Encounter on a Gravel Road

It was day thirty-nine of my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2014, and I was on my way to Chestnut Knob Shelter, 20 miles north of Atkins, Virginia. The last 4.5 miles to the shelter involved quite a climb (2,100 feet of elevation change) along Chestnut Ridge. Before beginning the last leg of the day, I decided to take off my pack, eat a granola bar, and enjoy a nice swallow of mountain water. I sat beside a gravel road (USFS 222) allowing my feet to rest before demanding they carry me up the hillside.

I heard the truck before I saw it. The driver rolled down the passenger-side window and he stopped the vehicle. He asked me if I was thru-hiking. I told him I was meeting a friend at the top of the ridge, remembering the warning in many thru-hiker books to beware of locals asking if you’re were hiking alone. He then asked me if I had seen any other trucks on this road. I said that I hadn’t but that I had only arrived five minutes before he pulled up.

He went on to tell me that he was out driving around trying to find his son. His son had left the house in a rush and the dad did not where his son was going. The man was greatly concerned because his wife had left the home recently and now his son was having major troubles with his girlfriend. He wished me luck on my hike and I expressed my hope that he would safely find his son. As he drove off, I quickly prayed for both the dad and the son.

Just a few minutes after he left, a truck traveling in the opposite direction came flying up the gravel road. The young driver zoomed right past me without looking to the left or right. Shortly afterward, dad returned in his truck. As he sped by, he gave me a thumbs-up. I loaded up and began my climb, hoping that the son would stop and allow his dad to talk to him. Part of my time climbing the hill involved asking God to intervene and bring peace to the family.

This is one of those stories that doesn’t have a known, final chapter or a written ending of reconciliation. I never saw the man again, but I sure prayed for him and his son. I recorded the encounter in my journal and each time I reflect on this entry, I remember this concerned father and his son trying to escape the stress of his day.  It reminds me of the need to seek reconciliation and the love that surrounds us even in the darkness of anxiety and disappointment. It also reminds me of God’s relentless pursuit of his children even when we are driving as fast as possible in the wrong direction, filled with angst and discouragement. There are times when we all need to stop and allow the Father to comfort us.

 

Photo of truck – simulation found at http://www.fourwheeler.com/project-vehicles/129-1204-want-to-wheel-for-a-living/photo-01.html
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Thru-Hike, Virginia | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Aullwood and Englewood Hikes

This past Friday Rocky and I took off for another section of our thru-hike of the Five Rivers MetroParks. The park system has established The Every Trail MetroPark Challenge and Cathy and I are putting some legs to this great idea. Friday’s goal was to hike the Garden Trail at Aullwood MetroPark as well as the West location and South location of the Englewood MetroPark.

One of the biggest challenges of the day was finding the Aullwood MetroPark. Our trusty GPS took us directly to the Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm. We pulled into the parking lot off Allwood Road which indicated a fee to enjoy their beautiful property. This did not ring true to us, so we turned around and drove back up the road to the farm entrance hoping to find the garden trail. I decided to inquire inside before trying to discover the trailhead. It was there that I discovered the that Center and the Farm were not part of the MetroPark system. A very kind young lady gave me perfect directions to the Garden Trail. Rocky and I drove back down passed the Center and finally saw the MetroPark Sign and parking lot leading to our destination.

It was well worth the hunt. The garden trail is part of the 31-acre estate of Marie Aull, who donated her home and the gardens to the MetroParks in 1977. Mrs. Aull was a strong advocate for conservation and assisted in the founding of Five Rivers MetroParks. The approach trail from the parking area follows the Stillwater River, crosses over Aullwood Road, and then leads into the actual gardens. The well-maintain path branches off to the right allowing the hiker to experience a quiet trail through the woodlands of the property.

Rocky and I have hiked all the blazed trails at the East location of the Englewood MetroPark before.  Although we will need to conquer these trails again for this challenge, our goal for this day was to visit the West Park and the South Park locations. We have never hiked these areas before, so we were excited to explore. We stopped at West Park first and found a great little hike. We took the northern entrance, parked close to the Lawwill Shelter, and walked the northern loop. Since the trails are not marked, we did our best to explore the area. We then followed the bike path toward East Park. Rocky was spot on as she noticed where the hiking trail cut off to the left of the paved path. We really enjoyed the trail down along the Stillwater River. Ducks were swimming in the water and the gentle current added to the charm of the path. When we got to the end of the path, it merged again with the bike path. It looked like the loop returned along the bikeway but we selected to retrace out steps to enjoy the river walk.

The South Park might have been my favorite hike of the day. It provided a variety of terrain – from meadow to hills to dales. There was just enough elevation change to make the trail interesting. It was certainly not a major challenge and a path that even a novice hiker would enjoy. There is something about a prairie meadow that appeals to my hiking spirit. In the spring and summer, the meadow explodes with the many colors of wildflowers; but even in the fall and winter when the wildflowers are gone and the brown, frost-covered stems remain the openness of the field and the crispness of the air provides a feeling of freedom and clarity.

Categories: Aullwood MetroPark, Englewood MetroPark, Local Hikes, MetroPark, Rocky, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Huffman and Eastwood Parks

The Blue Blaze of the Buckeye Trail

Rocky and I took advantage of a beautiful November day last week to explore both the Eastwood MetroPark and the Huffman MetroPark as part of our thru-hike of the Dayton MetroPark System.  Although the hikes were very different, we enjoyed both settings and the sun quickly warmed the day for a comfortable hike in the woods.

The trails at Eastwood are just south of Eastwood Lake, a mile-long, 185-acre man-made body of water. It was completed in the early 1970s and leased to the MetroPark in 1992. The lake is a popular spot for boating and fishing and the Ohio Division of Wildlife stocks the waters on a regular basis.

The northern loop of the hiking trails at Eastwood follows the Mad River. It is a beautiful stroll along this fast-moving river inviting kayakers to try their skills. There is easy access to the river at the far northeast corner of the park and paddlers, if they desire, can travel 4.5 miles down to RiverScape MetroPark in downtown Dayton. Rocky and I forgot our paddles, so we just enjoyed the walk along the riverbank. This section of the loop trail is also part of the Buckeye Trail, the 1440-mile continuous loop around the entire state of Ohio and the North Country Trail, which spans seven states and boasts of 4,600 miles.

The biggest difficulty of the hike was finding the trail. With the paths being unmarked (other than the

Kayak rapids

Buckeye and North Country Trails) it was easy to be confused with bike paths, paved park roads and grassy areas that seemed just to dead end. I think we hiked more than four miles to cover the 3 miles of actual trails, but we thoroughly enjoyed the fresh air and lovely setting.

Rocky and I hopped in our chariot and, within ten minutes, we arrived at Huffman MetroPark, just off Route 4. The park sits to the northeast of Huffman Dam, which was built after the flood of 1913 to protect the Miami Valley. In the summer of 1919 while workers were constructing an outlet tunnel for the dam, workers unearth a giant trilobite fossil (14 ½ inches by 10 ½ inches) which is still on display at the Smithsonian in Washing D.C. as one of the largest complete trilobites ever found.  We looked for its mother along the way…. without success.

Huffman MetroPark

The gentile path around the west side of Huffman Lake was a leisurely walk on leaf-covered trails. Coming out of the woods, we encountered a large open area on the

Along Huffman Dam

back side of the dam. The three long tiers of straight stretches just below the dam were treeless and we could see the entire half-mile distance from end to end. We hiked back and forth three times before entering back into the tree line toward Huffman Lake. After a short distance, we had completed the loop and arrived back at our car.

Two more parks off the list, but a lot more miles to come.

Categories: Buckeye Trail, Eastwood MetroPark, Huffman MetroPark, Local Hikes, MetroPark, Ohio, Rocky, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Day with the Horses

215Grayson Highlands State Park (GHSP), located in Virginia along the Appalachian Trail about 30 miles north of Damascus, Virginia, is the home of the wild ponies. I looked forward to hiking through this park from the first moment I heard about it. Every book I read about the AT made mention of an encounter with the horses as the thru-hiker made the journey through the highlands.

In my mind’s eye, it was a place of gentle meadows with tall grasses and an occasional apple tree. The highlands should have revealed rolling hills boasting of lush green moors and the distant call of bagpipes and Scottish tenor drums played with soft mallets. I imagined a cool breeze blowing across my face as I followed the narrow path through the fields of wild ponies, stopping to stroke the neck of colt or filly, or gazing at mare with her foal close by her side.

216In reality, my thru-hike of 2014 through the GHSP was significantly different. There was no gentle meadow but rather a rocky trail over rugged terrain. There was no cool breeze but rather a blazing sun that made me glad for my long-brimmed hat. The canopy of trees had opened to reveal not lush green foliage but a strenuous path with lots of elevation change to add to the adventure. I experienced some rock scrambles and some trails richly populated with trip roots and loose rocks. It was not what I was expecting but it was still breathtaking and beautiful in its own way.

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The horses were there! I came upon ten beautiful ponies as I hiked down from Tom Knob Shelter. They greeted me warmly and welcomed me to the highlands. One pony, in particular, walked right up me and put his nose against my chest. I quickly realized that he wanted to eat me or at least lick the salt off my sweat-filled hiking shirt. He took a nibble of my shirt in his mouth, and I rubbed the blaze on his nose, talking is calm tones to quiet his advances and my pounding heart. He decided that salt produced by a 64-year-old thru-hiker was not worth his effort. We parted friends with my shirt in one piece including just a little horse slobber as a free souvenir.

222I did not see too many ponies through the highlands themselves, but close to the end, I took a short side trail and found six or seven ponies – one new born sleeping close to mom. When I arrived at Massie Gap, just south of the park’s northern boundary, I heard a bazaar noise to my left. The trail was a narrow path with tall, five-foot high brushes on either side. Suddenly, a horse trotted by right in front of me, followed by a foal, followed by another adult horse. They did not pause, look at me, or slow down. They reminded me or a snooty church going family arriving late for Sunday school.

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As I made my way through the stiles at the north end of the highlands, I thought I could hear the faint sounds of bagpipes and drums. I continued to walk the trail with hopes of returning to visit the ponies on another day.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Grayson Highlands, Rowdy, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized, Virginia, Wild Ponies | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sugarcreek Finally Complete

SCrrek 3This past Wednesday, November 8, Rocky came home from work and suggested we take a hike in order to complete the trails at Sugarcreek Metropark. We hiked the park several weeks ago and thought we had covered every trail. When we got home to update our log, we noticed that there are two unmarked trails at Sugarcreek included in the thru-hike challenge sponsored by the Five MetroPark System.

It was a little before 4:00 and we knew that the sun would be setting around 5:30. The “falling back” of daylight savings time adds some sunshine to the morning hours, but it sure makes the evenings short. Forty minutes round trip to Sugarcreek would leave fifty minutes to complete the two trails. We knew that one trail (Planted Prairie) was a paved 0.25 mile meadow walk and the other (Big Woods Trail) was on the far side of Sugar Creek itself and about a two-mile round trip hike from the parking lot. As long as we walked our no-nonsense pace, we felt very confidence we would complete the trails without the use of a headlamp.

SCreek 2Since the Planted Prairie Trail was around a wide open meadow, we left this trail for the end of our journey. We headed down the Red Trail, turned right on the Blue Trail and came quickly to the junction of the Big Woods Trail. A series of step steps took us down the creek where we needed to rock hop across the water. However, the recent rains had risen the water levels over top of the large steps. We could easily see the rocks but some of them were under a few inches of stream water. After a short consideration of conditions, we decided to get our feet wet and accomplish our goals. The water was cold and our shoes squeaked after navigating the creek, but a safe ford added to the adventure and the sense of accomplishment. After completing the loop trail, the creek greeted us again with a refreshing footbath.

SCreek 4We really enjoyed the Big Woods Trail. I might have just become my favorite trail at Sugarcreek Metropark. It was a narrow path beginning along the creek and then looping up and down through the forest. I enjoy a little elevation change and this trail delivered a nice climb and descent as it wound around the wooded area. The other trails at Sugarcreek are well traveled and the park is popular to dog-owners and trail runners. The Big Woods Trail is much less traveled and gave the feel of a more private spot.

Within 35 minutes, Rocky and I were back to the shelter at the junction of all the blazed trails and ready to conquer the Painted Prairie. The quick loop around the wheelchair accessible path was enjoyable as we enjoyed the last rays of sunshine before heading back to the parking lot. The sunset on the drive home was golden and reminded us of how fortunate we are to have so many miles of parks in the Dayton area and the lovely opportunities the give us to see the wonders of nature and the beauty of God’s creation.

Categories: Every Trail MetroPark Challenge, Local Hikes, Rocky, Sugar Creek, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Hills & Dales

Hills and Dales 1Sunday afternoon started with a warm breeze and clear skies. By two o’clock, Rocky and I were off to a Metropark for a continuation of our thru-hike of the Five Rivers MetroParks. The parks have developed a program called the Every Trail MetroPark Challenge encouraging hikers to complete all of the trails contained in the metropark system.

Rocky and I have hiked several of the smaller trails, including Sugar Creek and Cox Arboretum, and Sunday’s trails brought us to two short and easy paths at Hills & Dales Metropark off South Patterson Drive in Kettering. There are several parking areas at the park but Rocky and I found a lovely little spot for our Toyota in a lot off Park Road. This parking area rests close to the mid-way point along the Adirondack Trail.  

As we got out of the car, our phones notified us of severe weather coming our in about two hours. Having complete confidence in judging our hiking speed and the accuracy of the trail map, we knew we had ample time to complete our trek of both the Inspiration Point Trail and the Adirondack Trail. Realizing the ambiguity of weather forecasting and the abstract timing of storm fronts, we decided to maintain a faster pace than usual.

Hills and Dales Princess

The Castle with my Lovely Queen

With a map in hand, he headed southeast on the Adirondack Trail. We quickly found out that none of the trails were blazed, so a map became more important than usual for navigation. The trail that led out of the parking area was paved but soon it took us into the woods and a nice leaf-covered footpath guided our way. The trees were beautiful and stretched with branches of yellow and the ground reflected the fallen leaves of autumn. We arrived at the stone tower and my Children’s Book Series, “The Adventures of Princess Polly and Sir William the Brave,”  came to mind with castles and Kings and Queens.

The loop of the Inspiration Point Trail trail begins at the end of the northwest corner of the Adirondack Trail, so Rocky and I traveled toward Inspiration Point when we came to the junction of the two paths. We followed the Inspiration Point Trail until it ended at Oak Knoll Road. As we turned around to retrace our steps we kept a close eye open for the other branch of the trail to complete the loop. It appeared to be blocked off  so we ended up retracing our initial steps all the way back to the Adirondack Trail.

Hills and Dales 2As we hiked back toward the car, the wind began to pick up but the storm could be seen in the far distance. We decided to continue past our parked car and headed toward the northwestern point of the trail. We walked along a gentle trail bordering the community golf course on our left and were surprised to see several golfers trying to complete their rounds before the rains poured on their green fees. We safely arrived at White Oak Camp and the end of Adirondack Trail. Rocky and I were impressed with the well maintain camp and the new playground equipment that seemed to call the names of our four grandchildren that live in Miamisburg. We decided to return some sunny afternoon with the kids for additional fun.

IMG_2323

We also realized that we needed to move on to avoid the coming rains. The return hike to the car was dry, but the precipitation began on the way home and the thunderstorms arrived later that evening with loud claps of thunder and sheets of pounding rain. As I sat in my comfortable living room, reading a book, and listening to the deluge bouncing off my roof, I was very thankful that Rocky and I were not still walking the trail.

Check out my children’s books about a beautiful young princess, Polly would joins her friend, Billy, in a land above the trees filled with adventure and treasure.

Categories: Hills & Dales, Local Hikes, MetroPark, Rocky, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Grey Beard – 82

Gray Beard 1On Thursday, October 26, 2017, Dale “Grey Beard” Sanders set the record for the oldest individual to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (82 years old). Sanders’ long beard is white, but he named himself after a respected Cherokee Indian chief. He began his trek with a series of short hikes from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Winding Stair Gap near Franklin, North Carolina, logging 110 miles . Then on April 3 he began his hike in earnest headed north to Maine.

greybeard,Springer

Grey Beard at Springer Mountain

In an interview with the trek.com, Grey beard shared “I officially started on January 1. I would go hike a little and come back, hike a little more, and come back. I used those miles from Springer to Franklin as shakedown hikes to get myself and my gear ready. I’m at my last stop now, to do a last check with the heart doctor and figure out the last of my gear issues. I’m heading back out on Sunday and should be able to stay out. My goal was to get 100 miles before April 1, and I got that easily.” https://thetrek.co/appalachian-trail/interview-with-grey-beard-attempting-record-for-oldest-at-thru-hiker/

According to another online article in The Sentinel, “Sanders had completed other impressive feats. A couple of years ago, he paddled the length of the Mississippi River. He broke the record for underwater breath-holding in 1959 and was IUSA spearfishing athlete of the year in 1965. But he had never done a hike lasting more than two weeks.” http://www.sentinelsource.com/news/wapo/an–year-old-man-celebrates-after-hiking-the-entire/article_2ac15d82-1ba4-5b20-886d-73a31a3eec61.html. It was in  2015 that he paddled the 2,345-mile Mississippi River on a mission to raise awareness for childhood diabetes. He became the subject of “Source to Sea,” a documentary following his Mississippi journey. Grey Beard’s colorful back-story includes his childhood on a Kentucky tobacco farm, spending some time as a circus acrobat and cotton-candy seller, and a long career as a Parks and Recreation program administrator.

 

greybeard NC BoarderGrey Beard reported that during his thru-hike he fell a hundred times, but one fall on  Kinsman Mountain in New Hampshire was rather serious including internal bleeding. It took two months finally to stop hurting, but with an immediate go-ahead from his doctors, he continued his journey. During the hike, he wore a tracker so people at home could locate his position. When asked in an interview about the details of setting the record, Grey Beard responded “Well, I haven’t done it yet! But yes, if I make it all the way through, I will be the oldest AT thru-hiker. I have plenty of people following along on my journey, and I use a SPOT tracker to share my locations as I go. The GPS will also give me a complete record so I can submit it to whomever when I get done with the trail.”

Sanders, 82, officially became the oldest person to hike the entire trail in a year. He is actually two years older than the trail itself. The AT was officially connected in 1937 as a continuous footpath. At the completion of his thru-hike (a flip-flop adventure that ended in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia) he danced a jig. “I feel euphoric!” he said. “I’m done, and I’m tired. And I can go home.” When asked if he had any words of inspiration for other hikers he simply said, “Keep your chin up and don’t get discouraged! Just put one foot in front of the other and keep hiking. Chin up, spirits up.”

For more information or details check out:

http://www.sentinelsource.com/news/wapo/an–year-old-man-celebrates-after-hiking-the-entire/article_2ac15d82-1ba4-5b20-886d-73a31a3eec61.html
https://thetrek.co/appalachian-trail/interview-with-grey-beard-attempting-record-for-oldest-at-thru-hiker/
Youtube series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttrAoYEysX8

 

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Lee Barry at 81

20140522-131602.jpgThe Appalachian Trail was completed and became a continuous footpath in 1937. One year later, a 15-year-old Boy Scout from New Jersey, Lee Barry, took his first steps on the trail. He, along with other scouts, embarked on a 100-mile hike on the AT.   Lee fashioned his own backpack from ash, hickory and old army web belts. He also made the troop’s waterproof tent from white muslin dipped alum and paraffin.

Sixty-six years later (2004), Barry, now living in Shelby, NC, returned for his last long hike on the Appalachian Trail. With shuttles provided by his wife, Lois, he started his thru-hike on Jan. 2 at the trail’s southern terminus at Springer Mountain, Georgia. He would hike for three weeks and then return home for monthly church council meetings. He completed his hike on November 20 at the age of 81, then the oldest thru-hiker, based on the records kept by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Earl-Shaffer-at-Katahdin-5

Earl Shaffer

Lee Barry’s trail name was “Easy One.” The late Earl Shaffer, the first person (1948) to make a thru-hike, completed his third and final thru-hike in 1998, finishing just before his 80th birthday. Easy One said he was unaware of the age record until partway through the trek.

Easy One (I could not find a photo of him anywhere) finished his first thru-hike in 1996 and completed the distance a second time – section by section from the late 1980s to 2000. Easy One spent much of his first four and half years of retirement climbing mountains and fording rivers on the AT.

Lee served in the Navy during World War II, then worked as an engineer in New York. He continued to hike and climb. He conquered  the 46 highest peaks in the Adirondack Mountains. In 1974, he moved to North Carolina to become the general manager of a local industrial plant. The Blue Ridge Mountains were nearby so he joined the Carolina Mountain Club in Asheville. He climbed the forty mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee that are 6,000 feet and higher,

In 2004, Easy One averaged 10 miles a day during his 220140925-100106.jpg20 day thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail. He reached the summit of Mount Katahdin, Maine, the northern terminus, on Aug. 10th, while ending his flip-flop hike in Sugar Grove, Va, on November 20th.

Easy One only carried the essentials. He took no books, no radio, not even a cell phone. He ate typical trail food prepared with boiling water but he ate no snacks, no cookies, no Snickers (what a boring diet). He didn’t get sick and only suffered a sprain to his right wrist during his entire time on the trail.

What an amazing journey for a man his age. But there is always someone out there ready to break any record. Thirteen years after Easy One’s amazing hike, came Dale, Grey Beard, Sanders from Tennessee. His story is the subject of my next blog.

Details for this blog were found online. For more information regarding Lee Barry’s hike see my source:  http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2005/apr/03/nc-man-81-now-oldest-thru-hiker-to-traverse/
Photo of Earl Shaffer found at http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/tales-from-the-appalachian-trail-34902244/
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Earl Shaffer, Harpers Ferry, Lee Barry, Mount Katahdin, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Heather and Eddie

Mama Duck and EddieHeather Bolint began her thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in June of 2017. She decided to make a SOBO (southbound) journey beginning in Maine in order to complete the trail in the southern state of Georgia in the early winter months. Twelve weeks into her hike, she had reached the border of Pennsylvania and Maryland and literally bumped into friend that would bring her hiking story into national attention. I read this story on line (thedodo.com/on-the-farm/appalachian-trail-hiker-rooster-rescue) and thought it was rather unique so I wanted to post some of the details.

Heather is an animal lover and a self-proclaimed “chicken whisperer,” so when she saw a Polish-crested rooster out in the middle of nowhere, on the trail, miles from houses or roads, she naturally stopped and made a friend who would soon to be her hiking buddy. Bolint knew that the possible survival for the rooster was slim to done with the wilderness predators always looking for a chicken dinner, so she decided to swoop up the rooster in her arms and continue down the trail.

Eddie.MasonHeather named her rooster Eddie (not exactly a creative trail name), but her new buddy seemed to enjoy the journey. The first day, the two hiked 15 mile together past the Mason/Dixon line and into Maryland. The rest of the AT hiking community greeted the bird with interest and many desired a photo shoot with the very unusual, feathery section-hiker. Eddie enjoyed a diet of oatmeal, nuts and apple cores.

Heather (trail name, Mama Duck) needed to get some rest, so she sent up her tent and went to sleep. Eddie joined her in her tent and they slept for two hours. Then the two pilgrims got up at midnight and continued their journey to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Mama Duck was hoping to make it to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy before a predicted rain became a reality making the journey more difficult. Hiking at night would also provide cooler temperatures for the long journey.

Mama Duck and Eddie hiked the 27 miles together to reach the ATC headquarters arriving in the late morning. In two days, they had traveled through three different states (PA, MD, WV) covering over 40 miles together. The headquarters’ staff had never encountered the likes of these two hiking buddies. It is believed that Eddie is the first rooster-section-hiker of the Appalachian Trail.

Eddie at New Home

Mason at his new home

But it was time to find a home for Eddie. Mama Duck discovered an animal shelter in Poolesville, Maryland who was extremely excited to add to their family. One problem: they already had a peacock named Eddie (who would have seen that coming?), so they had to changed the rooster’s name to Mason because he was found very close to the Mason/Dixon line on the trail (I think that is a much better trail name, anyway). Mama Duck drove with Mason to his new home to be sure that her trail friend would fit well into his new community. Once happily settled in his new home, Mason and Heather said their good-byes and Heather returned to Harpers Ferry.

Mama Duck changed her trail name to Mama Cluck and continued down the trail hoping to complete her thru-hike by Christmas.  

Details and Photos found at: https://www.thedodo.com/on-the-farm/appalachian-trail-hiker-rooster-rescue
https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/10/23/hiker-appalchian-trail-carries-lost-rooster-for-miles-safety/Y6Zu8j7sZMYfgdlkQu8WRL/story.html
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Maryland, Mason-Dixon Line, Pennsylvania, Rooster, Uncategorized, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

One Encounter All Day Long

161.JPGDay 24 of my Appalachian Trail thru-hike began at 5:45 am and I was on the trail by 7:00. By the end of the day, I had logged in 21 miles. The thing that made the day rather unusual was my hike of solitude. I had a short resupply in Erwin, Tennessee where I interacted with a few hikers at Uncle Johnny’s Hostel, but the rest of the day, on the trail itself, I only encountered one other hiker until I made camp at Curley Maple Gap Shelter. I enjoy being by myself and I found the peaceful solo-hike in the mountains along the border of  North Carolina and Tennessee refreshing and energizing.

My one encounter on the trail occurred in the morning coming down a hill into Spivey Gap as I was about to cross over US 19. I was gaining on the young hiker in front of me and I did not want to scare her by coming up too fast from behind. I clicked my trekking poles together and started to quietly whistle. She heard my noise, quickly turned around, and smiled. I returned her smile and gave my hiker greeting, “Great day for a hike!” She agreed and we began to walk together until we reached the road.

When we arrived at US 19, I decided I was going to take a break and have a protein bar. I invited her to join me thinking she would most likely decline, but to my surprise, she sat down beside me alongside the road. We began to chat and I learned that she was a section hiker and that she taught English at Anderson University in Indiana. She was quiet and soft spoken and very sweet natured. We talked a little about life and family. I shared about my wife and kids and grand kids. I mentioned that I was an administrator of a Christian School and was hiking to help raise money for student financial aid.

In just a few minutes of conversation, I could tell that we were kindred spirits. She said that she had a page of scriptures that she read everyday and wanted to know if I would like to hear the passage for the day. I immediately said I would love to hear the Bible passage. She read some encouraging words from the book of Psalms. I read for her some lyrics of a contemporary Christian song by Matt Redman, “Standing on this mountain top, looking just how far we’ve come, knowing that for every step, You were with us….Never once did we ever walk alone…You are faithful, God, You are faithful.” By the time the snack was done, I felt I had made a true friend. I gave her my blog information, wished her well, and headed down the trail toward Erwin.

163.JPGAt the end of the day, I reflected on God’s sovereign hand and the meeting of a Christian hiker to encourage me. All day long I saw no one. For 21.1 miles of trail and over 10 hours of hiking, it is amazing to only see one hiker. And then, to discover that the one person I encounter was a Christ-follower was just a special event. Thinking about the meeting, I wondered how many of the encounters I have during a normal day in the real world are really appointments made by God for me to be a source of encouragement to others.   

Steph, my friend from Anderson, commented on my blog several times throughout my adventure to Maine sharing more encouraging words that meant a lot . After returning home to Ohio, we have become Facebook friends. She returns to the Appalachian Trail each year to conquer a section at a time. HIF Cover PublishedI find it amazing to consider how impactful a 20-minute talk can be.

 

Never Once, Matt Redman, 2011:  Chrysalis Music Ltd. Sixsteps Music, Thankyou Music, worshiptogether.com songs
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Erwin, North Carolina, Tennessee, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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