Pine Grove Furnace

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:

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 Burning Up the Miles

Beaker, the chemist from Morgantown West Virginia, jumped off trail on April 13 close to the Partnership Shelter near Marion, Virginia, in order to return to the hills of West Virginia, pack up his entire house, and move to Knoxville, Tennessee. He spent about two weeks in “Almost Heaven” getting packed up and then another 8 days in Knoxville getting unpacked and semi-situated in Tennessee before returning to the trail.

Instead of picking the trail up where he left it, he selected to reconnect with his hiking buddy, 1st Sergeant, at Rockfish Gap close to Waynesboro, Virginia. This is about 326 miles farther north which Beaker plans to hike after they make it to Mount Katahdin, Maine. He and 1st Sergeant hit the trail on May 8th and began to put some huge miles on their legs. The two adventurers hiked 17 days straight covering 283 miles, including one 29

Beaker and First Sergeant Half Way

.5 mile day!

Beaker and 1st Sergeant arrived at Harpers Ferry on May 15 (the home of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the psychological half-way point of the trail). They stormed ahead and arrived at Pine Grove Furnace, PA (the actual half-way point) on May 21. The traditional half-gallon challenge (eating a half gallon of ice-cream to celebrate the half-way point) was turned into just a bowl of ice cream while observing a few other hikers engulfing the tasty treat.

The Doyle Hotel in Duncannon, PA was reached on May 24. The Doyle Hotel is another AT icon. It was built in the early 1900s and has received no maintenance or cleaning since. It is, without a doubt, the rattiest hotel I have ever stayed in. It also has a bar on the first floor that makes great burgers and other assorted bar food.  We all gathered in the bar at the Doyle and had lunch. 

1st Sgt and I are getting off trail this weekend to visit our wives. His wife is flying in and meeting up with us to drive to Asheville. They will drop me off with Marguerite in Kingsport, TN, to spend the weekend in Knoxville. As a result, we’ve decided to stay at the Doyle to facilitate the process.” 


Beaker spent the next four days in Knoxville with his wife before meeting up with 1st Sergeant at the Doyle and continuing down the path on May 29. Sixteen miles later, the duo made camp at a stealth camp along the trail. The next two days were strong ones as the dynamic duo logged in 26.4 miles on the 30th and 19.2 miles on the last day of May. They find themselves with only a 9 miles trek into Port Clinton, PA – a town I know quite well, having spent 5 days there recuperating from cellulitis during my thru-hike in 2014.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Doyle Hotel, Half Gallon Challenge, Harpers Ferry, Hostel, Knoxville, PA, Pine Grove Furnace | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Fat Hen and Rooster Talon: Pennsylvania and Beyond

The last journal entry posted by Fat Hen and Rooster was made on June 20 from Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Pennsylvania, but they have submitted several photographs dated July 9 reflecting the major climb out of Palmerton, PA. While I wait for an update from them, let me share a few of their pictures and their encounter with some ice cream.

Pine Grove StoreOn June 20, the young couple from the state of New York arrived at the convenience store at Pine Grove Furnace. This legendary country store is home to the half-gallon challenge. Located very close to the actual half-way point of the Appalachian Trail, the store encourages thru-hikers to take a symbolic challenge of eating a half-gallon of ice cream to celebrate the half-way marker. To the victor goes the right to sign the store register and receive the coveted, commemorative, wooden spoon.

Dan and Becky had no problem conquering the frozen dairy challenge laughing in the face of the obstacle. To be sure of the undisputed victory they added an additional pint of ice cream to make up for the now 1.5 containers passed off as half-gallons by stores across America. Their choices from the dairy case were rather surprising to me.

Half Gallon Spoon -1024x765Becky selected chocolate/vanilla with caramel swirl plus a pint of peach. Dan combined his 1.5 quarts of banana marshmallow swirl with vanilla wafers with a pint of blueberry cheesecake. I love ice cream but these flavors seem to defy mixing well in the digestive juices of one’s stomach. The cost of the two wooden spoons was $20 worth of frozen desserts. To reflect their thru-hiker spirit and AT attitude, Rooster shares that they had trouble talking themselves out of another ½ gallon to celebrate the ½ gallon victory!

They walked away from Pine Grove Furnace with smiles on their faces, full bellies, and wooden prizes along with their names in the book of legends.

Here are a few photos that they have posted since their ice cream adventure. The pictures posted on July 9 document their arrival at Palmerton, PA and their climb out of Lehigh Gap, one of the most difficult rock climbs on the trail. The pictures were posted on July 9 but I am not sure when they actually passed through the area. The distance from Pine Grove Furnace to Palmerton is 156 miles, leaving only 36 miles left of Rocksylvania. I anxiously await their next update.

Fat Hen.Palmerton Fat Hen Rocks of PA Fat Hen. Palmerton Climb

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Fat Hen, Half Gallon Challenge, Palmerton, Pennsylvania, Pine Grove Furnace, Rooster Talon, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at