Appalachian Trail" about an 8 day, 61 mile hike on a portion of the Appalachian Trail. The article appears in the 29 August 2008 issue of the Charlottesville (VA) Daily Progress.
"At the center of the expedition was University of Virginia religious studies assistant professor Heather Warren, who spent the spring semester teaching Pilgrimage and the Appalachian Trail.

"Warren was able to teach the course with a $2,000 grant from the university’s Mead Foundation endowment that encourages thinking outside the traditional classroom experience, Warren said."
The 6 women who hiked in the Maine wilderness with Professor Warren surely got something out of the experience, which began in the classroom with a series of readings, lectures, and discussion.

Illinois Man Hiking for Cancer Funding

The Belleville (IL) News Democrat had an article published around 30 August 2008 which included the sentence: "The genesis of Hammersley's quest began in his 40s with a hike along the Appalachian Trail in Georgia." The article title was, I believe, "Man Walks for Cancer Research," but the article seems to have walked right off their web site and I can't locate a live link to the full thing.

Speed Hikers, Women Hikers

Stephen Black uses Jennifer Pharr Davis's "record-breaking time of hiking the Appalachian Trail" as a jumping off point to caution women, all women, from venturing off into the woods alone. That's in his column titled "Women should not hike alone" in the 30 August 2008 issue of the Hendersonville, NC Times-News and preserved on their "Blue Ridge Now" web site.

He gets there through the point that
"She wanted to memorialize the death of the Bryants and Meredith Emerson who were killed while hiking in the woods.

"She hiked the trail to show that outdoor lovers won’t be deterred by one sick criminal. She hiked the trail to break the women’s speed record.

"Ms. Davis’ heart is in the right place. It is obvious she is a good, idealistic and decent person. I praise her for that. As far as her other reasoning however I totally disagree with it. As far as her speed record all I can say is this — Stop! Stop! Enough with the Olympics already!"
I kind of agree with him on this point. Does EVERYone hiking the Trail need to have a shtick of some kind? Whatever happened to hiking just to hike? (I know in my heart that most of the hikers are doing just that, not trying to be the first, oldest, youngest, fastest, or only SOMETHING to thru-hike. Maybe they just aren't worth a news story.)

On his main point, Black says he is just urging lots and lots of caution because one woman harmed is one woman too many. And there's no argument possible against that.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hiker Hiatus Declared

We're going on 'hiatus' for a while. This is a time-honored privilege among hikers when Spring comes and the weather turns warmer. I'll be back in the Fall sometime.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Another Thru-Hiker Starting in Georgia

The Hagerstown (MD) Herald-Mail of 12 March 2008 has an article about the start of a thru-hike attempt by Greg "Truckin'"Poper. The unsigned article is titled "Seniors will follow Williamsport Retirement Village employee's trail trek."

Poper is described as "an employee of Williamsport Retirement Village. And "while on the six-month hike, residents at Williamsport Nursing Home and Twin Oaks Assisted Living will follow his trek" via his online TrailJournals.Com hiking journal.

Plans to Hike the A.T. and Thensome

An article titled "Worldwide walk begins on NGCSU campus" by Matt Aiken in the 12 March 2008 Dahlonega Nugget describes the beginning of Daren Wendell's hike on 8 March. Wendell aims on hiking around the world. In seven years. To "raise awareness for Blood:Water Mission-a charitable organization that works to provide clean blood to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa, and to build clean water wells in the region."

But, first, the Appalachian Trail. It's how he aims on getting toward Nova Scotia. From there, he'll fly to Portugal and "hike in a northeastern direction through Europe. This will take him through China and then Russia. He's hoping to find host families along the way that will provide him with shelter."

Oh yeah, the obligatory web site link (on which he reports that he heard that "150 thru-hikers left Amacalola Falls on March 16th." Remind me not to start in the middle of March.)

Bill Walker's Book Mentioned

The Sarasota (FL) Herald Tribune has a story in its 12 March 2008 issue titled "Naughty trail stories".

It's pretty brief, mentioning "Sarasota’s Bill Walker, who wrote a hiking book: SKYWALKER: Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail." For some reason Walker, or the reporter, was compelled to talk about two stories not in the book, both of which include male hikers who were (or wanted to be) sexual predators.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Two Pennsylvania Hikers Start Hiking

"Sentinel Morning Update: Two local women prepare for 8-month hike" is the title of the article by 'staff reports' in the 11 March 2008 Cumberlink website for The Carlisle Sentinel newspaper from Pennsylvania. It relays the informaiton that Carolyn Banjak of Gardners, PA and with her friend Betsy Graham of Boiling Springs, PA are starting a planned Appalachian Trail thru-hike on Friday, 14 March.

The whole article appears on the Carlisle Sentinel's website under the title "Packing for a long walk; Women follow family’s footsteps down the Appalachian Trail" and the byline Naomi Creason, also on 11 March 2008. They're planning a flip-flop: GA-PA and ME-PA.

The 60-year-old Banjak has been dehydrating food to be sent to her. And it sounds like the pair are planning on taking it slowly, as they have prepared "enough for seven months."
"Banjak and Graham hope to make it back home by the end of October, though Banjak admitted it might be more like a Thanksgiving or Christmas end for them."
Good luck, and 'happy trails'!

Burglar Used A.T. for Getaway But Got Caught Anyway

It's an article titled "Burglaries on the Decline in the United States" by Laura Sullivan on the National Public Radio web site that says it was broadcast on the evening news show 'All Things Considered' on 11 March 2008. In it, the reporter says
"Two years ago, Steve Southworth, a private police investigator for the Wintergreen Resort in central Virginia, spent six months tracking the movements of a burglar who traveled along the Appalachian trail.

"'He came in off the trail, which runs really close to Wintergreen. In the course of two days, [he] ended up breaking into four homes,' Southworth says.

"Southworth says he stayed in constant contact with the burglar's family and intercepted an e-mail he sent. 'Through some things that were said on the Internet, we were able to zero in on him a little closer,' he says.

"Southworth ended up catching him in Macon, Ga."
Okay, then, who says there's no such thing as bad publicity?

Crime Novel Set Near A.T.

Came across a review of the new novel Bone Yard by Michelle Gagnon. The review is written by Maryann Miller on the Blogger News Network as of 11 March 2008. Here's what you need to know:
"It started out decent enough with a prologue that introduces the “Bone Yard,” which is the professional name for the place where serial killers dump their bodies. A hiker is confronted by a bear that has a branch in its mouth, only the branch turns out to be a human leg bone."
That hiker would have been on the A.T. somewhere near the Vermont/Massachusetts border. Unfortunately, the reviewer really dumps on the writing [UPDATE: ...but see comments]. Bone Yard is published by Mira Books; release date given as July 2008.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Oh, This Would be Interesting

The Birmingham (AL) News reports on 9 March 2008 under the headline "Alabama connection to Appalachian Trail set to open" and byline Thomas Spencer that Alabama's Pinhoti Trail has been completed as
"the fulfillment of a vision first articulated in 1925, a feat that will be celebrated next Sunday with the official opening of the Pinhoti Trail's connection to the Appalachian Trail."
What could get real interesting is the debate that could follow:
"The Pinhoti also stretches south and will eventually be completed to Flagg Mountain in Coosa County, the southernmost mountain of the Appalachian mountain system. Backers hope eventually to make the case for getting the Alabama extension recognized as the official southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, which would require an act of Congress."
The article sketches out, very briefly, the history of the Pinhoti.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Thru-Hiker Ron Kessler Going Cross Country

The Cape Gazette newspaper from Delaware has a 7 March 2008 article "Walkers for a cause start cross-country trek at Cape State Park" by Ron MacArthur. It's about the start of a projected 9 month coast to coast hike on the American Discovery Trail.

Normally that's not something covered here, but in this case there's a connection. The hikers are Josh Howell and Jodi Harrington (who met on MySpace and then face-to-face for the first time the night before their 1 March start date) and Ron Kessler. All three are hiking "for a cause," but different ones.

Here are the connections:
"Harrington said she realized she had to do something special to test herself and decided to walk the Appalachian Trail. 'But I ran across the American Discovery Trail and got hooked on the idea,' she said. 'It’s a nine-month commitment.'"
"Kessler is the most experienced of the lot. He has crossed the country twice before on bicycle trips, and he hiked the entire 2,160 miles of the Appalachian Trail two years ago."
And I guess the other connection is that the American Discovery Trail has to cross the Appalachian Trail at Harpers Ferry or so.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Hot Springs, NC Highlighted for Californians

The Los Angeles Times published a travel story 6 March 2008 about three North Carolina towns that are attractive, yet small, destinations. It is "3 classic mountain towns in North Carolina; A backroads tour reveals the charm, rustic and otherwise, of three tiny Appalachian Mountain towns. This is what down-home really means." by Kelly Gray.

One of the towns receiving a brief profile here is Hot Springs, "a town at the junction of the French Broad River and the Appalachian Trail."

Adkins Speaks in Charleston

Habitual Hiker Leonard Adkins made a multi-media presentation about hiking the Appalachian Trail recently, according to a story titled "Appalachian Trail hiker shares stories" by Alison Knezevich in the 6 March 2008 issue of the Charleston Gazette.

The presentation of slides, music and stories was at the University of Charleston, which happens to be Adkins's alma mater. More than 200 attended.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Schuylkill County Favors Protection of Trail

The Pottsville (Pa.) Republican & Herald newspaper has an editorial on 5 March 2008 in favor of the bill before the Pennsylvania Senate that would strengthen protection of the Appalachian Trail, especially in areas without zoning regulations. The editorial is titled "Appalachian Trail deserves protection" and shows Schuylkill County's support of this important bill: "The trail deserves the support of lawmakers, sportsmen, hikers and even those who may never set foot on it."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Allentown Paper Favors Protection

An Allentown Morning Call editorial on 4 March 2008 calls for Appalachian Trail protection under the headline "Appalachian Trail still needs protection".
"Efforts to keep the skyline unobstructed and things like power lines far away have been initiated by state Rep. Bob Freeman, the Democrat from Easton and chairman of the House Local Government Committee. His bill, HB 1281, has been passed in the House of Representatives and is now awaiting action in the Senate. The new legislation, an amendment to the Appalachian Trail Act of 1978, would require each municipality through which the trail runs to create and enforce zoning laws to protect the trail from these visual encroachments."

Barry Veden's "Coming of Age" Reviewed

There is an article posted online on 4 March 2008 at the Chesterton (IN) Tribune web site by Kevin Nevers titled "Area author Barry Veden finds himself on the Appalachian Trail." Veden has written about his 'mid-life crisis' hike at age 50 and titled the book Coming of Age on the Appalachian Trail.
"Hiking the A.T. is hardly a cake walk, though. Its precipitous heights, the extremes of temperature and weather, the sheer daily mileage required just to hit the next shelter by night fall, make it a grueling test of muscle and stamina for even the fittest. Still, in his new book, Coming of Age on the Appalachian Trail, Veden makes a strong if unstated case that, in some profound way, youth may be wasted on the A.T.

"Coming of Age resists easy classification. It’s part memoir, part fiction, part meditation, and nothing at all like Veden’s previous book,...."
Clearly, some would argue with that premise, but the case can surely be made that the older hikers appreciate the experience more--often having looked forward to and anticipated the hike for years--and that they certainly bring a richer life experience to their hikes. Don't you recall having seen young hikers making their thru-hikes into a kind of movable outdoor party extension of dorm life? The older hikers are often more contemplative, observant and purposeful. Hike your own hike.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Damage Near Roanoke Spares A.T.

According to some online notes by WSLS channel 10 news anchor John Carlin titled "Carnage at Carvins Cove" in his blog on 3 March 2008, the fire that made understory disappear and then the following windstorm that toppled trees in the area known as Carvins Cove "roughly from Bennett Springs up the Gauntlet trail toward the Arrowhead trail, then up and around Tinker Cliffs and return" did not do much damage the higher ground. He writes, "It seemed the higher up we went, the fewer trees were toppled. The area around Tinker Cliffs and the Appalachian Trail was almost damage free." There are pictures on Carlin's blog.

More Support for Pennsylvania Protection

The Harrisburg (Pa.) Patriot-News weighs in on 3 March 2008 on the side of Trail protection by editorializing in favor of the Pennsylvania bill before the senate there. Under the headline "Zoning would give added protection to asset for its 229-mile path through Pennsylvania" they say that "Bipartisan House Bill 1281, which has been approved by the state House and is nearing action in the state Senate" should be passed and signed into law.
"The Appalachian Trail is a special place, one almost entirely tended to by volunteers, that allows the public to 'get away' from the hubbub of modern life for a few hours or a few months. But it will only remain special to the extent it is protected from development and activities that would destroy the trail's tranquillity."
And we can thank the racetrack in Eldred township, right along the Trail, for revealing the need for this legislation.

Monday, March 03, 2008

L.L. Bean Awards the Trail's Dave Field

The 'Cabin Country' column by Dyke Hendrickson on under the headline "L.L. Bean's Three Heroes of the Outdoors" and the date 1 March 2008 describes L.L. Bean's initial Outdoor Heroes Awards.

One of the three is Dave Field. Unfortunately, I'm a little confused over his affiliation. Hendrickson first says,
"Dave Field, a supervisor with the Appalachian Trail Club of Maine"
and then, that
"Dave Field has been helping to clear trails for the Appalachian Mountain Club for more than five decades. Much of his work has been in the Saddleback area, and he was honored for his achievements in conservation and trail maintenance."
Which isn't to say that he couldn't be a member of both the MATC and the AMC. Either way, it's great when volunteers get recognized for their efforts. And 'more than five decades' or trail work?!? Wow!

Just Not All at Once

Nancy Olesin's article "Mountain Magic at Sugarloaf in Maine" on the website Wicked Local Ashland (with news from the Ashland Tab and MetroWest Daily News) as of 2 March 2008 is about skiing and so on. The tag at the very end of the article, though, says
"Summer Fun: Sugarloaf is a four-season resort. The resort's golf course has been ranked No. 1 for the past five years by Golf Digest magazine. In warmer weather, try fly-fishing, take a moose tour, hike or go mountain biking. The resort is just off the Appalachian Trail."
And I'm just hoping that readers don't think that they'll be able to fly fish for moose from the seats of their mountain bikes while on the Trail.

Thru-hiker from Alabama Now on Sled Dogs

Detroit Free Press columnist Susan Ager wrote about sled dog adventures in the 2 March 2008 issue under the headline "Magic in the north woods; 25-mile dog sled adventure is the thrill of a lifetime." Not normally something that rates mention in this blog.

But wait! She mentions "Our guide, Bouie Stewart, a 24-year-old from Alabama" and then later writes
"Bouie (rhymes with Louie) is one of 10 children. 'I grew up outside,' he told us, 'always dirty.' He majored in outdoors education and has guided tourists at river rafting, sailing in the Bahamas and now dogsledding. He was born Andrew but took back his childhood nickname on the Appalachian Trail, whose 2,174 miles he hiked.

"'I was reborn on that trail,' he says. 'Bouie represents the kind of life I want to live.'"

Connecticut Hiker Profiled

The Connecticut Post's 2 March 2008 article titled "Hiking a passion for Shelton enthusiast" has gone to the mysterious archives in the sky. You might be able to get to it in the Bridgeport, CT newspaper's archives.

Thru-Hiker David Burke Tells His Story

Sara Faiwell, writing in the Chicago Daily Herald of 2 March 2008 under the headline "Palatine man hikes Appalachian Trail; Palatine man leaves his job to work toward a feat of a lifetime" describes the upcoming presentation by 2006 thru-hiker David Burke. The talk will be at the REI store in Schaumburg, IL on 6 March.

"After finishing the [March to September] hike, Burke went back to his former career and now works in Schaumburg."

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Two Editorials Favor Pennsylvania Protection Bill

Two recent editorials speak in favor of the bill before the Pennsylvania senate that would mandate protection of the Trail even where it runs through local municipalities that have no zoning laws.

The first is in the Towanda (PA) Daily and Sunday Review dated 1 March 2008 and headlined "Pa. urbanization shouldn’t overrun primal nature trail." The second appeared in the Chambersburg (Pa.) Public Opinion Online also on 1 March 2008 under the headline "Our view: Appalachian Trail bill gives options to planners." This latter editorial has gone to the great archives in the ethernet; it might be available in a search of the web site's archives.

But. after all, who could be against protection?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

New Hampshire Land Swap Plans

The website has a 29 February 2008 piece by Paula Tracy titled "NY’s Whiteface Mountain faces similar challenge to Mittersill" that is mostly about skiing, but touches upon hiking down in the middle of the story where it says:
"At Mittersill, the little bird facing similar decline is the Bicknell’s Thrush, which nests above 2,500 feet in openings in the forest.

"Both plans protect the habitat and limit construction until after nesting season.

"At Mittersill the White Mountain National Forest would swap 100 acres it owns at the summit where the lifts must terminate, for an equal valued parcel in Piermont; 325 acres owned by the state, which contains a quarter mile of the Appalachian Trail. It is the largest of four sections of the Appalachian Trail not currently administered by the White Mountain National Forest.

"'The projects must not result in a net decrease of suitable Bicknell’s thrust habitat,' wrote the Forest Supervisor in a scoping report issued Jan. 28, which said the proposed exchange complies with the goals and objectives of the Forest Plan, to allow skiing at Mittersill. Proposed actions which could affect the rare birds would be overseen by a committee including representatives of the state’s Fish and Game Department and the Audubon Society of New Hampshire."

Editorial Supports Pennsylvania H.B. 1281

The Pocono Record has an editorial in its 29 February 2008 issue titled "Help protect historic Appalachian Trail from development blight" which speaks a strong word (several of them, actually) in favor of Pennsylvania H.B. 1281. This bill, passed by the Pennsylvania house and now waiting for action by its Senate,
"would amend the Appalachian Trail Act by calling on host municipalities to adopt and implement zoning and land development ordinances that would protect the trail. It would extend protection beyond the immediate environs of the trail to include neighboring tracts and viewscapes along the trail corridor."
The bill was writen in the wake of the Alpine Rose race track proposed for Eldred Township, Monroe County, PA. If you're from Pennsylvania, write your state senator in Harrisburg.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Alice Señeres Hits the Trail in Georgia

Prospective thru-hiker Alice Señeres of Hamilton, N.J. is profiled in Patrick Berkery's article "Bittersweet trails" in the 28 February 2008

Some people do their hike after graduating, but this hiker was in the middle of a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Rutgers.
"Señeres and her husband Wright were expecting their first child to arrive in September 2007. But last March, Señeres suffered a miscarriage. While waiting in the hospital for a doctor to return with the bad news they were already anticipating, Alice said to Wright, 'If we lose this baby, I’m quitting school and hiking the Appalachian Trail.'"
She has an online journal, trail name Bananas.

Kids to be Hiking on the A.T. in May

Caroline Monday's article "Mountain Pathways and the Appalachian Trail; Students learn to take a hike" appeared in the 28 February 2006 Boone, NC Mountain Times. It relates that
"students of Mountain Pathways School’s seven through 12-year-old class took a hike last Thursday as part of their curriculum teaching about the environment and sustainable living."
The big deal is that this is their
"second hike taken in preparation for a two-day trip on the Appalachian Trail, teacher Kristy Weston said. The class will be experiencing the Appalachian Trail for its end-of-year trip later this spring."
The 2 day A.T. hike comes in May, when the students will be able to exhibit how well they learned their Leave No Trace lessons.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A.T. License Plates in Virginia, Too

WDBJ channel 7 television has a 26 February 2008 article on its web site, titled "Specialty license plate supports Appalachian Trail". Here's the gist of it:
"Virginia offers a wide variety of specialty license plates and there may soon be a new one available for Appalachian Trail lovers.

"There's a drive in the state legislature to get a specialty plate passed. A bill has passed the Senate and awaits House approval.

"For the legislation to take effect, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy needs 350 pre-paid applications by July. The specialty plate costs an extra $25, with $15 going to the A.T.C."
So, drive if you must; but if you drive, get an AT-supporting license plate. North Carolina started this ball rolling. Now Virginia. When will the rest of the A.T. states step up to the plate?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Jefferson National Forest Described

In the 25 February 2008 Bristol Herald-Courier, Kathy Still has an article titled "Jefferson National Forest; A 690,000-acre playground." Writing about the forest, she naturally mentions "the popular Appalachian Trail" that runs through a portion of it. Nice description of the surrounding area that most thru-hikers miss on their way north.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Thru-Hiker Tapon's New Book

San Francisco Chronicle writer Tom Stienstra wrote the article "His life is a long, gratifying hike" in the Chronicle's 24 February 2008 issue. It recounts the story of hiker Francis Tapon. Tapon, it says, quit his $75,000 a year Silicon Valley job at Hitachi 7 years ago and hiked the Appalachian Trail with then partner Lisa Garrett.

The article makes out like Tapon is a walking machine. But he hasn't done nothing but hike. It wasn't until "Five years later, Tapon, working for Microsoft, quit his job again." And hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Then is wasn't until last year that he completed the Triple Crown by hiking the Continental Divide Trail.

Okay, so he yo-yo'ed the CDT by turning around at Canada and hiking back to Mexico. That's pretty impressive.
"Over the years, Tapon has become more than the Forrest Gump of hiking. He's a writer and a traveler, what I call the enlightened rambler: His first book 'Hike Your Own Hike - 7 Life Lessons From Backpacking Across America' (SonicTrek Press, $24.95) is an unusual mix of how-to advice, self-help philosophy and trail stories."

Commentary on Low Use Study

The Roanoke Times of 24 February 2008 has a column by Virginia Tech professor Steve Kark titled "Study links electronics use with drop in national park visits". He is referring to the "recent study published by the National Academy of the Sciences [that] links a decline in these outdoor activities and a corresponding drop in national park visitation to an increase in the use of home electronics." The Appalachian Trail is one of the National Park units cited as having experienced a drop in visitors. Kark tries to 'rally the troops' to get out into the parks, if not now, then this summer for sure.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" Suggested

Beth Sceery, a librarian at the Emma Andrews Branch Library, Newburyport, VT recommends Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods in her 22 February 2008 column in the Newburyport Current titled "Speaking Volumes/Beating the February blahs". She suggests it as a way of keeping an upbeat attitude in the midst of February's cold, dull weather. Specifically, she says:
"If you have ever had any interest in outdoor adventure, this book will be sure to satisfy. In the troughs of a mid-life crisis, Bryson joined up with an old college buddy and hit the trail — the Appalachian Trail — pen in hand. He relays his experiences in hilarious, gut-busting detail. A few chapters in, you’ll snap right out of your February funk, I guarantee it."
Sceery has some other good suggestions for md-winter reading, too.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bill Booz Boosts Book

Franklin, NC's Franklin Press of 21 February 2008 has an article by Melanie Lebert titled "Booz shares images and tales of his journeys." Lebert profiles thru-hiker and author Bill Booz III and his new book Seasons and Colors of the Appalachian Mountains that features his photographs.

Booz thru-hiked in 1999 carrying a camera like many others. But then he kept going back, logging "four years of photographing, more than 50,000 miles on [his] vehicles, 450 miles on his hiking boots and shooting hundreds of rolls of film." Visiting particular locations, sometimes repeatedly until the light or leaves or some other element was just right, Booz captured some wonderful images.

The book is available at Books Unlimited and online at I've seen the book. Made me want to go hiking.

Adkins Speaks in Charleston, WV

The notice in the Charleston (WV) Daily Mail by Monica Orosz on 20 February 2008 describes the upcoming presentation by Habitual Hiker Leonard Adkins with this headline: "Program will show what it's like to hike Appalachian Trail".
"Adkins, who has turned avocation into vocation by writing about hiking in 15 books and for magazines and newspapers, chronicled his most recent journey in a series of columns that appeared in the Daily Mail from last March through November.

"...Adkins will return to Charleston March 5 to present a free program at the University of Charleston.

"The multimedia program, accompanied by folk and classical music, is actually a compilation of his many hikes on the Appalachian Trail. The program is designed to show what a typical thru hike - the term for hiking the entire length of the trail - is like."

Adkins Making Presentation About Trail in March

Roanoke, Virginia's OurValley.Org website carries the announcement as of 21 February 2008 that Leonard "Adkins will talk about hiking the Appalachian Trail at March program".

The Habitual Hiker "will present Traversing Ancient Mountains: 2,000 Miles on the Appalachian Trail in the Fincastle Public Library at 11 Academy Street in Fincastle at 7 p.m." Adkins, his wife Laurie, and their dog, finished yet another thru-hike in November.

Hiker Glen Summers Talks in Indiana

A brief note in the Terre Haute (IN) News of 21 February 2008 under the heading "Health briefs: Feb. 21, 2008" mentions that
"The Friends of Turkey Run and Shades State Parks member, Glen Summers, will present a slide show of his 800 mile hike on the southern half of the Appalachian Trail. ... Glen hiked the southern half of the Appalachian Trail from its southern end in Georgia to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Come see some of Glen’s experiences along this legendary trail on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 7:00 p.m. in the Dogwood Room in the basement of Turkey Run Inn."
Doesn't say when he hiked.

Jeff Alt Speaks in Pittsburgh

The 21 February 2008 issue of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has an article by Karen Price titled "Rocks, snakes and beer on the Appalachian Trail" and showcasing an upcoming talk by thru-hiker and author Jeff Alt. Alt hiked in 1998, and
"almost 10 years later, Alt is making his first trip to Pittsburgh. The author, speech pathologist and avid hiker will be at REI at the SouthSide works on Saturday to share stories from his book, 'A Walk for Sunshine: A 2,160 Mile Expedition for Charity on the Appalachian Trail.'"
Alt's hike was 147 days long, and
"six months in the planning, which included mailing 22 boxes of food to himself at intervals of about 100 miles along the trail and walking two hours per day on a raised treadmill while carrying a 50-pound backpack."
The article refers several times to the famed rocks in Pennsylvania, and Alt says at the end that he especially remembers both Duncannon and Port Clinton.

Stop Light for Eldred Race Track

Andrew C. Martel of the Allentown, PA Morning Call writes on 21 February 2008 of the welcome news that the "State delays car-driving track in Eldred Township".

Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection has raised questions about deficiencies in the racetrack's applications. The specific concerns were about probable pollution of an otherwise pristine stream. Developer Richard Muller Jr., and his expensive Alpine Motorsports Club are not allowed to begin construction until the environmental permits are granted. Unfortunately, it appears, noise pollution and visual pollution are not considered. The Appalachian Trail is already in this area, but seems to have no strong legal basis for stopping this wasteful project. Hikers will not be happy about their new 360 acre neighbor in Monroe County, PA.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Two Fund-Raising Hiker Vets

The Lewiston, ME Sun-Journal has an 18 February 2008 article about another fund-raising hike on the Appalachian Trail. It's by Terry Karkos and titled "Pair to Hike 2,00 miles to Help Homeless Veterans."
"Former Sgts. Jarad Greeley, [of Jay, Maine] 25, and Marshall Berry, 28, of New Hampshire, will be raising awareness and resources for the nation's homeless veterans by through-hiking more than 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail to Maine in four to five months."
Some local Veterans of Foreign Wars leaders are backing the hike and encouraging VFW posts along the Trail to offer warm food and a dry bed to the hikers as they make their way back north.
"To help the nation's homeless veterans through the Appalachian Trail journey of Jarad Greeley of North Jay and Marshall Berry of New Hampshire, write to: The Homeless Veterans, P.O. Box 27, Jay, ME 04239, call 207-897-0900, or call Palmer Hebert of VFW Post No. 2335 in Jay at 897-2859."
The Boston Globe carries a shortened version of the story, unsigned, on the same date.

Appalachian Trail Only Part of His Plan

An unsigned piece on the Dallas-Fort Worth channel 4 Fox tv news website created on 18 February 2008 is titled "4 Your Health - Hiking For Gilda's Club." It describes the goal of one John Robb, described as a "a beat-up 48-year-old, who's had numerous surgeries on his knees, shoulders and neck" and has diabetes. Robb is off on a fund-raising hike. He's planning on starting at Springer and heading to Kathadin, finishing "around the first of October."

Then the fun continues. Robb has in mind hiking all 8 of the National Scenic Trails, and being "the first guy to do it all for charity." He's intent on raising money "for Gilda's Club North Texas---a refuge for cancer patients and their families."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hot Springs, NC Profiled

The Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel's 17 February 2008 issue has an article by Linda Lange titled "Expresssways may not lead to Hot Springs, N.C., but trails do" about that A.T. trail town.

There's more to the profile of Hot Springs than the mentions of the Trail, but Lange does say this:
"Hot Springs' heaviest traffic enters on foot. The Appalachian Trail, the 2,189-mile path stretching from Georgia to Maine, goes through the heart of town. In the spring, hundreds of northbound hikers emerge from the mountains and fill the sidewalks of Bridge Street. They refuel before crossing the river and disappearing back into Pisgah National Forest."
And then, later down in the article:
"From mid-March until early June, Appalachian Trail thru-hikers drift over the mountains. 'We might see 10 or 12 in a day in April,' says Wayne Crosby, part-owner of Bluff Mountain Outfitters. Hikers pick up parcels at the Hot Springs Post Office and cross the street to his store. He sells outdoor gear, clothing and groceries, including a large selection of organic foods.

"'Where's Elmer's?' hikers ask as daylight diminishes. They've heard about Elmer Hall's Sunnybank Inn, one of several accommodations that welcome thru-hikers. The town will celebrate its special connection to the AT by holding TrailFest on April 25-26. A chili cook-off, live music and hiker games will entertain crowds."
Other good stuff about food and housing opportunities -- as well as other things to do -- round out the article.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Pastor Ponder Ponders Pastoring While on the Trail

The Hunstville (AL) Times of 15 February 2008 has a profile of a hiker written by Kay Campbell with the headline "Dense forest trek also provided experience to examine life's path." Campbell describes the experience of Pastor Luke Ponder on a month-long sabbatical from the First Presbyterian Church during which he took a lengthy hike on the Virginia portion of the Appalachian Trail "last fall."

Inspired by Bill Irwin's "Blind Courage" hike, Ponder saw no people for the first 10 days of his hike, but continued on thinking, reflecting, pondering, and meditating.
"The trail itself became a kind of metaphor for the church universal - a path lovingly maintained by volunteers over generations for the feet of others they'd never know.

"But the main lesson Ponder learned on the trail is that a person needs company."
He found one in an abandoned puppy that he brought home from the Trail with him. So he had a bright spot on his hike despite earlier difficulties:
"Neither of his two cell phones could pick up a signal for a conversation with his sister or other friends. The grandeur of the old-growth forest had become oppressive. The startling brightness of odd mushrooms along the way were a monotonous distraction. Trail markers showed him that his pace wouldn't have made a turtle pant."

UPDATE: Story also appears in the 23 February 2008 Winston-Salem Journal under the headline "Sabbatical on the AT shows need for others" as a Religion News Service story

J.R. Tate Mentioned in Article

Clarksville, TN's 'Clarksville Online" website has an article by Debbie Boen titled "Tennessee Trails: Volunteers clean trails, remove litter from walking trails" posted on 15 February 2008. She's writing about a trail maintenance activity hike sponsored by the Tennessee Trails Association, but includes in it a snippet of an interview with Appalachian Trail thru-hiker and author J.R. "Model T" Tate.

Greenway Still an Urban A.T.

The Florida Times-Union out of Jacksonville has a 15 February 2008 article titled "Woodbine Greenway" by Gordon Jackson. It refers to the long-distance "East Coast Greenway" and says that their "Web site describes the 3,000-mile trail stretching from Calais, Maine to Key West as an 'urban Appalachian Trail.'" The Woodbine Trail, by the way, is the first E.C.G. segment in Georgia.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Kevin "Hurricane" Haynie Set to Start Hiking

Robin Dake writes in the Anderson, SC Independent Mail of 14 February 2008 about the planned Appalachian Trail thru-hike by Toccoa, GA resident Kevin Haynie under the headline "Toccoa resident plans to hike Appalachian Trail."

Haynie is 21 years old and
"feels he is prepared for the physical and mental challenges of hiking 10 to 20 miles a day. In addition, he has the knowledge and experience of his older brother. Keith Haynie and his wife, Lisa, hiked the trail two years ago. Kevin Haynie said hearing about the couple’s experiences was catalyst for his desire."
He's starting with the trail name "Hurricane." and has a journal at Haynie aims to leave Springer on Monday, 18 February and to finish "by July."

Where HAVE All the Backpackers Gone? out of New London, CT has a column by regular columnist Steve Fagin titled "Where Have All the Backpackers Gone?" on 14 February 2008. He is mainly reacting to the recent study of outdoor use that shows declines in numbers all across the board.

Specifically, Fagin writes:
"Statistics on people trekking the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail support their findings. The number of hikers surged through the 1970s and 1980s, but then began tailing off. In 2001, 2,375 northbounders started the trail in Georgia and 622 finished in Maine; in 2002, 1,875 started and 589 finished; in 2003, 1,750 started and 600 finished; in 2004, 1,535 started and 578 finished; in 2005, 1,392 started and 546 finished; and in 2006, 1,150 started and 488 finished.

"So, will backpacking one day be remembered as a quaint fad of a bygone era, like dancing the Macarena or playing with a hula-hoop? While I have no specific demographic data to report, I can say in recent years I’ve seen far more Baby Boomers on the trail than Gen-Xers, which does not bode well for the future."
Fagin and I both hope that it's no passing fad.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Thru-Hikers John and Becky Williams Speaking

According to a note in the Lafayette, LA 'Daily Advertiser' newspaper, on 12 February 2008 titled "Ultralight Backpacking clinic offered"
"John and Becky Williams will offer tips and tricks that can help to reduce the weight of your pack to a light and comfortable level. This seminar sprang from the Williams’ efforts to bring their overall pack weights down from the 35-42 pound range to under 25 pounds for their Appalachian Trail Thru-hike."
That's there in Lafayette on 12 February 2008 at the Pack & Paddle store.

Day Hike in Virginia Described

Another WSLS television channel 10 story, this time in a blog from one of their anchors, John Carlin, appears under the title "Wind, Leaves and Fire" on 11 February 2008.

Carlin describes a hike he and a friend took, planning "to leave Troutville at 9:30 and run/hike the Appalachian Trail to route 311 near Catawba. It’s a 20 mile venture with three significant climbs – Tinker Mountain, Tinker Cliffs and the backside of McAfee’s Knob."

They faced significant wind, drifts of leaves (like snow drifts) sometimes chest high, and the smoke from 3 different forest fires in the area. Sounds like a blast.

Forest Fire Near A.T. Blamed on ATV

Virginia's WSLS television channel 10 reports on the forest fire at Montvale, VA in a story titled "ATV Blamed for Forest Fire in Montvale." At the time of the 11 February 2008 report, fire fighters were at
"a fire line that stretches about 3 1/2 miles along the Appalachian Trail. The fire is about 4,000 feet below the trail, moving up. The flames have burned more than one thousand acres."
The 16-year-old ATV driver was "on a restricted trail" when his machine started the fire.

Barry Veden Talks About His Book

"Hiking The Appalachian Trail" is the title of Jason Miller's 11 February 2008 article in the News-Dispatch of Michigan City, IN. The article is a report on a talk given by local author Barry Veden at the Michigan City Public Library. Veden has recently published a book,
"Coming of Age on the Appalachian Trail, a collection of short stories about the many hikes he's taken along the 2,160-mile mountain trail that traverses some of the East's most beautiful and dangerous mountain terrain."
Veden hopes to thru-hike the Trail at some point. "'You really have to go there in person to really understand it.'"

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fewer Hikers Noted

The Northwest Arkansas Times of 10 February 2008 has a column by Bobby Hill titled "WHEN NATURE CALLS : Time in the outdoors loses out to a generation of technology" that reports the recent study funded by the Nature Conservancy showing that there are fewer people outdoors, including an 18% drop in the number of people on the Appalachian Trail between 2000 and 2005.

A.T. Jumping off Point for a LONG Hike

Russell Helms has an article titled "Hiker plans to walk around the world in seven years" in the 10 February 2008 issue of the Birmingham (AL) News. The piece records the imminent departure of Daren Wendell on a planned hike around the world.
"Wendell begins his journey in March, hiking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, then hopping the Atlantic to pick up his trek in Europe. He will traverse southern Europe and hike his way through China, making the Great Wall part of the adventure. Into Siberia, bounding over the Bering Sea, wandering through Alaska, Wendell will finish out the final 2,075 miles walking west to east, eventually landing back at the start of the Appalachian Trail in northern Georgia."
Wendell grew up near Canton, Ohio (I recently read the Steven Newman book Worldwalk about his 4 year round-the-world hike some 20 years ago; and Newman was from Ohio. Coincidence? I think not. Newman walked across northern Africa and eventually made his way across Australia, skipping China and Siberia.)

There's a web site.

Cameras Looking for Wildlife on the Trail

Sterling Meyers writes in the 10 February 2008 Washington Times under the headline "Cameras to aid in trail preservation" about the effort to document wildlife along the Appalachian Trail with 50 digital cameras on loan from the National Park Service. The cameras are equipped with infrared heat sensors that trip the shutter when a warm body passes by. A target of special interest is the elusive and possibly extinct eastern cougar.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A.T. Just a Leg on a Mega-Triathalon

The FOX Business Network's website has a story on 8 February 2008 titled "Launch of Adventure Ultra Triathlon Begins Today" which announces that Kevin Knieling is beginning a
"solo, unsupported ultra-triathlon [that] begins with a 5,000-mile bike ride across the U.S., followed by hiking the length of the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail and finally a 3,500 mile kayak trip beginning in Winnipeg, Canada which will end in the Gulf of Mexico."
How is this possible?
"Knieling represents the growing generation of executives turned adventurists, leaving his job on Wall Street after 10 years to pursue his dream of adventure travel. In the last two and a half years, Knieling has traveled over 200,000 miles in 40 plus countries, ridden a bicycle over 4,000 miles across the US, hiked through the Himalayas, stood atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, jumped out of planes and completed scuba dives the world over."
Ah, that's it! I chose the wrong vocation back in school.

Knieling, of course, has a web site. Fortunately, this is a solo event, not a 'race' or 'competition' in the way a regular triathalon is. That will come in time, no doubt.

Thru-Hiker Now at Big Brothers/Sisters

The article titled "Big Brothers, Big Sisters Hires New Leader" online as of 8 February 2008 on the web site describes the arrival in Pittsfield, MA of Raymond Ross as the new executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berkshire County. He's a hiker:
"An avid hiker and backpacker, he and his wife of 28 years, Susan, completed hiking the entire Appalachian Trail in 1989. Ross completed the trail a second time in 2004, being one of fewer than 100 people to do so according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. He is a member of Appalachian Mountain Club's 4,000-Footer of New England Club, having climbed all 65 mountains exceeding that elevation in New England and is an end-to-end hiker of Vermont's Long Trail."

Cameras Hunting for Wildlife

The Maryland Daily Record (of Baltimore) has an 8 February 2008 Associated Press article titled "Hunting for proof" that reports the Mega-Transect's use of automated cameras to try to document the populations of large mammals -- specifically the eastern cougar -- along the Appalachian Trail.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Fewer Hikers Reported

Rich Lewis writes an editorial in the 7 February 2008 Sentinel newspaper from Carlisle, PA titled "Virtual is nice, but real is much nicer." He reports that Dickinson College there in Carlisle is beginning a brand new environmental studies program. And he ties it to the recent
"study, published Monday in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, [that] demonstrates a 'fundamental and pervasive decline in nature recreation.' Specifically, Oliver Pergams of the University of Illinois and Patricia Zaradic of Bryn Mawr College found that, since 1981, there has been an 18 to 25 percent drop in the number of people engaging in various outdoor activities at national and state parks and other public lands. Fishing is down. Visits to national parks are down. Hiking on the Appalachian Trail is down. Camping, a bellwether activity, is down."
While having less people on the Trail creates a more wilderness-like experience, the bad news is that fewer hikers = fewer people who care = less support.

Fugate Hike Still Going Strong

Steve Fugate's cross country walk is highlighted in the "Hiker Crossing Country To Remember His Children" article by John Larson writing for the 'Mountain Mail' from Socorro, New Mexico. The article was picked up online by the Small Town Newspapers web site on 7 February 2008. Fugate was on an Appalachian Trail thru-hike in 1999 when his son committed suicide. Six years later his daughter died of an accidental drug overdose.

Bryson Being Read in Cohasset, Ma.

The Cohasset Mariner and Patriot Ledger of 7 February 2008 announces by way of its "Library Corner / Cohasset Reads" column that Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods is one of the two books chosen for this year's community read-together by The Paul Pratt Memorial Library. The other is something called Walden by some guy named Thoreau.

There is a discussion group on the Bryson book on 27 February at 10 in the morning. And the next day there is an "Appalachian Trail Slide Show – Learn about what it takes to maintain and manage the Appalachian Trail from Mass. Appalachian Trail Management Committee member Steve Smith. Mr. Smith will present a slide show of the trail at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28. This is a free Cohasset Reads Together event and all are welcome. Seating is limited."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Heading Toward Last Hiker on the Trail?

Heather Mallick has a column in the 6 February 2008 Guardian Unlimited out of England titled "Reluctant Campers". A Canadian journalist, Mallick tells us that Americans (of the United States variety) don't go camping as much as they used to.
"Here are the statistics: Americans make 25% fewer trips to national parks than they did in the 1980s. Hiking the storied Appalachian Trail peaked in 2000 and has slid 18% since then. (Perhaps they read Bill Bryson's 1997 book on the subject, A Walk in the Woods, and discovered it was just as scary and arduous as he said.)"
Well, hmmm the headcount may well be down, but the word on the trail has been that Bryson's book increased the number of hikers, hasn't it?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Voice of America Highlights the Trail

The Voice Of America broadcast a story about the Appalachian Trail on 5 February 2008 under the title "Hiking the Appalachian Trail Through the Mountains of 14 States." The transcript begins with
"VOICE ONE: I'm Faith Lapidus.

"VOICE TWO: And I’m Steve Ember with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today, we tell about one of the most popular walking paths in the United States, the Appalachian Trail."
Recordings in MP3 and RealAudio versions are available for download at the VOA website. This Special English program was written by Oliver Chanler. It was produced by Mario Ritter.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Scouts Recognize A.T. Hike Leader

Ann Franzen-Roha of Richmond, Indiana recently received the Silver Beaver Award, the highest award given to adults by the Boy Scouts of America, according to the 5 February 2008 Richmond, IN Palladium-Item newspaper's 'Everyday People' column by Rachel E. Sheeley titled "Boy Scouts recognize 2 from Wayne County with top honor." Part of Franzen-Roha's leadership contribution was to be "the female leader when her Venture crew spent a week backpacking along the Appalachian Trail."

Monday, February 04, 2008

Barry Veden Speaking Soon

Michigan City, Indiana's Public Library advertises a talk it is hosting at the Library on 10 February by
"Local Author Barry Veden, "Coming of Age on the Appalachian Trail." Veden has written a heartwarming memoir of how hiking changed his life. "Coming of Age on the Appalachian Trail" suggests that any adversity can be overcome with the right attitude and with the help of God. He will talk about his book, his experiences and for those who are interested in hiking, he'll provide tips about equipment and show off his gear."
Notice appears in the Michigan City News-Dispatch of 3 February 2008 under the title "Michigan City Public Library."

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Redford Film, Again

The BBC has published its notice of the proposed Robert Redford filming of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. It appears on the 29 January 2008 UK version on its website under the headline "Redford 'considering Bryson film'"

Pennsyvania HR 1281 Supported

An important editorial in the Pocono Record of 1 February 2008 titled "Appalachian Trail must be protected" speaks strongly in favor of Pennsylvania's House Bill 1281, which would require townships to enact and enforce zoning to protect the Appalachian Trail in the state. As the lead points out:
"It may be too late to stop the Alpine Motorsports Car Club in Eldred Township, but it isn't too late to protect the Appalachian Trail from future projects that threaten the pristine beauty and natural sounds of the nation's longest footpath."
Pennsylvania's Senate must also approve the bill, and then the governor must sign it, too.

Pennsylvanians: write your state senators!

American Hiking Society Maintainer Vacations

Grand Rapids, Michigan's Grand Rapids Press of 1 February 2008 has an article by Howard Meyerson titled "Vacations blend public service, hiking" in which he describes the volunteer service programs sponsored by the American Hiking Society. It begins with
"Ted Siereveld was 61 years old when he signed up with the American Hiking Society for his first volunteer vacation, a week spent doing trail maintenance on the Appalachian Trail in Vermont."
Sieverveld enjoyed the experience so much he's continued to sign up for more.

Property in Max Patch Viewshed Protected

The short article "Land preserved in Spring Creek community" in the 1 February 2008 Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times tells of the land trust preservation of "165 acres of scenic views, agricultural land, clean water and wildlife habitat." And mentions that "These properties can be seen from Max Patch, the Madison County grassy bald near the Tennessee border where the Appalachian Trail crosses."

Friday, February 01, 2008

Carl Ownbey, Hiking Maniac

The profile of Carl Ownbey, "Distance Denizen Doesn't Act His Age; Hiker Ownbey keeps on truckin' at age 86" in the 31 January 2008 Springdale Morning News from Springdale, AR, written by Flip Putthoff is fairly inspiring. Here's part of the opening, for example,
"In his 60s, Ownbey, of Fayetteville, through-hiked all 2,147 miles of the Appalachian Trail. He was pushing 70 when he hiked the Continental Divide Trail and completed all 3,100 miles.

"In his 80s, Ownbey, a retired farmer, ran the Dallas White Rock Marathon, one of several 26.2-mile races he has completed in his retirement years."
Ownbey is now 86 and hasn't slowed down much. A lot of us would like to be that guy.

His A.T. thru-hike would have been some time after 1984, which is when he read a book about the Trail that inspired him to go for it.

Weight Loss While Hiking

The Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal has a health column called 'The Body Shop' by Bryant Stamford in its 31 January 2008 issue titled "Hard-fought battle; Exercise required for massive fat loss is grueling." The mentions of hiking and the Appalachian Trail are really incidental to his point, summarized in the subtitle. But here's what he says, anyway:
"Here's an example of what an extreme exercise program can do. A reader had asked my advice about how many calories he would need daily to hike the Appalachian Trail, carrying a 40-pound backpack up and down challenging mountainous terrain. To maintain his weight, I estimated 6,000 calories a day. I was pleased to learn from him that when he later consulted the AT guidebook, it also recommended 6,000 calories.

"But that would take an amount of food that would be too heavy to carry, so he settled for an intake of only 2,850 calories per day. He averaged hiking 13.5 miles per day for 12 days. The difference between the 6,000 calories expended and 2,850 calories consumed was 3,150 calories each day.

"One pound of fat stores 3,500 calories. As such, with a 3,150-calorie daily deficit, he should have lost a little less than 1 pound of fat per day. The actual outcome was a loss of 11 pounds in 12 days of hiking.

"This example shows that mega-doses of exercise can accelerate the loss of body fat."
Caveats abound, of course, especially the one that warns 'your mileage may vary.'

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cameras Being Placed Again This Year

Hannah Northey has an article in the Harrisonburg (VA) Daily News Record of 30 January 2008 titled "Scientists, Volunteers Use Cameras In Hunt For Big Mammals; Photos May Document Whether Cougars Live Along Appalachian Trail." In short,
"For the second consecutive year, about 100 volunteers in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland will photograph animals in the spring with infrared cameras along a 570-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail. The section to be monitored runs from the southern border of Virginia to the northern tip of Maryland, including parts of Rockingham, Page and Augusta counties.

"The program, headed by William McShea, a wildlife ecologist with the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoological Park, is designed to protect large mammals that have been understudied."
As a part of the second year of the Mega-Transect study of the Appalachian Trail, finding evidence of large mammals is only part of the show.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Redford Does Bryson

The media-serving blogs are carrying the "news" that Robert Rrdfors is heading to the woods to make a film version of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. Some of the more traditional media (i.e., newspapers) are also carrying storied about the project.

There's a 29 January 2008 Reuters news story by Borys Kit titled "Redford, Levinson hit 'Walk' trail." This story says that the Appalachian Trail film may not actually be Redford's next movie, but that Barry Levinson
"is in discussions to direct the long-gestating project, which at one time was being eyed as a Redford-Paul Newman reunion. Levinson's involvement would be a leap forward for the project. Redford plans to star and produce."
So, I guess that means Newman is out and we won't be reading about 'Butch and Sundance on the Trail.'

Jane Ivory has a similar story on a website called titled "Robert Redford Heads for the Woods". She refers to a phone interview Redford did with Associated Press.

A site called Monsters and Critics (or M&C) has a very brief blurb it titles "Redford to film A Walk in the Woods" on 29 January 2008.

And an even shorter note appears in the Orlando Sentinel on 29 January 2008 titled "Channing Tatum signs up with GI Joe, Julianne seeks Shelter, A Walk in the Woods for Redford, Levinson" It includes the thought "Better do it quick before developers take the last of the woods."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rebeca "Boo-Boo" Sudduth Completes a SO-BO

Susan Gilmore wrote an article in the Seattle Times of 28 January 2008 titled "Adventure, friendship and online dispatches along the Appalachian Trail". It records the completed thru-hike this past year by Rebecca "Boo-Boo" Sudduth.

She hiked southbound. Starting on 24 June 24, days after graduating from the University of Washington in nursing, got to Springer on 29 November, making it in 5 months and 5 days. Not a bad trip.
"She had two hiking partners: Music Man, who carried a small backpacker guitar he played at night, and Hedgehog, whom they picked up three weeks along the trail."
Music Man left the Trail somewhere around the middle, and Hedgehog pushed on ahead on Sudduth to get home in time for Thanksgiving.

Stats include an estimated $4,000 plus plane ticket; "four pairs of boots"; raising $900 in pledges for "a nursing-school scholarship in Haiti, where she'd visited on a medical-volunteer trip last March"; and completing the 43 miles of the 'Maryland Challenge' with her buddies in 19 hours. Her dad matched the pledges for the scholarship, and also transcribed her journal entries for an online journal.

Wayne "Coach" Bailey Does the Trail

The Florence (AL) Times Daily 28 January 2008 story by Gregg Dewalt titled "Journey of a lifetime; For more than six months in 2007, retired teacher Wayne Bailey tackled the Appalachian Trail - and he lived to tell about it" records the accomplished thru-hike by Bailey.

Bailey summited Katahdin on 5 October 2007. His trail name was "Coach" because of his background in the schools. Carrying harmonicas and a backpacking guitar, he met up with some other music lovers with whom he hiked to Maine.
"Bailey’s group, dubbed the Magical Mystery Tour because of their musical talents, averaged about 100 miles per week after their Fourth of July break. They took one day off per week to rest and recuperate."
An interesting comment is that "Bailey said nearly everyone carried a cell phone and digital camera. Others carried weather radios." I'd have guessed fewer phones.

Overall a nice perspective on the experience, though.

And, call me silly, but I think a metaphor would have been better than these similes used by writer Dewalt: "The Appalachian Trail is like the Holy Grail of North American hiking trails. Finish it in its entirety and it’s like having a badge of honor."

Iditarod Musher Hiked Some A.T.

According to a story by Eric Crump in the Marshall (MO) Democrat-News, titled "Think our weather's bad? Former Iditarod racer shares tales of cold adventure" on 28 January 2008, 3-time musher Karen Land was inspired to train for the sled dog race while reading Gary Paulsen's book, Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod, during a hike on the Appalachian Trail.
"Actually, it was one dog who had the most influence on her decision, Kirby, a German shepherd-Catahoula mix she took hiking with her along the Appalachian Trail. That's where she read Paulsen's book."

Monday, January 28, 2008

Thru-Hiker Tom Mullin to Speak in February

The Waldo County Citizen has a list of speakers for the Lapping Lecture Series at unity College. It includes the following:
"Feb. 12 — Tom Mullin

"Appalachian Trail hiker and Unity College professor Mullin will compare his experience through-hiking the Appalachian Trail with challenges facing today’s wilderness hikers in, 'Ultimate Challenge: the Past and Future of the Appalachian Trail.'

Winter Hiking the Grandma Gatewod Trail

"Historic winter hike fun for all involved; Path goes through Hocking Hills sites" is the title of the article by Ellie Cummings in the Chillicothe (OH) Gazette of 27 January 2008. It's about a kind of memorial hike in honor of Grandma Gatewood.
"Now in its 43rd year, the Winter Hike is surely one of the finest hikes in the state. ... It has become a legendary hike - a rite of passage into wintertime that began in 1965 with then Chief Park Naturalist Norv Hall's intent to let the public know Ohio's State Parks are winter, as well as summer, playgrounds.

"That first year, according to Hall, some 80 stalwart souls hiked from Cedar Falls to Old Man's Cave, and among them was the colorful and hardy outdoorswoman Emma Rowena Caldwell - 'at 70, a crusty ole gal with her sneakers and knapsack who slept under shrubs and had thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail several times.' Still, she often cited the Hocking Trail from Old Man's Cave to Ash Cave as her favorite hike. She went on to lead that hike for 13 years, and it was later re-named the 'Grandma Gatewood Trail' in her honor."
'Nuff said.

The BEST 'Maryland Challenge' Story Ever

Folks know about the 41 mile 'Maryland Challenge' hike, using the Appalachian Trail to cross that state in a day. And folks hear or tell stories about trying to do it in the middle of a thru-hike, or as part of a group, or whatever. Here's the best story ever about hiking that stretch of Trail in that way:

In the Weddings/Celebrations section of the New York Times dated 27 January 2008, find the names "Laura Brown and Brian Vogt". The article tells the story of their meeting: "Mutual friends from the church introduced them, but each didn’t really know much about the other until a three-day church-sponsored backpacking trip in 2005." And about their courtship. And then gets to the good part:
"He then asked her out on their most ambitious date yet: the Maryland Challenge, a 41-mile day hike on a segment of the Appalachian Trail. When she readily accepted, Mr. Vogt recalled thinking, 'If she is someone who is willing at the drop of the hat to do something crazy like that, that’s one indicator. On a deeper level, she is a person who is adaptable and very comfortable in all sorts of situations and someone who seeks purpose in their life; those are the sort of things that I really admire about her.'

"He scouted out one of the longest days of the year, and on June 9, 2007, the couple set out before dawn.

"'The whole time I’m nervous, of course,' Mr. Vogt said of his proposal plan. 'I can’t do it in the morning; what happens if one of us gets injured or if we just can’t make it?'

"But at mile 29, with blistered feet, a dozen miles to go and nightfall not far off, Mr. Vogt started fumbling in his knapsack for the ring. Once he had it in hand, he said to Ms. Brown, 'This might not be the best time, but. ...'

"Bliss carried them through the final miles, and just before midnight, they stumbled up one last hill to a historic inn in Harpers Ferry, W.Va."
The wedding was 12 January 2008. Congratulations!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Free Class in Outdoors Skills

In case you're not quite sure how to do it, or confident enough to try it on your own, there's a "Free camping course helps you get ready for the outdoors" described in the Macon (GA) Telegraph of 26 January 2008 by Alline Kent.
"The nine-week course starts on Jan. 28, meeting on Mondays from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and using the facilities at Central Baptist Church in Warner Robins. The course is for the general public."
It includes a backpacking trip April 4-6 on the Appalachian Trail in north Georgia starting at Three Forks and ending at either Cooper Gap (7.5 miles) or Gooch Gap (12.2 miles).

Maine A.T. Snowshoe Trip

The Bangor Daily News has a story about "a snowshoe tromp on the Appalachian Trail north of Jo-Mary Mountain" in its 26 January 2008 issue under the headline "Snowshoers rewarded for trip" and the byline of Jeff Strout. It gives a nice description of what that sort of day's outing can include.