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.

Blind Man Hiking

I believe I missed this when it came out in the newspaper last October; but I have seen the mention of it in another hiking club newsletter: The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune has an article dated 9 October 2007 by Stephen Regenold titled "Ultrafit: Tapping his way along the Appalachian Trail; With the help of a voice-enabled GPS, Minneapolis attorney Mike Hanson, who is blind, is training for the hike of a lifetime."

The subtitle pretty much explains it all: GPS unit, cane, no dog, Maine to Georgia. He's aiming on a solo hike, starting at the beginning of March. His web site doesn't give much detail, but does say he's aiming to start on 1 March 2009, and be done in about 7 months. (The newspaper article says 8 months, and starting March 2008.)

There was a lively discussion on, most of it negative with regards to Mr. Hanson's prospects. And amidst the discussion there is a link to the recording of a 21 minute interview with Hanson on the American Hiking Society web site.

Stay tuned.

Look Out for Redford!

Robert Redford seems to be carrying through with the reported film version of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. That is, if you put any stock in these media reports:

The CBC from Alberta, Canada has an Associated Press story on 26 January 2008 which it headlines "Robert Redford heads from Sundance to the Appalachian Trail." "Redford will star as Bryson and produce the film. Barry Levinson is expected to direct."

A website called "The Canadian Press" has what looks like an abbreviated versino of the same story under the title "Robert Redford headed for 'A Walk in the Woods' in next film role" on the same 26 January 2008 date.

And Idaho Falls, Idaho's television station KIFI news channel 8 has an even briefer version of the story under the headline "Redford headed for 'A Walk in the Woods'" also on 26 January 2008.

Redford thinks it'll be "fun."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lost Pair in Vermont Now Found

Two lost Vermont hikers are located, safe and sound, in the early morning. That's the good news story line of these articles:

An Associated Press article in the Burlington Free Press" dated 25 January 2008 under the title "Lost hikers on Appalachian Trail found after night at camp."

A WPTZ-tv (Plattsburgh, NY) story titled "Hikers Found After Night On Mountain Near Killington" on 25 January 2008.

And a story on WCAX-tv (Burlington, VT) dated 25 January 2008 and titled "Lost Hikers Rescued".

The pair, aged 19 and 38, were hiking on the Appalachian Trail from Shrewsbury to Mendon when they became lost, and dialed 911 to ask for help. About 12 hours later they were located when rescuers followed their footsteps to a camp.

One Crazed Man....

Hendersonville, NC's Times-News Online called has an article by columnist James Shea on 24 January 2008 titled "One crazed man can't keep me from the woods."

He reflects on the need for vigilance for one's own safety while in the woods - especially while there alone, and more especially in the wake of the Bryant and Emerson murders. Still, he says,
"I only hope, as the weather warms, and I get back into the woods more, my hesitancy will wane. I enjoy being out in nature too much to let one crazed man dictate my life."
Let the people say Amen.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pennsylvania Bill Aims for Trail Protection

The Pocono Record has an article titled "State bill would protect Appalachian Trail corridor, prevent projects like Alpine Rose" by Adam McNaughton in its 23 January 2008 issue. It describes the import of Pennsylvania "House Bill 1281 that would require townships to enact and enforce zoning to protect the Appalachian Trail."

It goes on to explain that
"If the bill passes the Pennsylvania Senate and is signed by Gov. Ed Rendell, municipalities through which the Appalachian Trail passes will have the "power" and the "duty" to adopt zoning ordinances to preserve the trail."
This can't stop the Alpine Motorsports race track from being built one half mile off the Appalachian Trail, and that project is only waiting for final permits from the state's Department of Environmental Protection.

Was Ranger, Is Hiker

The Times-News from Hendersonville, NC has a 23 January 2008 article by Beth Beasley titled "Walking the Parkway; Tim Pegram may be the first person to walk the entire Blue Ridge Parkway." She talks about Pegram's 41 day hike in the early Fall of 2003, after retiring from the National Park Service. He wrote a book about rangering on the Parkway and about walking it: "The Blue Ridge Parkway by Foot: A Park Ranger's Memoir."

The occasion for the article was his talk about the book at Main Library in Hendersonville on 29 January.
"His plans to complete a through hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2008 don't include the same kind of book. Instead, Pegram wants to develop ideas for an illustrated book of poems."

...and, oh, by the way...

Jen Murphy has a "What's Your Workout?" column in the Wall Street Journal dated 24 January 2008 titled "Prepping for 50- and 100-Mile Races; Ultra-Runner Juggles Work at the IMF, Grad School and Ultra-Long Commute". The column describes the workout regimen of Brian McNeill, an information-technology manager at the International Monetary Fund. McNeill is an ultra-marathoner. After describing all his outdoor running, he says
"'I work in one of the prettiest cities in the country and live ten miles from the Appalachian trail,' says Mr. McNeill. 'Why would I not revel in the outdoors?'"
Doesn't say that he runs on the Trail, though.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

High Adventure - Low Risk - Make Your Choices

The Times of Trenton (NJ) has a 22 January 2008 article by N.J. DeVico titled "Despite isolated tragedy, lone hikers have little to fear on the trail." Actually, it's more of a personal opinion piece.

She writes that a friend sent her an article about Meredith Emerson's murder "in case you went back on the trail. Do you want to do something that has very low risk but a very high cost if it happened?"

DeVico writes
"I hiked 1,500 miles of the AT and was alone most of the time be cause I was so slow that I couldn't keep up with anyone. I didn't always make it to a shelter before dark or before I was exhausted, so I just set up camp when I found a flat spot. I was alone many nights.

"Was I scared? The first time I did it, yes. Maybe spooked is a better word. It's dark out there. But I was more concerned with bears than people."
She also includes some safety words of wisdom from Laurie Potteiger at ATC headquarters in Harpers Ferry.

Meredith Emerson Memorial

Jessica Jordan's article in the Gainesville (GA) Times of 21 January 2008 is titled "Hikers honor murder victim Meredith Emerson." It describes the memorial gathering for Emerson by "roughly 150 hikers ... and about 50 dogs" in Meeks Park in Blairsville on the 20th -- relocated from Blood Mountain both because of the icy roads and because of the large number of people.
"A photo of Emerson and Ella was posted above a memorial stone placed near the covered bridge at Meeks Park. The stone read, 'Remember Meredith Emerson: She hiked the path of life with Ella, love and wonder.'"

Guns and Hikers

A King Features Syndicate journalist named Charley Reese uses Meredith Emerson's murder as a platform for a 22 January 2008 opinion piece named "Arm Yourself" in which he suggests doing that -- even if, as he admits, it is illegal:
"The young lady recently murdered while hiking the southern tip of the Appalachian Trail might be alive today if she had tucked a pistol into her backpack or fanny pack. Yes, I know it's against the law to carry a pistol on the trail, but which would you prefer – breaking a bureaucratic rule or getting your brains knocked out and then being decapitated?

"I'm afraid too many of us have spent our lives in an urban environment and have thus lost touch with the reality of the outdoors. When you go into the woods by yourself, you leave not only your car behind, but the protection of the law. When you are by yourself, whether on an urban street or in a forest, and someone comes along with the intention of assaulting you, you are on your own. There is no help. Your choice is run or fight. And a fight is a physical thing, not an intellectual matter."
My opinion? Reese has indeed "lost touch with the reality of the outdoors"!

[Also appears in the Ft. Myers, FL News-Press under the title "Guns good for self-defense, but think about it" on 23 January 2008.]

New Trail Sections in Canada

The Western Star, a newspaper from Corner Brook - Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, has a Cory Hurley article titled "Appalachian trail section will be built through Bay of Islands area this year" in its 22 January 2008 issue. That would be the International Appalachian Trail. And, as the article explains, "The International Appalachian Trail is a network of trails extending from Georgia in the southern United States to the tip of the Northern Peninsula."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Northeast Georgia Hiking Safety Tips

Tracy Armbruster, from WNEG-TV News channel 32 had a 21 January 2008 report on the station's web site titled "Hiking Safety Tips" which relies on standard hiking safety tips (which bear repeating) from Appalachian Trail hiker and Toccoa police chief Jackie Whitmire.

You know the drill: let someone know where you're going and when you expect to be back; don't hike alone; be alert for strange activity; take a whistle. Oh, and "weapons are not necessary."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mt. Rogers and Grayson Highlands Described

Jack Horan has an article in the Charlotte (NC) Observer dated 20 January 2008 and titled "Having a high old time; Great views, pony herds among attractions in Mount Rogers area." It's a sort of trip report about winter hiking the Mount Rogers area.

Some interesting notes about the ponies:
"One of the prime attractions in the Crest Zone and adjacent Grayson Highlands State Park are four herds of 120 or so feral ponies that range within two fenced areas. They resemble Shetland ponies with stocky bodies and long manes.

"Sara Schell, NRA recreation officer, said by e-mail that some of the ponies are believed to have originated from stock owned by a local farmer who was trying to develop a small stature, hardy mountain horse. She said three herds live in a fenced area of nearly 3,000 acres. The fourth herd of about 30 ponies roams state park land."
I didn't know there were actually separate herds up there. And I think it's great that some of the people 'in charge' don't really know exactly how the horses got there ("...are believed to have originated..."), leaving a little mystery in life.

Abingdon, Virginia Profiled

I'm not sure how far off the Appalachian Trail a place can be and still be called a "trail town". If it's about 15 miles, then Abingdon qualifies.

Abingdon is profiled in the Louisville, KY Courier-Journal in an article by Cathy Summerlin titled "Enjoy life your way in historic Abingdon, Va.; Hike, see a play, visit The Martha" on 20 January 2008. The Trail is mentioned here:
"Then there's the 34-mile Virginia Creeper Trail, a rails-to-trails conversion at the western edge of the mountains. The trail crosses the Appalachian Trail about 15 miles east of Abingdon and enters Mount Rogers National Recreation Area farther east."
Sounds like there's a good bit to do and see in the area.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Indiantown Gap vs. Stony Valley

The Harrisburg, PA Patriot News of 20 January 2008 has an article by Al Winn titled "Study minimizes effect of shells on game lands" that describes the current state of wisdom surrounding the Stony Valley and its behemoth neighbor the Fort Indiantown Gap military post.

Of course one person's 'minimize' could be another person's "Duck!!". The article says that
"The study found that 779 shells a year would likely ricochet into a 900-acre area of the game lands along the border of Dauphin and Lebanon counties."
"The designated buffer zone does not include Stony Creek, the Schuylkill and Susquehanna rail trail or the Appalachian Trail."
but you never know. Once those artillery shells start ricocheting around, I don't think there's any way to be absolutely sure where they'll end up.
"The assessment said the shells would have little impact on the area where they land, beyond killing an occasional tree or animal."
Or maybe someone who wanders a little off the Trail for a stealth campsite? Let's hope not.

Bear Mountain Rerouting Funded

"Local groups receive Greenway funding" is the headline in the Mid-Hudson News for 20 January 2008 which mentions a number of projects in the area that have received funding. Among the projects are:
"The NY-NJ Trail Conference was awarded $5,000 for bridge construction. Part of the ongoing Bear Mountain Trails Project, a 28-foot bridge is needed to span a wet sloping section of bedrock in order to successfully reroute a segment of the Appalachian Trail that has suffered from overuse and erosion."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Kristina Dean Finishes Fund-Raising Thru-Hike

The Knoxville News-Sentinel has Chandra Harris-McCray's article titled "After 2,175-mile solo trek that raised money for shelter, hiker says she now knows how women in crisis feel" in its 19 January 2008 issue. The article chronicles the successful southbound Appalachian Trail thru-hike by Kristina "Tina" Dean.

Dean began in June and finished 11 days shy of Christmas. Along the way she managed "to raise money for Knox Area Rescue Ministries’ Serenity Shelter for women." By Dean's account people along the Trail were not always welcoming, or even friendly, to her, which increased her sense of identification with the homeless women the Serenity Shelter aids.

Videographer Mike Daniel Still Walking

Chris Casey's article in the Greeley, CO Tribune on 18 January 2008 is titled "Path to bliss: Man finds his passion on America's byways." It's about the cross country hike by 39-year-old Mike Daniel on the
"American Discovery Trail. It's 6,200-6,800 miles long, depending on routes you take. He started in mid-June from the Atlantic-side trailhead in Delaware and hopes to be the first person to cover the trail's expanse -- including the loop between Denver and Cincinnati -- nonstop on foot."
"Since ditching his day job in 2002, he has filmed documentaries of his journeys on the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails, selling 5,000 copies of the former and 1,000 of the latter."
And, of course, there's a web site.
"Mike Daniel plans to chronicle his American Discovery Trail trek in a book filled with tales, characters and historical facts, accompanied by a pair of DVDs. His Web site, including daily journal and video logs, is"
The web site describes Daniel this way:
"an addictive long distance hiker with over 10,000 miles hiked since 1998. He has section thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine with over 8,000 combined miles in over 8 years, he has thru-hiked the John Muir Trail in 2002 as well as The Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada in 2006."

William F. White, 100, Hiker

The Boston Herald has an 18 January 2008 obituary for William F. White "of Reading, a World War II veteran and a retired Boston newspaperman, [who] died Saturday at his home in Reading. He was 100." It mentions that "In his youth he loved fishing, hunting, camping, and hiking on Long Trail in Vermont and the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire."

Friday, January 18, 2008

2001 Thru-Hiker Nakaji Does PCT in 2007

Johnny Buck has an article titled "Less is more: Lesson learned from 2,650-mile trek" in the 17 January 2008 Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times. The hiker under discussion is Asheville resident Lane Nakaji who finished a 143 day thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail on 13 September.
"Though offering a more gradual grade than the Appalachian Trail — the 2,175-mile footpath from Georgia to Maine that Nakaji thru-hiked in 2001 — the PCT is no less formidable."

Hiker Christensen Dies in Iraq

The Cherry Hill, NJ Courier Post of 16 January 2008 has a memorial piece written by Leo Strupczewski to honor Curtis Alan Christensen Jr., a United States Marine lance corporal who recently died in Iraq. It is titled "Mother recalls dedication of slain Marine."

The piece begins by telling the story of the beginning of Christensen's Appalachian Trail hike "a few years ago."
"He spurned the notion of beginning the trail at a tourist attraction in Georgia.

"The real start of the trail, he told his mother, was at the top of a mountain.

"So Mary Knight, though afraid of heights, drove her son up a winding, one-lane fire road. About two-thirds of the way up, there was a place to turn around.

"'He said, "I'll just walk from here,"' Knight remembered."
The article ends with the note that "In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his memory to the Appalachian Mountain Club Development Office, 5 Joy St., Boston, Mass."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tribute to Jack and Irene Bryant

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of 16 January 2008 contains a long, loving tribute article for Irene and John "Jack" Bryant, written by Mike Williams. Both hikers for years, Irene was murdered and Jack is presumed to have been murdered while on a trail near their North Carolina home in October.
"...the Bryants apparently crossed paths with Gary Michael Hilton. Police suspect the 61-year-old drifter encountered them just 20 miles from their home after the Bryants drove out for a hike in Pisgah National Forest at the peak of the fall color season in October. ...

"Transylvania County Sheriff David Mahoney says Hilton is a suspect in Irene Bryant's death and Jack Bryant's disappearance, and has scheduled a 2 p.m. press conference today concerning the case. 'I think it will say what everybody's been thinking we're going to say,' Mahoney said. 'He is the suspect.'

"The Atlanta-area suspect, described by many as eccentric and mean-spirited, has been charged with the decapitation killing of 24-year-old Meredith Emerson, who went hiking in the North Georgia mountains on New Year's Day. He also is a suspect in the murder of Cheryl Hodges Dunlap, 46, whose body was found in Florida's Apalachicola National Forest on Dec. 15."
Most of the article describes the Bryants and their family and really nice people, "as remarkably generous, adventurous, engaging and unpretentious." Folks you wish you had been able to meet. Jack had section-hiked the entire Appalachian Trail over a period of years.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Gwenyth Loose Receives Grant for Hiking and Book

The Central Penn Business Journal of 15 January 2008 has a story by David Dagan titled "Grants fund personal projects for nonprofit leaders" that is of interest. It includes the note that
"The York County Community Foundation awarded each of the six leaders a $6,000 grant through the York Federal Fellows Program in Nonprofit Community Leadership. The program, launched two years ago, is named for the former York Federal Savings and Loan Association."
Among the winners:
"York County Rail Trail Authority project coordinator Gwenyth Loose will write a book featuring women leaders in the Appalachian Trail community and spend time on the trail, according to the foundation."
Such a deal! There is a link to the Foundation's web site that has a little more information about this project. So ... keep your eyes open for the book.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Norma and Chuck Sink, Thru-Hikers

The Sequoyah County Times from Sallisaw, OK on 14 January 2008 has a thru-hiker profile by staff writer Linda Copeland that is titled "Just Folks." (Actually, that's the name of her weekly column.)

Anyway, the profile is of area residents Norma and Chuck Sink of Gore, OK. They did a seven month northbound hike that they completed on 12 October 2005, two and a quarter years ago. It's mostly an interview with Norma, and tells some of the usual kind of highlights (think: food stops in town; trail magic; weather). Norma "Gotta Go" Sink and Chuck "Chuckles" Sink hiked in celebration of their 60th birthdays and 40th wedding anniversary.

Black Nubble Rejected

Glenn Adams, an Associated Press writer in the 14 January 2008 Boston Globe describes the split decision in Maine under the headline "Regulators OK Kibby wind plan, reject Black Nubble".

A key paragraph about the difference is this one:
"The Land Use Regulation Commission voted to allow a 44-turbine project near the Canadian border in Franklin County, saying TransCanada Maine Wind Development's application answered its concerns that roads be built properly, and birds and bats be protected."
The other site, the one called Black Nubble, is the revised plan for the one that sits so close to the Appalachian Trail and was rejected a year ago. And, of course, people on both sides still disagree with each other about whether this decision was a good one. Stay tuned for appeals and revisions.

Darrell Rice References in Charlottesville

Charlottesville, Virginia's "The Hook" of 14 January 2008 has an article by Hawes Spencer titled "Rice might have to keep the GPS". It describes life for recently-released Darrell David Rice on probation.

And it brings up a sad memory for some Appalachian Trail friends. To wit,
"If some Kent Islanders find Rice abhorrent, his new website portrays a family man who goes on outings smiling with friends and family, including children. It’s a far different portrayal from the one offered in 2002 by then-attorney general John Ashcroft when the nation’s top crime-buster accused Rice of capital murder, the “hate crime” killing of two gay women at their campsite near the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park six years earlier.

"The government’s case against Rice collapsed, however, as no physical evidence could be produced tying him to the crime. And the supposed anti-gay statements recorded by a jailhouse snitch? They turned out, on further analysis, not to be anti-gay statements at all.

"In recent days, pressure has begun mounting to reopen the case of the slain hikers for further DNA testing against known serial killers such as Richard Marc Evonitz, who, in 1996 and 1997, killed three girls in Spotsylvania County. And in just the past few days, a 61-year-old man named Gary M. Hilton has been suggested as the perpetrator of multiple Appalachian Trail and other murders in Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina."
See a related article for more background.

Monday, January 14, 2008

2006 Thru-Hikers Tara & Tony Janisch Talk

The Chicago Sun-Times of 13 January 2008 carries an article titled "Trail adventure a marriage of dreams, perseverance" and written by staff writer Steve Metsch. It records the 2006 thru-hike by Tara and Tony Janisch. And describes their talk about the hike given at the Thorn Creek Nature Center in Park Forest, IL on the 11th..

Tara, soon to be a full-time naturalist at the Center was the one whose dream was to thru-hike. Tony, apparently, had to be talked into doing it. They
"both quit their jobs with the Will County Forest Preserve to hike. They lost dozens of pounds. Tara and Tony went through three and four pairs of boots, respectively. They spent more than $14,000, and they got married at the halfway point."
Oh, and he got Lyme disease, while she dislocated a hip in New York (but didn't realize it until leter). Sounds like they give a nice talk, though.

Black Nubble Wind Farm Up for Okay

AP writer Glenn Adams has an article titled "Regulators to debate two W. Maine wind-power projects" in the 13 January 2008 Boston Globe. He writes:
"On Monday morning, the Land Use Regulation Commission will take up a preliminary development plan by Maine Mountain Power LLC to rezone 487 acres for a scaled-back, 18-turbine project on Black Nubble Mountain in Redington and Wyman townships.

"In the afternoon, LURC weighs the preliminary plan by TransCanada Maine Wind Development Inc. and Plum Creek Maine Timberlands LLC to rezone 2,367 acres for a 44-turbine project in Kibby and Skinner townships. Both wind projects are in western Maine's Franklin County."
The first project, on Black Nubble, is the one that was rejected last year as too destructive of the Appalachian Trail viewshed.

The article speaks more about the benefits of wind power generation than about its drawbacks. I don't think that dead birds, dead bats, or the trees that need to be removed in order to install wind turbines are even mentioned.

Michael "Bobcat" Innes Spoke in Pittsfield

Benning W. De La Mater writes under the headline "Talking the walk" in the Berkshire (MA) Eagle about the talk given by Appalachian Trial thru-hiker Michael Innes. The article appeared on 13 January 2008.

Innes helped kick off the Pittsfield, MA community reading of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. His wife Lori hiked the last 800 miles with him and also spoke. The article recounts some of the highlights of "Bobcat's" hike. It took him just over 4 months to thru-hike, summiting on 27 July 2007.

Emerson-Related Articles from Atlanta

A website titled "The Sunday Paper: All You Need to Know" and, apparently, coming to us from Atlanta, GA, has three related articles in it all dated 13 January 2008. When I came across them, they were all on the same page.

The first is by Colby Dunn titled "The strange disappearance of Cayle Bywater". Bywater "disappeared just days before Meredith Emerson was reported missing." She was last seen in a local Athens, GA city park, also had a dog, and seems to have disappeared without a trace, leaving her apartment door open (or someone else left it open, perhaps).

Right under that there's an article by Josh Clark titled "Every family’s nightmare: The resolution of the Meredith Emerson case". It retells the whole story, as we know it, of Meredith's disappearance, murder, and discovery.

Then there's some background about Gary Michael Hilton in Stephanie Ramage's article "4169 Clairmont Road; Was Gary Michael Hilton really a “drifter”?" For this article Ramage visited the address Hilton gave when arrested. She spoke to a neighbor about Hilton. A police spokesman told her that "'It has no bearing whatsoever on the case or the investigations,' ... 'None whatsoever. It was just an address he gave where he could pick up his mail'."

Hiker Safety Articles Abound

Here is a gathering of news articles about hiker safety in, on, and around the Appalachian Trail in the wake of the murder of Meredith Emerson in Georgia.

The first is in the New York Times, 14 January 2008, by Brenda Goodman, and titled "Killing of a Young Hiker Puts North Georgia on Edge." The first part of the article focuses on self-defense classes in the region, then there's a rehearsal of the facts of the Emerson case, and finally there are some quotes from local hikers. The article includes this note:
"Trail-maintenance volunteers have planned a memorial walk and a smudge ceremony, which is an American Indian cleansing ritual that involves burning sage to rid a place of evil spirits, on Sunday to honor Ms. Emerson and to try to calm their own nerves."
Another article appeared in the Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune on 13 January 2008. It's a column by Laura Sperling titled "Murders in National Parks; Crimes against our birthright." Sperling writes:
"I can't count the times I've day-hiked the rural parks, hills and woods, usually with a dog and/or human relatives. These are the cherished memories I rely on to restore me when I'm back in the city, surrounded by overdevelopment that once was trees.

"When a hiker is killed, it diminishes me and anyone else who loves to be in the deep green bosom of America's parks and forests. They are our birthright."
Then there's the editorial from Chambersburg, PA on PublicOpinionOnline by Becky Bennett titled "Editor's view: Packing heat does nothing to break the cycle of fear." This is really an editorial about the right to bear arms - and whether it's also a wise thing to do - but it uses Emerson's murder as a jumping off point.

And, finally there's Nic Corbett's article "Hikers say recent attacks raise safety awareness" in the 13 January 2008 Tallahassee (FL) Democrat. Corbett talked with members of "a group of hikers tackling a 4.5-mile trail Saturday in the Apalachicola National Forest in Wakulla County." They expressed various safety concerns, of course. The article starts with a familiar sounding interchange:
"When Tallahassee resident Bill Snyder talks about how he's preparing for a six-month hike on the Appalachian Trail, people typically ask him this question: 'Are you going alone?'

"When he answers in the affirmative, they usually ask, 'Are you going to carry a weapon?'"
I think a lot of us have heard those two questions.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More Safety Tips for Hikers

Seems like all the southern papers are publishing articles about Trail safety. Or, more accurately, only southern papers. Here's an article from the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Written by Angie Herrington, titled "Managing risks part of hiking," and published 12 January 2008.

Herrington spoke to and quoted a number of people representing hiking clubs, the National Park Service, and a rescue organization. Their advice boils down to the same common sense advice we've know for years ... but some of us may have tended to ignore as we bank miles and hours of safe travel on the Appalachian Trail and elsewhere.

Trail Safety Tips

Atlanta, Georgia's WXIA-TV has a story by reporter Wes Sarginson titled "Wes Side: Safety Along The Trail" posted on the web site on 9 January 2008 in which he touches on safe Appalachian Trail hiking. His experts say to "be mindful" of your surroundings. And, "The trail is safe if you follow common sense rules, tell someone of your itinerary, don't hike alone, avoid strangers. Don't wear jewelry or carry large sums of cash."

Newnan, Georgia Hiking Club Safety

Newnan, Georgia's Times-Herald newspaper has an article in its 12 January 2008 issue about trail safety, written by Amy Riley and titled "Trail death disturbs local hikers."

Riley spoke with members of the Newnan Hiking Club just after they had hiked Blood Mountain. All were concerned about their safety, and offered their suggestions on how to hike safely. A recurring theme is to hike with someone else, whom you trust. That's hard to do on the Appalachian Trail over long distances, except that thru-hikers often bunch up and at least 'sort of hike together' with one or more people - just not within sight of each other all the time - meeting up at lunch breaks or at shelters.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Violence in Nature

A column by Jeanne Malmgren in the Anderson (SC) Independent-Mail on 11 January 2008 titled "Violence in nature: This should not be" relates a personal story of feeling threatened by some other people while camping, and decries the fact that this sort of thing happens. Malmgren and her husband escaped without coming to any harm, but others haven't.

As Malmgren writes:
"It’s deeply disturbing in a visceral way: A young woman goes hiking with her dog on a beautiful mountain trail and ends up dead.

"This should not happen."
Nature, itself is absolutely violent; but what we want is to be able to visit natural places free from threats of that violence or of the violence that other people might wage.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Trail Safety by Gut Instinct

There's an article in the Gainesville (GA) Times on 10 January 2008, written by Debbie Gilbert, and titled "Safe hiking: Trust your instincts." It provides some of the 'backstory' that preceded Meredith Emerson's murder, particularly comments from people who had met or observed the accused murderer. Here are a few paragraphs out of the middle of the article:
"A lot of hikers had a "gut feeling" about Gary Michael Hilton, the 61-year-old man who has been charged with Emerson’s murder. The two met near Blood Mountain on New Year’s Day, and Hilton allegedly killed Emerson in the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area three days later.

"'This guy’s been on our radar since March,' said Winton Porter, owner of Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi, a hiking gear store located on U.S. 129 east of Blood Mountain, very close to the parking lot where Emerson left her car on Jan. 1.

Porter said Hilton, who was apparently homeless, spent months migrating up and down the Appalachian Trail.

"'He was squatting at the Gooch Gap shelter,' Porter said. 'He knew that according to Forest Service rules, he could stay at a shelter for two weeks, leave for a day, then stay another two weeks. He had (stuff) scattered all over the shelter. He took over the place and wouldn’t let anyone else stay there. We also had reports of him at Slaughter Gap shelter a couple weeks ago'."
A couple of state park officials are also quoted, as are an ATC rep and others. We'll probably never know whether or why Emerson trusted Hilton when others thought there was something fishy about him. Read this article, though.

Be aware out there on the Trail.

Campfire Ban Lifted

Georgia rain and snow have prompted the lifting of a long campfire ban at the southern end of the Appalachian Trail, according to a 10 January 2008 article on the Access North Georgia website out of Gainesville, GA. It is titled "Campfire ban lifted; hiking trail reopened" and is written by Ken Stanford, Editor.

The bans, in place since October, were in the Chattahoochee and Oconee national forests. The re-opened trail mentioned in the title is the one on Blood Mountain that had been closed when Meredith Emerson disappeared.

"Spanky" Bateman at it Again

According to a press release available 11 January 2008 at the web site, "Blended Family Dad Hiking Across America on Behalf of Fathers," William "Spanky" Bateman is going to be starting another southbound hike on the Appalachian Trail on 1 June 2008.

I met Spanky in Connecticut during his 2002 "Hike for kids". This year's hike is a "Hike for dads."
"'When I first hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2002, I quickly discovered there was more to hiking the A.T. than beautiful vistas and small towns.' Mr. Bateman continues, 'I was deeply moved by the many strangers I talked to along the way, who shared with me their strikingly sad recollections growing up without ever hearing their father's voice. Their stories gave me the inspiration for a unique series of books that could be a kind of solace for that hurting soul.'

"Bateman's plan is simple, yet profound in scope. He will use his journey hiking along the A.T. as a means for interviewing people of all ages and all walks of life, journaling each person's recollections of sage advice passed down from a father figure from their own past -- and compiling those same responses into a book form for fatherless children called, 'My Father's Voice'."
Good luck with it all, Spanky! But here's something to think about: while you'll be crossing many state borders on the A.T., most people think of 'across America' (cf. press release title) as an east-west or west-east hike, not a north-south one. I know, picky, picky, picky!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Pearisburg, VA Bicentennial

Joshua A. DeLung wrote the article "Pearisburg celebrates 200 years of history; Events marking the anniversary started Monday and will continue through 2008" in the 9 January 2008 issue of the Roanoke Times. It barely mentions the Appalachian Trail, but hikers who have passed by this southern Virginia town might like to read and remember.

Watch for Politicians at the Doyle Hotel

The Washington Post has a weekend adventure column called "Escape Keys" in its 9 January 2008 issue. The highlighted destination is Duncannon, PA which is only "about 2 1/2 hours from the Beltway."

Featured accommodations include the famous Doyle Hotel and the Stardust Motel which is 4 miles north. For food they recommend The Red Rabbit and the Espresso Yourself Cafe.

You may need to start calling ahead for reservations at the Doyle if this catches on in Washington.

Pittsfield, Mass. Appalachian Trail Events

Pittsfield, MA is reading Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, and a number of connected events are listed in the 9 January 2008 Berkshire Eagle Online under the headline "Pittsfield READS! events".

The two events directly related to the Trail are:

on Saturday, 12 January "A citywide book celebration and kick-off party will be held from 11 a.m. to noon at the Berkshire Athenaeum, 1 Wendell Ave. This event will feature refreshments and a lively illustrated talk by Mike Innis, who recently walked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail."


on "March 14, 7:30 p.m.: 'The Appalachian Trail in Massachusetts,' a talk with Cosmo Catalano, chairman of the Massachusetts Appalachian Trail Management Committee".

An article of more substance than those notices appears in the same paper on 9 January 2008, written by Jenn Smith under the headline "Launching literacy; The city gets on the same page as residents prepare for Saturday". Smith recounts the point of a one-book-one-community program, the funding for Pittsfield's effort, and some of the training librarians and others have had to make this a success.

Hikers Unsettled After Emerson Murder

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of 9 January 2008 has an article by Bo Emerson titled "Emerson murder especially disturbing to N. Ga. hikers" (also here ). He has reaction s from some families out hiking in recent days, cautions about personal safety, the reflection that Meredith Emerson 'did everything right', and the recollection that murders on the Appalachian Trail are extremely rare.

On that last point,
"According to conservancy spokesman Brian King, the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail system receives about 3.3 million visitors a year, or 109 million since 1974, when the first homicide associated with the trail occurred, at a shelter in Georgia. There have been six more homicides between Maine and Georgia since then, the most recent in 1990.

"By contrast there have been at least six killings in metro Atlanta since Dec. 16, two just since Emerson disappeared.

"'It's extremely rare to have any kind of major incident like this,' said Bob Almand, chair of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy."
We just think violence like that is more out of place on the Trail than in the city.

Who Owned the Springer Area?

A newspaper blog by Ronda Rich in the Fayetteville, GA Citizen published online on 9 January 2008 under the title "Who is the lucky one?" isn't really about the Appalachian Trail, but about contentment. In setting the scene, Rich says some things about her family roots "in a little place called Suches, Ga." including this:
"Our forebears owned the land that encompasses where the Appalachian Trail begins and until the end of his time on earth, Melissa’s daddy, my beloved Uncle Tom Berry, grumbled mightily about a 'thieving' government which would, from time to time, decide to lay claim to more of his land that borders the famous trail.

"'Just help themselves to it! That’s what they do,' he’d rail. 'Bunch of heathens.'"
And that little bit of A.T. oral history ought to be preserved.

Meredith Emerson Articles

In the wake of the discovery of Meredith Hope Emerson's body, there have been a number of articles published with further news of details. I'm certain that the ones I have gathered are not all of them, but they might lead interested readers to other news sources.

Mark E.P. Woods writes under the headline "Volunteer shares mixed emotions in missing hiker case" in the 9 January 2008 Atlanta Journal-Constitution about his experiences as a volunteer searcher on 3 January. An experienced hiker (and section hiker of the AT) with a background as an emergency medical technician and with proper equipment/clothing, he was welcomed. Woods wonders whether there couldn't be a more natural relationship between the hiking clubs and the law enforcement agencies next time the news breaks that "'One of Us' was missing...".

An unsigned article at titled "Suspect in Georgia hiker's death could be connected to similar crime near Tri-Cities region" speculates on the possible connection to the murder of Irene Bryant and disappearance of her husband John Bryant in North Carolina. (" is operated by Media General's Interactive Media Division (IMD) in partnership with WJHL-TV and the Bristol Herald Courier.") The article also reiterates some standard safety tips.

The Longmont (CO) Times-Call printed the Associated Press article by Daniel Yee titled "Man questioned in hiker search; Longmont native’s dog wanders into Ga. store" on 5 January 2008. Meredith was originally from Longmont, Colorado.

Dorie Turner's Associated Press article appears in the San Jose Mercury News on 7 January 2008 under the headline "Georgia hiker died of blow to the head" and details the cause of death, the arrangements that Meredith's accused murderer to lead authorities to her body, and suggests connections (through Hilton) to the Bryant murder(s) in North Carolina and the Dunlap murder in Florida.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Thru-Hiker Starts Restaurant in Tennessee

The article in the Ashland City (TN) Times by Matt Anderson on 8 January 2008 titled "‘Coffee Trail’ mixes organic, traditional fare" gives us a brief introduction to a local eatery called Coffee Trail. And the first sentence gives us an introduction to its owner/operator:
"Andrew Raby says he learned more during his hike from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail than all his years in college."
That's probably true for a lot of thru-hikers. But this one, and his wife Lisa, started a restaurant as a result.

There's supposed to be a "trail-themed menu" which includes a sandwich called "The Purist". I'm not sure but I'm thinking that the mozzarella on that item ought to be in the form of a six inch slab that looks like an Appalachian Trail blaze. Sound right to you?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Walt Smith Profiled

The Journal (from Martinsburg, WV) of 7 January 2008 has an article by Michael C. Lewis titled "Trail club member takes a hike; Group offers locals opportunity to become one with nature." It is mostly a profile of Walt Smith, who is the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club’s district manager for 32 miles of the Tuscarora Trail near Martinsburg. It's a real nice story, as well as an invitation to membership in the Club. The Tuscarora, of course, connects to the Appalachian Trail at both ends.

Hiker Unease

The Debbie Gilbert article in the Gainesville (GA) Times titled "Hikers unsettled by Emerson's death" was published 8 January 2008. In it, she provides information from Beckie Hilton, president of the Clarkesville-based N.E. Georgia Mountain Hiking Club, about the sense of unease among many hikers in the area after the murder of Meredith Emerson. Hilton recounts the usual feeling that 'things like that can't happen out here' and contrasts it with the current sense that they do happen.

Another source for the story is "Frank Wright, president of the 700-member Georgia Appalachian Trail Club, [who] speculated that the friendliness of the dogs may have given Emerson a false sense of security, even though she was said to be a smart and capable young woman."

Keep your eyes open out there.

Meredith Emerson's Recovery

The Associated Press article from this afternoon that appears in the Gainesville (GA) Times is headlined "DA: Suspect made plea deal in exchange for location of missing hiker's body; Emerson died from blow to head three days after her disappearance." And that's about the gist of it. Apparently, suspect Hilton got the state to agree not to seek the death penalty in return for him revealing where Meredith Emerson's body was deposited.

This article also goes into possible connections between Hilton and the incidents in North Carolina (the death of Irene Bryant and the disappearance of her husband John Bryant) and in Florida (where the body of Cheryl Hodges Dunlap was discovered on 19 December).

AP writer Errin Haines has articles on this story appearing in the Guardian Unlimited under the headline "Bond Denied for Suspect in Hiker Case" (7 January 2008); and the Asheville Citizen-Times titled "Missing hiker's body found in woods" (7 January 2008).

Monday, January 07, 2008

Hiker Meredith Emerson Dead

Just before 9:00 pm tonight, officials in Georgia announced that the body of hiker Meredith Hope Emerson had been found. This, according to an article on the USA Today web site under the headline "Body of missing Ga. hiker found" datelined Blairsville, Georgia.

Jeffrey Scott and George Chidi in the Atlanta Journal-constitution report the same sad news under the headline "Body of missing Buford hiker found".

The USA Today article mentions the possible connection with the case of the John and Irene Bryant in North Carolina.

Laguna Beach Man a Former Hiker

An article in the Los Angeles Times of 6 January 2008, titled "Laguna Beach greeter left indelible image" and written by staff writer Cecilia Rasmussen, profiles the late Eiler Larsen. Larsen spent more than 3 decades as the town's goodwill ambassador, shouting hello and waving to people driving into town. There are now two statues that memorialize him.

Pointing out that Larsen was born in 1890 and died in 1975, the article begins:
"He had wandered the world, selling butter in czarist Siberia, fighting in France during World War I, walking the Appalachian Trail with his dog -- and strolling down Colorado Boulevard, unofficially bringing up the rear of the Rose Parade one year."
and includes this further explanation deeper down in the article:
"During the 1920s boom, Larsen worked as a bank messenger on Wall Street. He later walked the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia with his dog, Happy, according to The Times' archives. Early in the Depression, he caught the "greeting bug" and began hailing visitors...."
What isn't clear is just whenLarsen and dog hiked. Not immediately after World War I and just before the Depression, that's for sure.

Meredith Emerson Articles

A series of articles in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution carry news about the unfolding story of the disappearance of 24-year-old hiker Meredith Emerson near the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. These include:

Tim Eberly, Jeffry Scott. "HIKER FEARED DEAD: Bloody shirts found: Authorities tell Meredith Emerson's family chances are 'slim to none that she's alive.'" Published 6 January 2008.


Tim Eberly. "Man Charged With Kidnapping Missing Hiker." Published 5 January 2008.

Meredith Emerson Search Continues

Geroge Chidi and Christian Boone wrote the article titled "Missing hiker's father makes appeal to public" in the 7 January 2008 Atlanta Journal-Constitution with the latest news about Meredith Emerson's disappearance. Her father's appeal to the public is for everyone "to search their hearts and memories for anything they can remember and do to help us find Meredith and return her home."

Suspect Gary Michael Hilton is in custody, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is quoted here as saying that "there is 'considerable evidence' linking Hilton to Emerson's disappearance." Meanwhile, there are upwards of 150 police officers and emergency workers searching for Emerson.

Hikers and Hoteliers

The report on the Portland, ME WCSH television station web site titled "Millinocket Businesses See White Gold In Early Snow" and posted by Sarah Delage on 5 January 2008 mentions two Appalachian Trail hikers who made it to Millinocket and settled down:
"Paul and Jaime Renaud hiked to Millinocket and never turned back.

"'We actually hiked into this community on the Appalachian Trail,' Jaime said. 'So it was kind of at the end of our adventure, and it was: "What do we do next?"

"What they did next was buy a cafe and lodge named after the trail that brought them to Millinocket. They saw the potential in this former mill town."
So, there you are! The report doesn't go into any more detail about the business name or location or when the Renauds were on the Trail, so this is the best I can do toward boosting their business.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Emerson Disappearance

Meredith Emerson's disappearance in Georgia, near Blood Mountain and the Appalachian Trail, along with the continuing search for her and the 'person of interest' seen talking with her last, is reported on the ABC News 'Good Morning America' web site under the headline "Is This Man Key to Blood Mountain Mystery?; Hunt for Woman, Dog in Georgia Now Also a Search for Older Hiker on Same Path" on 4 January 2008.

On Meredith Emerson's Disappearance

Carey Kish has an outdoors news blog at and his 4 January 2008 entry is titled simply "On Blood Mountain." Kish expresses the fear and countering wish of all of us:
"But I fear the worst.

"The A.T. down south has had much too much of its share of sad tales like this, mostly involving women hikers, who innocently walk into the woods and end up dead, often at the hands of a fellow (male) hiker.

"Yes, statistically I suppose, the incidents are few and far between, but each becomes such a high profile affair that it seems more frequent than it really is.

"Nonetheless, it happens, and it scares the hell out of me. And probably you too.

"You live, you hike, you take your chances. You trust in others. Most times that's OK.

"Let's hope to dear God that this story has a good ending and Meredith Emerson walks out of the north Georgia woods alive real soon."

Friday, January 04, 2008

Barry Veden Hikes and Writes

Amy Lavalley, writing in the Chicago Post-Tribune on 3 January 2008 under the headline "Author chronicles adventures on Appalachian Trail," describes the new book by Appalachian Trail hiker Barry Veden.

Veden's book "is 'Coming of Age on the Appalachian Trail,' recounting his experiences hiking the trail solo." I'm not sure about the 'coming of age' part of the title, since Veden is 64, recently retired, and only started hiking on the Trail in the 1990s.

More curious, however, is that this hiking narrative comes from the pen of a man of whom Lavalley writes that
"almost every year, he's hiked another section of the trail, usually spending about a week. He travels about 10 miles a day, a pretty good average, he said, for someone his age, and goes in the early spring, when he won't see other hikers."
And then
"Veden estimates he's walked about 600 miles of the trail, which stretches almost 2,200 miles. He hasn't hiked it in a few years; his daughter lives in Denver, so he's been hiking in Colorado.

"This spring, though, he plans to head back with a friend."

Pittsfield Reads Bryson

Pittsfield, Massachusetts community book reading of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods is highlighted in the Berkshire Eagle Online under the 3 January 2008 headline "City book club; Pittsfield residents will share Appalachian adventure," in the article by staff writer Amy Carr.

Meredith Emerson Missing

The disappearance of hiker Meredith Emerson in northern Georgia, near Blood Mountain and the Appalachian Trail has fostered a lot of activity, much interest, and numerous news stories. The stories include:

One from WXIA channel 9 TV news in Colorado (Emerson's home state), "Person of interest named in case of missing hiker" posted by Jeffrey Wolf on 3 January 2008.

A second from the United Press International titled "Police seek man seen with missing hiker" also on 3 January 2008 at 5:53 pm. IT cites a CNN broadcast.

And Debbie Gilbert's story in the Gaineesville (GA) Times of 4 January 2008 at 4:04 am, titled "Search goes on for hiker; Missing Buford woman last seen New Year’s Day"

It's been in the single digits, snowy, and very windy. Police are still looking for the man seen talking with Emerson on the trail.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Arizonan Set on Speed Hiking

"Tucson man looking to break world record" is the headline on David Marino's article in the 2 January 2008 issue of the KVOA News 4 web site from Tucson, AZ.

The speedster in question is Lonnie Owens.

The record: fastest hike of the Appalachian Trail.

Owens, who had planned to hike the AT with his mother in 2000 (until she passed away in 1998), wants to shatter the 47 1/2 day land speed record by hiking the Trail in 30 days. Says Owens, "I was born in Tennessee, so walking in the mountains is nothing."

He figures on starting at Springer on 1 May.

Hiker Meredith Emerson Missing

George Chidi writes in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on 2 January 2008 under the headline "Police seek 'person of interest' in case of missing Buford woman; GBI joins the search, water bottle and dog leash belonging to woman found on trail" about the disappearance of and search for Buford, GA resident Meredith Hope Emerson.

Emerson was last seen hiking on the Freeman Trail near Blood Mountain, GA (and the Appalachian Trail) on New Year's Day with her dog. A 'person of interest' has been identified: an older man wearing a yellow jacket identified as Gary Michael Hilton.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2004 Thru-Hiker Heading to Triple Crown

Rick Laney's story titled "Playing ‘save the toes’: Stranded hiker returns to Maryville" in the Daily Times ("serving Maryville, Alcoa, and Blount County Tennessee") dated 30 December 2007 describes Bert Emmerson's recent southbound Continental Divide Trail hike that ground to a halt in a 4 day frost-biting snow storm. He'd started in Montana on 15 June, and had hoped to finish by Christmas. The weather delay has put his completion off until April or May.

Anyway, Emmerson knows what he's doing:
"During his first year of retirement, Emmerson hiked the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. The next year, he hiked the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail. He didn’t schedule any long-distance hikes for 2006, but started planning his Continental Divide Trail trek for 2007."
Emmerson's got a website detailing his hike.

Tara Janisch Speaks

There's going to be a talk by AT thru hiker Tara Janisch on 11 January 2008 according to the Southtown Star, a part of the Chicago Sun-Times news group. The announcement is in the 30 December 2007 list of upcoming events, and reads as follows:
"An evening with a hiker Thorn Creek naturalist Tara Janisch will recount her six-and-a-half month trek through the Appalachian Trail from 7 to 9 p.m. Jan. 11 for participants age 16 and older at Thorn Creek Nature Center, 247 Monee Road, Park Forest. Cost is $5. Registration: (708) 747-6320."
The announcements don't say when she and her husband thru-hiked.

Grandma Gatewood Trail

The Akron Beacon Journal's Bob Downing has a 30 December 2007 article titled "Hocking Hills - Ohio's wonderland; Hocking Hills is year-round getaway with waterfalls, gorges, caves and 24 miles of spectacular hiking trails". It's about the southeast Ohio state park named Hocking Hills. It sounds like a pretty neat place.

Talking about the hiking there in the park, Downing writes:
"If you are ambitious, you can hike from Old Man's Cave to Cedar Falls and back. It is a six-mile round-trip on the popular Grandma Gatewood Trail. Add six more miles and you can hike from Cedar Falls to Ash Cave and back.

"Ohioan Emma Gatewood was born in 1887 and died in 1973 and began hiking at the age of 67. She had 11 children and 23 grandchildren. She hiked the Oregon Trail once and the Appalachian Trail three times. She was the first woman to hike the Appalachian Trail alone in 1955.

"This section of the Buckeye Trail was one of her favorites. It was designated a National Recreation Trail and named after her in 1979. It is also part of the federal North Country Trail and the American Discovery Trail."
Remembering our forebears is a good way to end one year and start the next.

Hopeful Maine Hikers

Emmet Meara's lifestyle column in the Bangor Daily News of 29 December 2007 is titled "Emmet Meara: Writer's own 'bucket list' can barely hold water." Meara writes about trying to write a 'bucket list' (after the recent movie with its list of things to do before one 'kicks the bucket').

Somewhere in the middle of the column, Meara writes:
"Naturally, every male (I don’t know about women) in Maine dreams about walking the Appalachian Trail, at least when no erotic dreams about Keira Knightley are available. But wait. I can barely walk downtown (and back) these days. That trail looks like months of agony, at least at the pace I would set. Maybe I will drive the Appalachian Trail. I have a four-wheel-drive truck, you know."
But that begs the question of whether these hopeful hikers want to go southbound and leave Maine, or whether they'll want to start in Georgia and hike homeward.