Dulcigal is a Thru-Hiker


Dulcigal in Georgia

Dulcigal, Karla Redman, has completed her thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail!

Dulcigal began her journey on March 19 and hiked to her finish line on October 29 for a total of 231 days. I have never personally met Karla, but my admiration of her character, faith, and determination grew with every post of her journal. I counted her “out” at the end of June when she suffered a serious bout of kidney stones on the trail. She landed in the hospital including two days in the ICU with kidney and liver failure and septic shock. An additional three days were spent in the hospital before she was able to travel back to her home in Georgia.

But Dulcigal was not done with her dream. After a short two-week recovery, she returned to the trail. With her two sons at her side for a few days, she continued hiking with praise to God’s faithfulness and provision. It became apparent to her that she would most likely not make it to Mount Katahdin in Maine (the northern terminus of the AT) before the threat of winter closed the mountain, so she decided to attempt a flip-flop. She hiked to the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border, then caught a bus to Hanover, New Hampshire. From Hanover, she hiked over the White Mountains, through Mahoosuc Notch, and across the Hundred Mile Wilderness in Maine. She summited Katahdin and stood atop the brown sign on September 22. She then traveled back to Hanover and hiked south-bound

Dulcigal on Top of Katahdin

Dulcigal on Top of Katahdin

to Delaware Water Gap on the PA/NJ state border. Her finish line was a hostel in Delaware Water Gap located in the Church of the Mountain.

I have included a few lines from the last post on her online journal. Karla writes,

“2,189.1 miles — I’m still trying to digest it all. Today was fantastic…better than I ever expected. The weather was beautiful, the walk was extremely easy and relaxing, and the fun with my 2 sons, Danielle (a family friend), and a few thru-hikers in the area, was phenomenal. The joy of actually finishing the trail is indescribable, but I can understand the bittersweet thoughts as well. It will take some adjusting to adapt to “normal” life again, I am sure….. Though this has been the most challenging life experience, it has been the most rewarding. The question I was asked most often was, “Are you hiking all by yourself?” I was never alone. Other than the many other hikers and trail volunteers I had the privilege to meet and socialize with on the trail, my Lord and Savior was with me every step of the way. I never felt alone. I cherished my talks with God and fellowship with the trail community.”

Karla, the Thru-Hiker

Karla, the Thru-Hiker

I sent Dulcigal a short note of congratulations and my standing ovation for her diligence and bravery. I was surprised to get a response back from her so soon after her completion. Her kind response reflects her humility and the character that enables a person to hike for over 230 days and 2,186 miles through fourteen different states:

“Hi David.  I’m in the lost phase of just getting home and figuring out what to do next….it will be an adjustment for sure.  Although I was so excited about finishing, I’m already missing the woods.  😦  I plan to get out and do some short hikes nearby to feed my desire to being out in nature.  Yes, the reward of being able to complete such a journey is the ultimate gift.  You understand because you have been there, done that.  Thank you for following the journey and your inspiration as well!!   Karla”

My congratulations to Karla Redman – Dulcigal.

Categories: 100 Mile Wilderness, Appalachian Trail, Delaware Water Gap, Dulcigal, Mahoosuc Notch, Maine, Mount Katahdin, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, The Whites, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ducigal Still on the Move in October



Dulcigal from Georgia is still on the Appalachian Trail. She decided to attempt a flip-flop, leaving the Appalachian Trail on the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border, catching a bus to New Hampshire, hiking from Hanover, NH to Katahdin in Maine, traveling back to New Hampshire, and hiking southbound (SOBO) back to Delaware Water Gap: the PA/NJ border town where she started the flip. She is close to completing her journey. Let me share a summary of the two posts she made in the last ten days.

On October 14th, she was about 207 miles from her finish line, having hiked just under 2,000 miles of the AT. Her adventure through Massachusetts exploded with the beauty of fall and she embraced the magnificence of the mountains and the tranquility of the lakes. Her evenings are getting colder, but she is finding refuge in bunkrooms, shelters and lodges along the way. Dulcigal spent the night of the 14th in Salisbury, Connecticut after resupplying, washing clothes and resting some tired legs. She was projecting a completion date of October 29th in Delaware Water Gap, PA.

Six days later (October 20th), Dulcigal reported that she had logged 2, 078.9 miles on the trail – just 110 miles left of dulcigal-on-katahdinthe trek. She hiked through Connecticut in three days and was posting from New York. She was looking forward to the zoo tomorrow (the AT goes right through the middle of the zoo and all thru-hikers get free admission to the park) and the climb over Bear Mountain. Her spirits are high as she traverses the last leg of her “hike of a life-time.”

Dulcigal, Karla Redmon who has dreamed of hiking the AT for 10 years, is experiencing the thrill of the end. Her posts are short but her enthusiasm is cautiously building as the Pennsylvania border approaches. “It looks like I am still on target to finish on Oct. 29th in Delaware Water Gap. I am counting down the miles and the days!! We are having a celebration for sure…Lord willing, if nothing happens… Can you tell I’m getting excited??? :-)”

I will be anxious to share Karla’s posts and her celebration on the 29th. It won’t be a climb up Katahdin, but there is a great bridge leading from New Jersey to Pennsylvania that should make a great photo finish.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Connecticut, Dulcigal, Georgia, Mount Katahdin, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Peas (Big Cypress and Animal) Climb Katahdin

Two Peas at Springer Mt. GA

Two Peas at Springer Mt. GA

Big Cypress and his wife, Moonbeam, started their adventure of hiking the Appalachian Trail on February 14 as The Two Peas, dreaming of summiting Mount Katahdin together in the fall of 2016. Moonbeam experienced a very serious fall, breaking her femur and ending her hike. However, Big Cypress returned with his son (Animal) and continued his northbound trek to Maine. October 6th brought the father and son to the end of the trail. Moonbeam was there, driving a support vehicle along the way. I love this story of diligence and victory. The thru-hike took 236 days!

My last update on The Two Peas found them on September 18 about a day’s hike away from entering the last state on the trail, and 283 miles of rugged trail in Maine. Moonbeam kept such a nice detailed journal so I thought I would take a little extra space and provide a quick synopsis of the end of this wonderful story.

9/19/16: Carlo Col shelter in Maine to Grafton Notch State Park/ME 26 for 14.1 miles

The 19th involved Mahoosuc Notch – the most difficult mile of the AT. Then they went on to Mahoosuc Arm at 3770′. Several times that day Big Cypress & Animal heard…“you can’t or you shouldn’t do the notch & arm on the same day.” Well, hind sight, they wouldn’t, but they did and lived to tell the tale. Several falls were taken. Animal thought for sure dad was gonna need a helicopter off the trail. But after a short rest, and great surprise by both, off they went down the path. Big said, “God took care of me on that one, cuz I know I should’ve been all broken.”

9/20/16: Grafton Notch to East B Hill Road for 10.3 miles.

Hiking Highlights: Baldpate West & East peaks, Dunn Notch and Falls. Slept in until about 6:30. Pancakes, coffee – Big Cypress & Animal hit the trail about 9am. After a five hour hike, Moonbeam prepared hot water for foot soaking.

9/21/16: Start at East B Hill Rd to South Arm Rd. for 10.1 miles

Hiking Highlights: Wyman Mtn 2920′ down to Sawyer Notch at 1095′ and Moody Mtn at 2440′ then South Arm Rd. They tented in backyard of Little Red Hen. Church bells were our alarm clock this morning.

9/22/16: South Arm Rd to ME 17 Oquossoc ME for 13.2 miles.

Highlights today: South Arm Rd, Old Blue Mtn., Bemis Mtn, Bemis Mtn Second Peak, Bemis Stream. The guys headed out about 8 am. After eggs on tortillas for breakfast.

9/23/16: Left at 7:45 am. ME 17/Height of Land view to ME 4 for 13.2 miles then continued on to Redington Campsite 8.0 miles for 21.2 Miles today!

Hiking Highlights: Moxie Pond, Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to, Little Swift River Pond, South Pond and after lunch Eddy Pond 2643′, up to Saddleback Mountain 4120′, The Horn 4021′, and sleeping at Redington Campsite – arrived at 5:30 pm

9/24/16:  Redington Campsite mile to Caribou Valley Rd/Caribou Pond Rd for 15.9 miles,

Hiking Highlights: Saddleback Mtn Junior, Orbeton Stream, Sluice Brook, Lone Mountain, Mt Abraham, Spaulding Mtn, and finally Sugarloaf Mountain – arrived at 7:45 pm. Big Cypress & Animal camped out last night and had a tough night with freezing temperatures.

2000 mile mark

2000 mile mark

9/25/16: Caribou Valley Rd to ME 27 (at AT mile 2000.9) for 8.3 miles

Reached the 2000 mile goal today! The Crocker Cirque campsite & stream, then up to South Crocker Mountain & North Crocker Mtn. with a well-deserved Nero & Zero at the Stratton Motel. Sunny, 38° chilly & very windy.

9/26/16: Great night sleep and Breakfast at The Looney Moose….big hiker meal & chocolate chip pancakes….delicious!! Trail planning and TV binge watching, Criminal Minds on ION channel.

9/27/16: ME 27 to East Flagstaff Rd for 16.7 miles

Hiking Highlights of today’s hike: Stratton Brook Pond, South Horn, Bigelow Mtn., Avery Peak, Little Bigelow Mtn, to East Flagstaff Rd. The hikers arrived at about 4 pm. Big Cypress, Animal and Moonbeam had dinner, and a walk down to Flagstaff Lake. After a foot soaking, it was off to bed at about 5:30-ish.

9/28/16:  East Flagstaff Rd to Otter Pond Rd for 16.9 miles

Hiking Highlights for today: West Carry Pond & Lean To, East Carry Pond, Scott Rd., Carrying Place Stream, Pierce Pond. The guys arrived early at about 230-3 pm. Trail meals and soaked feet. Hit the hay about 5 pm.

9/29/16: Otter Pond Rd to Kennebec River 3 miles then to Moxie Pond/Troutdale Rd for 15.3 miles

Hiking Highlights: Canoe across the Kennebec River, Pleasant Pond Mtn and nice hiking day. This morning they splurged and had pancakes at Harrison’s Camp. The hikers arrived at about 3:30, in good spirits and both wanting a foot bath tonight. They had a small campfire and dinner before

Moxie Pond

Moxie Pond

9/30/16: Moxie Pond to Lake Hebron parking area for 21.5 miles today.

Highlights: Moxie Bald Mountain and several stream & the East Branch of the Piscatiquis River. Supposed to ford this river, but all hikers have said it’s a rock hop, as water levels are crazy low. Big & Animal were on trail by 7 am. and completed the 20+ mile trek at 4:00 pm.

10/1/16: Lake Hebron mile to Otter Pond Near Long Pond Stream Lean-to mile 2089 for 18.6 miles

Big Cypress & Animal were on the trail about 7 am. After a 4 pancake breakfast whipped up by Moonbeam. The hikers’ voices were heard again at 4:30. Snacks, foot soaking, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches were on the menu. Bed by 6 pm. “Hard to believe we are under 100 miles left, 99.2 to be exact.”

Animal met with an angry group of ground nesting yellow jackets. He suffered about a dozen stings but Moonbeam was on the rescue with anti-itch cream & anti-histamine Crisis averted.

10/2/16: Otter Pond to Katahdin Ironworks Rd for 14.5 miles.

Hiking Highlights: Barren Ledges, Barren Mtn., Fourth Mtn., Mt Three and a Half, Third Mtn. Columbus Mtn,, and Chairback Mtn.

Big Cypress and Animal were off at a few minutes after 7. Animal arrived at 2:15, Big Cypress arrived about 30 minutes later.

10/3/16: KI Rd  to Jo-Mary Rd for 28.7 miles.

Only about in the 50’s for high temp. Moonbeam arrived at Jo-Mary Rd. Paid $12 for herself & truck, plus $10 for 2 nights’ sleep out on the roads in the area. Tacos for dinner.

10/4/16:  Jo-Mary Rd to Pollywog Stream for 23.5 miles

Hiking Highlights: Nahmakanta Lake, then Nesuntabunt Mountain, Pollywog Gorge. Big miles yesterday and big miles day tomorrow!!

10/5/16: Pollywog Stream to Katahdin Stream Campground @ Baxter Park for 27.4 miles.

Biggest Highlight today: Rainbow Ledges with a view of the finish line of Baxter Peak and Mount Katahdin.

two-peas-katahdin10/6/16: SUMMIT DAY – Awake at 4:30, anxious for the day! On the trail at 6 am. Animal was hiker #1087 and Big Cypress #1088 to summit Katahdin. Cold morning (30-40 degrees) but close to 70 for the high today. Clear & sunny & gorgeous. For the accomplishment, Animal received a special card for completing his 582 miles. The trek down the mountain ended about 1:30 pm. The words of Moonbeam are quite appropriate:

1:30 pm, Big Cypress logged in the trail register that party of two returned from the summit. So….when I saw a brown hat & blue shirt through the trees, I knew it was Big. I started walking towards him and I completely lost it, I was a blubbering mess. Just about hysterical!! We hugged for several minutes and I regained my composer. We sat & talked & Big Cypress ate, while we waited for Animal.

When Animal finally arrived, I greeted him up the trail with a fist bump and congratulations!! Ok, so Big and I were talking about this last 5 miles. “If I didn’t have to go up there in order to finish I wouldn’t have, I would have turned around & went down.” “It’s a dangerous mountain & precarious edges.” Hats Off and DEEP bow to those who have reached the sign for that famous finish picture and Conquered their fear of heights etc….

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Mahoosuc Notch, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Thru-Hike, Two Peas | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Fat Hen and Rooster Talon – Successful Thru-hikers

fat-hen-on-katahdinThis spunky couple from the state of New York hiked together through the 14 states of the Appalachian Trail and made their final climb up Mount Katahdin on October 9, 2016. Beginning their adventure from Springer Mountain, Georgia on March 19, 2016, Dano and Becky hiked NOBO (north bound) for 205 days (206 if you want to include the approach trail up from Amicalola Falls to Springer Mountain).

Since I last reported their progress on September 13, Fat Hen (Dano) and Rooster Talon (Becky) made two journal posts. One on September 27 from the beginning of the 100 mile wilderness in Maine, and the second on October 9, sharing their victory on top of the big mountain in Baxter State Park, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

The journey through northern New Hampshire and Maine, with the exception of a few foggy days, was clear and beautiful revealing magnificent vistas with 100+ miles of visibility. Any hiker reflection referencing this part of the trail must include a statement about Mahoosuc Notch and the Arm that follows. The experience brought a mixed review form the couple and their post captured their take on the most difficult mile on the AT, “We allotted about 2 hours for it and it took us 3. The first 2 hours were adventurous, climbing under, over and through huge rocks, challenging and unforgiving… The last hour was the worst night hike of our lives, treacherous and dangerous, frustrating and slippery. We stumbled out, into a campsite and spent the evening talking about unnecessary risks.”

They stopped in Caratunk, Maine and like all good hikers searched for a good meal. They found one in the form of a foot high cheeseburger called ‘the exterminator.’ It consisted of “two, 1 pound patties of beef, cheese, fried pickles, a battered-fried chicken breast, battered and fried mac n’ cheese, onion rings, bacon, and barbecue sauce on 3 buns surrounded by spiced potato wedges… One of the best burgers I’ve had in my life!” 

The weather turned cold in Maine and the night temperatures fluctuated down at the freezing mark, but they were determined to complete the adventure and October 5th brought them face to face with Mount Katahdin. The 8.5 mile hike to the summit concluded about 12:30 in the afternoon and the picture at the brown sign shows a beautiful day with clear skies and a beautiful view from the summit.

Fat Hen and Rooster Talon

Fat Hen and Rooster Talon

As they reflected back over their experience they were pleased with the hike they made.

“Our hike didn’t skip an inch. We walked every single step, northbound, from Amicalola GA to the summit of Mt. Katahdin in ME…. with absolutely NO ‘yellow blazing’ (taking a shuttle to skip hard or ‘boring’ parts) and no ‘reverse slack packing’ (leaving all your gear at a hostel and getting a ride north to walk difficult sections easier in reverse… to better explain: a ride to the top of a challenging climb so you can walk down hill without any of your gear). Everyone who hikes this trail does so for their own reasons and in their own way, but for Becky and I, it was important not to rely on tricks and gimmicks, but to tackle this honestly, together.”

Rooster Talon and Fat Hen – Congratulations on your successful thru-hike and the integrity of your journey and thanks for recording and sharing your journal online! I applaud your efforts, diligence, and enthusiasm.

Categories: Amicalola Falls, Appalachian Trail, Fat Hen, Mahoosuc Notch, Maine, Mount Katahdin, New Hampshire, NOBO, Rooster Talon, Springer Mountain, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Update from the Trail – Hen, Dulcigal, Peas

Let me provide a quick update on my three remaining thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail that I have been following since day 1 of their adventures: Fat Hen & Rooster Talon (Dano and Beckie from New York), Dulcigal (Karla from Georgia) and the Two Peas: Big Cypress and Animal (Robert and Shawn from Florida).

Fat Hen in the Whites

Fat Hen in the Whites

Hen and Talon, Dano and Beckie last posted on September 13. They do not post very often so it was good to hear from them just last week. They have completed the White Mountains and have crossed into Maine. They shared that the weather through the Whites was almost perfect. With the exception of a little fog, their days were gorgeous and the mountain vistas took their breath away. They seem extremely excited about still being on the trail and having conquered 13 out of the 14 states of the Appalachian Trail adventure.

Dulcigal hiking up Mahoosuc Arm

Dulcigal hiking up Mahoosuc Arm

Dulcigal posted from Monson, Maine on September 14. Kara is making a flip-flop thru-hike, so once she reaches Katahdin, she will go back to Hanover, New Hampshire, and finish walking south to Delaware Water Gap on the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey to complete the journey. She is about to enter the 100 Mile Wilderness. She and several other hikers have arranged a food drop about half way through the wilderness so food should not be a major factor for them. Dulcigal should arrive at Baxter State Park and the brown sign atop Katahdin within a week.

The Two Peas (Big Cypress and his son, Animal) have continued the hiking experience after Moonbeam broke her leg and needed to “retire” from the trail. Shawn has taken his mom spot as the second pea and the two men are booking it through New England. The boys had a tough go of it over Mount Washington. The weather was too severe on the day they reached the summit to continue [dense fog and 85 mph wind with gusts and as high 102 mph], so Moonbeam, who is supporting her men by following the hikers in a truck,

The New Two Peas in Gorham, NH

The New Two Peas in Gorham, NH

drove the scary, foggy road to the top and “rescued” them. After a nail-biting but successful road trip down off the summit, the trio arrived at Gorham, New Hampshire. They zeroed the next day in Gorham and then drove back the following morning to the summit of Mount Washington.  A two-day hike from the summit allowed the two men arrive back at Gorham on September 18th.  The Two Peas are now about a day’s hike away from entering the last state on the trail, and 283 miles of rugged trail in Maine.

The weather forecast for Millinocket, Maine, (the nearest town to Katahdin), seems very good for the next 15 days – mid 60’s during the day and low 40’s at night. This is great news for those trying to finish before winter makes the trek very treacherous.

Categories: 100 Mile Wilderness, Appalachian Trail, Class of 2016, Dulcigal, Fat Hen, Florida, Georgia, Hanover, Hiking, Maine, Mount Katahdin, New Hampshire, Rooster Talon, The Whites, Thru-Hike, Two Peas | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scarfoot – So Close!

Scarfot's Office Space

Scarfot’s Office Space

Scarfoot is a thru-hiker that does not provide his real name in his journal, but his real life before the trail was based in Boston, Massachusetts, where he worked at an investment firm. He decided to exchange his cubical for the canopy of the Appalachian Trail. This choice was not an impulsive decision, but rather one of advanced planning and preparation.

Scarfoot began by losing 50 pounds and addressing several other physical challenges. The Bostonian found himself with major allergies: tree, grass and weed pollen, mold, dust mites, dog and cat – pretty hard to avoid such things on the trail while occasionally staying in hostels/cheap hotels. He also discovered that he was allergic to bees and wasps. So Scarfoot found some allergy treatments – four shots at a time. Scarfoot also struggled with planter fasciitis causing severe heal pain and making hiking very difficult. He attempted to counter this challenge with custom orthotics and Strassburg socks (a sock designed to be worn at night that keeps the plantar fascia in a stretched position, helping to increase flexibility in the morning).

[Just a quick aside – according to the Mayo Clinic, plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. Plantar fasciitis commonly causes stabbing pain that usually occurs with your very first steps in the morning. Once your foot limbers up, the pain of plantar fasciitis normally decreases. It is particularly common in runners, people who are overweight, and those who wear shoes with inadequate support. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/plantar-fasciitis/basics/definition/con-20025664 ]

Scarfoot was also concerned about some emotional issues. He suffered from panic attacks and found that sleeping alone in the woods and major heights caused times of intense angst. This is quite a challenge for those considering a thru-hike of the AT. He purchased custom-fitted ear plugs for sleeping. In addition, Scarfoot is married to Ellie who expressed concern with his adventure. Although supportive of her husband, she worried for his safety. So, Scarfoot took a wilderness first-aid course and purchased SPOT, a Satellite GPS Messenger, used by many hikers to reach emergency responders, check-in with family or friends, share GPS coordinates and track the route of the adventure – all at the push of a button and at the cost of about $150.

Atop Mount Madison

Atop Mount Madison

Scarfoot researched trail gear for three years and was attracted to the ultralight approach to long- distance hiking. He organized and reorganized his summer pack until he reached a backpack weight of only 10 pounds (My pack weight varied but I think my lightest burden was 25 pounds).

Hikes of preparation were also part of Scarfoot’s three-year training program. Year one included a four-day hike in Massachusetts; year two embraced a ten-day hike from the Hudson River, New York to the Massachusetts Turnpike just above Upper Goose Pond (about 145 miles); and during year he three logged a 135-mile, 7-day hike through most of Vermont.

Scarfoot was ready. His last day at work April 6th and he was on the trail on April 10. He hiked the 8.8 mile approach trail from Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia on April 9th and began his actual AT miles from Springer Mountain on Sunday the 10th. All the training and preparation enable Scarfoot to make very good time hiking though the Appalachian Trail.

Then came this surprising post on Day 140 of his adventure, August 27th,

“Well this is it. No summit photo. No finish…. The trail becomes very technical with big boulders above tree line. Very dangerous and not what I signed up for. One more mile of very nasty trail remained then the ‘tablelands’. In the meantime it follows a ridge with shear drops behind and both sides in places. I could do it physically but would have hated every moment of it. I got what I wanted out of this. I was in it for the hike and that last 2.3 miles was mountain climbing to me not hiking. At the hostel met a woman who broke 4 ribs yesterday on Baxter. Seams I made the right choice at least for me.”

With 2.3 miles left to complete the journey, Scarfoot turns around. Over half way up Mount Katahdin, his hike was over. I continue to look for another post that shares a successful return and climb to the brown sign, but nothing appears.

scarfootI personally found the climb out of Palmerton, Pennsylvania a much more technical climb than Katahdin and yet Scarfoot journals (on June 6, 2016), “Rocks getting worse and lasting longer between breaks. Got stuck in the middle of a 40 person Korean hiking club on the rockiest toughest climb yet over the superfund site. Real rock scramble.”

I also wondered what his experience was over the Whites and into the first 100 miles of Maine. I wondered how he responded over Mount Washington, another nice climb on the trail. He simply mentions on August 3, “Was warm, sunny and practically no wind so fantastic weather.” Two days later (August 5), he climbs Mount Madison and descends into Pinkham Notch. His comments: Tough day for 13 miles. Two 2000 foot climbs plus the smaller ones. Very steep. The last down was incredible. Easily the hardest steepest down so far.

I also checked his journal on August 8th, the day he reached Mahoosuc Notch (one of the most difficult miles on the trail). He had completed the Notch and the major climb up Mahoosuc Arm by noon. The notch only took Scarfoot 1 hour and 45 minutes to navigate, compared to my 3 hours and 20 minutes. He noted, “The arm was very steep. Took 9 hours to do 12 miles today.”

I feel so badly for Scarfoot. He was so close and he conquered so much. He made the decision that he felt best and I admire him for his convictions. May he realize that he is indeed a thru-hiker. The sign is not the goal – the journey is the reward. He shared that he walked away from the trail with what he wanted – the true meaning of Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH).

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Mahoosuc Notch, Massachusetts, Mount Katahdin, Mount Madison, Mount Washington, Scarfoot, The Whites, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Class of 2106 Continues to Hike


Rowdy in 2014

I’d like to share an up-date on the thru-hiking class of 2016 as they attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail. I have been following the online journals of thru-hikers posted on trailjournals.com. There are now 214 thru-hikes that I have been able to loosely monitor throughout this hiking season. I have included in my personal research those who started their journey between January and July 2016.

Of the 214 attempts, 142 hikers have ended their hikes short of the goal of completion (66%). There are many specific reasons for ending the journey but I tried to categorize them into general trends. Unfortunately, 62 of the 142 just stopped journaling without any reason for the absence. If a hiker has not submitted an entry for eight weeks, I have taken them off my active list. Prior to the end of the season, I will double check to see if someone just went silent for two months and then resurfaced as an active hiker. Thirty-nine hikes ended for physical reasons (ankles, knees, illness) and thirty-two hikers came off the trail for mental and emotional reason (homesick, tired of the trail, discouragement). Three hikers ran out of the time that they had available to accomplish the trek and six others posted a good-bye entry without giving a specific reason for ending their attempt.

Cheryl and Kelly July, 2016

Cheryl and Kelly July, 2016

On the other side of the coin, 21 hikers have reached Mount Katahdin in Maine and have raised their hands in victory atop the Brown sign on the norther terminus of the AT (10%). The average journey has taken 158 days. The longest trek logged in at 209 days (Slip Knot – Matt McCoy from Vermont) and the fastest journey took just 114 days (Coach – Ken Durham from San Diego, California). Of those that have completed the trail so far, one started in January, five began in February, twelve stepped out in March and three initiated their thru-hikes in April.

Currently, there are still 51 hikers maintaining an online journal. Some are very close to completion other still lack significant mileage. Weather will soon become a major factor for those headed NOBO (northbound). Katahdin will begin to experience major winter weather around the middle of October. Several of the 51 remaining hikers are SOBO hikers (those who started in Maine and are hiking south bound) or those who have decided to make a flip-flop attempt (they have interrupted a NOBO hike, traveled to Maine and are now heading back as SOBO hikers to their point of departure). These hikers have more time for completion before the weather becomes a major detergent.

Rooster Talon and Fat Hen

Rooster Talon and Fat Hen

I have been closely following several thru-hikers: The Two Peas, Dulcigal, and Fat Hen & Rooster Talon. All of them are still on the trail and putting in miles. I will blog about their progress later this week. I will also share, in the next couple of days, a story of a thru-hiker that came up 5 miles short of completing the hike.

Statistically over the years, about 25% of those who start a thru-hike complete the journey. I am anxious to see where this group of online journalists falls in this overall statistic. If all 51 current hikers reach the finish line, they will enable the group to reach the 33.6% level. For all who hike the Appalachian Trail, their lives are touched forever; for all those who will learn from the experience, their adversity turns into adventure and their lives are transformed by the power of God’s creation.

Check Out My Book

Check Out My Book

If you like my blog, and I hope you do, check out my book, Hike It Forward, on Amazon.com. Click on the book cover and it will take you to my adventure on the AT.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Dulcigal, Fat Hen, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Thru-Hike, Two Peas | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Update on the 2016 Thru-Hikers

Wow, how the start of a new school year takes time. I have been so focused on the start of school with teacher orientation, student schedules, and administrative details that my blog had to take second place for a bit.

Let me catch you up on some of the thru-hikers still active on the Appalachian Trail. Fat Hen and Rooster Talon are in Vermont; Dulcigal has flip flopped and has just completed the White Mountains in New Hampshire; and Big Cypress (of the Two Peas) is back on the trail with his youngest son at his side and Moonbeam providing trail support.

fat hen in Vermont Cabin

Fat Hen and Rooster Talon

Fat Hen and Rooster Talon – Dan and Beckie reported in on August 22 from the Yellow Deli Hostel in Rutland, Vermont. They posted on their 5 month anniversary on the trail. Beckie’s parents met them on the trail for a gear exchange, sending home the summer gear and loading up for the colder weather in the Whites and the wilderness of Maine. Cold weather gear adds weight to the pack but it is imperative for a comfortable hike through the northern states. In addition to the needed gear, they enjoyed some good food, a Chinese buffet, a gift of banana bread and chocolate cookies from home. They were headed out in high spirits to enter New Hampshire and the challenges of the White Mountains, including ever changing weather atop Mount Washington. Today on the summit of Mount Washington – 52 degrees, 30 mph winds, fog with 100% humidity, visibility 1/16 of a mile.

Dulci on Mt Washingtom

Dulci on Mt Washingtom

Dulcigal – Karla decided to flip flop her thru-hike attempt. She left Delaware Water Gap, a small community located on the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey on August 11. She took a bus ride to New York City and then transferred buses for a five hour ride to New Hampshire. Her last post, August 27, finds her almost completing the White Mountains and looking forward to the grand state of Maine. She experienced the thrill and the adversity of the Whites. Here is a portion of her August 25th journal,

“I started off from Crawford Notch getting into Webster Cliffs and Mt. Webster. It was a beautiful morning with some winds but nothing serious. As I was climbing, the weather began to turn for the worse. When I reached the cliffs, I was faced with 70+ mph winds, dark clouds, and rain. The wind was blowing me into the mountain and not off the mountain, which was good! I was having to stay low to the trail to keep from being blown away. I was not properly dressed either. My hands and body were frozen. I finally made it down the mountain to the Mizpah Hut. The caregiver was kind enough to allow me to stay there for the night as a work-for-stay…I was very thankful to be inside out of the cold and wind! I found out after getting there that I somehow missed the “memo” about a storm coming through the area. I wondered why I didn’t see many hikers that day.”

Moonbeam and Big Cypress

Moonbeam and Big Cypress

Big Cypress – The Two Peas (Big Cypress and Moonbeam) began their thru-hike on February 14. Unfortunately, on June 27 Moonbeam experienced a serious fall resulting in a broken femur. They had just entered the state of Vermont when the accident occurred. Moonbeam had to be air lifted to a hospital in Albany, New York and surgery was performed to correct the severe break. After these many weeks off, Big Cypress has decided to complete the hike. On August 26, he arrived back on the trail with his youngest son, Shawn. Moonbeam will be providing trail support as her boys make their way north toward Katahdin. I am so glad to see the return of the Two Peas in just a slightly different pod. I will keep your posted as the hike continues.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Dulcigal, Fat Hen, Hiking, Maine, Mount Washington, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rooster Talon, The Whites, Thru-Hike, Two Peas, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GA-ME: SlipKnot – Matt McCoy

SlipKnot – Matt McCoy

January 8, 2016 Started at Springer Mountain

August 3, 2016 Climbed the Summit of Mount Katahdin

Total Days of Adventure – 209

Slip KnotOf the pilgrims that I am following on trailjournals.com, the latest hiker to summit Katahdin after a successful thru-hike from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Maine is Matt McCoy from Vermont. His trail name is SlipKnot and he is the only hiker that started his online journal in January that made it to Maine. Thus far his 209 days on the trail is the longest thru-hike that I have traced.  I am happy for him as he joins the Appalachian Trail Thru-hiker Class of 2016!

SlipKnot purposely selected early January in his thru-hike strategy because he was genuinely excited about experiencing some winter-hiking. He was not disappointed as the snow caused him to initially skip the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in the later part of January. Again, in the middle of February, a winter storm forced him to skip over the forty-five miles of trail between Erwin and Roan Mountain in the state of Tennessee. He faithfully traveled back to these two areas in early March to hike these high-elevation areas.

His most compelling reason for starting in January was simply to provide the maximum amount of time to reach Katahdin. Matt is retired from an electric company in Vermont so he used his lack of employment responsibilities to slow the pace of his hike and provide some breaks along the way. He averaged 10.5 miles a day. He did put in some SlipKnot.January snowlong days, trekking somewhere between 19 to 21 miles per day on fifteen occasions. His longest day of 21.1 miles on June 4 while hiking in Massachusetts. He took two rather extended breaks from the trail (about a week each time) to visit family and enjoy a much needed respite in the comfort of home, sweet home.

Slip Knot on KatahdinHis trail name? Matt explains his trail name, SlipKnot, as reflecting three significant meanings for him. First, it’s characteristic of how he ties a bowline. Second, before the AT hike experience, Matt had never slipped while hiking. And third, SlipKnot is a fan of the heavy metal band of the same name. The second aspect of his name (never slipping) only lasted 15 days into the adventure when a trip root brought him to his knees. The Appalachian Trail seems pretty zealous to provide some humility for hikers along the way.

SlipKnot summited Mount Katahdin with his youngest daughter. In his last post he was careful to thank his supportive wife and two older daughters for their encouragement throughout the seven months process. Congratulations to SlipKnot on his amazing accomplishment!

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Erwin, GSMNP, Maine, Massachusetts, Mount Katahdin, Slip Knot, Snow, Springer Mountain, Tennessee, Thru-Hike, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NOWA on the Summit

NOWA  -Doug Bonacum 

Started in Georgia March 14, 2016

Summited Katahdin in Maine on July 23, 2016

Total Days of the Adventure – 132

NOWA.SummitDoug Bonacum is a highly educated man with a background in chemical engineering, graduating from the University of New Hampshire in 1983. After having served in the US Submarine Force for eight years (where he was responsible for ship and weapons’ safety and nuclear power plant operations) and then in the health care industry for over 22 years with Kaiser Permanente, Doug Bonacum is now making a career change to teaching middle school math in the fall. He plans to begin a teaching credential program in September, 2016, at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California.

On Friday March 11, NOWA retired from his position as Kaiser Permanente’s vice president of quality, safety and resource stewardship. On Sunday, March 13, he kissed his wife, Kim, goodbye. And on Monday March, 14, Doug began his attempt of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail needing to complete the trail before beginning his schooling in the fall.

NOWA at GA/NC boarder

NOWA at GA/NC boarder

Doug Bonacum took on an acronym as his trail name. NOWA stands for No One Walks Alone, the name of his fund-raising team to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s research. Doug’s father, Jim, died of complications from the illness in 2014. While he dedicated this entire journey to those with Alzheimer’s and those caring for them, on June 20, 2016 (the summer solstice), NOWA participated in the Alzheimer’s Association ‘”The Longest Day.”  The Longest Day is an event to honor the strength, passion and endurance of those facing Alzheimer’s disease.  From sunrise to sunset, NOWA hiked to raise an understanding for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.

NOWA entered his Appalachian Trail venture with little previous hiking experience. “My longest overnight trip is one night, and I probably hiked about 6 miles in the process,” Bonacum told an East Bay California Newspaper, “It was around Lake Chabot.” However, Doug instituted an intense physical routine as he prepared for his thru-hike.  Inside the Ordway Building (aka, One Kaiser Plaza), it was easy to catch a glimpse of NOWA in the stairwells as he took a page from his Navy “running drills.” Toting a 40-pound backpack, he hiked his way from the third to the 23rd floor and back numerous times per week. He also worked out six to seven days a week in a local gym. And my, did that preparation pay off when he hit the trail.

NOWA 7.23.16For additional inspiration, NOWA looked no further than to his wife, Kim, and their four children, Kyle, Alex, Grace and Liam. On June 20, Kim and Doug’s sister, Beth, joined him on the trail for The Longest Day event. He carried some special photos of his dad provided by another sister, Leslie. In his journal post for this day he shares a bit of his perspective for this effort to address Alzheimer’s,

“It’s an honor everyday to carry the list of names I have [been] given of people who are currently living with Alzheimer’s or who have died from it. But today was particularly special. I wish the best to anyone reading this who has or had a loved one with Alzheimer’s. May you find joy in the memories of that person and peace in the present.”

NOWA’s family joined him on the Saturday morning of the Mount Katahdin climb to make the 4200 foot ascent up the mountain. The last 5 miles of trail was celebrated together and the picture on the summit reflects the team effort needed to accomplish a successful thru-hike. No one walks alone… even on a solo, 2,186 mile thru-hike.


Photos and journal quotes from http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=522545

Categories: Alzheimer's, Appalachian Trail, California, Georgia, Kaiser Permanente, Maine, Mount Katahdin, NOWA, Thru-Hike, US Submarine Force | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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