Posts Tagged With: Springer Mountain

Congratulations Beaker!

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

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

North Carolina brought the Smoky Mountains and cold weather.

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

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

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

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

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

July led Beaker above tree-line in New Hampshire.

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

20. Mount K

Beaker on lower left

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

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

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

Thru-Hikes Completed

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

Salesman.GA

Salesman at border of GA/NC

salesman-me-e1502967905368.jpg

Salesman on Katahdin

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

Will-da-beast at Springer

Will-da-beast in Georgia

Wildabeast,ME

Will-da-beast in Maine

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

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

Whistler.GA

Whistler – Day One

Whistler.ME

Whistler – Day 141

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

1st Sgt.Ga

1st Sgt at the Approach Trail – GA

1st Sgt.ME

1st Sgt at the brown sign

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

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

Class of 2017 – January to March: Part 2

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

Buttercup

Buttercup and D.P.Roberts

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

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

007

Springer Mountain Southern Terminus

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

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

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

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

Grateful 2: A Week of Slackpacking

Grateful 2 is a thru-hiker from Tennessee. He began his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail on March 18th with his son, Gooseman. With many tears, his son has had to abandon his hike and Grateful 2 will continue alone. My last post left Grateful 2 at Rock Gap Shelter, 106 miles from the southern terminus of the AT in Springer Mountain, Georgia about 30 miles into the great state of North Carolina. Let’s pick up his journal on April 1st.

April 1 Rock Gap to Winding Stair Gap – 3.9 miles

“We all anticipate when we get close to the roads out here. The roads bring change for us. First we notice the trail is descending. Then we hear the cars in the distance. Then we see the road. Anticipation. Sometimes the road is a ride into town. Sometimes it holds a trail angel who has set up a hamburger feed. For me today it is the anticipation that my wife and Gooseman are waiting at the next road crossing. And there they are!” The family will spend the next several days together, Grateful 2 will be slackpacking the trailheads, carrying less, experiencing easier hikes because of the lessened load, sleeping in a real bed at night and eating in restaurants. Best of all, the family will get to spend some time together.

April 2 Winding Stair Gap to Burningtown Gap 14.6 miles

Grateful 2 is up early for his wife to drive him to the trailhead at Winding Stair Gap. “I’m hiking faster today than I have yet on this trip. I only have a small day pack and it makes a huge difference. Almost 15 miles today, and I still get to eat at a restaurant with my wife for supper.” 

April 3 Burningtown Gap to Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) 12.9 miles

“Big drop in elevation today. From 5100 to 1770 feet. The climb over the jump-off was very difficult for a guy with a fear of heights. The worst yet. So glad it wasn’t raining. When I got to the NOC we ate an amazing meal called a Sherpa.”

April 4 Zero Day at the NOC

Grateful 2 woke up to a severe weather forecast. He quickly decided that the forecast required a zero day. His family enjoyed a meal at the Sunset Restaurant. They met the owners of the establishment and the food was delicious, especially the pies. After a visit to Walmart, the family just hung out at the room and enjoyed the visit.

April 5 From NOC to Stecoach Gap = 13.4 miles

First thing this morning Grateful 2 visited the NOC and registered for a permit to go through the Smokies. Then, it was the ascent out of the NOC. About an hour into the hike, the rain started to fall… along with thunder and lightning. Fortunately the bad weather had passed by the area before Grateful 2 got to the top of Cheoah Bald. After the summit of Cheoah Bald (2,040 feet) there is a steady 5-mile descent down into Stecoah Gap. The last mile is extremely steep and Grateful 2 described the adventure, “The hike down to Stecoah Gap was the worst 1 mile mud slip-and-slide I’ve ever been on. So glad to see my wife and son in the parking lot to take me back to the motel!” 

April 6 Zero Day at the Stecoah Gap

Snow is predicted for tomorrow morning with winds expected to be forty plus miles an hour. A winter weather advisory is in effect for tomorrow until noon. Tomorrow Grateful 2 has decided to get up early and go to the Nantahala Forestry Ranger station located in Franklin to find out about the weather before he goes up the mountain. This last zero day together as a family included a visit to Walmart again, the Chinese AYCE buffet again, and the outfitter again. They are living the dream.

April 7  From Stecoah Gap to Yellow Creek Mountain = 7.7 miles.

Grateful 2 got up early and we went to First Baptist Church Franklin for a free hiker breakfast of pancakes, orange juice and bacon. Grateful 2 estimated there were seventy hikers in attendance. After breakfast Grateful 2 went over to the forest service to check on the weather and road closures. Everything was open and there was only a dusting of snow in Franklin, so it was time to hike. He hiked a quick 8 miles and then it was back to the car. Grateful 2 has really enjoyed the slack packing approach, “Man, am l going to miss slackpacking. It is the heavy pack that makes hiking the mountains so difficult.” The most notable feature on today’s adventure was Jacob’s Ladder…six hundred feet of elevation change in 0.6 mile, straight up the side of the mountain with no switchbacks. It only took Grateful 2 about twenty minutes to make the ascent, but he described it as “a lung-burner.”

Tomorrow Grateful 2’s family will be headed home and the separation will be about 8 weeks – tough goodbyes in the morning.

Info and photo from Grateful 2’s journal located at http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=1093480
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Georgia, Gooseman, Grateful 2, Nantahala Outdoor Center, North Carolina, Tennessee, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Introducing Grateful 2

Before and After –
prepping for the AT

I enjoy following a few thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail closely each season through their online journals (trailjournals.com). I have already posted several articles on Beaker, the retired chemist from Morgantown, West Virginia. My niece’s husband was a co-worker with Beaker in WV. so I felt I already had some connection to the mountaineer.

I like to follow at least one hiker per month. Some of the brave explorers do not make it to the end, so I track several with the hopes that many will trek the necessary 5 million steps through all 14 states. I love to read some of the back stories of the hikers and discover some individuals with whom I can identify and find interesting.

Beaker left the end of February so I began to explore those who stepped out in March. It wasn’t long before I found Grateful 2 and his son Gooseman, natives of Chattanooga, Tennessee who plan to thru-hike together from Georgia to Maine. Grateful 2, real name David Hunter, has had this incredible journey on his bucket list for more than 30 years and an added bonus is the reality that his 24-year-old son is joining the trek.

David will face some challenges. He shares in one of his pre-hike posts, “I’ve had lingering foot issues. My right foot has undergone 5 major surgeries with plates, screws, and fusions. My left foot has developed plantar faciitis in the last year that required a cortisone shot and extensive rehab. Both of my shoulders have been replaced. Besides that, I’m getting older and can’t do what I used to do.” I began to identify with Grateful 2 when he wrote, “I’m sitting on the back porch of our home in Chattanooga overlooking the Cumberland Valley. It’s a beautiful view. God has created an incredible world. I can’t wait to explore it on foot.” The spiritual part of the thru hike was so important to me and one of the major factors of my successful journey. Another journal entry written before he started his hike resonated with my spirit, “Why am I going? I’m not sure I can answer that myself either. It’s almost like the mountains are calling to me. It’s something I must do. I love being outside. I love the endorphin release I get when I hike long distances. It’s something I’ve known I must do … Now this is my chance. I don’t want to waste it.” This is the same drive that dominated my thinking for 14 months before I stepped out on my thru-hike in 2014.

Over the next few posts, I would like to catch you up on Grateful 2’s adventure. Right now, let’s look at their first two days.

March 18 Grateful 2 and Gooseman started from Springer Mountain, Georgia, the southern terminus of the AT. Day one resulted in 7.4 miles and concluded at the Hawk Mountain campsite.

March 19 Dad and son hiked from Hawk Mountain to Gooch Mountain Shelter – 8.4 miles.

Grateful 2 recorded, “When we got up this am it was colder than I expected. My thermometer said 25 degrees. It warmed up during the day to maybe 65, which made for a beautiful day of hiking. So warm, in fact, that both Gooseman and I got sunburned. From 25 freezing degrees to sunburn, and we were outside for all of it!”

 

All information and photos come from Grateful 2’s online journal at http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=559189

 

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Georgia, Gooseman, Grateful 2, Hawk Mountain, Springer Mountain, Tennessee, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Fat Hen and Rooster Talon – Successful Thru-hikers

fat-hen-on-katahdinThis spunky couple from the state of New York hiked together through the 14 states of the Appalachian Trail and made their final climb up Mount Katahdin on October 9, 2016. Beginning their adventure from Springer Mountain, Georgia on March 19, 2016, Dano and Becky hiked NOBO (north bound) for 205 days (206 if you want to include the approach trail up from Amicalola Falls to Springer Mountain).

Since I last reported their progress on September 13, Fat Hen (Dano) and Rooster Talon (Becky) made two journal posts. One on September 27 from the beginning of the 100 mile wilderness in Maine, and the second on October 9, sharing their victory on top of the big mountain in Baxter State Park, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

The journey through northern New Hampshire and Maine, with the exception of a few foggy days, was clear and beautiful revealing magnificent vistas with 100+ miles of visibility. Any hiker reflection referencing this part of the trail must include a statement about Mahoosuc Notch and the Arm that follows. The experience brought a mixed review form the couple and their post captured their take on the most difficult mile on the AT, “We allotted about 2 hours for it and it took us 3. The first 2 hours were adventurous, climbing under, over and through huge rocks, challenging and unforgiving… The last hour was the worst night hike of our lives, treacherous and dangerous, frustrating and slippery. We stumbled out, into a campsite and spent the evening talking about unnecessary risks.”

They stopped in Caratunk, Maine and like all good hikers searched for a good meal. They found one in the form of a foot high cheeseburger called ‘the exterminator.’ It consisted of “two, 1 pound patties of beef, cheese, fried pickles, a battered-fried chicken breast, battered and fried mac n’ cheese, onion rings, bacon, and barbecue sauce on 3 buns surrounded by spiced potato wedges… One of the best burgers I’ve had in my life!” 

The weather turned cold in Maine and the night temperatures fluctuated down at the freezing mark, but they were determined to complete the adventure and October 5th brought them face to face with Mount Katahdin. The 8.5 mile hike to the summit concluded about 12:30 in the afternoon and the picture at the brown sign shows a beautiful day with clear skies and a beautiful view from the summit.

Fat Hen and Rooster Talon

Fat Hen and Rooster Talon

As they reflected back over their experience they were pleased with the hike they made.

“Our hike didn’t skip an inch. We walked every single step, northbound, from Amicalola GA to the summit of Mt. Katahdin in ME…. with absolutely NO ‘yellow blazing’ (taking a shuttle to skip hard or ‘boring’ parts) and no ‘reverse slack packing’ (leaving all your gear at a hostel and getting a ride north to walk difficult sections easier in reverse… to better explain: a ride to the top of a challenging climb so you can walk down hill without any of your gear). Everyone who hikes this trail does so for their own reasons and in their own way, but for Becky and I, it was important not to rely on tricks and gimmicks, but to tackle this honestly, together.”

Rooster Talon and Fat Hen – Congratulations on your successful thru-hike and the integrity of your journey and thanks for recording and sharing your journal online! I applaud your efforts, diligence, and enthusiasm.

Categories: Amicalola Falls, Appalachian Trail, Fat Hen, Mahoosuc Notch, Maine, Mount Katahdin, New Hampshire, NOBO, Rooster Talon, Springer Mountain, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Scarfoot – So Close!

Scarfot's Office Space

Scarfot’s Office Space

Scarfoot is a thru-hiker that does not provide his real name in his journal, but his real life before the trail was based in Boston, Massachusetts, where he worked at an investment firm. He decided to exchange his cubical for the canopy of the Appalachian Trail. This choice was not an impulsive decision, but rather one of advanced planning and preparation.

Scarfoot began by losing 50 pounds and addressing several other physical challenges. The Bostonian found himself with major allergies: tree, grass and weed pollen, mold, dust mites, dog and cat – pretty hard to avoid such things on the trail while occasionally staying in hostels/cheap hotels. He also discovered that he was allergic to bees and wasps. So Scarfoot found some allergy treatments – four shots at a time. Scarfoot also struggled with planter fasciitis causing severe heal pain and making hiking very difficult. He attempted to counter this challenge with custom orthotics and Strassburg socks (a sock designed to be worn at night that keeps the plantar fascia in a stretched position, helping to increase flexibility in the morning).

[Just a quick aside – according to the Mayo Clinic, plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. Plantar fasciitis commonly causes stabbing pain that usually occurs with your very first steps in the morning. Once your foot limbers up, the pain of plantar fasciitis normally decreases. It is particularly common in runners, people who are overweight, and those who wear shoes with inadequate support. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/plantar-fasciitis/basics/definition/con-20025664 ]

Scarfoot was also concerned about some emotional issues. He suffered from panic attacks and found that sleeping alone in the woods and major heights caused times of intense angst. This is quite a challenge for those considering a thru-hike of the AT. He purchased custom-fitted ear plugs for sleeping. In addition, Scarfoot is married to Ellie who expressed concern with his adventure. Although supportive of her husband, she worried for his safety. So, Scarfoot took a wilderness first-aid course and purchased SPOT, a Satellite GPS Messenger, used by many hikers to reach emergency responders, check-in with family or friends, share GPS coordinates and track the route of the adventure – all at the push of a button and at the cost of about $150.

Atop Mount Madison

Atop Mount Madison

Scarfoot researched trail gear for three years and was attracted to the ultralight approach to long- distance hiking. He organized and reorganized his summer pack until he reached a backpack weight of only 10 pounds (My pack weight varied but I think my lightest burden was 25 pounds).

Hikes of preparation were also part of Scarfoot’s three-year training program. Year one included a four-day hike in Massachusetts; year two embraced a ten-day hike from the Hudson River, New York to the Massachusetts Turnpike just above Upper Goose Pond (about 145 miles); and during year he three logged a 135-mile, 7-day hike through most of Vermont.

Scarfoot was ready. His last day at work April 6th and he was on the trail on April 10. He hiked the 8.8 mile approach trail from Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia on April 9th and began his actual AT miles from Springer Mountain on Sunday the 10th. All the training and preparation enable Scarfoot to make very good time hiking though the Appalachian Trail.

Then came this surprising post on Day 140 of his adventure, August 27th,

“Well this is it. No summit photo. No finish…. The trail becomes very technical with big boulders above tree line. Very dangerous and not what I signed up for. One more mile of very nasty trail remained then the ‘tablelands’. In the meantime it follows a ridge with shear drops behind and both sides in places. I could do it physically but would have hated every moment of it. I got what I wanted out of this. I was in it for the hike and that last 2.3 miles was mountain climbing to me not hiking. At the hostel met a woman who broke 4 ribs yesterday on Baxter. Seams I made the right choice at least for me.”

With 2.3 miles left to complete the journey, Scarfoot turns around. Over half way up Mount Katahdin, his hike was over. I continue to look for another post that shares a successful return and climb to the brown sign, but nothing appears.

scarfootI personally found the climb out of Palmerton, Pennsylvania a much more technical climb than Katahdin and yet Scarfoot journals (on June 6, 2016), “Rocks getting worse and lasting longer between breaks. Got stuck in the middle of a 40 person Korean hiking club on the rockiest toughest climb yet over the superfund site. Real rock scramble.”

I also wondered what his experience was over the Whites and into the first 100 miles of Maine. I wondered how he responded over Mount Washington, another nice climb on the trail. He simply mentions on August 3, “Was warm, sunny and practically no wind so fantastic weather.” Two days later (August 5), he climbs Mount Madison and descends into Pinkham Notch. His comments: Tough day for 13 miles. Two 2000 foot climbs plus the smaller ones. Very steep. The last down was incredible. Easily the hardest steepest down so far.

I also checked his journal on August 8th, the day he reached Mahoosuc Notch (one of the most difficult miles on the trail). He had completed the Notch and the major climb up Mahoosuc Arm by noon. The notch only took Scarfoot 1 hour and 45 minutes to navigate, compared to my 3 hours and 20 minutes. He noted, “The arm was very steep. Took 9 hours to do 12 miles today.”

I feel so badly for Scarfoot. He was so close and he conquered so much. He made the decision that he felt best and I admire him for his convictions. May he realize that he is indeed a thru-hiker. The sign is not the goal – the journey is the reward. He shared that he walked away from the trail with what he wanted – the true meaning of Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH).

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Mahoosuc Notch, Massachusetts, Mount Katahdin, Mount Madison, Mount Washington, Scarfoot, The Whites, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GA-ME: SlipKnot – Matt McCoy

SlipKnot – Matt McCoy

January 8, 2016 Started at Springer Mountain

August 3, 2016 Climbed the Summit of Mount Katahdin

Total Days of Adventure – 209

Slip KnotOf the pilgrims that I am following on trailjournals.com, the latest hiker to summit Katahdin after a successful thru-hike from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Maine is Matt McCoy from Vermont. His trail name is SlipKnot and he is the only hiker that started his online journal in January that made it to Maine. Thus far his 209 days on the trail is the longest thru-hike that I have traced.  I am happy for him as he joins the Appalachian Trail Thru-hiker Class of 2016!

SlipKnot purposely selected early January in his thru-hike strategy because he was genuinely excited about experiencing some winter-hiking. He was not disappointed as the snow caused him to initially skip the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in the later part of January. Again, in the middle of February, a winter storm forced him to skip over the forty-five miles of trail between Erwin and Roan Mountain in the state of Tennessee. He faithfully traveled back to these two areas in early March to hike these high-elevation areas.

His most compelling reason for starting in January was simply to provide the maximum amount of time to reach Katahdin. Matt is retired from an electric company in Vermont so he used his lack of employment responsibilities to slow the pace of his hike and provide some breaks along the way. He averaged 10.5 miles a day. He did put in some SlipKnot.January snowlong days, trekking somewhere between 19 to 21 miles per day on fifteen occasions. His longest day of 21.1 miles on June 4 while hiking in Massachusetts. He took two rather extended breaks from the trail (about a week each time) to visit family and enjoy a much needed respite in the comfort of home, sweet home.

Slip Knot on KatahdinHis trail name? Matt explains his trail name, SlipKnot, as reflecting three significant meanings for him. First, it’s characteristic of how he ties a bowline. Second, before the AT hike experience, Matt had never slipped while hiking. And third, SlipKnot is a fan of the heavy metal band of the same name. The second aspect of his name (never slipping) only lasted 15 days into the adventure when a trip root brought him to his knees. The Appalachian Trail seems pretty zealous to provide some humility for hikers along the way.

SlipKnot summited Mount Katahdin with his youngest daughter. In his last post he was careful to thank his supportive wife and two older daughters for their encouragement throughout the seven months process. Congratulations to SlipKnot on his amazing accomplishment!

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Erwin, GSMNP, Maine, Massachusetts, Mount Katahdin, Slip Knot, Snow, Springer Mountain, Tennessee, Thru-Hike, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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