The Amerithon is Complete

I have to admit I did a better job walking than I did blogging.

My last update on my Amerithon Challenge was on July 17th. I started this walking challenge on August 1, 2019 – a challenge of walking the distance between San Francisco to Washington D.C. (3,521 miles). I hiked my miles mostly in Ohio, but I got a number of good hikes in West Virginia and some good vacation miles in Georgia. On my last blog post, I had accumulated 3,107 miles to ward the goal leaving 414 miles to the finish line.

I was anxious to see how far I was able to walk in a year (knowing that I would not be done). I took note of two specific dates: the end of 52 weeks and the end of 366 days (accounting for the leap year). At the end of 52 weeks, I was at 3,252.79 miles with just a little more than 268 miles left to go. Two days later, at the end of the day on July 31, I had added 18.4 more miles so I ended my full calendar year at 3,271.19 miles.

Week 53 (July 30- August 5) produced 58.98 miles. I began to see the end in sight and so I walked 61 miles in Week 54 (August 6-12), then 74.94 miles in Week 55, and completed my challenge in Week 56 with 73.29 miles. The breaking of the invisible tape was August 26, 2020. I was pretty excited. There was no crowd cheering, no confetti thrown in the air, no brass band blowing fanfares of victory, but I liked it better basking in the quietness of the day, in the outdoors with fresh air in my lungs and gratitude to God for giving me the health to accomplish the challenge. My wonderful daughter threw a family celebration party a few days later and I wore for medal and Amerithon shirt – great fun!

For those of you who like statistics, let me share some. If those who don’t like all the numbers, just skip to the last paragraph. Reviewing my walking distances, my longest daily walk was 18.4 miles on October 9. It was the only day I reached the 18-mile level. I had one 17-mile day (9/23); two 16-mile treks; five walks that were in the 15-mile range; nine hikes that were between 14 and 15 miles; and thirteen of my walks were in the 13-mile range. The rest of my walks were under 13. I had 20 zero days during the 56 weeks, averaged 9 miles a day and 63 miles a week. I averaged between 60 and 70 miles a week 23 times; I surpassed the 70-mile level during 13 weeks; and clipped the 80-mile marker once (80.6 miles) from March 26 to April 1. These are not great numbers and no records were broken, but for an old man with a receding, gray hairline. I was pleased.

For those who skipped the boring numbers, let me just conclude my thoughts with a brief reflection on the miles and hours spent during the last 56 weeks. I have seen each of the wonderful seasons of the year – the warm breezes of spring ushering in the new life after the biting winter temperatures and clouds often filled with snow; the hot summer suns demanding shorts and t-shirts and lots of drinking water while providing a glorious array of wild flowers and wild life; the coolness of fall with the kaleidoscope change of the leaves. I walked pre- and post-COVID. I listened to many audiobooks and listened to the sounds of the forest. I hiked alone, I walked with my family, I walked with my precious wife, and I even met a few folks along the way. I experienced the peace of God and was awed by His creation and grace.

Thanks for joining me on this challenge. What’s next? I am not sure yet, but I have some ideas. Maybe hiking 2,021 miles in 2021; maybe a 2,000 mile prayer walk; maybe a thru-hike of the Buckeye Trail; maybe finishing another book (or two); maybe all of the above plus some unknown adventures that God has planned for me.

Categories: Amerithon, Ohio, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 9 Comments

Amerithon: Weeks 45 – 50

I have been so busy walking and enjoying the incredible summer weather, that I have ignored my blog. It has been six weeks since my last update on my Amerithon. In case you are just tuning in, I started an Amerithon on August 1, 2019, with the hope of hiking or walking the distance from California to Washing DC (3,521 miles). I am walking wherever I am (mostly in Ohio) and tracking my miles with the goal of accumulating 3,521 miles.

Hiking with Rocky at Sugarcreek

At my last blog post, I had just completed Week 44 ending on May 13. I had walked 2,713.57 miles leaving me 807.34 miles to complete the challenge. I have been chipping away during my period of silence and have broken through some significant barriers during the past six weeks. I am drawing near to week 52 and my anniversary date of August 1. I will not be at the finish line by then, but I will be ahead of my schedule to complete the challenge before December 2020.

Let me give you the quick run down on my progress:

Week 45: Total miles for the week – 57.48

Total accumulated miles – 2771.05

Miles left in the Challenge – 749.95

Week 46: Total miles for the week – 67.17

Total accumulated miles – 2838.22

Miles left in the Challenge – 682.78

Week 47: Total miles for the week – 69.67

Total accumulated miles – 2907.89

Miles left in the Challenge – 613.11

Week 48: Total miles for the week – 72.7

Total accumulated miles – 2980.59

Miles left in the Challenge – 540.41

Week 49: Total miles for the week – 54.4

Total accumulated miles – 3034.99

Miles left in the Challenge – 486.01

Week 50: Total miles for the week – 72.1

Total accumulated miles – 3107.09

Miles left in the Challenge – 413.91

It was great to break through the 3,000 mile marker during Week 49, and I am looking forward to getting under the 400-mile marker left to go this coming week – just 14 miles to go.

I am a little over 88% of the way! I have enjoyed watching the summer weather bring color to the neighborhood and the woods. I have thrived in the warm temperatures and have been able to stay in good physical shape. God is so faithful.

I have shared some photos on this post taken during the past six weeks, but there is not a chronological order to them – just some good memories of the summer so far.

Categories: Amerithon, Hiking, Local Hikes, Ohio, Uncategorized, West Virginia | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Amerithon: Weeks 42 – 44

The last three weeks of May were kind to my legs and my attitude in my continuing journey to log in the miles needed to cross the United States from San Francisco to Washington D.C. (3,521 miles). I am not actually hiking across the country – only logging in the mileage. I am hiking and walking around my neighborhood, the local Metroparks, and any vacation spots that I might be visiting. So, I get to eat my meals at home, sleep in my comfortable bed, see my incredible wife every day, and stay home when the storms visit my community.

I started this walking challenge on August 1, 2019, so I am only one month away from my anniversary date. My goal was (and is) to complete my journey prior to the end of 2020.

Week 42 (May 14 – 20) was a week filled with some rain that impacted my mileage a bit, although I have some good rainwear and managed to dodge a few drops. I ended the week with 55.72 miles.

Week 43 (May 21 – 27) was the best of the three weeks. I was able to walk over 13 miles on two different days and totaled 79 miles for the week.

Week 44 (May 28 – June 3) was another beautiful week with warm temperatures and adequate sunshine to allow an accumulation of 71 miles (including a 16.7-mile day on Thursday, May 28)

At the end of week 44, I have been blessed to have walked 2,713.57 miles which is just over 77% of the journey – that leaves 807.43 miles to the finish line.  

On the virtual map provided by the Amerithon, I have hiked in ten different states so far (California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, the corner of Kentucky, and Tennessee) with just three additional state changes before the finish : a dip down into North Carolina then back into Tennessee, and finally the long trek in Virginia up to the goal of Washington D.C.

The local hikes have been filled with spring and summer flowers – irises, poppies, and other pretties (you can tell that I am a botanist and an expert in house plants – all I know for sure, is that flowers are gorgeous).  I am also amazed that the trees and how many different shades of green they share with me – it is almost like the trees have a fingerprint – a unique color to add to the creation.

Categories: Amerithon, Local Hikes, Ohio | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

My Amerithon: Weeks 38, 39, 40, & 41

I didn’t realize it has been four weeks since I have checked in with my progress on my Amerithon (walking the distance from San Francisco to Washington, DC. (3,521 miles). I started my challenge on August 1, 2019, and have just completed week 41 on May 13, 2020.

Hiker or Bandit?

Despite the isolation (or maybe cause of it), I have had four productive weeks:

Week 38 (April 16-22) yielded 68.69 miles

Week 39 (April 23-29) I hiked 62.8 miles;

Week 40 (April 30-May 6) I logged in 65.8 miles;

and Week 41 (May 7-13) I walked 72.7 miles

To share some more exciting (or boring, depending on your interest in numbers) stats: I have accumulated 2,507.84 miles so far and I have 1,013.16 miles to the finish line. If my calculator works correctly I am just over 71% of the distance across the USA. I am truly excited about logging the next 14 miles and breaking through the final 1,000-mile marker.

Most of my walking is around the neighborhood but I have had some nice walks with my wife a.k.a. Rocky in some local metro-parks and a state park near Yellow Springs.  Even in isolation, Rocky and I have gotten together with our daughter Bethany and walked (6 feet apart) at Patty Allyn park in Springboro just sharing about life and enjoying some fresh air.

Categories: Amerithon, Local Hikes, Rocky, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

My Amerithon: Weeks 36 and 37

I started the Amerithon on August 1, 2019, with the goal of walking the number of miles across the United States from San Francisco to Washington DC.(3,251 miles) Run the Edge, an online exercise site, has this program of tracking your progress as you log in your daily miles. My goal is to complete the challenge on or before December 31, 2020. I have thoroughly enjoyed the adventure and trying to stay motivated for the long haul.

Amerithon Medal

It has been two weeks since I have updated my blog on my status. I have made it through Week 36 (April 2-8) and Week 37 (April 9-15). I managed, despite the world-wide pandemic, to log in over 70 miles each week. I walked 78 miles during Week 36 and followed that with 72.66 miles during Week 37. I hit a personal milestone on April 10th. I hit the 2,190-mile marker which is the distance of my beloved Appalachian Trail. I had the blessing of thru-hiking that long trail in 2014 and this was a special treat to duplicate the miles – the terrain was quite different and I did not have to traverse the White Mountains, the Mahoosuc Notch, or the 100-mile Wilderness but it is still a long way.

By the end of Week 37 I reached mile 2,237 with just 1,284 miles to go. I also complete an Amerithon Badge on April 11, the Space Capsule Badge, named for one of the quirkiest landmarks on the trail – an old abandoned cement mixer out in the middle-of-nowehere, Oklahoma, painted to look like a NASA spacecraft. I am almost to the Oklahoma/Missouri border

Capsule or Mixer?

My wife, Cathy (a.k.a. Rocky) and I enjoyed several nice walks on a bike path along the Great Miami River near Franklin. During one of our walks, we took a stroll into Franklin. Rocky (followed by a suspicious individual) posed with one of the golden lions guarding both ends of the 2nd Street Bridge leading into the city. The lions were a gift from J.N. Shipman Company of Cincinnati in 1873. We were also impressed with two historic buildings. The first is the Eden Thirkield House, built in 1848 by riverboat captain, Henry C. Storm and later sold to Thirkield who owned the Thirkield Department Store. Currently, it houses the Museum of Spiritual Art. The second building, known by the locals as the “Alamo” is a unique concrete home designed by attorney, Patrick Gaynor. Patrick was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1848 and was practicing law in Franklin by 1884.

We saw the incredible murals painted on the side of the downtown buildings.

Spring comes and goes in Ohio but the trees are beautiful.

Easter was celebrated in isolation, but messages of the resurrection appear in unique ways around the neighborhood.

Photo of the capsule found at https://1063thebuzz.com/whats-the-story-with-this-nasa-space-capsule-on-the-side-of-the-road-in-oklahoma/

Categories: Amerithon, Franklin, Ohio, Local Hikes, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rocky | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Amerithon Week 35 (March 26-April 1)

Week 35 was another good one for my Amerithon. It is the first week since I began this challenge back in August 2019 that I accumulated 80 miles (80.6 to be more accurate). The weather has been outstanding, so I have been out-walking. Virtually, I have earned the Bread Basket Badge this week as I completed the segment (79 miles) from Great Salt Plains, Oklahoma to Kaw Lake, Oklahoma.

Fortunately, the self-isolation and stay at home mandates have not discouraged walks and outside exercise. I am extremely careful to maintain a healthy distance from other kindred spirits, but it is great to walk, breath fresh air, and listen to a good audiobook.

Rocky and I have been taking some lovely walks together to soak up some sunshine. We have visited Rice Field (close to Franklin, OH) and hiked some miles on the bike path a couple of times. Our first day this week was after a rain and the river was extremely high and had even flooded its banks at one point closing the path. Two days later we returned and the water had retreated allowing us to enjoy the rest of the path.

Rice Field Path – Two days later

Spring has arrived! The temperatures are still chilly in the mornings, but when the sun shines, it feels so good to be walking. The trees and flowers are exploding with happiness to see the snow leave and feel the ground warm with God’s thermal power.

Categories: Amerithon, Hiking, Ohio, Rice Field, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Audiobooks – Part 4

If you like to listen to music or enjoy reading an audiobook while you walk, I would offer a few of my recent favorite audiobooks for your consideration. I try to mix things up a bit in my selections while I walk, so some genres might interest you more than others.

Sci Fi

Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate

This sci-fi, love story is filled with adventure and intrigue. Genetic engineering on steroids creates the setting for this well-written young adult novel. One female character is boy crazy and throws sexual innuendos with just about every sentence she speaks. This is really the only negative aspect of the book, which I did find rather annoying. I would give it a PG-13 rating with a major emphasis on “Guidance.”

Profanity/foul language was minimal. A dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship was just off to the side of center within the plot. Good character development and strong dialog made this an enjoyable story to hear (audiobook).

Thriller

The Defense by Steve Cavanagh

The Russian mob, a con artist turned lawyer, a kidnapped little girl, and powerful courtroom drama combine to make a pretty good thriller. Although somewhat unbelievable, this novel is logical and well designed. I was more impressed with the trial gymnastics (I like the dynamics and strategy of courtroom law) than I was at the complex web of crime. I found the novel filled with good suspense and my interest level was high from cover to cover. I look forward to reading more from this author.

Children’s/ Young Adult Literature

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

This incredible children’s novel is a real gem. I am not sure how the Newbery Award was not bestowed upon this offering in 1961, but I give it 5 stars.

Old Dan and Little Ann (two red-bone hounds) and a great young boy, Billy, star in this classic story of raccoon hunting and the love between dogs and master. There are some incidents of animal violence and some sensitive material within the text that might cause some angst among younger children, but a quick review by parents should provide the discernment needed.

I so appreciated the role of parents and grandfather in the life of the young lad. Billy also had great respect and sensitivity to his family, including his two sisters. The strong Christian ethic and emphasis upon prayer were tastefully included to add a thread of spirituality to the story. If you haven’t read this book, or if it has been several years since you enjoy this story, I would encourage you to pick it up and enjoy the adventure.

Cover Photos found at https://www.goodreads.com/

Categories: Audiobooks, Hiking | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Snapshot Sad to Go Home

Carolyn, trail name Snapshot, has decided to come off the Appalachian Trail and postpone her attempt to thru-hike the trail from Georgia to Maine. It was a hard and sad, heartfelt decision. I have modified her online journal but tried to use her own words to explain her heart.

Snapshot

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

“I’m still trying to process all my feelings. The reality of remaining on trail was just not possible. Despite the enormous hurt in my heart, my head knows it was the right and responsible thing to do….. “

“The Covid-19 crisis has currently changed the world. Every single person has been affected by this pandemic. This is not just about me.  It’s a scary time for all of us, as these waters are uncharted and so unpredictable.” 

“My thoughts go to all of the health care workers putting their lives in danger. I think of all the small business that were forced to close, whose livelihood depends on customers and clients. I feel for all of the kids whose school year has been cut short and those once- in-a -lifetime events: proms, graduations, class trips have all been canceled. I’m sad for of all the couples who won’t be able to hold their dream weddings. I’m sad for all the elderly who live alone and are now evermore isolated.  And I cry for all who have died and those who have lost loved ones due to this horrible virus.  So much sadness, hurt and disappointment.”   

“Though, I realize not being able to continue my journey of walking through the woods, is minor and insignificant with all that humanity is dealing with, truth is, I can’t help feeling sorry for myself.”

“….for the first few days, the biggest concern was the availability of resupplies and support on trail. Slowly, we started getting word that stores, restaurants, hostels and shuttles were beginning to close. Support that hikers rely on was becoming limited and yet, I still wanted to push on, not wanting, or ready, to believe that my thru-hike could realistically be over.” 

“Word continued to come in with more and more closures and cancellations. The NOC closed, the ATC Headquarters closed, Fontana Damn Lodge closed. At first, they closed the Smokey Mt National Park to everything but foot traffic but within days, it was shut down to that also, leaving no way to hike that section of the trail. Maryland and New Jersey closed all shelters and privies on the AT indefinitely. Trail Days in Damascus was cancelled….”

“The ATC was asking us to comply with their request to leave the trail.  For them to ask this of us was huge. The trail is what they are all about. Promoting the trail is what they do so this was not something to take lightly. We as hikers need to come into the small towns along the trail to resupply, regroup and recharge by getting a hot shower, washing our clothes, eating a hot and hearty meal, etc.  Possibly exposing those we come in contact within town, or town folk unknowingly exposing us, would potentially spread the virus.”

“For now, I’ll take one day at a time and find gratitude in knowing my family members are all healthy. I will continue to hold on to hope that I will, when this is all over, return to the trail that has, for a long time, held a huge part of my heart.”

Snapshot ~

I hope that Snapshot and the rest of the thru-hikers will be able to get back on the trail before the hiking season passes them by – maybe a flip-flop or a SOBO (southbound) adventure would still be possible. The most important thing right now is to be safe and if necessary, plan for another day/year.

Categories: 2020 Hikers, Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, COVID-19, Fontana Dam, Nantahala Outdoor Center, Snapshot, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Amerithon: A Week of Records!

Week 34 (March 19-March 25) of my Amerithon was a week filled with milestones. Let me highlight three.

First, I had a birthday on March 19th. It was my 70th and I am so blessed to be able to hike and enjoy the outdoors. This has little to do with the Amerithon and more about a date on the calendar, but it is a personal milestone nonetheless and I am so thankful for God’s faithfulness in my life.

Second, I broke the 2,000-mile marker, ending the week with an accumulated total of 2,006.58 miles. There are certain barriers that so satisfying to conquer and the 2,000-mile maker is one of those for me. Over 34 weeks, I have been blessed to averaged just over 59 miles per week (about 8.4 miles per day). The weather has been so good over this Ohio winter providing so many great days for walking. My minimum goal (to complete the challenge by the end of 2020) was set at 47.6 miles per week, so I am more than pleased with my progress. Just 1,515 miles to go!

Third, I earned an Amerithon Badge (The Great Plains Badge). It represents the longest segment on the walk across the United States (154 miles) from Dodge City, Kansas to Great Salt Plains in Oklahoma. The Amerithon is broken up onto 36 segments to help motivate the participants. The Great Plains Badge represents the 20th segment and I am glad to get out of Kansas and into the Sooner State of Oklahoma. The state of the Bullfrog, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, the Sand Bass, the Oklahoma Rose, Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans), the Honey Bee, the American Bison, the Rosebud, and the Mountain Boomer

With the closing of school because of the coronavirus, Rocky (a substitute teacher) and I have had more time to hike together. We spent a great day at Grant Park and several different bike paths around the area. It has been good to be able to spend time with my special hiking buddy and precious wife.

We have seen some amazing wildlife as spring begins to reign again: some real and some concrete. We saw a rare albino squirrel and something I had never seen before. Two vultures in the treetops spreading their wings to dry in the morning sun. They were far away so my attempts at documentation are pretty fuzzy.

We were blessed with some April showers in March which caused the creeks to rise, the rapids to tumble with more authority, and the fog to create its eerie atmosphere.

I leave you today with some encouraging messages left on the sidewalks of my neighborhood.

Cake Photo http://themindmatter.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Birthday+Cake+lots+of+candles.jpg

Redbud Photo: https://oklahoman.com/article/5406519/redbuds-colorful-display-in-full-bloom-across-oklahoma

2000 Miles Photo: https://raymountpsychologist.com/made-the-2000-mile-marker-stratton-maine/

Rose, Boomer, Flycatcher, and Bison Photos:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oklahoma

Categories: 2,000 Miles, Amerithon, COVID-19, Oklahoma | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Nimble Off the Appalachian Trail For a While

Nimble

Friday, March 20, 2020

Jack Spurrier, trail name Nimble, writes from Fontana Dam that he is taking four or five days off the trail due to the Corona Virus. In addition to the virus, he hopes to rest his sore foot and find another pair of more comfortable hiking boots. He is headed home for some TLC but hopes to be back to resume his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.

I think the trail towns will begin to close down and food/resupply will more difficult to obtain thus making the hike an even bigger challenge to complete. In my opinion, it will be difficult to return until the virus is contained. The AT is a safe place to hike with lots of open spaces and fresh air, but the congregating in the shelters, hostels, and campsites might make the environment rather risky.

My prayers are with the hikers and the important decisions they will need to make for their safety and the well being of others on the trail.

Nimble Leaving the NOC in North Carolina
Categories: 2020 Hikers, Appalachian Trail, COVID-19, Fontana Dam, Nimble, North Carolina, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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