Saturday, June 30, 2012


     I left out of Vernon under rainy skies, my friend Craig dropped me off at the trail head for the AT that I had used so many times.  I started climbing up Wawayanda mountain, the trail was so familiar I knew every twist and turn.  The locals call it, "The Steps" or "Stairway to Heaven" because of the rocks stacked nicely for the steep ascent to the peak.  I took the blue trail to the overlook and gazed down on the town I grew up in one more time.  My time home was a whirlwind of seeing friends and family, unfortunately I didn't see everyone that I wanted to, but not everything works out the way we would like.  I turned around with a sigh and headed off into unfamiliar terrain once again.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


     It was a warm winter day, he was 17 and a senior in high school.  Mid term exams had just let out and he was driving on his usual route home.  He had the radio playing, the windows down and was enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.  He came around a corner and saw someone standing on the side of the road.  As he approached he noticed that it was a girl from his school, but something was wrong.  She looked frantic.  He stopped the car next to her.  He opened his door, got out and asked if she was okay.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Jersey Baby

     I left out of Palmerton Pennsylvania and immediately started climbing Lehigh Gap.  Boulders and overgrown trail were the order of the day.  The trail was so steep at times that I had to use my hands to help pull myself up.  It was also so overgrown that several times I lost the trail because it was almost impossible to make out.  On top of the mountain I met an old hiker who told me about this whole are being defoliated from a local Zinc smelter and that it is only now starting to regrow.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

PA Rocks

     I recuperated for a day or so before I regained my strength enough to start hiking again.  I was dropped off at the same spot that only a few days earlier I barely hobbled out of.  I felt much better, still not a hundred percent, but definitely healthier.  It is crazy that I can feel so good one minute and then like I'm on my deathbed the next.

     The trail followed a ridge and was lined with rocks.  There was not much elevation gain or loss, but the heat and humidity made it hard going.  My body fell into the routine of walking.  My feet quickly danced around the sharp little rocks without much conscious input.  I kind of zoned out and before I knew it, it was late in the day and I found a nice little spot next to a river to set up my tent.  The skeeters and gnat were all over the place so I decided to build a fire.  I have never been that good at starting fires, I struggle with getting them set up right.  I build tepee versions and log cabin versions, but none of them seem to work for me.  So I figured I would try the gravity fire I was so critical about when I first saw "August" build them way back in Georgia.  So first I laid a few large logs across the rocks in the fire pit, then thick branches, then smaller branches and twigs.  I packed some dry leaves in it, put the fine kindling on top and lit it.  It caught right away and I didn't need to tend to it for quite some time.  I did not build a towering monstrosity like I had seen, I kept it somewhat small.  The smoke pushed away the bugs and I sat watching the crackling logs as the day faded into night.  Hmm, gravity fire.
August and a gravity fire

Friday, June 8, 2012

Oh, Doyle

     I set off from Caladonia State park in Pennsylvania under cool blue skies.  I had only one thing on my mind, the halfway point, my guidebook said it was only thirteen miles from where I began so it was in my reach for the day.  When I neared the intersection where there was supposed to be an often photographed sign my adrenaline started to build.  It has taken just under three months to make it to this point and an enormous amount of effort, but passed the spot without seeing a sign.  I thought that maybe I didn't see it and walked right by, or that it was taken down for repair or something.  A little perturbed I kept going down the trail, I kept looking at my trail guide to see if I was where I thought I was.  When I got to the shelter that was four miles after where the sign was supposed to be I knew I must have missed it.  I sat down at the picnic bench provided and began eating my lunch.  Two ladies out for a short hike stopped by and started asking questions about my trip so far.  I told them I was a little disappointed that I didn't see the halfway sign.  They said it was only about two minutes further down the trail and it has been there for the last couple years.  I immediately packed up and started walking again.  Sure enough, right down the trail was the elusive sign.  I took my obligatory photos and pushed on.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Halfway There

     Sometimes other people have said it better than I ever could...Enjoy

      From a Southbounder last year


Friday, June 1, 2012

Farewell Dixie

     I left Harpers Ferry late in the morning on a beautiful day.  The sun was shining and it was neither too hot nor too cold.  The trail went over the Potomac River, into Maryland and along railroad tracks for several miles.  It was flat and a nice pleasant stroll.  Eventually though it made a turn and started heading uphill, that is when I saw "No Trace", "Unbreakable", "Rainbow" and a girl named "Nutter Butter", sitting along side the road.  I stopped to talk and they said that "Nutter Butter's" foot started to hurt so bad that she was getting picked up to take time off and let it rest.  They were also thinking about getting some food delivered while they waited.  That sounded like a grand idea so I said I would chip in.  That is when a local came down off the trail and walked by us.  We questioned her about good places to eat in the area and who delivered.  She offered to take us to mcdonalds and bring us back, so away we went.

     An hour later I finally resumed hiking with a nasty processed hamburger rotting in my gut.  The trail was really amazing though, it passed by several historic landmarks from the civil war and times gone by.  There were spots where you could stop and read little signs about what took place in this area or what that building used to be.  It really got my mind thinking about all the neat history this area contains.