2019 in 2019 – Week 21

Merry Christmas! Week 21 of my walking challenge ended on Christmas Day. The last week of Advent was a peaceful one and one filled with reflections on the miracle of Christmas – the Incarnation – God becoming man and living among us – God with us – Emmanuel.

The walking this week was enjoyable as well. Since August 1, I have adopted a goal of hiking 2,019 miles before the end of July 2019. December 25th ended week 21 of the challenge. I need to average 38.83 miles each week and I was able to accumulate 47.31 miles this week, almost 8.5 miles more than what I needed. So far I have hiked 938.79 miles.

I like to listen to Audiobooks while I walk. During Week 21, I listened to True Blue by David Baldacci and Force of Nature by Jane Harper. Both novels were well written but neither book would make my top ten list of 2018.

I enjoyed some good walks around the neighborhood this week. The temperatures were above freezing for the most part and the sun brightened a blue sky on three of the hikes. Thursday and Friday were rainy days, but I managed to fit in long walks in between times of showers.  I’ve got an excellent rain jacket and waterproof pants, but they hardly got wet this week.

One day this past week I was taking my walk when I looked up and the song came bursting into my head. “Sunny Day, Sweepin’ the clouds away, On my way to where the air is sweet, Can you tell me how to get, How to get to Sesame Street?”* Finally, after all these years, I can say, yes! Yes, I know how to get there! I found my way. I looked for my favorites, but no one could be found – they all must be making a movie or on vacation. Not to worry, I will be back

Many of the homes in the Springboro area were decorated with holiday bling. However, all those giant blow-up decorations look blah and sad during the day when the air is let out, leaving the lifeless snowmen, Santas, and polar bears flat on their faces. It reminded me, as I walked my streets, that the commercial façade of Christmas is so empty and superficial. I really resonate with two common expressions I hear in Christian circles: “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” and “Wise Men Still Seek Him.” I like Frosty and Rudolf. Elf, Miracle of 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, and A Christmas Carol are part of my traditional viewings during the holidays, but I try my best to fill my house with the sights and sounds of Emmanuel and the realities of the birth of Jesus – the Messiah, the Savior, the Redeemer, the Forgiver, The King of Kings.


* Sesame Street Theme Song: Written by: BRUCE HART, JON STONE, JOSEPH G. RAPOSO Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group



Categories: 2019 in 2019, Hiking, Local Hikes, Ohio, Springboro | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

2019 in 2019 Challenge: Week 16

Week 16 of my personal challenge of walking 2,019 miles (in 12 months ending July 31, 2019) was a very productive seven days. I was able to walk every day this week including my longest hike of 12.37 miles. I totaled 64.78 miles this week – my best week since beginning the challenge on August 1, 2018.

So far, I have been able to walk just over 712 miles. On the Appalachian Trail that is the distance from Springe mountain Georgia to McAfee Knob, Virginia or the mileage from New York City to Indianapolis, IN. To reach my goal I need to average 38.83 miles per week and to be on target, I needed 621.26 miles at the end of week 16. I am thrilled to be over 90 miles ahead of pace.

Week 16 in Ohio was a little cold. We had some ice and a little snow but very little accumulation. I have a nice light-weight winter coat, a warm hat that covers my ears, and a pair of toasty gloves, so I was able to enjoy a walk each day. The geese/ducks don’t seem to be bothered by the cold water. The ice storm did impact the trees – lots of limbs down around the neighborhood – even a small tree collapsed around the path at one of the parks.

I have developed several routes around the neighborhood allowing me to enjoy a couple of peaceful parks.  I typically pass two ponds complete with geese and ducks. Because of the cooler temperatures, I have experienced a great deal of solitude. I usually say “hi” to a handful of joggers and dog-walkers, but most of my walk involves only the company of a good book. I have been listening to audiobooks as I walk, and it makes the miles more enjoyable.

This week I listened to six books – Two short books by Richard Paul Evans (Timepiece and The Letter); Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston (an interview with eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis, the last living individual able to tell the story of being transported from Africa to America as a slave); Rescued by David Rosenfelt (the most recent in a series of trial lawyer, Andy Carpenter); The Rooster Bar by John Grisham (law students gone rogue); and Tears of a Tiger by Sharon Draper (one of her early novels – 1994 – dealing with teenage grief and guilt).

This coming week looks promising for walking weather. There’s a pretty good chance of rain on both Saturday and Monday in Springboro, but the other days should provide some dry weather and comfortable hikes. Thursday is Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays so mileage might be slim to none, but I might be able to snag a few miles during the day.

Categories: 2019 in 2019, Hiking, Local Hikes, Ohio | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

2019 in 2019

I saw a t-shirt during my vacation this summer in Utah. It simply said 2018 miles in 2018. The idea really caught my imagination and I knew I wanted to take on a challenge like that. So, I came home and started my smartphone calculator humming to figure out the possibilities of such a goal. Of course, it is almost 2019, so that that would be the goal.

My trusted iPhone blinked a weekly goal of 38.83 miles and an average of 5.33 miles every day. I talked long and hard to my legs and to my heart. They had a bit of an argument, rather heated at times until my heart convinced my legs that it would not only be doable, but it would be a great way to get/stay in shape.

Being the retired educator, I think in terms of school years, so I decided to walk 2, 019 miles during the 2018-2019 school year. I started on August 1 and plotted out a plan to complete my personal challenge by the end of July.

So, “How am I doing?” you might ask. My start was not very good. At the end of the first week, I was already in the hole. I pulled 35 miles during my first seven days, putting me more than three miles behind right out of the gate. By the end of the first month, I was seven miles below what I needed. I knew this was not a positive trend, because August is fantastic walking weather compared to the rain, snow and freezing conditions facing me this fall and winter.

I knew that I needed to pick it up. Even though I had not announced my challenge to very many people, I was not going to abandon the goal too quickly. After all, I knew about the challenge and I really hate to disappoint the Rowdy that lives inside of me.

So, during week five, I took advantage of beautiful weather and nailed 54 miles, flipping a seven-mile deficit into an eight-mile surplus. However, before my inflated ego knew what happened, I flopped the very next week accumulating only 27 miles, putting me back in the hole three and a half-miles.

I “yo-yo”ed the next two weeks going from a personal best of almost 60 miles including two ten-mile days and one 12.6 hike at the state park, down to a mediocre 28-mile total the very next week. Fortunately, my legs finally caught up with my heart on week nine. I have averaged a little over 48 miles each week for the last five weeks.

I have probably rambled on with way too much information, but so far, I am 54 miles ahead of pace to complete my challenge. I am convinced that I will need more a padding than this. I am not looking forward to the Ohio winter as it sends its blistery wind and blankets of snow.

I’ll keep you posted as I “hike it forward” in the coming weeks (just 39 more weeks to go).

Categories: 2019 in 2019, Hiking, Local Hikes, Personal Challenge, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

The Seven Survivors

While Rocky and I have been off enjoying the Appalachian Trail down south in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and southern Virginia, the seven thru-hikers that I have been following on trailjournals.com have been moving north. Let me provide a quick update on their progress and where they are according to their last online journal posting.

Bamadog: Photo from June 25

The hiker that is the farthest north is Bamadog, Marty Dockins. He began his adventure on Feb 15 and has amassed 1741 miles. (All my mileage figures are based on my 2014 thru-hike guidebook. The trail has changed slightly since this time and so my mile-markers are just a bit inaccurate, but they consistent for every hiker and give a good comparison between the seven.) Bamadog is staying in Norwich, Vermont, with some trail angels, just a mile from the New Hampshire border and Hanover, NH, the home of Dartmouth College. Bamadog arrived in Hanover on June 25th and had an opportunity to spend the night in the home of Betsy and Bill Maslin.

Not too far behind Bamadog is Hard Knocks, Patrick Knox, who is resting at Rutland, Vermont, and mile 1697. Hard Knocks has spent three zero-days in Rutland resting in and avoiding a major thunderstorm. He has been struggling lately with stamina. He is such a strong hiker but his recovery seems to be suffering. Hard Knocks wrote in his journal on June 22nd  I find that I can walk +/- 20 miles for about three days when my legs and feet tell me they need a rest.” He is still in an excellent position to complete his thru-hike, but New Hampshire and Maine will test every part of the thru-hiker – legs, spirit, knees, emotion, and determination.

Next Step’s view along the Ten Mile River

Next Step, Darrell Brimberry, has been hiking solo since his wife, Which Way, needed to get off the trail for a while as she rehabs a nagging back injury. She hopes to rejoin him soon. Next Step has been logging major mileage every day and on June 26th crossed over into the state of Connecticut. He has walked 1450 miles toward Mount Katahdin and is well on his way to completing the trail. He shared the walk through the first six miles of the Constitution State. “Connecticut greeted me with a little climb up Ten Mile Hill. Down the other side of the hill the trail crossed the Bull’s  Bridge 19th Century Covered Bridge over the Ten Mile River at its confluence with the Housatonic River. The trail worked its way upstream of the Housatonic for about a mile. A side road led to Bull’s Bridge, a 19th Century covered bridge. On the far side of the bridge was a country store. I stopped in for some dinner and re-supply. The store was run by a friendly Indian couple. Wouldn’t you know it, they had Chicken Vindaloo in the frozen food section. I hung around the store until about 5:45PM. It was about a 4 mile hike from there, up and over Schaghticoke Mountain to the campsite where I was staying for the night.”

Sour Kraut

Sour Kraut, Tim Pfeiffer, blogs with words on a rare occasion, but he posts photographs that indicate where he is on the trail. He posted a photo on June 16th that I recognize as the 911 Memorial Flag on Shenandoah Mountain in New York, at about mile 1422. Shenandoah Mountain is about 22 miles from Pawling, New York, the home of the only railroad station on the AT. This is where several members of my church met me during my 2014 thru-hike, so it is a special place for me.

RTK at Sunfish Pond

RTK, Bruce Matson, last updated his journal on June 19th. He was six miles south of Vernon, New Jersey around mile-marker 1346. He continues to hike consistently along the trail. On June 19th he mentions meeting Next Step and enjoying a visit in Unionville, New York. Next Step does recount the stop in town but does not mention RKT specifically. Because RTK blogs about 7 days behind his journey it is difficult to get a current read on his hike.

On June 25th Chip Tillson was camped 4 miles south of Boiling Springs., Pennsylvania just shy of 1114 miles along the trail. He hiked 19 miles on the 25th, the most he has walked in one day. He passed the geographic half-way marker earlier in the day as he trekked through Pine Grove Furnace State Park. He did not participate in the half-gallon challenge (eating a half gallon of ice cream) because he arrived fairly early in the morning (it would not have stopped me but HYOH -Hike Your Own Hike).

Pigweed, Lee Richards, has decided to take a break from the trail. On June 14th, he arrived at Buena Vista, Virginia and just over 800 miles on the AT. He is going to the beach with his wife and hopes to return after July 4. He plans on traveling to Maine, climbing Katahdin, and then hiking back toward Buena Vista to complete a “flip-flop” thru-hike. If he is to be successful, I think this plan is the best idea. His pace is just too slow to make it to Katahdin before the snow flies and makes his ending impossible. A “flip-flop” will enable him to hike southbound (SOBO) and complete the adventure in Virginia in the late fall (maybe early winter).


Categories: Appalachian Trail, Bamadog, Chip Tillson, Class of 2018, Hard Knocks, Hiking, New Hampshire, Next Step, Pigweed, RTK, Sour Kraut, Thru-Hike, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day Seven of the 14-State Challenge

Grayson Highlands View

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy initiated a 14-State Challenge to anyone who wanted to experience a little bit of the AT in each of the 14 states from Georgia to Maine (Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine). It is done on an honors system with time frame involved. Rocky and I decided we would walk right in and begin our trek this summer. We decided to move NOBO (northbound) by starting in Georgia and touching the first four states along the trail.

A Foggy Beginning

Day Seven (Saturday, June 23) completed our first leg of the challenge as we visited Grayson Highlands State Park in southern Virginia. The state of Virginia comprises some 550 miles of the AT making it the longest state of the 14. It is so long that some thru-hiker get the “Virginia Blues” longing for the next state to arrive. There is so much to see in this wonderful state, that Rocky and I will most likely return to Virginia when we begin part two of our journey. When I thru-hiked the trail in 2014 I divided the state up into three “states” (each comprising about 183 miles) to create smaller hiking goals. I call the first “state” was Southern Virginia, followed by Middle-Earth Virginia, and concluding with Doah Virginia (in honor of the Shenandoah National Park and a great fellow-hiker, Princess Doah). All of our hiking on this first leg was in Southern Virginia, so Rocky and I want to touch Middle Earth and Doah on our next adventure.

Wild Pony Sentry

All of that aside, Grayson Highlands was fantastic! The ponies greeted us, the rocks cried out to us, the rain showered its blessing on us, the wind blew almost blew our hats off, and the clouds almost engulfed us during our incredible hike through the rocky terrain. As Rocky and I drove the 30 minutes from our motel in Marion, Virginia, the rain began to sprinkle on the windshield. By the time we reached the state park, it was raining a constant gentle rain. Pulling into a parking place, Rocky did not hesitate – she was out of the car and wanting to get her trekking poles out of the trunk.

The initial 20-minutes was a little wet and a little cold, but the weather began to cooperate, the rain subsided, and the hike became quite comfortable. The cloud cover and the wind (which was rather intense at times) continued all morning giving us a fantastic cover from the sun’s heat. Most of the highlands is open without tree cover, so the sun can make a hike rather sweltering.

The Game of Tag

We encountered several wild ponies along the way. There were a number of foals that were full of life and had fun with each other testing out their legs with zestful games of tag. Rocky and I watched and laughed as they played totally ignoring the two retired folks with walking sticks. As we moved north, we encountered a few ponies standing right on the path. Rocky used her Mimi skills and “lovingly pushed” the horses off the trail so that we could pass on by.

The elevation change through the highlands is less than 600 feet, but the rocky terrain made the hike a nice challenge for us. Add to the terrain some blustery winds and some wet rocks, and the trail presented some adventure that translated into some special memories for us. Rocky was such a trooper and we laughed, marveled, prayed, and enjoyed the entire trek without one word of complaint or negativity. She is such a special hiking buddy!

Rocky Trail

After completing the trail, we returned to our car and drove to the Virgil J. Cox Visitor Center. Rocky and I got our AT Passports stamped at the center and then enjoyed a drive through the country roads back toward Marion. Sunday is a travel day as we end this portion of the challenge and return to the comfort of home. The adventure was remarkable, but there is no place like home. As we reflected on the last week, Rocky and I also projected the journey ahead of us as we begin to plan for stage two of the challenge. I have heard that the Shenandoah Valley is glorious in the fall.

Categories: 14-State Challenge, Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Grayson Highlands, Hiking, Rocky, Rowdy, Trekking Poles, Virginia, Wild Ponies | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rocky and Rowdy on an AT Challenge

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has issued a 14-State Challenge. Anyone brave enough to take the challenge is expected to hike at least a portion of the AT in all 14 states. Rocky and I have decided to begin our quest this summer taking on four states: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

After spending some special time with my son, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren in Canton, Georgia, Rocky and I are going to spend the next eight days exploring some of the beauty of the AT. Today, Sunday 6/17/18, we drove to the approach trail at Amicalola Falls State Park and hiked the 604 steps to the top of the falls. The cascade is truly amazing. We visited the welcome center and got our first stamp in our official AT Passports; we entered the approach trail via the iconic arch at the welcome center; and we enjoyed meeting three section-hikers hoping to make it North Carolina.

Amicalola Falls

Although Amicalola Falls is not part of the official Appalachian Trial, many thru-hikers begin here and hike the 8.5-mile approach trail to Springer Mountain, Georgia. Rocky and I came down the steps faster than we went up, loaded in our 2018 Maserati (disguised as a 1999 Toyota Camry), and headed down the road to Woody Gap just south of Suches, Georgia. The AT crosses GA. Route 60 at Woody Gap (about mile 21 into the AT) that houses a nice little road-side parking lot and picnic area. Rocky and I parked and headed NOBO (northbound) toward the summit of Big Cedar Mountain. It was beautiful. The forest kept the sun at bay and provided a nice, cool hike. We reached Preaching Rock with an incredible view to the east and finally, the summit of Big Cedar Mountain opened up onto a rocky ledge with another amazing view of the mountain range in the distance. Rocky and I enjoyed a relaxing moment on the summit taking in the glory of God’s creation. We met several section hikers on the way back down the mountain. They were all headed for Franklin, North Carolina. We talked with another hiker from Hawaii who is planning to hike as far as she can. She was carrying a pack that looked like it was over 50 pounds while I would guess that she weighed no more than 110 pounds. She was such a sweet lady and we talked for several minutes and wished her well on her journey.

Rocky on Big Cedar Mountian

From Woody Gap, we drove to Dahlonega, GA, and got a hotel for the night. Rocky went to the outdoor pool and I hit the computer to document the adventure on this blog. Tomorrow we head for Neels Gap, Georgia, at the 31.7-mile marker. I will try to post some photos and some words capturing out adventure.

Categories: 14-State Challenge, Amicalola Falls, Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Georgia, Hiking, Neels Gap, Rocky, Rowdy, Trail, Woody Gap | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Caesars Creek Loop

Caesers Creek

Rocky and I took advantage of a beautiful Friday, June 8, to enjoy the trail that encircles part of Caesars Creek Lake. The 12.7-mile loop trail has some elevation change and some road walking, but the terrain is beautiful and peaceful. We began our trek at 8:40, took our time, enjoyed a couple of rest breaks and completed the trail about 2:10 for a 5 ½-hour hike. The temperatures were moderate to high but hydration was our biggest challenge. Rocky tried out a new camelbak-style water bladder and I went old school with two water bottles. She loved her easy access to refreshment and I had a few sips left at the end of the loop.

Birds serenaded our walk throughout the day and the lush green forest shaded our heads from the heat of the sun. The treeless, 0.7-mile walk over the bridge and along Route 73 treated us to the power of the sun and the traffic of the four-lane road, but 50 Springs Picnic Area welcomed us with a covered pavilion and a restful spot to grab some trail food and take a load off our feet.

After rock-hopping one of the many little streams that crisscross the trail and heading up a hill on the other side, Rocky told me to stop and look at the fawn. I had walked right by Bambi without noticing his camouflaged spot among the underbrush. I stopped and was able to get a photo of the little guy. No mom in sight, but hopefully nearby.

We saw numerous tiny frogs (just right for a snake’s dinner), chipmunks, squirrels, a groundhog, a garter snake, and several fellow hikers, including Theresa, our friendly librarian from the Miami Township Library.

Rocky recently purchased some new trekking pole at REI and this was the break-in walk for this new equipment. The poles saved her from a faceplant when a trip root snuck up on her. She twisted her knee a little but the trekking poles prevented a fall – money well spent! We have found it hard to walk comfortably in the woods without our “sticks.”

About half-way through our loop, we came to a large parking lot and a ramp to launch boats into the lake. As we were walking through the parking area to reach the trailhead, we noticed a sign that I have never seen before… anywhere! The sign read Warning Vultures May Cause Damage to Vehicles. When I got home, I researched this phenomenon. Here is an interesting quote from Indiana State Parks:

The black vulture, the gray-headed cousin of the turkey vulture, is causing damage to vehicles–often trucks and SUVs –parked at boat ramps. Windshield wipers, sunroof seals, and rubber or vinyl parts are at particular risk. Most of the time, perching black vultures do little or no damage. However, in some cases, the destruction can be extensive. The vultures can tear out rubber seals, peck pieces out of truck bed liners, and scratch paint with their claws. Why are they “attacking” vehicles? The quick answer is that no one knows for sure. https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/files/sp-black_vulture_vehicle_damage_brochure.pdf

Rocky’s New Trekking Poles

We were tired at the end of the loop, but it was a good tired, filled with accomplishment, and serotonin, and Vitamin D. Getting out of the car after the 25-minute drive home might have been the most difficult part of the day. It is amazing how fast those muscles tighten up. Dinner tasted especially good and sleep came easy that night. I am Rowdy and my wife is Rocky and we had a great day together in God’s creations. I would recommend a hike to release some stress, to clear the mind, and to breath the air of beauty and health.

Categories: Caesar Creek, Hiking, Local Hikes, Ohio, Rocky, Rowdy, Trail, Vultures | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

April on the AT – Thru-hikers Trek On

AT on April 15, 2018

April 2018 was a cold month with some snow, ice, and slippery trails for those attempting a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. It has only been in the last week of April that the temperatures have been comfortable and the conditions reflect the change of seasons. The last week of April find my nine hikers (those brave souls that I have been following on trailjournals.com) spread out over almost 1000 miles of the trail. All of them began their journeys between January 31 and February 27 and all of them have been diligent in their goal of conquering this iconic long-trail covering 2,190 miles through 14 states from Georgia to Maine.

Let me give you a quick update on each hiker in order of their start dates.

The Clan at Stonybrook Organic Farm and Hostel

Hard Knocks, Patrick Knox, started on January 31. As of his last post (4/30/2018) he has been hiking for 90 days and has covered 1,010 miles. He is camped at Stonybrook Organic Farm and Hostel, a religious commune run by the Twelve Tribes Network. Hard Knox shares, “…it is a religiously based commune.  It is a beautiful place and all of the people seem very nice all for the low price of Zero Dollars.  All they ask is that you work a little (I mopped a floor tonight) or consider a donation before you leave.  It is certainly nice enough for me to consider a zero-day tomorrow before I make the hike to Harpers Ferry.  If so, I will give more of a report on the hostel/commune.  So, maybe arrest day tomorrow before I continue walking.” Hard Knocks is averaging 11.2 miles per day and at this rate, it will take him 196 days to complete the trail.

Vagabond Jack, Jack Masters, began his hike on February 1st. His last post was made on April 28th and Vagabond was about 40 trail-miles north of Pearisburg, Virginia, at Laurel Creek Shelter and 670 miles from Springer Mountain Georgia. Jack is only averaging 7.7 miles per day, although he walked 16.5 miles on April 27th and 14.6 miles on April 28th. At the overall rate of 7.7 miles per day, it will take Vagabond Jack 285 day to complete the Appalachian Trail.

Opa in hospital

Opa is Reinhard Gsellmeier from Rochester, NY. He began his thru-hike on February 10th but has covered more miles than any hiker in this group. On April 27th he was at the 1,275-mile mark and experiencing the rocks of Pennsylvania. He met family in Wind Gap, PA, and drove home to Rochester for a few days of relaxing. After a day of resupply, Opa took ill and found himself in a New York hospital.He shared on April 30th, I basically have an enlarged prostate, a condition that is not uncommon for men my age.  I will also be scheduled to see an urologist, who will further evaluate my condition and advise as to treatment options.  My doctor also re-examined my hernia, which I’ve had since last fall, and he advised that my hernia now needs to be surgically repaired once my prostate issue is resolved and before I have any notion of continuing on with my AT hike…. These health issues are nothing serious that can’t be dealt with, but it looks like the continuance of my AT thru hike attempt is going to be put on hold for awhile…  In one respect I consider myself very fortunate that the issue with my prostate manifested itself while I happened to be in Rochester for the weekend….This will be my last journal entry for at least awhile.” I will keep you posted on Opa when he updates his journal.

Bamadog on Tinker Cliffs

Bamadog, Marty Dockins, took his first step on the AT on February 15th. He is averaging 11.1 miles per day and at this current rate, his trip to Mount Katahdin will take 197 days. He has just crossed over the suspension bridge at Tye River, climbed about 3000 feet to Three Ridges Mountain, and is about 25 trail-miles from Waynesboro, Virginia.

Chip Tillson started his hike on February 20, seventy days before his last post on April 30. He is camped close to Walker Gap about half way between Atkins and Bland, Virginia. He is only averaging 8.1 miles per day with an estimated total of 271 days needed to complete his thru-hike. Hopefully, the spring weather will enable him to increase his daily mileage.

The Guillotine

Tim Pfeiffer, Sour Kraut, took to the trail on February 21. He has not posted a written journal entry since March 11, but he submits photos to mark his progress. He posted a picture on April 30 (day 69 of his trek) of The Guillotine, a round rock balanced on rock-outcropping, under which the path leads the hiker. It reminds me of the Indiana Jones movie where Indy has to run away from the rock rolling over his head. The Guillotine is 765 miles into the hike. Sour Kraut is averaging 11.4 miles and at this rate will need 197 days to fulfill the dream.

600 miles for Which Way and Next Step

Which Way and Next Step, the couple from Washington, DC, crossed the 600-mile marker after spending 65 days on the trail. The couple is about two or three days away from Pearisburg, Virginia. They left on February 25 and, so far, are averaging 9.2 miles per day. At this pace, their thru-hike will take 238 days. However, they are making much better mileage in recent days and the weather should help their pace as well.

RTK, Bruce Matson, records his journal a week late so it is difficult to compare his trek with the others. However, on day 58 of his hike (April 23), which began on February 25, he is about 663 miles into his northbound (NOBO) adventure. His pace is 11.4 miles per day with an estimated trip of 192 days.

Spring makes such a difference!

Pigweed started his hike on February 27, had to take two weeks off for an injury, and is now back on the trail. He is several hundred miles behind the others who started in February and is only averaging 5.5 miles per day. He is in Erwin, Tennessee and has hiked about 341 miles. This rate will make his trek last more than a year (398 days). During the past six days, he has increased his mileage to 11.5 miles per day. I think to be successful he will need to continue to increase his daily distance if he hopes to complete this challenge.

My hopes and prayers for these thru-hikers is that the good weather ahead will encourage and refresh them. Their legs should be strong and now, more than ever, the emotional aspects of the trail are critical. Injury is only a fall away, sickness can strike any day, and discouragement can creep up on a hiker without too much warning. But, the warmth and color of spring can propel the hiker with zeal and excitement. May the winds of May fill their lungs, hearts, and minds with strength and a renewed commitment to the journey.

Photo of Commune from https://www.twelvetribes.com/community/stoneybrook-farm-dc-area. All other photos taken from trailjournals.com.


Categories: Appalachian Trail, Bamadog, Chip Tillson, Class of 2018, Erwin, Guillotine Rock, Hard Knocks, Hiking, Hostel, Opa, Pearisburg, Pennsylvania, Pigweed, RTK, Sour Kraut, Thru-Hike, Tinker Cliffs, Vagabond Jack, Virginia, Which Way and Next Step | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Every Trail Challenge Complete!!

Rocky and I completed our last hike at Germantown Metropark and completed the Five River MetroPark thru-hike challenge. We had to hike the Orange Trail (7.5 miles) to conquer Germantown and to complete all the trails in the 19 MetroParks in the Dayton area (about 116 miles). We talked a lot about completing the challenge and how good it has been for us to have a walking goal.

Today’s hike (March 25th) was set in a beautiful context of bright blue, cloudless skies, cool temperatures that demanded gloves and a hat, and positive path conditions with very little mud. Rocky and I were a little tired from our 5.3-mile hike yesterday, but once the legs got stretched and body got warmed up we managed the distance just fine.

The Orange Trail makes a circuit around the MetroPark following Twin Creek from the Germantown Dam to Manning Road and back. Rocky and I jumped on the trail just southeast of the dam and enjoyed our strenuous hike through the Old Forest to the Welcome Center. We saw one of our librarian friends from the Miami Township Library, Theresa, on the trail. She is an avid hiker and was out hiking/running the hills.

GO Sign

The Orange Trail intersects with every other trail in the park as it makes its loop. The trail is marked with posts with color circles. As I was making a turn on the Orange Trail where it made a junction with the Green Trail I saw a post I needed to photograph. It is the perfect trail sign. The Green Trail marked with a Green G and the Orange Trail marked with an Orange O looked like the GO trail. I got a chuckle out of that.

The trail descends close to the creek several times during its route and there is great evidence of high water and flooding in the valley. Rocky and I were amazed at the debris and mud-covered tree trunks up to my shoulders. We wondered how traumatic and dramatic the creek must rage during those time of flash floods.

We ended our hike by coming across the spillway and through the woods to the parking lot. We took one another’s picture at the trail-head and celebrated our thru-hike. I told her we should go out and order a pizza (one for each of us) and eat a half gallon of ice-cream, but then I remembered that this was not the Appalachian Trail. Instead, we got in our car, came home and I ate a power-bar.

We filled out our trail logs and Rocky email them to the MetroPark coordinator. Hopefully, we will get our thru-hiker patch soon and celebrate once again.

So now what? Rocky and I are pretty excited about another challenge called the Fourteen-State Challenge sponsored by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The challenge is to hike a portion of the AT in each of the 14 states it traverses. (Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine). There is a passport that you can take to various spots to get stamped and of course, there is a patch upon completion. This sound like it has our names written all over it. I’ll keep you posted.

Categories: Germantown MetroPark, Hiking, Local Hikes, Ohio, Rocky, Rowdy, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Germantown MetroPark – Day Two

Twin Creek at Germantown

Rocky and Rowdy are down to their last MetroPark – Germantown. We love this park and have spent many hours traversing the trails here, but we are systematically hiking all of the trails in all 19 MetroParks in the Dayton area. We have spent a little time here on March 16th hiking the Pink and Silver Trails. We are back (Saturday, March 24) to hike the trail loops close to the Welcome Center. There are five trail-heads (all loops) that start at the center for a total of 5.3 miles (Red, White, Blue, Green, and Yellow). The elevation change makes these 5.3 miles plenty to hike on a Saturday morning.

We started with the longest one (our typical approach) – the Yellow trail is 1.9 miles. Then we hiked Blue which is 1.0 mile and thirdly, White which is just 0.5 mile. We then crossed a boardwalk by the Welcome Center to hike Green (1.4 miles) and Red (another short half mile trail). The yellow trail leads down to Twin Creek. We noticed the roots of the trees along the bank eroding away and wondered how they were still standing. Some roots go deep and hold on in the midst of adversity. We all need some of those.

The trail was in great shape – there were a few muddy spots, but, by and large, the path was enjoyable and safely navigated. Rocky and I thoroughly enjoyed breathing in the cool outside air and hearing the sounds and sights of early spring. The birds seemed to agree with us as we saw and heard many varieties lifting their voices in song.

Great Old Tree at Germantown

The Yellow Trail take backpackers to the Oak Ridge Backcounty Campsite. Rocky and I did not stop by the camping area, but I have camped here during my preparation for hiking the Appalachian Trail. There is a pond at the center of three campsites and the night I stayed there must have been the weekend of the frog convention because the bullfrogs were croaking from dusk to dawn. A great and memorable story that I don’t desire to relive, but I think about it everytime I pass the turnoff to the campsites.

Rocky found some trash along the trail and in the spirit of Leave No Trace, she picked it up and carried it back to the Welcome Center. It was open and the woman in charge invited us in. It is still under renovation but it should be nice when completed. A few bird-watchers were inside where there is a perfect observation room with large glass panels. They were counting and documenting all the birds they could see as part of an ornithology project. It was fun to listen to them share their expertise. I wish I knew more about bird identification by sight and sound.

Another view by the creek

We saw a few hikers on the trail today but for the most part, we were by ourselves, which is the way I like it. We can talk and pray and enjoy being together. One more day at Germantown and we will have completed our challenge. The MetroParks provide a patch for documented thru-hikers – isn’t it amazing what we will do for a patch!

They say that hiking outside in the fresh air helps to increase your positive endorphins, to strengthen your heart, to increase energy levels, to lower blood pressure, to improve muscle tone, to reduce body fat, to reduce stress, to ward off anxiety and to improve sleep. I am not sure about all that, but we sure do enjoy it. Consider scheduling a hike – the weather is about to warm up. If you live in the Dayton area, I’d urge you to check out the metropark system. If not, maybe there is a wonderful trail nearby.

Categories: Germantown MetroPark, Hiking, Local Hikes, MetroPark, Ohio, Rocky, Rowdy, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.