Monthly Archives: July 2015

New Speed Record on the Appalachian Trail

HikeItForward-Final-MediumEat and Run BookScott Jurek is a world-class ultramarathon runner and author of a New York Times bestseller, Eat and Run. He was born in Duluth, Minnesota but now makes his home near Boulder, Colorado. This young man was born in October of 1973, making him forty-one years old. Scott was also the talk of the Appalachian Trail this summer as he set a new speed record for completing the trail. Only Sunday, July 12, he reached the summit of Mount Katahdin in Maine 46 days, eight hours and eight minutes after departing from Springer Mountain in Georgia on May 27, 2015.  He needed to average close to 50 miles a day in order to traverse the 2,189 mile trek.

Jennifer Pharr Davis 7The previous record was held by Jennifer Pharr Davis, set in 2011, with a time of 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes. That’s right, he only beat her time by three hours and twelve minutes! I personally feel each should wear the speed crown. Jennifer hiked the Appalachian trail SOBO (starting in Maine and hiking to Georgia) while Scott ran NOBO (from Springer to Katahdin). The trail has major, but different, challenges depending on the direction of the experience. I advocate for two records: the fastest NOBO hike and the fastest SOBO hike.

Another amazing contrast between these two amazing individuals is Jennifer Pharr Davis almost exclusively hiked the trail involving incredibly long hours each day. Scott Jurek, known as an ultramarathoner, ran a great deal through the fourteen states of the AT. I stand with open mouth when I consider what both of these athletes accomplished. But, for me, there is something especially extraordinary about Jennifer’s walk in the woods.

Unfortunately Scott’s victory on top of Katahdin is not without some controversy generated from Baxter State Park. The time of the hike is based on an honor system and is not a concern for the park, but when Scott Jurek celebrated his ascent of Mount Katahdin, Baxter State Park officials were not pleased with his behavior. Scott was handed three citations for violating park rules during the festivities atop Maine’s iconic peak. The citations were for consuming alcohol within the park, hiking with a group larger than 12 people, and littering. I really don’t know the legitimacy of the citations but it is a shame that Baxter State Park officials are developing a bad portrait of the thru-hiker and are considering closing the mountain as the northern terminus.

Jurek book photo found

Davis photo found

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Jennifer Pharr Davis, Mount Katahdin, Scott Jurek, Springer Mountain, Thru-Hike | Leave a comment

Hiking at Germantown

HikeItForward-Final-MediumWhat an incredibly wet summer. My wife, Cathy, and I had grand plans to hike all of the trails in the MetroPark System this summer. But the constant rain has made the trail so muddy and sloppy that hiking has not been fun at all. This past week we had three rainless days so we took advantage of a Sunday hike at Twin Creek MetroPark as well as Germantown MetroPark. We logged about six miles and the trail was in great shape – green and lush environment with a dry trail and only an occasional muddy spot, fairly easy to avoid with a bit of nimble tiptoeing. I wore my trusty Chaco sandals and arrived home with socks unscathed by mud or swamp.

No deer, fox, or rabbitsnakes welcomed us back from the rainy season but many friendly but small trail frogs (maybe toads), no bigger than the size of my thumb tried to avoid my size ten feet while hopping merrily along. Cathy and I rarely see snakes on our hikes together, but we saw two during this short outing. I think they were out looking for small friendly frogs for lunch. One was an eight foot rattlesnake (see photo)…or is that a garter snake, I get them confused….I could be wrong on the length as well.

We met a young couple getting ready to hike Twin Creek as we were leaving. I noticed a rather large backpack involved so I stopped and asked the young man if he were training for a long-distance hike. He said, “Yes, I am trying to talk my dad into hiking the AT.” My eyes lit up and I shared that I had thru-hiked in 2014. We talked for just a few minutes and I encouraged him to go after the dream of hiking with his father.

It was good to be outside and on the trail again.

Categories: Chaco Sandals, Hiking, Local Hikes, MetroPark | Leave a comment

REI Workshop

HikeItForward-Final-MediumShortly after returning from Maine, I contacted REI with a proposal to share my adventure at a local store (Cincinnati). The proposal was warmly received but it took quite a few months to finalize an available date. The date was set and I had a great opportunity to relate my thru-hike journey to about thirty interested people.

When I arrived at the store, Owen was already setting up the area for my workshop. This friendly young REI employee was so genuine and enthusiastic about my talk. We exchanged some small talk as he put the finishing toREI Cincinnatiuches on the room with moving screens and chairs. He expressed a little concern about the timing of the event because Major League Baseball scheduled their All-Star Game (held in Cincinnati) on the same night without consulting either one of us. I could see my thirty participants quickly shrinking to three. To my surprise, twenty-eight people arrived. Owen shared after the meeting that there was a wait-list of forty-five individuals that wanted to attenIMG_0316d. I decided to work with Owen and arrange a repeat presentation – maybe as early as October.

I really enjoy telling others about my journey. I had a PowerPoint presentation filled with photos of the trail to help the folks visualize the thru-hike. I talked a bit about some of the unique aspects of each state along the path, some of my hiking gear (most of which I purchased at REI), and some of the special colleagues I met along the Appalachian Trail. The Q/A session after the presentation was lots of fun for me. I like answering questions and the inquiries serve as an interesting reflection of the uniqueness of the crowd.

Categories: Uncategorized | 7 Comments

The Silent Blog

FullSizeRenderHike It Forward has been very silent for several months. The reasons for the lack of postings are three-fold. First, I wanted the HikeItForward-Final-Mediumclimax of the hike in Maine and the glorious homecoming I experienced in Ohio to be the focal point of the blog site for several months. Second, I have focused my attention on transcribing my journal into a readable electronic document infused with the full use of spell-checker. The experience of reliving my hike through this transcription was very therapeutic in the transition back to the city. The sights, sounds, and emotions of the trail filled my thoughts as I attempted to decipher my hand scrawled notes on pages smudged with AT dirt and Snickers bars.

The third reason for silence was the formation of a desire to write a book about my life-changing, five-month journey. Out of the journal reconstruction came the idea for the book. I did not want to compose just a travel-log approach to the hike, but rather a humorous look at some of the lessons learned, a focus on the faithfulness of God in the midst of adversity, a snapshot of the people that brought friendships to my steps, a reflection on the memorable experiences associated with living along the AT, and the blessings of the wildlife, the food, the forest, and the towns – of just walking in the incredible environment of the trail.

The journal has been transcribed as a priceless personal treasure. I know I will spend time often in its pages reflecting on those challenging days of excitement, discouragement, relationships, and growth. The book manuscript has suffered through four or five revisions and is currently off to a publisher for consideration. I am prepared for rejection but I am also filled with anticipation. In the coming months, I hope to refocus my love for writing into this blog – I hope you will continue to check it out as I strive to Hike It Forward.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Book, Hiking | 25 Comments

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