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.