Mount Katahdin

Lee Barry at 81

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

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

Earl-Shaffer-at-Katahdin-5

Earl Shaffer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Feelings of a Celebrity

132

Diane and Rowdy in Hot Springs

I had a great stay in Hot Springs, North Carolina, during my thru-hike in 2014. I met my sister, Diane, in the quaint, little trail-town. She and her husband, Tom, and little dachshund drove up from Winston-Salem for a special visit. This was my first opportunity to see anyone in the family for three weeks. She brought lots of great food, including cold cuts so I could create my own fantastic sandwiches, and several dozen homemade cookies.  It was a wonderful visit and brought great energy for the miles ahead.

The first day out of Hot Springs, I was plodding along at my normal pace when I heard some chatting coming from the opposite direction. The chit-chat continued to get louder until I made a bend in the trail and was somewhat surprised by five ladies, all with backpacks, all engaged in trail talk as they walked along.

148I could tell that they were not thru-hikers. They looked too clean; they smelled way too good; and their packs were too small and light. They were definitely section hikers but they seemed to be having the time of their lives. As I saw the group, I smiled, raised my trekking pole and gave a trail greeting, “Good morning ladies.  What a great day for a hike!”

The line leader stopped and asked, “Are you a thru-hiker?”

“Well, I am trying to be. I’ve got a long way to go, but Maine is my goal.”

All the ladies started to talk among themselves. Finally one of them shared, “We’ve been reading about thru-hikers and the Appalachian Trail. We thought we would come out for a few days and see what it was like. Could you answer some questions for us?”

“Sure,” I said, feeling like a celebrity. “Where are you from?”

410They were all the way from California and had the tans to prove it. They asked all the normal questions: “How much food to you have to carry? Do you always sleep in your tent? What do you do for a bathroom? Do you carry a cell phone? How often do you get to shower?  Are you hiking by yourself? Do you always hike in sandals?”

We talked for thirty minutes or so. I really enjoyed the sharing but I was getting a little concerned because I hoped to hike about 20 miles before setting up camp and it was looking a bit like rain. One of the ladies must have felt the same way as she asked, “Before we let you go, could we get a picture with you?” I could not believe the fuss they made over meeting a old, stinky hiker along the trail. After posing for several pictures, I was hiking down the path with a spring in my step basking in my celebrity status like I had just come off the red carpet.

AT MapThen it hit me. I had hiked less than 300 miles of the AT and was only in North Carolina. Although it was very sweet for the ladies to treat me like hero, I knew that I had a long way to go before obtaining the title of thru-hiker. From that day on, I tried to avoid using that word to describe  myself. Coming down off Mount Katahdin, I remember saying to myself, “Dave, you are now a real thru-hiker!”

Shortly after leaving my California fan club, it began to rain, but the sun came out in the afternoon and by the time I made camp about 5:00, I was dry. Soon after arriving at the shelter, the temperature turned cold. I was alone at the camp and had the shelter to myself, so I had some dinner, journaled about my day and crawled into my warm sleeping early. Sleep was easy to find after my 19.6-mile day.

HIF Cover PublishedIf you interested in reading more about my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, check out my book, Hike It Forward, sold on Amazon. I have had opportunity to write a few other books so I invite you to check my other offerings as well. I am writing a series of children’s books (two are currently available and a third should be published around Thanksgiving) called The Adventures of Princess Polly and Sir William the Brave and I have just released a book on the spiritual battles of life called, We Are All Warriors. If you are interested, just click on the Hike It Forward cover and it will take you to my author page where you can check out all my books.

 

Map of the AT found at http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/appalachiantrail.htm
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Book, Chaco Sandals, Hot Springs, Mount Katahdin, North Carolina, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Congratulations Beaker!

Today’s post is a tribute to Rusty Miller, a chemist from West Virginia, and his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He began his journey on February 26, 2017 and crossed his finish line on September 12, 2017 for a total of 189 days.  Many of you have followed my blog and his adventures over the past seven months. This post will be a photo diary of this man’s trip across 14 states and his 5 million steps to the finish line. All of these pictures come from Beaker’s online journal found at: http://www.trailjournals.com/journal/photos/18636

He began at Springer Mountain, Georgia with red shirt and kilt.

North Carolina brought the Smoky Mountains and cold weather.

Tennessee included a bike ride in Erwin to do some laundry and a lovely waterfall with hiking buddy, 1st Sgt.

There’s always a possibility of snow in April in Virginia, but the wild ponies of Grayson Highlands are always a highlight of a thru-hike.

Becker actually sold his home in WV and bought a new one in Knoxville while on the trail. He took three weeks off trail to move his home from West Virginia to Tennessee. This gave him an opportunity to change his trail persona.

Harpers Ferry, WV is the home of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the emotional half-way point of the trail. The true, linear, half way point is in Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Pennsylvania.

The month of June brought the rocky trails of PA, NJ, and NY.

July led Beaker above tree-line in New Hampshire.

August 12 was the day for Mount Katahdin, Maine, the northern terminus of the AT.

20. Mount K

Beaker on lower left

After Katahdin, Beaker went home to Tennessee for two weeks before completing a section of Virginia that he skipped on his NOBO journey to Maine. He returned to the trail on August 27 to complete his 2,200 mile trek of the Appalachian Trail. Moving SOBO, he was dropped off in Waynesboro, VA. by his son, Zack, hiked 315 miles in 19 days, and finished his adventure in Adkins, Virginia at The Barn Restaurant.

What a great journey! I give Beaker a standing ovation and two thumbs up.

Categories: Adkins, Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Beaker, Dover Oak, Erwin, Georgia, Grayson Highlands, Harpers Ferry, Maine, McAfee Knob, Mount Katahdin, Mount Moosilauke, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Palmerton, Pine Grove Furnace, Springer Mountain, Tennessee, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beaker Back on the Trail

Beaker and Zak

Beaker and his son, Jack

August 27, 2017

Beaker is back on the trail. During the two-week rest after his climb up Mount Katahdin in Maine, he has been busy doing some remodeling his new home in Knoxville, Tennessee; he was able to catch the eclipse with just an hour’s drive to the path of totality – a spectacular event; he had two job interviews for full-time paramedic positions resulting in one offer and the other with high promise; and he finished off his rest-time with a wedding in Columbus, Ohio. He flew out of Columbus and met his son, Zack, in Charlottesville, Virginia. They had dinner together and then Zack dropped his dad off at Rockfish Gap to continue his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.

Beaker had walked less than a mile when he felt a pop and felt his backpack fall limp on his shoulders. He quickly stopped and examined the damage. The left shoulder strap had worn through about an inch above where it attaches to the body of the pack. With no way to fix it on the trail, his best option was to call Zack for an emergency pick up.

They drove to Waynesboro, Virginia, and Beaker found a spot at Stanimal’s Hostel. Adam Stanley, Stanimal, is a 2004 thru-hiker of the AT and completed a 2010 hike of the PTC (Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada). Beaker ended up being the only hiker in his hostel for the night. Stanimal promised Beaker a shuttle ride to a tailor in the morning for a pack strap repair or to an outfitter to get the pack replaced.  

This is a fairly inauspicious beginning to this last segment of my hike; however, at least the strap did not break when I was two days’ hike from a town. Hopefully, I can get it repaired and be on my way late morning tomorrow.

I had a similar problem on my thru-hike of the AT in 2014. I sensed a unevenness in my backpack one day and upon closer inspection, notice that my strap was pulling away from the bag. I was able to order and replace my backpack before permanent damage left me having to carry the pack in my arms for miles. Reading of  Beaker’s experience was a reminded of God’s faithfulness to me during my adventure in what could have been a very difficult situation.

It is good to see the chemist from West Virginia (now the paramedic from Knoxville) back on the trail with only a section of 318 miles in Virginia to complete his 2017 thru-hike of the AT.. More to come.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized, Virginia, Waynesboro | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Thru-Hikes Completed

Beaker made it to Katahdin on August 12, but his thru-hike continues as he returns to a 315-mile section in Virginia that he bypassed earlier in his hike. There have been several hikers who recorded their journeys on trailjourals.com that have completed their adventures and climbed to the brown sign on top of Katahdin in Baxter Park. Today’s post will quickly highlight the four individuals that have headed home as thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail.

Salesman.GA

Salesman at border of GA/NC

salesman-me-e1502967905368.jpg

Salesman on Katahdin

The first of the journal writers to summit Katahdin was Salesman who finished up on July 9th. He began his adventure on February 20 and, like all four of these hikers, walked through some snow and cold weather during the early days of his walk through 14 states. His trek lasted 140 days which is quite a rapid pace especially through those cold trail days. Salesman’s real name is Mike M and he lives outside of Charlotte, NC. He grew up in East Tennessee and had hiked some sections of the southern AT over the years. He started early because he did not want to compete for shelter or hostel spots in the bubble. Mike had been thinking about an AT thru-hike for about 5 years and was waiting for retirement to make the dream a reality. Congratulations to the Salesman.

Will-da-beast at Springer

Will-da-beast in Georgia

Wildabeast,ME

Will-da-beast in Maine

Will-da-beast after hike
Will-da-beast post hike

 Will-da-beast, summitted Katahdin on July 21st after starting at Springer Mountain, Georgia on March 1 for an adventure lasting 143 days. Will-da-beast, Charlie Quattro, is a 53 year-old grandfather who had desired to hike the Appalachian trail for many years. He had many experiences on the AT in the past, having trekked through all of Georgia, part of North Carolina, and all of West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. He began the trail with a long beard but he cut the growth at the brown sign in Maine.  

Whistler.GA

Whistler – Day One

Whistler.ME

Whistler – Day 141

Whistler, Bill Monk, from Nova Scotia, Canada, began his epic hike on March 5th and completed the adventure on July 24th. His journey of the  2, 180+ mile trail encompassed 141 days. Bill is married to Annie and they have two sons, Brian and Richard. He and his sons did some hiking on the AT in 2002. He had the privilege to actively support the Annapolis Board of Trade (similar to the Chamber of Commerce in the US) for the past eight years while recently serving two terms as their vice president.  

1st Sgt.Ga

1st Sgt at the Approach Trail – GA

1st Sgt.ME

1st Sgt at the brown sign

First Sergeant, Dave, began his his thru-hike on 23rd  of February and completed his journey on August 10 – a 169-day trek. He is a retired United States Air Force member (30 years) and an avid Geocacher. The rank Dave held for about the last 10 years of his career was First Sergeant (thus the trail name). Hiking the Appalachian Trail had been a dream of Dave’s since he was just a boy. He planned for the hike for more than a year. 1st Sgt hiked two large sections of the AT with Beaker, reaching the summit of Mount Katahdin just two days before the chemist from West Virginia. Dave’s wife Christine joined him a few times during his thru-hike of the trail.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Georgia, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Springer Mountain, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Beaker at Baxter State Park

8/9/17 Destination: Rainbow Stream Lean-to;  Today:21.7 miles; Miles to Katahdin: 30.1

Beaker and 1st Sgt Back TogetherShortly after falling asleep last night, Beaker was awakened by the bright light of a full moon shining in his tent. He got up, walked to the shore of Lower Jo-Mary Lake in order to see the moon rising over the pond. Getting closer to the pond, he saw Odin, Big Style, and Teabag still sitting by the fire. They started reminiscing about the trail. They all had our journals, so we started picking random days and everyone would read their entries. Beaker thoroughly enjoyed their time together and  hearing the perspectives of the others.

Wednesday, the 9th, was another good day on the trail. Beaker was up and on the trail by 6:15. I didn’t even fight it this morning. I immediately applied DEET to keep the swarming mosquitoes away. The 100-Mile Wilderness brings this ominous image of a remote, desolate section of trail, but the closer Beaker and his group of thru-hikers get to Baxter State Park, home of Mt Katahdin, the more crowded the trail becomes with NOBOs, SOBOs, section hikers, day hikers, and various hiking groups.

Beaker Beach Party

The Beach Party with some of the Fellowship

The group hiked for several miles in the morning hours along Nahmakanta Lake. The shoreline has several beautiful sandy beaches. The ponds have been my favorite part of hiking in Maine. Beaker joined Wild Thing, Feathers, and Scout on the beach for lunch. The water was so inviting that, after checking for leaches, some of the hikers decided to take a  short dip. It was wonderful to rinse the accumulated dirt, sweat, bug spray, and grime off of my body. After swimming, we sat on the beach soaking up the sun.

After the beach party, they started climbing Nesuntabunt Mountain. Nesuntabunt is the last mountain before Baxter State Park. At the summit, the hikers got a good view of the mighty Mount Katahdin.  After logging in over 21 miles today, Beaker was tired and looking forward to a fairly flat 15-mile hike tomorrow – along with a great meal at the end of the 100 Mile Wilderness.  The destination this evening was Rainbow Stream Lean-to. It resembled a tent city with around 30 people camping out around him.

8/10/17 Destination: Abol Bridge Stealth Site, ME; Today: 14.9 miles

Beaker Tent City - Abol

Tent City – Abol Bridge

Beaker was up and out of camp by 6:00 to hike the 14.9 miles into Abol Bridge for lunch. There were a few muddy sections; but, in general, the trail was quite gentle. There was only one small climb to Rainbow Ledges, where he had a beautiful view of Mt Katahdin. I was glad to see that the summit was absolutely clear and cloudless because I knew that 1st Sgt was up there working his way to the summit today. I hope it stayed clear for him.

Beaker made it to the Abol Bridge campground by 11:30, where there was a restaurant and convenience store – fried chicken for lunch and ice cream for dessert. There are two campgrounds at Abol Bridge – both full. Beaker and his group found a stealth site just outside the park that turned out to be perfect. We set up a nice little tent city under the power lines about 0.2 miles from the campground. After getting settled, Wild Thing, 4WD, and Beaker went back to the restaurant for dinner.

Tomorrow, they have a short 10-mile hike through Baxter State Park to Katahdin Stream Campground, where they will apply for thru-hiker permits at the Ranger station to hike up Mt Katahdin on Saturday. They will then catch a shuttle to Wilderness Edge Campground in Millinocket and prepare for the summit on Saturday.

8/11/17 Destination Wilderness Essie Campground;  Today: 9.9 miles

Beaker. BaxterToday’s hike was only 9.9 miles of relatively flat, smooth trail to the Ranger station at Katahdin Stream Campground. Beaker was up and on his way by 6:20. He arrived at the Ranger station at little after 10:00 and procured his permit to summit Mt Katahdin tomorrow. Soon after checking in, a thunderstorm arrived making Beaker glad that he had not decided to summit today – Katahdin is not the place to be in a thunderstorm!

The rest of the Fellowship arrived shortly thereafter, checked in, and then waited for the shuttle to arrive at 1:00. Soon they were on their way out of Baxter State Park and arrived at Wilderness Edge Campground. They promptly showered and caught a ride into town to eat.

The plan for tomorrow is to meet at 5:00 am. at the campground office for the ride back to Baxter State Park. We are hoping to be on the trail as early as possible. We hope to summit and be on our way back down by early afternoon to beat any potential afternoon thunderstorms. After months of hiking through rain, sleet, snow, wind, and blistering sun, it still doesn’t quite seem real that we will be standing on the summit of Mt Katahdin tomorrow. Wish us luck!

Categories: 100 Mile Wilderness, Abol Bridge, Baxter State Park, Beaker, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Beaker In the Midst of the 100 Mile Wilderness

8/7/17 Destination: Logan Brook Lean-to, ME

Miles hiked: 1800.5, Miles to Katahdin: 71.4, Miles Today: 14.6, Miles to complete thru-hike: 389.3

Beaker Katahdin.8.7

A View of Katahdin from the Trail

Beaker was awake and on the trail by 7:15 this morning. After fording the Pleasant River, he started climbing. His plan was to climb over four peaks today, including 3650 ft Whitecap Mt, so he expected the day to be pretty tough.

To Beaker’s great surprise the path presented some of the best trail he’d seen in Maine. There were still roots and rocks; but, there was even more smooth dirt trail. And there were rock steps over many of the steeper portions. And switchbacks! As a result, the climbs over Gulf Hagas, West Peak, and Hay Mountains were actually enjoyable.

Going over Gulf Hagas Mountain, Beaker saw moose scat (lots of it), but, of course, no moose.This was a disappointment but there are still many miles left in Maine. He saw his best view of moose on one of the last days into the 100 Mile Wilderness. There is still hope and time for Beaker to get a glimpse of these amazing animals.

Since the group of hikers were only going 14.6 miles today and the trail turned out to be so hiker-friendly, Beaker took his time and enjoyed the day. Even the climb up Whitecap Mountain turned out to be pretty mellow as the summit led Beaker above treeline and a view of Mount Katahdin in the distance.  I stood there for quite awhile looking at it. Even though it is still 70 trail miles away, it looked big! After hiking since February, it was reassuring to see that the mountain actually existed.Another short 1.4 mile hike brought Beaker to the Logan Brook Lean-to and home for the night.

8/8/17 Destination: Antlers Campsite, ME Miles to Katahdin: 51.8, Miles Today: 19.6

Beaker.Maine WildernessToday’s hike was another easy one:19.6 miles of mostly flat or downhill trail. It rained most of the night and Beaker slept a little later waiting for it to stop, although he was still on the trail by 7:40. The bubble of thru-hikers that Beaker joined through the 100 Mile Wilderness made one small climb over Little Boardman Mountain; but, the rest of the day was mostly flat and still filled with roots and rocks.

The only bad thing today was the mosquitoes. For the first time on the entire thru-hike, Beaker pulled out the DEET. The only thing I hate worse than DEET is getting swarmed by mosquitoes.

Beaker made camp around 4:00 in the afternoon. The skies had cleared during the afternoon and the Antlers Campsite, located on a peninsula on the Lower Jo-Mary Lake, was a Hallmark setting. 4WD built a fire and the Fellowship gathered and cooked dinner together. They have a big day planned tomorrow – 23.4 miles to Rainbow Lake Dam, where they hope to get an exciting view of Mt Katahdin.

8/9/17 The cell phone coverage must be weak or nonexistent today, because Beaker has not posted to his blog today. I am getting excited for him as he approaches the end of his time in Maine. He should be through the 100 Mile Wilderness very soon. It is then a 10 mile hike to the base of Katahdin and a 10 mile round trip to the summit and back.

Categories: 100 Mile Wilderness, Appalachian Trail, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker Over Mount Washington

7/21/17 Destination: The Barn Hostel, Gorham, NH   15.0 miles today

Beaker in fog at Mt Washington

Climbing Mt. Washington in the fog

The thru hikers were up and out of the dining room by 6:30 AM when the paying guests were awakened by the croo at he Lakes of the Clouds Hut. Beaker waited until breakfast was completed and then ate the leftovers. He purposely did not get started hiking until 9:30 in hopes that the mist would burn off the summit of Mt. Washington. Unsuccessful, he climbed the 1.5 miles to the summit in a heavy fog. When he reached the summit, he was assaulted by many tourists arriving in cars, buses, and the cog railroad. He didn’t hang around long at the summit. “Of course, as soon as I left the summit, the fog dissipated and left the summit in full sun.”   

Beaker arrived at the Madison Spring Hut around 2:00 PM and had soup and baked goods for lunch again. Then he climbed to the summit of Mt. Madison – another incredibly steep climb up a boulder field. Finally, after the summit of Mt. Madison, he began to descend – a drop of 3000 ft over the next seven miles. Eventually, he reached Pinkham Notch a little after 7:00 PM , totally spent. He called and booked a bunk in the Barn Hostel in Gorham. There, he was amazed to reconnect with Antman (hadn’t seen him since Franklin, NC), Ramsey Bolton, Hummingbird (hadn’t seen him since Partnership Shelter in Southern Virginia); and got a text from Sitting Bull and Hoops who were just a few hours behind him and were planning to hike to Pinkham Notch yet that evening. Unfortunately, he’s pretty much given up on catching 1st Sgt before Katahdin.

7/22/17 Destination: Imp Campsite, NH   13.4 miles today

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Carter Notch Hut from Wildcat Peak A

Beaker was back on the trail at 8 am,  with only a 13.4-mile hike planned to the Imp Campsite; but, it was going to be a tough 13 miles! He had to cross the four Wildcat peaks and Carter Mountain range and it involved a lot of climbing. A LOT of climbing. The mountains were so steep that Beaker collapsed his hiking poles and put them in his pack so that he had his hands free for climbing. Today’s path didn’t go above treeline. The weather was somewhat cloudy; but, no rain. The trail descended off the last Wildcat peak down to the Carter Notch Hut 1200 ft below and then climbed 1500 ft straight back up. Beaker was able to take a break at the hut and have his last lunch of soup and baked goods before leaving the Whites. He struggled up and over Carter Dome, down through Zeta Pass and back up and over South, Middle, and North Carter Mountains.

Beaker in Kilt Above Tree line

Beaker above tree line in his kilt

Then came the descent off North Carter. It was the steepest descent Beaker experienced yet on the trail. There were vertical sections where he had to sit down and slide – not so easy, especially since he hikes in a kilt! “It’s the first time I’ve felt skittish  hiking. I’m glad I wasn’t doing it in the rain.”

He eventually made it to Imp Campsite – pretty full of hikers. He heard from Sitting Bull and  Hoops who stealth camped on the approach trail to the shelter. He will pass them on his way out of camp in the morning.

Carter Notch Photo from http://www.peakbagger-paul.com/carters2/carters2.htm
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Lakes of the Clouds Hut, Mount Katahdin, Mount Madison, Mount Washington, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Class of 2017 – January to March: Part 2

As I shared in my last post, there are 139 online journals posted on trailjournals.com that reflect a start date on the Appalachian Trail in January, February and March. Of these 139 bloggers, there are only 27 active journals at the end of the day on July 8. Let me give you a quick update on these “early starters.”

Buttercup

Buttercup and D.P.Roberts

Just today, July 9th, another journal shared its final entry as a knee injury is forcing a couple from Germany, Buttercup and D.P.Roberts, off the trail. Their diary was written in German so I found a German translation app to help me understand their posts. They had reached Wind Gap in Pennsylvania. The boulders of PA claimed another twist and in just that quick of a moment the hike needed to be postponed and abandoned. Therefore only 26 remain.

There is no one left on the trail who began their trek in January. Only six of the 27 hikers began the journey in February while the remaining 21 (including Buttercup and D.P.Roberts) initiated their adventure in March. 1st Sgt. and Beaker, the hiking buddies that I am following more closely, started the journey 2 days apart – 1st Sgt. began on February 24 and Beaker left Springer Mountain on Feb 26.

007

Springer Mountain Southern Terminus

All 26 hikers still on the trail began in Springer Mountain, Georgia and are hiking northbound (NOBO) although two hikers have just decided to do a Flip Flop – a hike that stops hiking NOBO, travels to Maine, climbs Katahdin while the weather is still nice, and then turns around and heads southbound (SOBO) to completion.  

These brave adventurers are spread out over seven different states. In addition to the two flip floppers who are in Maine, three other NOBOers find themselves hiking their last state. The leader of this group is Salesman, from Charlotte, NC, who is very close to his victory climb to the top of Katahdin. Four of the thru-hikers are in Vermont; another four in Massachusetts; one in New York; one in New Jersey; nine are fighting through the rocks of Pennsylvania; and three are still working their way up the state of Virginia.

The journals that remain are recording the adventures of  sixteen men, four women, and six couples. I pray that each has an amazing experience and I will be excited to see how many are able to complete this physically and emotionally challenging event.  

Photo of  Buttercup and D.P.Roberts found at  http://www.trailjournals.com/journal/about/18839
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Class of 2017, Georgia, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Pennsylvania, Springer Mountain, Thru-Hike, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Retirement and Katahdin

20140518-102659.jpgI did not think that I would ever compare the Appalachian Trail to my retirement from Dayton Christian School but as I was walking off campus for the last time on Thursday, there was a similar emotion and parallel feeling that impressed my spirit.

I had reached the end of the trail – 2,186 miles on the trail and now 10,585 days at the school. The approach to the summit was 20140924-194204.jpgfilled with excitement and a great sense of accomplishment. There were those moments of looking back over the mountains and valleys as the final peak came into view. People’s faces came to mind that had made the journey such a pleasure. Some of the adversity that made the adventure was re-read in the journal of my mind.

Then the final hike down Mount Katahdin and the final walk to the car in the parking lot brought the tears of realization that they journey has over. Tomorrow would not hold the same routine of preparation, encounters on the path, and comrades with a common purpose. That trail was conquered… that mission complete. Others would follow in the footsteps and enjoy that taste of fellowship of God in special ways.

20140925-095906.jpgFinally, there was the “hallelujah” of life after the trail. Hopping in the car of my best friend and heading down the road to what God had in store back home; climbing into my little red Civic and driving home to what awaits behind the door of retirement. This feeling of anticipation after accomplishment is such a mixed bag of emotion and mental chaos. On my last day on the Mountain I had tears of longing to see my wife, family, and friends, but a sadness of saying good-bye to the trail and its community of smelly hikers with crazy names. On my last day of ministry at D.C. I experienced a collection of tears and smiles, joy and reflection as I said farewell to beloved colleagues and walked the empty halls of this special building.

DCHS BuildingI am not sure what adventure God is calling me to now that my superintendent/principal hats have been hung in the closet, but I know it will be pretty exciting. I enter this time with the same comfort from God’s word that I did beginning the hike of my life – Psalm 91:1, 9, 15 – ‘Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty….If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent….He will call on Me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.”

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Dayton Christian, Mount Katahdin, Retirement, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

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