Beaker to Hot Springs, NC

On March 22nd, Beaker, the Mountaineer chemist from Morgantown WV, was camped at Groundhog Creek Shelter just north of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). His spirits were high as he hoped for a two-day journey into the first trail on the AT headed north, Hot Springs, NC.

Beaker’s Day on Max Patch

3/23/17 Destination: Walnut Mountain Shelter, NC. Hiking miles today – 13.1 miles.

March 23 was a beautiful day on the AT – clear skies and full sunshine. Beaker’s hike today was to include another AT highlight – Max Patch. Max Patch, large grassy bald, was originally cleared several years ago for cattle grazing. The bald has become a special spot for hikers because of its incredible 360 degree views of the mountains. Finally, Beaker got to enjoy the view with clouds and rain robbing the panoramic.

Beaker arrived at Walnut Mountain Shelter and was greeted by about 20 other hikers. From his tent he writes, “The wind is roaring up the mountain, my tent is shaking and the guy lines are buzzing in the wind. It will be a brisk night. That’s alright because tomorrow we reach Hot Springs, NC and a much-needed zero day,,,It’s been a week since I’ve showered. I stink!

Beaker and others enjoy the Hot Springs

3/24/17 Beaker stays at the Sunnybank Inn, in the trail town of Hot Springs, NC. 13.1 miles today.

“We all come out here for our own reasons; but, a part of it for all of us is to get away, on some level, from current society. However, we are all drawn in by the towns. After seven days in the woods, a town visit was long overdue. In town, you don’t have to filter water, sleep on the ground, or poop in a hole. Life in town is a brief respite from the rigors of the trail.”

Beaker wasted no time taking advantage of the town of Hot Springs, NC. The first order of business was a long, hot shower; then a trip to the laundromat; and finally food – lunch at the Smoky Mountain Diner. Beaker and several hikers visited the hot springs of Hot Springs, NC

3/25/17 Hot Springs, NC. Zero day in Hot Springs.

Beaker took advantage of the day of rest to refuel, resupply, and rejuvenate those tired legs. After breakfast he did some planning and estimated how many days it would take to make it to Erwin, TN and how much food he’d need for the journey. He sorted through his pack and sent home a few items, such as micro spikes.  He also made some longer term plans including some off-the-trail days at Adkins, VA around Easter to make his move to Knoxville, with a strategy to return to the trail in early May.

Tenting along service road

3/26/17 Back on the trail. 14.8 mile hike today ending at a stealth camp near Allen Gap, NC.

Beaker experienced a restless night at Elmer’s awaking with aches all over. He did not want to get out of bed but eventually he got his hiking stuff organized and packed. He started his day in the rain, but it didn’t last long and the sun broke out turning gray to blue.

By the time Beaker reached Allen Gap, he was feverish and dizzy. Being one of the last to arrive most of the flat spots were occupied, but he found a site on an old forest service road that ran close to the campsite. Soon, two other hikers joined him (see photo).

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Hot Springs, Max Patch, North Carolina, Thru-Hike, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The AT Class of 2017

The class of 2017 thru-hikers is off and climbing over the hills of Appalachia. The excited adventurers all hope that they have what it takes to hike 2,186 miles and the fortitude to travel through 14 states in order to complete the journey. There is a small percentage of thru-hikers that post their journals online through a website, trailjournals.com. I enjoy reading their stories as I retrace my journey in 2014. Several brave men and women have answered the challenge of the mountains and have set out on the path as early as January.

Vagabond on a snowy path

Only one journal began in January – an older hiking team of Vagabond and Wiesbaden started at Dennis Cove, TN on January 18, 2107. Sickness demanded that they spend several days off trail, but they have returned and their journal on 3/30/17 located them about 7.5 miles north of Pearisburg, VA. They are making slow progress but they have also encountered some difficult weather. They have logged in 234.8 total miles during their 70-day trek.

Nineteen active hikers began their attempts in February and I am tracking 71 hikers that jumped on the AT during the month of March for a total of 91 current pilgrims on the trail. But wait…. there will be a bulging bubble of hikers that start during April and a few late bloomers hitting the AT in May. I will continue to add to my statistics as others join the travelers.

There are also a large number of excited bloggers that anticipate being part of the class of 2017, but for one reason or another simply do not follow-through on their journal. Typically, they just drop off the website with no journal entries after some pre-hike posts. If there is no entry, then I take them off my watch list and turn my eyes to those who are active. From January through March there are 47 hikers with blank pages

Bacon on the AT

from the trail. They might be on the AT somewhere or they might have reason for staying home – either way, they are not included in my numbers.

Of the 91 hiker-diaries active online, six of those journals record the hiker’s need to leave the trail. Physical, emotional, and unknown reasons tell the tale. Let me let their journals share the stories.

Trail name: Bacon“Due to some unexpected issues that have popped up over the last several days, I am forced to leave the trail this year”

Giggles: “Giggles tried to hike another day with his bad knees but decided BEFORE going over Bull Gap to call the hike! He and Chitz rented a car and headed home. He was in good spirits and looking forward to shower and clean clothes! We are sure that giggles will section hike in the future but for now he will just enjoy his new status of ‘retired’.”

Poncho Gorilla and Idgie2/23/17 “The MRI showed a complex tear of meniscus. The doctor said that he would like to do surgery next Wednesday. He said full recovery would be around 30 days. We now plan to do a flip flop hike.” 3/3/17 “I had surgery on March 1. It was a partial meniscectomy. I am icing frequently and have been walking in the house. Some swelling is still present. I can feel daily improvement and caution

Pokeymom

myself not to over do it. I am still cautiously optimistic for a start this month on the trail. We will do a flip flop if able to get on trail”

Pokeymom: “I am a wimpy slow fair-weather hiker. I’m friendly and cheerful and cautious of my foot placement to the point of extreme low mileage. I had no aches or pains or blisters or falls….although I did start with bronchitis which is still lingering around the edges. I carried too much food and too much weight but used everything I brought and was comfortable.”

Icy Blood Mountain

Mattman: “Coming down off Blood Mt. on the way to Neel Gap I slipped on ice and injured my shoulder. It’s bad. I cannot lift my arm. The attempt is over. I am so disappointed. I suppose I am lucky–it could have been worse.”

Stay in touch and I will attempt to update the class of 2017 on a weekly basis.

Photos captured from the journals

Vagabond – http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=1090036

Bacon – http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=1087472

Pokeymom http://www.trailjournals.com/about.cfm?trailname=21129

Mattman’s Blood Mountain http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=1091779

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Blood Mountain, Class of 2017, Pearisburg, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker Thru The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Beaker, Rusty Miller, from Morgantown, WV is a thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail. He began his adventure during the last week of February and found himself snowbound in Knoxville for a few days. This post picks up his story as he leaves Knoxville and his lovely visit with his wife and heads up the trail toward the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP).

3/18/17 ends at Russell Field Shelter in the GSMNP after hiking 15.7 miles. After a rainstorm during the night at Knoxville, the morning dawned gray and overcast; Beaker’s son, Chris and his wife, Marguerite accompanied him back to Fontana Village. The chemist from WV had a last goodbye and then headed up into the Great Smoky Mountains.

Beaker planned to push straight through the Smokies in five days. The climb up the mountain proved to be pretty tough, but he arrived at the Russell Field shelter and found it filled with a Boy Scout troop and other thru hikers. So, he happily pitched his tent close by and went to sleep listening to coyotes howling in the distance.

3/19/17 Today’s hike totaled another 14.7 miles and ended at Siler’s Bald Shelter, NC. The hike was quite difficult as Beaker encountered snow, ice, mud, rocks, roots, steep ascents, and steep descents. On the northern slopes there was a great deal of ice and snow. Beaker even broke out his microspikes today. His evaluation of the spikes, “They were incredible! It made a huge difference on the icy sections.”

3/20/17 Another day in the GSMNP concluded at Icewater Spring Shelter for a total mileage for the day of 15.1. Two highlights awaiting this day’s journey: arriving at the highest point of the AT, Clingman’s Dome, and crossing the North Carolina/Tennessee border. His reflection of the first highlight, “It was a fairly long and steep climb up Clingman’s Dome; but, the sun was hanging in there. As I was nearing the summit, I saw the clouds moving in. Alas, by the time I reached the weird tower on top with the curving walkway, the clouds had settled in. No views. Bummer.” The ice was bad throughout the day and Beaker hiked all day in his microspikes but he remained optimistic and celebrated the crossing into Tennessee at Newfound Gap.

3/21/17 Today was Beaker’s longest day yet on the AT – 19.8 miles. Because of the locations of the shelters and the requirement to camp at the shelters, Beaker had to decide between a 12-mile day to the first shelter or a19-mile day to the second, Cosby Knob Shelter. He pushed on and proved that he is developing some strong trail legs. The weather continued to send foggy conditions, “I couldn’t see 30 feet ahead of me.”

 

If you get a chance, check out Beaker’s expanded journal online: http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=18636.

If you like my blog, check out my ebook, Hike It Forward, at Amazon.com Just click the photo of the book.

Check Out My Book

 

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Clingmans Dome, Fontana Dam, GSMNP, North Carolina, Shelter, Thru-Hike, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beaker in Knoxville

My last post about Beaker, the chemist from West Virginia had him snow-bound in Knoxville, TN, enjoying his son’s home and awaiting the arrival of his wife, Marguerite. The next few days were rather eventful… off trail.


Tuesday March 14

Beaker enjoyed the zero day in Knoxville hanging out with his son’s dogs and visiting the local outfitter store.

Wednesday March 15 – A cold, clear day in Knoxville. The road to Newfound Gap was still closed and the temperature was bitterly cold at the top of GSMNP. Most of Beaker’s hiker buddies were planning to move forward on Thursday. Beaker’s wife, Marguerite, was on her way to Knoxville so his plan was not to leave Saturday. “I’m just sort of bumming around town today checking out downtown Knoxville.” Marguerite arrived in Knoxville later that day. “We’re just planning to hang out until I return to the trail on Saturday morning.”

Beaker’s wife, Marguerite

Thursday, March 16 – Beaker’s blog begins, “So, we bought a house in Knoxville yesterday.”  I think Marguerite and Beaker did a little more than just hang out yesterday. It turns out that the couple had worked hard to put their house in WV on the market just before Rusty headed off for the AT on February 26. The house went on the market Monday, Feb 27th  and the very first couple to look at it signed a contract for the asking price! Beaker needed to find a cell-phone signal to be able to electronically sign the contract for the sale of their house from the trail.

“I already had plans to come off the trail to look at a potential house in Knoxville. The weather just pushed me off the trail a little earlier than planned. So, anyway, we liked the house and when Marguerite arrived yesterday we signed the contract. I plan to return to the trail Saturday morning and continue my northbound journey until mid to late April, when I will have to take a couple weeks off-trail to help move the household (including three dogs and two cats) to Knoxville.”

Friday, March 17 I have mixed feelings as I prepare to return to the trail tomorrow. On the one hand, I am excited to continue my journey north – especially in the Smokies. On the other hand, it’s very hard to leave Marguerite again.”

Beaker completes every entry of his blog with the Latin phrase, Montani Semper Liberi, Mountaineers Are Always Free, the fabulous state motto of the state of West Virginia. The state motto of Tennessee is “Agriculture and Commerce.” I hope he doesn’t change his signature when he becomes a resident of Knoxville.

 

 

Categories: Beaker, GSMNP, Knoxville, Tennessee, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker – Part 3

Beaker on the Trail

Let me continue the story of the thru-hike of “Beaker” the chemist from West Virginia. We last left him in a hotel in Hiawassee, Georgia, warming up after a very cold night on the trail without an ample sleeping bag. Let’s follow his adventure for a few more days.

Saturday, March 4. Beaker had a fortuitous late start out of Hiawassee because when the shuttle dropped him off at the trailhead at Unicoi Gap, a church group from the Raleigh area was putting on a hiker feed, complete with grilled hamburgers and all the fixings – trail blessing at its best.. Beaker’s post has the sound of a happy and dry and contented hiker, “The hiking weather was perfect – high 50s, sunny, and only a light breeze. And the views of the North Georgia mountains were incredible. To top it all off, the Tray Mt Shelter is the prettiest shelter I’ve seen so far. It sits on top of Tray Mt and looks out over a sea of mountains. The sunset was gorgeous! There are probably another 30-40 people here – mostly new faces. The Trail is getting pretty busy.”

Sunday, March 5. Beaker made a fairly easy hike to Dick’s Creek Gap and the Top of Georgia hostel. He reached the hostel by 1 pm and was able to pick up his emergency mail drop from home including a warmer sleeping bag. He decided to press on to the next shelter even though he had already paid a non-refundable fee for the bed, so “ I ‘paid it forward’ and let the next guy who arrived have my spot for free. He was so excited – my own little bit of trail magic.” I don’t know Beaker personally, but I am beginning to appreciate his character and perspective on his adventure.

Border GA/NC

Monday (16.6 miles; 90.4 total miles so far). Beaker awoke to rain on his tent at 4:30 am. He slept much better during the night with the warmer sleeping bag. It was another blustery day with rain on and off until about 2:00 pm. The highlight of the day was crossing the NC/GA border. The AT experienced several major forest fires last year and Beaker came upon one such area. He shares in his journal, “I climbed Standing Indian Mt moved into the area that was so devastated by forest fires last Fall. The standing trees appear to be OK, with scorch marks on the lower 12 – 18 inches of their trunks. However, the undergrowth is completely gone. It looks like some kind of strange war zone.”

Fire Tower on Albert Mountain

Tuesday, March 7. “It was the most miserable day on the trail so far. And the most epic!” Beaker started the day with rain, he walked in a tunnel all day with fog so thick he could only see about 20 ft ahead. The day’s hike included the climb up and over Albert Mountain (5250 ft). The last 0.3 miles is the steepest grade up to this point of the AT. Unfortunately, the climb to the summit changed from a gentle rain to a deluge. There is a fire tower at the top, but again the fantastic views were missed because of the weather. However, the fire tower stands at the 100 mile marker and the sense of accomplishment is amazing. Beaker hiked another five miles past the summit and stayed in a dry hotel in Franklin for the night.

Wednesday, March 8.  Beaker was greeted with beautiful blue morning skies and no rain! He got a late start because of the need to resupply to replace his water filter. His 8.3-mile day was filled with a climb up Siler Bald (5001 ft) during the late afternoon. The climb was well worth it. The reward was an incredible 360 degree view of the beautiful mountains.

More of Beaker’s hike coming up soon. Stay connected.

Categories: Albert Mountain, Appalachian Trail, Fire-tower, Georgia, Hiawassee, Thru-Hike, Trail Blessing, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker Continues

Beaker and Friends dry in a cabin

Rusty Miller (trail name – Beaker) from Morgantown, West Virginia, began his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail on February 26th by conquering the approach trail of 8.5 miles. This is no small task due to the rigor of the ascent and the challenging terrain beginning at Amicalola Falls, Georgia. Beaker made it to the top of Springer Mountain, the actual southern terminus of the AT, on day one and camped with seven other excited hikers ready to dream of Maine and 2,200 miles ahead.

Let me give you a quick fast forward and share some of Beaker’s adventures during the first week of his pilgrimage. Day two, he hiked 7.2 miles with a philosophy of keeping his mileage low until his trail legs begin to strengthen. He took his time breaking camp in the morning and hit the trail around 10:00.  Before the day was over Beaker experienced a common phenomenon on the AT – RAIN.

Day three – his journal begins, “Rain. Again. Lots of rain. Everything is damp.” Despite the moisture, Beaker managed to walk 13.2 miles and ended up at Woody Gap. The rain let up for most of the day but around 2:00 pm the rain arrived accompanied by several claps of thunder. Beaker shares, “I slogged on and finally arrived at Woody Gap in the pouring rain.

Wednesday, March 1 brought a new month to the trail but the rain continued. It had poured all night and Beaker woke up to rain in the morning. To add insult to his dampened spirits, his air mattress sprung a leak during the night. On the up side, the day’s adventure took him up and over his first 4,000 foot mountain: Blood Mountain (4457 ft). The summit displays some wonderful views, but not for Beaker, “Didn’t see ’em! At the top – nothing but clouds.” The climb up Blood Mountain was strenuous but the descent on the other side revealed a rather unnerving, slippery slope of bear rock, “the wet rocks were slick. I had a couple scary slips, but managed not to fall.” The day ended at Neel Gap and a nice warm cabin just before a downpour with thunder, lightning, high winds and pelting rain.

Beaker on the Trail

Thursday, March 2 started with glorious sunshine, although the temperature only reached into the 30’s, and ended at a campsite at Low Gap Shelter. When Beaker arrived he found a tent city involving about 30-40 backpackers. Temperatures dropped in the middle of the night and Beaker discovered that his hiking quilt wasn’t going to be adequate. He recorded, “Even wearing all my clothes, I was very cold. I lay there shivering all night.”

Friday, March 3. After a 9.8 mile hike Beaker opted for a restful and warm bed in a room at the Budget Inn in Hiawassee, GA. He called his wife and made arrangements for an express delivery of a sleeping bag to replace his quilt to be sent to the Top of Georgia hostel in Dick’s Creek Gap.

I love how Beaker describes himself: “As you can see, it’s just me in a kilt with a ponytail, bushy white beard, and a funny red hat, carrying a hiking staff.” (He forget to mention the mobster shades).

End of day five = 52.6 miles. More of Beaker’s story to come.

Categories: Amicalola Falls, Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Georgia, Hiawassee, Tent City, Thru-Hike, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

High School Hiking Class

Greg Kurtz, Senior English Teacher

Greg, the Senior English teacher at my school, and I decided to offer a two-week hiking class for high school students during January. One of the academic sessions of our school year, J(anuary)-Term, occurs during a 14-day window beginning after Christmas break. J-Term is an intensive setting in which students are involved in local ministries, international mission trips, STEM classes, and other creative offerings designed by the faculty. Greg and I wanted to provide an active course designed to transfer the traditional classroom into the powerful setting of nature.

On the other hand… our concern – who would be crazy enough to hike from 8:15 in the morning to 3:00 in the afternoon in the depth of winter?  The answer… 24 students signed up…. voluntarily…. enthusiastically…. with smiles on their faces. Seven seniors, fifteen juniors, and two sophomores gathered together on January 3rd to begin the adventure of outdoor trails in Ohio in winter.

On day one, we caravanned about 40 minutes from campus to a MetroPark in Englewood, Ohio. We hiked every trail in the park and logged about 11 miles. We ended up at the home of a school family for hot chocolate and donuts. At the end of each hike the victorious hikers received an honorary carabiner for his/her backpack.

High School Hiking Class

I was able to take the students to one of my favorite spots in the area – Caesar Creek State Park. Snow had fallen overnight and turned the forest trail into a beautiful winter path. The slippery changes in terrain added to the adventure causing many to fall on the snowy turf. I led the way with a perfect two-armed flailing, trekking pole throwing, seat drop. With everyone’s pride still intact, the 12-mile loop trail was circumnavigated with a great sense of accomplishment and appreciation for God’s creation.

Greg and I decided to vary the context of our adventures and so one day’s agenda found the hiking class catching the public transit system and entering the downtown metropolis of Dayton, Ohio. With a 2010 census population of 141,527 and a land area (most of it cement) of 56.5 square miles, the group found little problem in walking past some historic areas like the gravesites of Orville and Wilbur Wright and enjoying a 12-mile urban hike around the city.

Another day of J-Term required the class to take a lengthy hike along the Little Miami Scenic Bike Trail. Two dozen of us walked from Xenia to Yellow Springs, ending up at Young’s Dairy for ice cream – a hiker’s favorite no matter what the weather.

The brave students joined Greg and I as we visited the trails of several other MetroParks, hiked in freezing temperatures, got caught in a thunderstorm on a warmer day, and logged over 100 miles in just ten days. Not bad for January… but all the students seemed to come equipped with diligence and determination. I enjoyed every minute of the adventure.

Categories: Caesar Creek, Dayton Christian, Hiking, Local Hikes, MetroPark, Ohio, Students, Trail | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Beaker the Chemist

 

My wonderful mother-in-law is 90 years-old and lives in Wild Wonderful West Virginia. This past weekend Cathy, my bride of almost 45 years, and I piled into our 1999 Toyota Camry and drove from our house in the Buckeye state to the home of the Mountaineers in Morgantown. Our son, Matt, also lives in Morgantown and we enjoyed a weekend of reunion with him as well as a special time with Cat’s mom.

Cathy’s three brothers live close by, so Nana’s house was visited by many during our four-day stay in the Mountain State. One afternoon, my niece and her family including four fantastic, energetic children came for lunch and a time of nice conversation. In the midst of family talk, Bekah shared that a coworker of her husband at the pharmaceutical company was hiking the Appalachian Trail. Any mention of the trail perks my ears to attention and opens my eyes with more than a twinkle of interest.

Bekah shared that the chemist’s name was Rusty Miller and he had the opportunity to take an early retirement with perks allowing him to hike the trail with funds from a severance package and the benefit of health insurance. With a first name like Rusty, I thought his trail name would be an easy decision. To my surprise, I found out his name on the AT is Beaker. What a great name for a chemist!

Two minutes into my chat with Bekah I was hooked into following Beaker’s blog and taking another vicarious hike through 14 states.  Beaker began his adventure on Sunday February 26. He began in Amicalola Falls State Park and traveled the 8.8-mile approach trail to Springer Mountain, the official start of the Appalachian Trail.  This approach trail contains a brutal start with 650 steps leading up to the falls. The approach trail, itself, has been enough to discourage many hikers to the place of throwing in the towel. Beaker, however, arrived in great spirits.

When he reached the summit, he found eight other pioneers – folks from Florida, New Hampshire, New York, Philadelphia, Paris and South Africa. This country and even the world gather at the southern terminus of this granddaddy of long trails. The AT is truly an international pathway to the Appalachian Mountains. The octave of hikers decided to camp together in the shelter or pitch their tents nearby. It was indeed a great day for the chemist from West Virginia. More of his story to follow…..

Categories: Amicalola Falls, Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Georgia, Hiking, Ohio, Springer Mountain, Thru-Hike, West Virginia | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Hiking Into Retirement

My blog has been silent for several months, even though my life has been spinning in many directions. Early last summer I was given the opportunity to serve my school as both the Superintendent and the Hugh School Principal. From the enrollment of new students to the hiring of teachers to building a master schedule of classes to the faculty orientation to the start of school, my summer’s agenda was filled with variety and demand. School opened its doors in August and the return of students brought athletics, concerts, schedule changes, teachers’ meetings, state reports, faculty observations, board meetings, and the mountain of administrivia.

But then came a sense of peace. The board of trustees renewed their two-year-old commitment to find a new Head of School. As the search began, I knew that the time was right to retire. I have enjoyed an action-packed 34 years in Christian School education. And yet, the decision to pass the leadership baton to others more qualified and filled with the youthful energy of the pink rabbit was filled with relief. I will complete this school year but will erase the chalkboard for the last time in June. There is a sense of sorrow to leave my friends and colleagues but a huge anticipation to discover what lies on the other side of the retirement door.

All of that to say, one of my passions is writing…. another is hiking. So, I anticipate in retirement an opportunity to fill some blog pages with research and personal experiences on the trail. This past January one of my closest colleagues and I were able to offer a two-week class to high school students on hiking. Now hiking in Ohio in January is a risk – a risk of bitter cold weather, slippery trails, inches of snow, and high winds that can blow a man sideways. It was a blast and I had so much fun trekking the trails with teenagers (and getting paid for it). More insights into this extraordinary group of high school students in an upcoming post.

I attended two hiking workshops in the last month that were both interesting and impactful on my hiking plans for the future. One workshop focused on the John Muir Trail in California and the other on the Buckeye Trail, a loop around the state of Ohio. Stay tuned for some of my reflections in the next few posts.

The Appalachian Trail is in my blood and I experience some sort of reminder in the wind every day of Springer Mountain and Mount Katahdin and the two thousand + miles in between. Hike It Forward pages to come will highlight some of the brave (and crazy) people who have declared themselves as thru-hikers during this 2017 season.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Dayton Christian, Hike It Forward, Hiking, Mount Katahdin, Ohio, Retirement, Springer Mountain, Students, Thru-Hike, Trail | Tags: , , , , | 19 Comments

Dulcigal is a Thru-Hiker

Dulcigal

Dulcigal in Georgia

Dulcigal, Karla Redman, has completed her thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail!

Dulcigal began her journey on March 19 and hiked to her finish line on October 29 for a total of 231 days. I have never personally met Karla, but my admiration of her character, faith, and determination grew with every post of her journal. I counted her “out” at the end of June when she suffered a serious bout of kidney stones on the trail. She landed in the hospital including two days in the ICU with kidney and liver failure and septic shock. An additional three days were spent in the hospital before she was able to travel back to her home in Georgia.

But Dulcigal was not done with her dream. After a short two-week recovery, she returned to the trail. With her two sons at her side for a few days, she continued hiking with praise to God’s faithfulness and provision. It became apparent to her that she would most likely not make it to Mount Katahdin in Maine (the northern terminus of the AT) before the threat of winter closed the mountain, so she decided to attempt a flip-flop. She hiked to the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border, then caught a bus to Hanover, New Hampshire. From Hanover, she hiked over the White Mountains, through Mahoosuc Notch, and across the Hundred Mile Wilderness in Maine. She summited Katahdin and stood atop the brown sign on September 22. She then traveled back to Hanover and hiked south-bound

Dulcigal on Top of Katahdin

Dulcigal on Top of Katahdin

to Delaware Water Gap on the PA/NJ state border. Her finish line was a hostel in Delaware Water Gap located in the Church of the Mountain.

I have included a few lines from the last post on her online journal. Karla writes,

“2,189.1 miles — I’m still trying to digest it all. Today was fantastic…better than I ever expected. The weather was beautiful, the walk was extremely easy and relaxing, and the fun with my 2 sons, Danielle (a family friend), and a few thru-hikers in the area, was phenomenal. The joy of actually finishing the trail is indescribable, but I can understand the bittersweet thoughts as well. It will take some adjusting to adapt to “normal” life again, I am sure….. Though this has been the most challenging life experience, it has been the most rewarding. The question I was asked most often was, “Are you hiking all by yourself?” I was never alone. Other than the many other hikers and trail volunteers I had the privilege to meet and socialize with on the trail, my Lord and Savior was with me every step of the way. I never felt alone. I cherished my talks with God and fellowship with the trail community.”

Karla, the Thru-Hiker

Karla, the Thru-Hiker

I sent Dulcigal a short note of congratulations and my standing ovation for her diligence and bravery. I was surprised to get a response back from her so soon after her completion. Her kind response reflects her humility and the character that enables a person to hike for over 230 days and 2,186 miles through fourteen different states:

“Hi David.  I’m in the lost phase of just getting home and figuring out what to do next….it will be an adjustment for sure.  Although I was so excited about finishing, I’m already missing the woods.  😦  I plan to get out and do some short hikes nearby to feed my desire to being out in nature.  Yes, the reward of being able to complete such a journey is the ultimate gift.  You understand because you have been there, done that.  Thank you for following the journey and your inspiration as well!!   Karla”

My congratulations to Karla Redman – Dulcigal.

Categories: 100 Mile Wilderness, Appalachian Trail, Delaware Water Gap, Dulcigal, Mahoosuc Notch, Maine, Mount Katahdin, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, The Whites, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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