Hike 2021 in 2021 Forward – Week 41

Week 41 of my personal walking challenge started on October 1, 2021. My goal for the year was to walk 2,021 miles in 2021. I reached that goal on Tuesday, October 5, 2021. I was able to hike 44.7 miles in five days to cross the finish line.  

I took a look at my mileage per month and noted the following:

January                 188.8 miles (cold temperatures and weak legs)

February              190.9 miles (only 28 days )

March                   205.99 miles (first month over the 200-mile mark)

April                       187.37 miles (the weakest month of the year – Spring rains and a dip in motivation)

May                       228.4 miles (warmer days make for good hiking)

June                      231.0 miles (Consistent pace with May)

July                        219.5 miles (possible heat factor)

August                  249.8 miles (Finish line getting cloer)

September         277.1 miles (Best Month – the finish line can really motivate me)

October               44.7 miles (not bad for five days)

I thoroughly enjoyed the walks.

In the last three years I have had the joy to complete three hiking challenges: The Amerithon in 2019 (3,521 miles), 2020 in 2020 and 2021 in 2021 for a total of 7,562 miles. God is so faithful in providing me with the strength and opportunity to walk and enjoy His creation; to meet new people and hike with my sweetheart; and to breath in the fresh air of winter, spring, summer and fall.

Three Shirts to choose from for my Next Hike

Now what?  – I have taken a few days off, but the next goal is to reach the mileage of the Appalachian Trail – this year it is 2,193.1 (In 2014 I only had to hike 2,185.3 – the AT changes from year to year because of new land acquisitions and additions to the official path.) That means an additional 172.1 miles.

After obtaining that mileage goal, I might consider hiking with purpose or a goal as opposed to a particular distance. For example, one day might Pick Up Trash Day about the neighborhood while I walk. Another day might be to Connect with People as I walk and see if I can encourage them or pray for them. Another day might be an “Iron Sharpens Iron” day as I invite a friend or mentor to hike and talk about life. Another day might be a Prayer Day where I get alone in the woods and spend some time praying for family and friends and the needs of others around the world. Any ideas? Post a suggestion for me.

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Hike 2021 in 2021 Forward – Week 40

The 40th week of 2021 ended on September 30. The weather was perfect for hiking, and I tried to make the most of it. I was able to fit in three hikes at local Metroparks (Twin Creek, Germantown, and Sugar Creek) and I averaged just a tad over ten miles a day for a total of 70.4 miles for the week. That total is the best for the year, barely beating my total two weeks ago of 70.1 miles. Although the woods hiking is more strenuous than the neighborhood sidewalks, I so enjoy trekking on the paths of the forest and breathing in the endorphins of nature. Cement just does not compare to the leaf-covered trails; the cars and trucks don’t score quite as high as the deer or even the box turtle you might meet on the orange trail at Twin Creek.

The goal of walking the year in miles is getting very close. At the end of week 40, I have accumulated 1,978.86 miles leaving just over 42 miles to the finish line. If all goes well, I should complete the personal walking challenge next week.  

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Hike 2021 in 2021 Forward – Week 39

The finish line of this year’s personal hiking challenge is getting closer. On January 1, 2021, I began to walk toward a goal of hiking 2,021 miles during the calendar year of 2021. Using my rusty, dusty calculator, I knew I needed to walk 39 miles each week to accomplish the goal. But before I took my first step, I also knew I wanted to finish before I had to rely on the unpredictable weather of December to provide the checkered flag. So, I have been trying to accumulate a few miles over the minimum of 39 each week in hopes to finish early or at least to provide a cushion against a bad weather week or two.

Week 39 (September 17 – 23) of the challenge was a good week. I managed to dance around a few days of rain and to maximize the nice, sunny days ending up with 53.1 miles. Most of my miles this week were neighborhood walks. I have developed several 5-mile loops around Springboro so that I don’t get bored with the same route every day. I enjoy taking a morning walk and then one later in the day to spread out the adventure. I was able to take one nice long hike along a bike trail this week starting at Medlar Park, walking along the river, and ending in Franklin (and back again). This sunny walk revealed the coming of fall as some of the color is turning to the interesting browns and gray of autumn.

I was able to break through the 1900-mile marker during week 39, finishing the week with just over 1,908 accumulated miles. That leaves a tad over 112 miles to complete to challenge. The weather looks good for next week, so I am hoping to schedule some good hikes during week 40 and then to celebrate the finish line sometime in mid-October (Lord willing). God is faithful.  

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Hike 2021 in 2021 Forward – Week 38

Hiking the year in miles (2,021 miles in 2021) has been lots of fun. This past week (September 10-16) provided some great weather and opportunities for some longer hikes. It ended up being my most productive week thus far in the challenge. I averaged 10 miles a day and hit 70.1 miles for the week.

I had three day-hikes in the woods at local parks. Rocky and I spent one day finishing up our MetroParks challenge by completing a small trail in Trotwood plus the beautiful yellow trail at Taylorsville. We spent more time driving to the trailheads than we did actually walking, but it was so good to be with my hiking buddy (and wife).  I also spent a fantastic day hiking at Twin Creek. I hiked for 6 ½ hours and ended the adventure with 18 miles (my second longest hike of the year). It was a good work out but I was pretty tired at the end of the afternoon.  Later in the week, I drove out past Waynesville to Caesars Creek and hiked the perimeter trail around the lake. Despite the ups and downs and the roots and rocks I love hiking a trail in the woods free from the trucks and cars and the street construction.

At the end of week 38, I have accumulated 1,855 miles leaving only 166 miles to the final steps of completion.  It is supposed to be a wet week coming up, so my next seven-day output might be challenged a little bit, but I hope I can find some time each day to dodge some drops and log some miles toward the goal.

Here are few more pictures from Week 38.

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Hike 2021 Forward – Week 37

I have adopted the goal of hiking the year in miles: 2,021 miles in the calendar year of 2021. Week 37 of challenge (September 3-9) was my best mileage week all year. I had great weather and the opportunity to take a couple of fabulous walks in the woods. I ended up with 69.1 miles for the week, bringing my total accumulative miles to 1,785.

Pushing a few buttons on my calculator, I see that I have 236 miles to finish the walk. Some have already begun to ask my plans when I break the final tape of this challenge. First, let me quick to say that 236 miles is still a long way and life can throw lots of curve balls, so I am hoping first of all to successfully complete the 2,021 miles. If God is gracious and allows me to do so with some days left over, my plan is to extend the challenge to 2,193.1 miles – the official length of the Appalachian Trail this year. The length of the AT changes every year as the Appalachian Trail Conservancy gains additional land and slightly changes the route. That would add to the walk another 172 miles. I will have to wait until the 2021 challenge is over to see the realistic feasibility of extending the journey. But thanks to those who have encouraged me to continue to set goals and not to sit around.

Week 37 brought a few days without daytime responsibilities and a chunk of time to hit the trail. The week started out (Friday) with a trip to the Germantown MetroPark and a hike of over 12 miles. Shortly into my day’s adventure, I met a hiker, Michael, who was about my age (a year older actually) and who was in better shape than I am. He was out hiking all 26 miles of the entire TVT (Twin Valley Trail). We started to hike together and ended up walking the TVT around Germantown and the connector trail leading down into Twin Creek MetroPark. We had a grand talk and shared about our careers, our family, and we solved 92% of all the world’s problems. I almost always walk alone if my hiking buddy Rocky (my wife Cathy) is not available. Friday was unusual but quite enjoyable.

The week ended with another glorious hike in the woods – this time it was the perimeter trail at Caesars Creek. The trail is published as being 12.4 miles, but my tracker indicated that hike was a little short of that distance. However, it is still one of my favorite hikes in the area. The loop trail does require a 0.7 mile trek along a 4-lane road including a bridge, but other than that downer, the trail through the woods and around the lake is so beautiful. I started earlier in the morning hours (about 8:10) and the cool air made the walk so fresh and energized. My favorite experience: I was under a group of trees down by the water’s edge taking a nice drink of water. It is a place where Rocky and I often stop when we are out together. So, I raised my water bottle to toast my bride of 49-years and raised my voice, shouting her name to the water, and from over head I heard this terrible scream. I thought it was a bobcat in the trees about to pounce on my head. Instead, it was a blue heron that must have been roosting in the branching just over my head and not heard my entrance to the water’s edge. My toast scared the bejeebies out of the bird and the bird’s cry made be double the current world-record for the standing high jump.


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Hike Fun Forward – Special Days: September 12-18

September 12 – Day of Encouragement

Encouragement is invaluable and yet it can be very inexpensive and often free. Words and expressions of encouragement can literally turn someone’s life around and change a depressed attitude into the determination and perseverance. September 12th is encouragement day. This day is designed to uplift others and find ways to edify and positively build into the lives of others.

This is another one of those national days that should be a regular and normal flow in our daily experience. Notice and then let people know when you see a job well done or an act of kindness or an amazing talent. Celebrate accomplishments; call a friend just to say how much you appreciate your relationship; text a family member who maybe going through a rough patch; attend someone’s concert or play or game or recital or exhibit.

September 13 – Uncle Sam Day

This day commemorates Sam Wilson the man behind the iconic image. Sam was born on September 13, 1766. He was a meatpacker from Troy, New York who supplied barrels of meat to US soldiers during the War of 1812. The soldiers started to call the good food as a delivery from Uncle Sam.

The first illustration of Uncle Sam was published in 1861 by Harper’s Weekly and Sam wears a starred bandana and a striped vest. Over the decades, Uncle Sam has changed his fashion statement. Illustrator Thomas Nash developed a long-legged Sam with a starred top hat and striped pants. The US Army awarded Montgomery Flagg with the artistic task of providing an image of Sam for the “Uncle Sam Wants You!” campaign during World War 1.  

See how many images you can find of Sam as you celebrate our great country.

September 14- Live Creative Day

Be creative; allow others to see your creativity; expand and explore your imagination. Take some time today to invent something new, discover a hidden talent, try an out-of-the-box experience. Paint, sing, garden, write. Design a new board-game, create a PowerPoint presentation, or compose a song. Infuse creativity in your life through a variety of media. Renew a hobby that has hibernated. Take a class to learn a new one.

You get the idea – live out your God given creativity.

September 15 – Three Food Celebrations Today

Enjoy some good food today. It is Cheese Toast Day. It is Linguine Day. It is Double Cheeseburger Day. Pick any one of the these three delicious options on the menu, and you will spot on target for a September 15 celebration

September 16 – Mayflower Day

No, this has nothing to do with flowers like the May Apple or moving across the country with a popular moving company. This day of the year commemorate the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth, England in 1620.It left the harbor with 102 colonists on board, better known as the pilgrims.

Take more time today to explore their 66 days at sea, their adaptive destination from Virginia to Massachusetts, their eventual settlement, and the Mayflower Compact. Who many of the 102 colonists survived the journey of the Mayflower? Who was the captain of the Mayflower? There are many good sources to dig a little deeper into this major event that shaped our country but here are two:  11 Lesser-Known Facts about the Mayflower and Thanksgiving (ucf.edu) and At the helm of history: The story of the Mayflower’s master (mayflower400uk.org).

September 17 – Hug Your Boss Day

Okay, so hugging the boss might be rather inappropriate in some cases. It might be real awkward and even unprofessional, but encouraging your boss (see September 12) just might be priority in life. If not a hug, then a high-five or a thumbs up. If COVID makes personal appearances difficult, try a text, email, or a personal note. The warm fuzzy might be absent but the encouragement might be felt even through your half-face midden by your mask.

If you have a good boss, a supportive leader, a positive work environment, let your boss know with a grateful attitude, and thankful spirit, and words of appreciation.

September 18 – Clean Up Day

Can you even imagine what next week would look like if every person in our country picked up ten pieces of litter? From the east to the west, from the big cities to the small towns, the environment would begin to shine. Think of the trails, the mountains, the lakes, the parks – oh my how pristine they would look.

I love the hiking/camping concept of “Leave No Trace” and this Clean-up Day follows hand and glove. I am hoping to commence with a clean-up week. I hike almost every day and this week I plan to hike with a garbage bag and see how much clean-up I can do around my neighborhood and in the MetroParks. It should be loads of fun and productive as well.

Photo: Encouragement – PRIDE = Positive, Recognise, Involve, Develop, Evaluate – Key Steps Corporate Training; Uncle Sam –samuel-wilson-united-states-uncle-sam-i-want-you-pointing-finger.jpg (800×1076) (pngguru.com); Mayflower – The incredible story of the Mayflower: the ship that shaped America – Best Travel Tale; Creativity – How to Actually Finish the Creative Projects You Start – Business 2 Community; Cheeseburger – The Ultimate Cheeseburger – My Food and Family; Hug – Attention Brits – Tomorrow is National Hug Your Boss Day – The Daily Brit; Clean-up How to Host a Community Clean Up Day – Nutrien Health

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Hike Leadership Metaphors Forward: Sunflowers

One of my favorite sights, as I hike in the summer months, is the sunflower. They are so tall and bright, and I am always struck with their majestic appearance. Somehow there are a source of encouragement and seem to reflect the power of the sun itself. I think the sunflower makes a great picture of an organizational leader. Van Gough painted a series of works of this fantastic flower, so here are six facts about sunflowers that help to paint this leadership metaphor.

#1 There are 70 different species of sunflowers. The most common is the bright yellow flower with brown centers, but others are copper, red, brown, orange, and bi-colored. So, effective organizational leaders come in all varieties and colors. Leadership is not determined by the color of the skin or the gender of the individual. The varieties of experiences, backgrounds, giftedness, talents, and strengths enable many individuals to raise up as sunflower leaders.

#2 The sunflower is one of the fastest-growing plants. It can grow 8 to 12 feet in 5 to 6 months. The effective leader is always growing and is growing as fast as he/she can grow. A leader is a life-long learner always striving to know more and to go deeper into the understanding of his/her ministry. 

#3 The sunflower can grow just about anywhere because of its adaptability to soils from sand to clay and a strong tolerance to dry soils. Two key characteristics of every good leader are adaptability and tolerance. The old saying, “Bloom where you are planted,” seems to capture the parallel between the flower and the leader. The soils of life might not always be rich and moist and conducive to growth, but the effective leader adapts and makes the best of every opportunity for growth.

#4 A sunflower needs at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight every day to reach its maximum potential. They grow tall in order to reach as far above other plant life as possible in to gain even more access to sunlight. An effective leader recognizes his/her need for truth and wisdom. A leader must spend time, lots of time, the majority of his/her time being exposed to the light of truth and integrity and honesty and understanding.

#5 A single sunflower can hold 2,000 seeds, and those seeds are filled with vitamins and minerals. The seeds are high in energy containing 584 calories per 100-gram serving. An effective leader is always looking to multiply his/her leadership by raising up others around him/her. The leader is looking to plant seeds and cultivate a harvest-field full of other sunflower leaders filled with talents and abilities that can change their world.

#6 The is a tea that is made from sunflower leaves that is effective in treating fevers. Another tea made from the flower itself is good for treating malaria. The crushed leaves of the flower are used in many medicines for sores, swelling, spider and snake bites. A good leader might not have all the answers to every question, but he/she should be ministering to the needs and concerns of others. Hurting people need sunflower leaders.

For more facts and insights into sunflowers that might add to this metaphor, check out the following websites: 70 Interesting Sunflower Facts To Brighten Up Your Day | Facts.net and 50 Amazing Facts About Sunflowers (shesaidsunflower.com)

Sunflower photos – The Rough Collection

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Hike Books Forward – September 9

This week I have highlight two audiobooks. Both were published in 2018, One is a fun middle-grade fantasy novel, the other is a reflective adult novel placed in the context of heaven.

Granted – John David Anderson 2018

This middle-grade fantasy novel is a quick and easy read (listen). It is a cute story of a fairy (a granter-in-training), Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets, who finally receives an assignment to grant her first wish. In order to do so, she must make a personal connection with the request, sprinkle some fairy dust, and declare the wish granted. Her assignment was a wish that was made on a coin thrown into a fountain by a young girl, but the task of finding the coin was not as easy as Ophelia thought it might be. The excitement and the acts of adventure surrounding the completion of this wish-granting task are creatively communicated by the author (John David Anderson) and made for an enjoyable read (thanks in part to the narrator of the audiobook, Cassandra Morris). Some of the characters and situations were a little dull for me but Sam saved the story and made the book well worth the time.

The Next Person You Meet in Heaven – (The Five People You Meet in Heaven #2) – Mitch Albom (author and narrator) 2018

This short book is an intriguing follow-up to the bestseller, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom. This novel takes place 15 literary years after the original setting. In the first offering, Eddie dies saving the life of a young girl, Annie, at an amusement park and encounters five people as he enters heaven that have shaped his life experiences and provide meaning for his days on earth. Now, this book tells Annie’s story.

The accident that took Eddie’s life also greatly impacted Annie. It severed her left hand, which needed to be surgically reattached. Her daily experience was altered by her guilt-ridden mother and the bullies that made up her young life. Only one boy seemed to have compassion and understand but he moved away leaving despair and unhappiness. But as a young woman, Paulo reconnects with her, and the book opens on Paulo and Annie’s wedding day. Then, another unbelievable accident occurs, and Annie must face the realities of the past.

This is not a Christian book written from an evangelical perspective, but the sovereign hand of God in relationships and circumstances is easy to see between the lines. I don’t think the book is meant to be a theological treatise on heaven, but I appreciated the connections of the characters and the impact that people have on people.

Book covers found at Goodread.com

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Hike Thru-hikers Forward – Update: September 8

Finally an update from Rock and Roots.

The last time we heard from the David and Annie Rothman (Rock and Roots) was July 31 and they were in Great Barrington, Massachusetts about 1,517 miles along the Appalachian Trail. The most recent update starts on August 4 and runs through August 12. The details are a little sketchy but let me provide a synopsis of their journey.

Rowdy with the Cookie Lady in 2014

From July 31 to August 4, Rock and Roots hiked 38.6 miles They walked along the mighty Housatonic River and the calm and peaceful Upper Goose Pond. I stayed at the Upper Goose Pond Cabin during my thru-hike, but I have no idea if Rock and Roots did the same. On August 4 we find the couple visiting the Cookie Lady (mile 1555.7), a wonderful trail angel that hand delivers homemade cookies to the thru-hikers. Her home is just 100 yards east of the trail and serves as a common rest area for hikers. They continued on to Dalton, MA, where they enjoyed a free shower at the rec. center. They extended their hike to their destination – Crystal Mountain campsite (mile – 1569.4)

August 5 – Roots fell early in the day and injured her heel. She was able to continue hiking but it was sore throughout the next few days. The couple hiked up Mt Graylock  (1582.4)and climbed the 86 steps up into the observatory for a great view of the surrounding area. They continued their hike and ended camping at Mount Williams (1584.7) for a 15.3-mile day.

Observation Tower: My Graylock

August 6 – Rock and Roots traveled through Williamstown, MA, (1588.7) and into Vermont (1592.8) and beyond the 1600-mile marker. They camped near the Congdon Shelter (1602.8) for an 18.1-mile day.

August 7 – Very few details for today. They stopped at the Melville Nauheim Shelter and visited with fellow hikers Goose Bumps and Hot Springs. They enjoyed a dinner near a mountain brook (1610.3) and made camp at Porcupine Ridge (1611.3), for a daily total of 8.5 miles.

Stratton Pond

August 8 has no entry and August 9 shares that Roots had a slow start to the day. I am putting two and two together (low mileage on the 7th, no entry on the 8th, and a slow start on the 9th) and am wondering if Root’s heal is hurting and slowing the progress a little bit. Today’s hike included a climb up Stratton Mountain (1700 ft assent) and then a descent (1300 ft) to Stratton Pond. They commented that the lookout tower on top of Stratton Mountain (1633.5) was covered in clouds, and they enjoyed their lunch beside a nice stream. They made their way to Prospect Rock (1642.3) and a great view of Manchester Center, VT: their destination for August 9. They camped at Spruce Peak Shelter (mile 1644.4).

Ski Lift on Bromley Mountain

August 10 has no entry, but the assumption is that Rock and Roots hiked the 3 miles into Manchester Center in order to resupply and rest.

August 11 shares that the couple left a hostel around 9:00 am and continued their hike of the AT. They hiked up Bromley Mountain (1650.2) and discover that the mountain is a snow skiing location with ski lifts. They walked over Styles Peak (1654.3), Peru Peak (1656), down to Griffith Lake (1657.8), back up to Baker Peak (1659.9), and ended their day at Lost Pond Shelter (1662.0) for a 14.8-mile adventure filled with ups and downs and beautiful things to see.

Minerva Hinchey Shelter

August 12 was the last day recorded in this recent post. Rock and Roots started their day at Lost Pond Shelter (1662.0). They had traveled another 14.9 miles as they made camp at the Minerva Hinchey Shelter (1676.9). This shelter was built in 1969 and then renovated in 2006, this shelter is named in honor of the late Minerva Hinchey – longtime recording secretary of the Green Mountain Club, who served for 22 years. The shelter is designed to sleep 10.

Rock and Roots are in my prayers as they continue to hike NOBO toward Maine. They have another 66 miles in Vermont and then they enter New Hampshire and the White Mountains.

Photos: Rock and Roots – https://www.trailjournals.com/journal/photos/24535; Minerva Hinchey Shelter – https://www.downthetrail.com/hiking-the-long-trail-vermont/minerva-hinchey-shelter/; All other trail photos – The Rough Collection

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Hike 2021 in 2021: Week 36

Week 36 of the 52-week walking challenge began on August 27 and wrapped up on September 2. The goal is to walk the year in miles: 2021. I was able to crank out 51.7 miles this week and I am always pleased if I can hit the 50-mile mark. I surpassed the 1700-mile marker for the year, ending the week with an accumulated total of 1,716 miles. With just a little over 350 miles to the finish line, an October finish date is still possible. A lot will depend on the weather, my health, and the potential curve balls of life.

Most of my miles this week were neighborhood loops pounding the pavement. I did take a hike in the woods at Twin Creek MetroPark on Saturday – it was so enjoyable. I stopped to take a few pictures of some interesting mushrooms. I plan to get out in the woods next week as well – I so enjoy the environment of the forest, but I often can’t afford the drive time to the trailhead.

Speaking of the trailhead, I had the opportunity to record a podcast several months ago. I was asked to share about my 2014 Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike on a podcast called the Art of Aging sponsored by the Ruth Frost Parker Center. Kaye Manson Jeter, a Del Mar Encore Fellow contacted me after hearing about my story from a good friend of the family, Donna Balskey. Kaye arranged for the recording with Eric Johnson and spent several hours talking about the AT and God’s faithfulness during my 5-month adventure. Anyway the podcast was just been released and you can take a listen if you are interested: here is the link: Episode 15 – Aging Hero David Rough Hikes the Appalachian Trail at 64 (podbean.com).

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