Posts Tagged With: Appalachian Trail

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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Hike Thru-hikers Forward – August 19

I am following two online journals of current hikers attemping a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Sadly, there is no word from Mileage or from the Rothman’s (Rock and Roots). Both of their online journals are silent. I am still hopeful that they are still hiking NOBO and, if nothing else, maybe they will post a final entry from the big brown sign on Mount Katahdin in Maine.  

Robert Sanchez

Since I have nothing from the trail in 2021, let me share some past news from the AT. Two years ago I wrote a couple of posts about an event of tragic violence on the Appalachian Trail. Recently, I discovered the legal conclusion to the murder that occurred on the Appalachian Trail in 2019. I have a close friend who was thru-hiking the AT at the time and was involved in helping the injured hiker to safety.

On May 10, 2019, James Jordan, aka Sovereign, murdered a thru-hiker (Robert Sanchez), attempted to murder another thru-hiker, Kirby Morrill, and threatened several other hikers along the Appalachian Trail. On May 11, he was captured, arrested, and held for trial in Smyth County, Virginia. James Jordon was charged with one count of murder and one count of assault with the intent to murder.  

James Jordan

The judge ordered that Jordan be detained for a psychological or psychiatric examination to determine whether he suffered from “mental disease or defect” that would make him unable to understand the charges he faces or help attorneys in his defense. After this initial examination, Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent agreed to give the Bureau of Prisons 120 more days in the “period of restoration.” She also stated that: “…the treating psychiatrist or psychologist shall report his/her findings to this court as to the following: a. Whether the defendant is suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or assist properly in his defense; and b. If so, whether there is a substantial probability that in the foreseeable future the defendant will attain the capacity to permit his trial to proceed.”

On April 22, 2021, a federal judge accepted a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity from Jordan. Both the prosecution and defense reached an agreement for the plea after a sanity evaluation found that he suffered from schizoaffective disorder and concluded that he was “unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his acts.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Schizoaffective disorder symptoms may vary from person to person. People with the condition experience psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, as well as symptoms of a mood disorder — either bipolar type (episodes of mania and sometimes depression) or depressive type (episodes of depression). Although the development and course of schizoaffective disorder may vary, defining features include a major mood episode (depressed or manic mood) and at least a two-week period of psychotic symptoms when a major mood episode is not present.”

The Mayo clinic website also cites the following signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder:  Delusions: having false, fixed beliefs, despite evidence to the contrary; Hallucinations, such as hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t there; Impaired communication and speech, such as being incoherent; Bizarre or unusual behavior; Symptoms of depression, such as feeling empty, sad or worthless; Periods of manic mood, with an increase in energy and a decreased need for sleep over several days, and behaviors that are out of character; Impaired occupational, academic and social functioning; Problems with managing personal care, including cleanliness and physical appearance

James Jordan was committed to a psychiatric institution and “will not be released until a court finds by clear and convincing evidence that his release would not create a substantial risk of injury to anyone else.” His lawyers attorneys Juval O. Scott, Lisa Lorish, and Matthew Engle say that Jordan is now “deeply remorseful for the profound sorrow he has caused” and that he has suffered from lifelong mental illness.

Man Who Killed Hiker on Appalachian Trail Found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity | PEOPLE.com

The disturbing case of James Jordan – The Appalachian Trail Murderer — StrangeOutdoors.com

James L. Jordan Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity in Murder of Ronald Sanchez (lawandcrime.com)

Schizoaffective disorder – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic

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Hike Thru-hikers Forward: Update August 12

No updates from the Appalachian Trail. Both the online journal from Mileage and virtual postings from Rock & Roots are silent. I have heard nothing from Mileage since July 1. I posted a concern on her site, but I have received no response. Either she has abandoned the journal, or she has abandoned the trail. My hopes and prayers are with her. It would be great to hear that she is out there still hiking north.

Rock and Roots posted on July 31 from Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Great Barrington is about 15 miles north of the Connecticut/Massachusetts border with another 75 miles in MA before Rocks and Roots step on the trail in New Hampshire.

Sorry that I have no words, photographs, smoke signals, emails, or coded messages from the thru-hikers this week. I will keep checking their journals and update you when I hear any news.  

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Hike Thru-Hikers Forward: Update July 29

I wish I had a better update on the three thru-hikers that we are following, but silence continues to be the norm on their online journals.

Bridge-walk to New Jersey

I have heard nothing from Nancy, trail name: Mileage, since July 1st.

Rock and Roots have only made one entry since the last update. They did post on July 11, so let me catch you up on this huge hiking day for them, realizing that it is 18 days old. Their hiking adventure on July 11 involved a marathon. They logged in 26.2 miles, ending their day in Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania. The Delaware Water Gap is a true water gap on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the Delaware River cuts through a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. The thru-hiker is only a bridge-walk away from leaving the rocks of Pennsylvania and discovering the rocks of New Jersey.

DWG from Council Rock

Rocks and Roots started their hike at 7:20 am. and arrived at Delaware Water Gap (DWG) around 6:00 pm. They have been slack packing, so at least they did not have to carry their heavy packs. They walked today with three other hikers: Tinder, Hook, and Ripper. It happened to be Rocks birthday, so the hikers celebrated upon arrival in DWG with some good food and a visit to the only sake distillery in Pennsylvania. The brewery is called Sango Kura. Sango is the name of the owner’s daughter and is Japanese for coral. Kura simply means brewery. They also ordered some chips and salsa.

The Church of the Mountain Hostel Lobby

Roots found some vegan ice cream (most likely at Zoe’s Ice Cream) and grabbed a matcha green tea latte from Dunkin’ while Rock, who was disappointed in the chips and salsa, ordered a pizza. Everyone stayed at “the hiker center in town.” There is one major hiker center that I remember in DWG and it is The Church of the Mountain Hostel. This is where I stayed as well, and it has a bunkroom and showers. I remember it being very homey and comfortable, but then again, I had just completed Pennsylvania and was still thrilled to be on the Appalachian Trail.

You can tell by the details shared by Rocks and Roots how important food is to the thru-hiker. It is a thought that dominates the day, especially when a town is on the agenda. After lodging is taken care of, food was the number one concern – lots of it and lots of calories and protein (in that order).  

Photos: Church of the Mountain Hostel: Church of the Mountain hostel living room – WhiteBlaze Gallery; The Bridge: The Rough Collection; View from Council Rock: The Rough Collection.

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Hike Thru-hikers Forward: Update July 15

Thru-hiker Mileage has gone silent again (last post was July 1 from Boiling Springs, PA – mile 1118), but Rock and Roots have provided several up-dated posts on their online journal. Unfortunately, Rock and Roots do not post photos so I have no visuals for us of their adventure, thus the only photo I have is repeated here.

Last time we heard form Rock and Roots was June 8 and they were 865 miles along the Appalachian Trail camping at Calf Mountain Shelter inside the Shenandoah National Park about seven miles north of Waynesboro, Virginia.

On June 9 the couple hiked 13 miles, stopping about 1:30 for a late lunch and arriving at their evening destination, Blackrock Hut (mile 878.5), at 5:00. They passed over the Skyline Drive eight times during the day’s hike including the Sawmill Run Overlook. Their plan was to reach the 900-mile marker on June 10.

It is not clear whether they reached their 900-mile goal on June 10, but they were able to grab a nice shower at a camp store (possibly the Loft Mountain Store – 885.8).  The journal then has a few blank days, but we do know that Rock and Roots spent the night on Sunday, June 13 at the Skyland Resort at mile 928.2. They commented that it had rained several days in a row so the weather may have caused a slow down of the hiking agenda.

Monday June 14 was a long day hiking day resulting in 24 miles and ending up at Gravel Springs Hut. Roots (Annie) has blisters on her feet for the first time on the trail and Rock needs a new pair of shoes. Despite their feet issues, the couple enjoyed the day’s hike seeing a buck with velvety antlers and later in the day, a doe enjoying some dinner along the trail, as well as two colorful snakes (one with yellow stripes and the other with a yellow head and silver body). Gravel Springs Hut is still located in the Shenandoah Nation Park (SNP), but only about 10 miles from the northern boundary.  

Tuesday, June 15 brought Rock and Roots out SNP. They walked 16 miles and completed their hiking day at Mosby Campsite, 969.2 miles along the Appalachian Trail and about 3.5 miles north of Front Royal, Virginia. The couple is planning on making it to Harper’s Ferry by Friday where they will spend some time with family. The skies were clear today so Rock and Roots got some last day photos of the SNP.

June 16 was a 20-mile day ending at Rod Hollow Shelter around 9:20 pm. They hiked through part of the Sky Meadows State Park. They camped just short of the Roller Coaster (13.5 miles of tightly packed assents and descents) leading to the border of Virginia and West Virginia. Just before arriving at the shelter, Rock experienced a rare sight – a bear climbing down a tree.  

June 17 presented the roller coaster and some challenging terrain. They had lunch 5 miles into the coaster at a spot called Buzzard Hill (appropriate for eating lunch). Close to the end of the coaster the couple passed the 1,000 mile marker. They had hoped to end their day at the Blackburn AT Center  (mile 1007.1), but choose an alternate stealth camping spot a few miles short of the center.

My Photo for 2014

They arrived at Harper’s Ferry and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy headquarters, on Friday, June 18th. After checking in at the ATC, Rock’s sister and a niece picked them up. They had an enjoyable weekend in town with family. The ate some good food and took a relaxing tubing trip.

Rock and Roots left Harper’s Ferry on Sunday afternoon, June 20, and hiked 6 miles to the Ed Garvey Shelter. They experienced a crazy rain storm on Sunday evening that lasted through most of morning on Monday. Once the rain cleared on June 21 they hiked to the next campground (Crampton Gap Shelter). June 21 is the longest day of the year but the couple made one of their shortest walks (4.1 miles reaching an accumulated 1,030 miles on the AT). Rock placed a call to his Aunt Anne and Uncle Barry. They came and picked Rock and Roots up and took them to Boonsboro and a nice, warm, dry inn. It was a great morale boost for the two wet hikers. 

The online journal then jumps to July 10 (18 days and 236 miles later). Rock and Roots are almost to the end of Pennsylvania. They are 13 miles north of Palmerton, PA, having climbed out of Lehigh Gap and the iconic rock scramble up the Superfund site. They appear to be staying with John and Linda Stempa at Smith Gap, who are providing a slack-packing opportunity for the couple. They have hiked about 1,266 miles of the Appalachian Trail and are approximately 25 miles from the New Jersey line. I am not sure the reason for the gap in the journal, but we will pick up their adventure from here.

I hope to have a good update next Thursday as we follow these thru-hikers all the way to Maine.

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Hike Thru-hikers Forward: Update 7.8.21

PIppi

For those readers who may not be familiar with this emphasis of my blog, I try to provide a weekly update on a number of thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail. They are each posting their progress on an online website (trailjournals.com). I originally selected five individuals (or teams) that had plans to begin their adventure between March 16 and March 23.

Rock and Roots

Pippi started on March 16. Her name is Debbie Dunkle. Pippi had successfully hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2011. However, she reported two very sore knees before ending her journal on March 30.

David and Annie Rothman (Rock and Roots) hit the trail on March 17. I believe they are still making their way north to Maine although their last post was on June 10. At that time there were bout 900 miles into the trail looking forward to reaching Harpers Ferry, WV.

Scooby

Scooby, aka Mike Carpenter, posted several pre-hike entries on his journal and was scheduled to take his step on March 19th , but he never posted from the trail. He might have abandoned to journal and is still out there hiking, or something came up in life that made him postpone or cancel his adventure.

The Hoots

The Hoots (Five women friends) decided to tackle the AT together. The coordinator of the hike was Terri (Five Pair), who is a thru-hiker alumna from 2012. The group consisted of Five Pair, Tina, Maggie (Soul Sista), Nancy (Mileage), and Karen (Jack Rabbit). Of the five only one remains: Tina left the trail first on March 26 (hospitalized family member); then Soul Sista on March 27 (this was a planned early exit); then Jack Rabbit on April 1 (missed her husband); then the previous thru-hiker, Five Pair, had to get off the trail with an injury (fractured tibia and two torn ligaments)  on April 19. Mileage is the only Hoot left. (See her update below).

Bookworm

Dennis Pack, Bookworm, was scheduled to start om March 23. He fell just days before and broke his wrist. This delayed his hike. He was able to begin on April 19. He decided to hike a flip/flop, starting in West Virginia and hiking to Maine, climbing Mt Katahdin in Maine and returning to WV to complete the AT from WV to Georgia. Currently he is in New Hampshire about 100 miles from the border of Maine

Rocksylvania

The big news this week is that I have heard from Mileage. Her journal went silent after April 28.  She was 368 miles into the hike and a few days north of Erwin, Tennessee. Just this week she posted a quick entry sharing that she hiked beyond the 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1000 and 1100 mile markers. She is in Boiling Spring, PA (meaning she completed Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland). She promises to catch us up on her journey, but I will most likely just pick it back up in July and move forward instead of trying to fill in the details.   

Mileage is experiencing “Rocksylvania,” but the real challenge of the rocks still awaits her after she crosses over the Susquehanna River. From Boiling Spring to Duncannon, PA is pretty smooth, but then the rocks begin to get sharp and they seem to multiply and grow over night.

The sad news about Terri (Five Pair)’s injury was confirmed by an MRI showing a fractured tibia and two torn ligaments. Healing is goning well and Five Pair is increasingly enthusiastic for a potential return to the trail. I will keep you posted.

So, I followed five groups of people stepping out on the Appalachian Trail in the middle of March. It involved 10 individual hikers. As of today, only 4 are still hiking. Statistics show that only 1 out of every 4 make a successful thru-hike, so they are still ahead of the success rate.

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Hike Leadership Forward – Northbound

Springer Mountain, GA
Mt Katahdin, ME

Northbound Leadership has a good ring to it. Northbound is a meaningful adjective to me and one that describes a powerful way of practicing leadership.

Northbound has its roots for me in the Appalachian Trail. I had the fantastic opportunity in 2014 to hike the entire trail (2,186.5 miles) – 14 states from Georgia to Maine. It took me 5 months (152 days from April 26 to September 24). One of the basic decisions that needs to made in taking a thru-hike is which direction to hike – the majority of hikers attempt the hike NOBO (NORTHBOUND) starting at Springer Mountain Georgia and hiking north to Mount Katahdin, Maine. Only about 10% of the hikers choose to hike the trail SOBO (SOUTHBOUND) because the weather dictates a late start (It is typically May before the snow permits a safe climb of Katahdin) and the terrain in Maine and New Hampshire is very difficult and most hikers want to gain experience before attempting the challenge. I selected a NOBO adventure and so for 5 months “northbound” became extremely meaning for me.

Of those individuals attempting a thru-hike (hiking the entire trail in one calendar year) only one out of every four (25%) will be successful. There are many reasons that hikers abandon their quest including injury, homesickness, lack of finances to continue, emergencies at home, loneliness, physical exhaustion, boredom, and a few just don’t like to hike and camp out. The first characteristic of northbound leadership is determination. Leading a team or an organization is not just a weekend campout or a 50-mile hike. To hike northbound for 5 months and to be a northbound leader takes diligence, tenacity, and perseverance.

The Appalachian Trail is a curvy path with lots of ups and downs. Thru-hikers talk about MUDS and PUDS (mindless ups and downs and pointless ups and down) as the trail goes up on over countless hills and mountains and balds. It is not a path that goes in a straight line from Georgia to Maine. In order to go north, sometimes the hikers needs to hike west and the east. To navigate the cliffs, the rivers, the natural obstacles, there are times when the hiker is actually walking south in order to reach a point where the path turns and heads back north. Second, the thru-hiker and the northbound leader cannot get discouraged if the path seems to lead away from the ultimate goal. Check the map, refer to the guidebooks, and see the big picture. A major factor in successful hiking and leading is a positive mental attitude. I loved the trail so much that I was so pumped up following the white blazes of the AT, confident that I would make it if I just followed the path.

Hiking 2,200 miles is not a sprint. A thru-hike is not a competition. Northbound hiking is a personal adventure. No one can walk it for you. There is another saying on the trail HYOH (Hike Your Own Hike). There are many who will be faster than you; some like to get up early and be on the trail at daybreak; some like to sleep in and hike longer in the day; some like to take a long break mid-day and even take a nap; some like to eat while they hiking and only stop for a tree-break (that’s trail for bathroom break). But the only right hike is a completed hike. Third, Northbound hiking and northbound leadership Is a personal thing. There are many ways, styles, decisions, approaches, and theories of leadership, but I do not think that one way fits all. In your leadership be consistent and persistent; know when to move forward and when to rest; discern when to stop and eat and when to make camp. One of my mottos was slow and steady leads to the sign (The Big Brown Sign that sits on top of Mount Katahdin). HYOH.

Speaking of Katahdin, the goal of every NOBO thru-hiker that stands at the summit of Springer Mountain, Georgia is a weather-beaten, (approximately 5 ft. by7 ft.) brown sign on top of Baxter Peak on Mount Katahdin in Maine. I did not think about the sign every day or every step of the journey, but it was always in the back of my mind. More often then not, my mind was focused on the goal of the next trail town, or the next state border, or the next resupply, but all of these were the important short-term goals pointing to the big brown sign at the finish line. Fourth, Northbound hiking has a finish line focus; Northbound leadership has that destination focus as well- the mission and the vision of the organization. The focus of why we do the things we do – the finish line that motivates us when it rains or snows, when we are sore and tired, when we are hungry and thirsty.    

The wisdom of the northbound thru-hiker and the northbound leader involves the understanding of the zero-day. I hiked the first 19 days without a true zero-day (a day in which you do not hike at all. You find a comfortable location [maybe even a hostel of hotel] and you just rest and eat). A zero-day is a time to rest those tired legs/feet, to resupply for the days ahead, and to put as many calories in your body as you can before you hit the trail again. I discovered during my thru-hike that the concept of the Sabbath was not just a spiritual one, it was a physical one. Your spirit needs to worship and your body needs to rest. After those first three weeks, I tried to schedule a zero-day every week.  Fifth, Northbound leaders need to schedule zero-days. Too much work begins to dull the creativity. Too many hours in front of the computer diminishes one’s effectiveness. Too many days without a break can break the leader down. Relax, refresh, refuel, re-energize, rest – they are the 5-R’s of the zero day.  

The northbound hiker has a strategy. How many miles to hike today? how far to go tomorrow? where is the best destination for camp? how many days before the next resupply? what is today’s plan B in case plan A does work (maybe even a plan C)? I would typically plan out my week on the trail during my zero day. Then each evening in my tent I would review and revise the plan for the next day. Sixth, both a northbound hiker and a northbound leader develop a plan, consult the maps, make the best possible strategy, and always think through a workable contingency plan if things need to shift.   

Lastly (it is really not the last thing, but I need to stop and seven is the perfect number) a five month-hike involves some lonely times. Most days I was so excited about hiking the trail and the adventures that literally surrounded me at every summit. But in the midst of a cold rain, or another meal of cold oatmeal, or bugs flying around my ears for an hour, the thoughts of being alone would invade my trek. Those were the times that the northbound calling encouraged my soul and spirit. Those were the times when I would remember laying in my bed at night and having this overwhelming  a sense of calling to the trail. This was not just a whim, or a passing idea, or a fleeting dream, this was something I just needed to do. I never heard God’s voice, but I sure sensed the pull of the Spirit to set out on the crazy adventure – a 64 year-old-man, trekking 2,200 miles, over 14 states. And at the end of the journey, my biggest conclusion was God is Faithful. Thus, focus on the goal. Seventh, the Northbound leader must sense the call of God on his/her life to lead. The call might seem crazy; it might not make sense to most people; it might be outside of every logical box, it might be a contrary to the advise freely given by the well intentioned, but if it God’s voice, God’s direction, God’s plan, then grab your pack and head north. REMEMBER His calling, remember HIS calling , remember His CALLING.

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Hike Thru-hikers Forward: Update

There is no update from Mileage but Rock and Roots have share some news on their thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.

The last journal post of Rock and Roots was June 2, 2021. After waiting for several weeks, an update has been posted. The Rothman’s (David and Annie), trail names Rocks and Roots, updated their online journal through Thursday, June 10. Each post is rather short but let me interpret the best I can.

The couple hiked into Waynesboro, VA. during the evening hours of June 3. They arrived in need of some rest and resupply. They ended up spending four additional days in Waynesboro (June 4, 5, 6, & 7). There are no details about the four-day respite. When they left Waynesboro on the 8th, Root’s parents showed up with lots of food for the journey ahead, so maybe there was a multiple day family visit.

Calf Mountain Shelter

Their first day back of the trail was rather short – 8 miles – from Waynesboro to Calf Mountain Shelter. About 4:30 a thunderstorm greeted them back to the AT. They quickly pulled out their rain gear and continued to hike. The path turned into a stream soaking their feet. Fortunately, the storm only last about 20 minutes. They saw a deer and two rabbits along the trail today. After making it to the shelter, they hung the food in the trees and set up their tent. Tomorrow looks like rain as well but they hope to hike 13 miles.

Blackrock Hut

June 9 started at Calf Mountain Shelter and by design the couple made the 13 miles trek to Blackrock Hut. Rock and Roots woke up, had a good breakfast, pack up their tent, filled their water bottles at a near by spring and hit the trail. During the day they took ma break every two miles due to the weight of their backpacks (one of the few disadvantages of food). They stopped for lunch (a vegan jerky with olives on small tortillas) and continues on listening to an audio book and making plans for visiting home when they reach Harpers Ferry, WV. They arrived at Blackrock a little after 5:00. They successful set up in the shelter and enjoyed mash-up dinner (black bean potato and beet and cauliflower and kale burritos).

The journal post for June 10th shares no hiking details but rather a list of thru-hikers they met along the way: Trapper (from Vermont), John (section hiker), Hikes Pocus (from Florida), Yet (lives in Yellowstone), Popcorn, Two Socks, Skeeter, Sammy, Washer (from Orlando). They ended the list with the statement that they got a shower at the camp store and rested for a while. This is most likely a camp store along the Skyline Drive.

Photos: Calf Mountain Shelter – Calf Mountain Shelter – Wikitrail.org; Blackrock Hut – Blackrock Hut – Shenandoah National Park | Tony’s Hiking Adventure (tonysadventure.com).

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Hike Thru-hikers Forward -Update and Prequel

Appalachian Trail 6/24/2014 Shenandoah National Park

Another disappointing week of no updates. Neither Mileage nor Rock & Roots  have posted to their online journals. They may be off trail or they may be out of the habit of posting the progress. Either way there is only silence.

In the place of progress of 2021, I thought I would look back on my adventure on the Appalachian Trail. On June 24, 2014, I celebrated my 60th day on the trail. I was two days out of Waynesboro, Virginia, and had just completed 900 miles of the trail. I woke up early in my tent after a good night’s sleep. It had rain gently over night but did not prose a problem in packing up and hitting the trail by 6:30 am.

Bad picture of Bear Cub 6/24/2014

I had the exciting experience on Day 60 of seeing my tenth bear of the journey. It was a small cub running through the woods. I am sure that Momma was close by, but she did not bother me and I kept my distance from her baby. Later in the morning, I stopped along the trail to talk with an older couple, Half Beard and Granny Smith.  They were headed SOBO, but we took a few minutes to say hello. The couple were from Martinsburg, WV so we chatted about West Virginia University and the Mountaineers. I shared a little about my 60-day adventure of God’s faithfulness to me. Half Beard said “Amen” which led to a spiritual conversation. Turns out they are dedicated Christians.  At the end of our short conversation, Grey Beard asked if he could pray for us. To find Christian fellowship on a quiet, lonely stretch of trail was such a special surprise. God was so faithful to me.

View along the Skyline Drive 6/24/2014

I was hiking close to the Skyline Drive, so I tried to visit every Wayside along the trail for some good food and a place to rest my legs. I stopped a Lewis Mountain Camp Store for lunch and Big Meadows Wayside for dinner. It was a good food day. I enjoyed my walk after lunch as I was joined by three deer along the trail. My day ended at Rock Spring Hut around 6:30 having nailed 23.2 miles. Instead of sleeping in the hut, I decided to pitch my tent, enjoy a good night’s rest, and be able to leave early the next day without disturbing any hiker who wanted to sleep in.  

One of my deer friends 6/24/2014

I enjoyed reviewing my 2014 journal and remembering Day 60. As I re-read the diary, I could really see and feel some of the details. The possible food spots along the Skyline Drive drove my walking strategy for the day. I got a turkey sandwich and a cherry pie for lunch and sat on the camp store’s front porch to eat. There was a young man sitting there so I bridged a conversation. He was a rising 8th grader from Virginia, but he grew up in North Carolina. He loved math (so do I), and he played soccer, football and baseball (catcher). He seemed interested in my thru-hike so I spent a little more time eating lunch than normal. He seemed like such a nice kid. I also remember the foot-long hotdog, French fries, and a double-scoop of blackberry ice-cream that I enjoyed for dinner at the Big Meadow Wayside.

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