Byron Church has had his sights set on the Appalachian Trail since he read Bill Bryson’s book in High School, nearly two decades ago. Section by section, he has completed more than 2,000 miles of the trail and will be finishing this year. As all section hikers do, Byron has had to earn his hiking legs every year. He reached out to me to tell his story as he is soon to set out for his final leg later this year.


You can follow Byron on his blog, and contact him at




In this week’s Fear and Loathing on the Appalachian Trail, I caught up again with Steve Walker, or Big Bird. Steve was forced off the trail last year and has returned to complete his mission. He’s currently slogging his way through Pennsylvania’s rock and you can hear that in his voice! Steve’s has one of the more thorough video logs, so follow him on YouTube if you want to share his journey towards Katahdin.


Attie had a big decision to make this week. She has struggled with homesickness and needed to take a week’s break before she made up her mind what to do.


Thanks to all for your support, via email, reviews or through my book sales. I’d also like to thank those of you who have signed up to be patrons on Patreon, though you’ll notice that nothing has been debited from you. It was me; I messed up my Patreon entry. I’ll be trying to resolve it soon. The joys of technology in your 60s!!

John Vonhof should be everybody’s best friend. For years, he has been tending the feet of the people who most abuse them—hikers and runners. His experience as an ultra-runner led him to a life-long interest in the treatment of feet, and he understands what we do wrong and how we can correct it. I, along with many of my fellow hikers, completely ignored my feet on the trail. They hurt, my toenails dropped off one by one, and I lost feeling in my toes for about four or five months after I finished. I had no idea how I should treat them and I’ll certainly be taking some of the precautions that John shares with us for my upcoming hikes later this year. If you’d like to learn more about the very simple steps you can take to protect these most valuable of assets, click on this link to John’s Amazon page. You can also check out his blog, on his website, John also has his own podcast, Writers Authors On Fire.


Jessa has hit something of a wall. She has been doing really well to this point and has at last encountered an inevitable downturn. How she copes with this will be the catalyst for her success, or her failure, in completing her hike. We can only wish her well. She’ll be sharing her thoughts further in her blog post later today.

Thanks again to those of you supporting me on Patreon. Also, your support for my two Appalachian Trail books continues to keep them in the Top 20 Camping books on Amazon. Thanks once more.

This week, I’m interviewing Ron Tipton, a man who has spent his entire adult life in conservation and the environment. He hiked the trail in 1978, yet it isn’t his hike that we’re going to discuss in any detail. When Ron completed his thru-hike, he had already determined that this was a life and a career that he wanted to pursue. He has spent more than 40 years of his career as an advocate for public land preservation and national park protection. He became the President and CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in 2013.

Visit the ATC’s website, It is full of great information about the trail and I confess that it was a great education for me. I read the strategic plan and really understood the rationale behind it. Ron and his team at the ATC are simply planning for the future of OUR trail. For that, we should all be eternally grateful. You can email them at, or call them on 304-535-6331. You can even find Ron on LinkedIn. In case you were wondering, the handsome young dude with the wild beard below is young Ron.

Jessa’s backpack woes continued this week, with the resolution to her problem waistband still elusive. She seems to face these problems with a smile and a shrug. Hopefully, she’ll get the matter resolved in Damascus.

If you’d like to see what an utter ARSE I made of myself at Laurel Falls, click here. Be warned, it isn’t pretty. I appear after about 11 seconds. The falls are pretty though, aren’t they?

If you like what we’re producing for you on the show, please consider supporting us at I’m planning on adding a couple of new shows after my hiking this year, so any help with this is much appreciated.

In early November 2013, John Bock had a triple bypass following a completely unexpected heart attack. He and his wife, Melody, had planned to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail from March 2014—which is what they did. They flip-flopped and completed their adventure at Harpers Ferry in November 2014, just over a year after the news that would have postponed, or even abandoned the dreams of less determined people.




Their remarkable story, along with the radical lifestyle that they have since adopted, is told in this interview. They are homeless by choice, fearless, and ever moving forward, refusing to stop their enviable lifestyle. Melody even had the time to give me a botany lesson on the trail, identifying plants as we walked by until she pointed out something that she referred to as a Lady Slipper, but which, to me, would always be known as Vasectomy Surprise.


John and Melody would be happy to hear from old friends and fellow hikers at, while they can also be found on Facebook. Click either John or Melody.


Their journey wasn’t easy, but they made many friends along the way and proved, yet again, that the trail can get you through your toughest days if you keep moving forward.



Attie continues to revel in the trail, though this week she had her first setback. When she told me about it I was worried for her but she just shrugged it off and got on with it. Her perseverance was rewarded with a really sweet dollop of trail magic, administered by one of our wonderful, caring listeners. Thanks, Casey.


In Fear and Loathing, Gary Sizer confesses to his worries about having a damp hike, and admits to his doubts along the way as he got closer to Katahdin. You can read about Gary’s journey by going to his Amazon page for Where’s the Next Shelter? It is a really funny read and one that I highly recommend.


Please consider supporting the show by becoming a patron at Patreon. Thanks to those of you who have already done so.


As this is my show, I thought I’d get myself interviewed and, in the absence of any questions from my listeners, I went ahead and asked Diane, my lovely wife, to interview me. She asked me a few things I hadn’t really thought too much about and, listening back as I edited the show, I realized how much I’d changed in the past few years. The thought say, ten years ago, that somebody would one day interview me about hiking was as likely as somebody asking Kim Kardashian the nuances of nuclear fission. It just wouldn’t happen.


I was able to reflect further on my own hike, as well as my upcoming trip back onto the AT and my real task for the year of my second (and probably last) attempt at the John Muir Trail. I’ll be blogging about that journey and eventually writing a book about it.


You should know my email address by now, but you can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. I love to hear from people and always respond.
Atticus (Jessa / Attie) is through the Smokies and continues to have a blast. She seems to be having the best of the weather in this rather unpredictable year.

Fear and Loathing this week is a longer than normal interview, with Gabe Burkhardt (Hermes or Sketch). He talks of the importance of finishing his 2016 hike and the internal precipice he found himself on the edge of during that hike. This is a powerful conversation that you may consider unsuitable for children. Read Gabe’s excellent blog. He pulls no punches and illustrates his stories with great sketches.

Thanks as ever for supporting the show, either on Patreon or buying my books. I’m so grateful to everybody for their support. Remember, you can also get my free e-book, Hiking the Appalachian Trail is Easy: Especially if You’ve Never Hiked Before, by going to my author’s site, and leaving your name and email address.

When Jean Sobus decided that she was going to hike the Appalachian Trail, she didn’t let a little thing like plantar fasciitis stand in her way. In much the same way, stage 3 breast cancer wasn’t going to deter her from the Pacific Crest Trail. Jean’s solution to obstacles and negativity is to go for a very long walk. Her adventures included a 60-mile walk through the night, fueled by espresso milkshake, and an encounter with what she believed to be a mountain lion. She suffered spine fractures while undergoing chemo to treat her cancer, yet chose to find her cures on the trails of America, inspiring others with her fight. The picture below was taken just after finishing the Appalachian Trail, when she’d discovered her cancer diagnosis. One week later, she lost all her hair.



Undeterred, Jean took part in bike rides to raise money for charity, and this speech is a great example of her refusal to be defined, or even slowed, by her cancer. She even shared a video of her dancing in a gorgeous blond wig and removing it mid dance. Battling her illness all the way, she completed the Pacific Crest Trail in 2015, two thirds of the way to a Triple Crown.




You can email Jean at, and find her on Facebook.


Jessa, or Atticus, is now past the 150-mile mark and continues to show her sunny disposition as she makes her way north. This week, she’s about to climb into the Smokies. Remember to follow her blog, which she updates regularly.


Clay Bonnyman Evans gives us his fears before setting out, with rain right at the top of the list. As you can read in Clay’s blog, he needn’t have worried.


Thanks to those of you who have supported the show at Patreon. I truly appreciate it.


Trevor Thomas was an adrenaline junkie in his mid-thirties when he started to lose his sight. Six months later, he was completely blind. After a spell of understandable bitterness, Trevor refused to allow his new circumstances to define him. Approaching the logistical issues with a precise attention to detail, he set out on a new journey. This has led him to hike nearly 20,000 miles in the past ten years. His story is inspiring, as is his mission to empower blind and visually impaired young adults while challenging the misconceptions the sighted community has toward the blind. He founded Team FarSight Foundation, Inc. to achieve this goal in 2014. Since 2012, Trevor has been accompanied on his many adventures by his remarkable companion, Tennile.



There are many ways to contact Trevor; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as through his website. He and Tennile continue to inspire those of us who often take our physical well-being for granted.



Jessa is now in her first 100 miles and enjoying every minute. Don’t forget to follow her blog, which you can reach here. I caught up with her a couple of times this week.


James Claiborne, another guest from a previous episode, shares his pre-hike concerns. They proved to be groundless as he reveled in the companionship of the trail.


Please consider being a patron of the show. Go to to support me. Thanks




The Hiker Yearbook is fast becoming a must-have item for thru-hikers of recent years. Matthew Odie Norman is providing a great service to hikers as he not only provides trail magic but also puts together his own version of magic with this glorious keepsake from that magical time in the woods. He is reaching out to his community to allow them to reconnect after the trail, answering his own question after reaching the summit of Katahdin, “What’s the second book?” The Hiker Yearbook is the second book.




Critically, he would appreciate the support back from his community in the form of your vote, every day until April 5. Click on Fedex to be taken directly to the voting site. Please don’t pass this by. We can do it.


You can reach out to Odie in several ways. There is his website, Facebook, and Instagram. Check him out and encourage this great project. You can also email him directly at



Jessa, or Atticus, or Attie, is on her way. The first interview, from Gooch Gap is pretty lousy quality, which was entriely down to my boyish enthusiasm and stupidity, but the second is a lot better. She is having a blast and I hope you’re looking forward to hearing more from her as she makes her way north.


The amazing Stacey Kozell continues to disarm me with her glorious self-deprecation as she describes her pre-trail concerns in Fear & Loathing on the Appalachian Trail. Yes, her concerns APART from being paralyzed. You never have a conversation with Stacey without feeling better about your own blessings.


You can support my efforts in the show by buying my books or supporting the show on Patreon. There is a button that can take you directly to my Patreon page, or you could simply click here.

Did you ever wonder what it is like for those we leave behind? Listen to my wife Diane talking about the impact that my hike had on her life. She is forthright and brutally honest in our.conversation, telling me a couple of things we’d never really discussed before. I even left in something that I’d originally intended to leave out when she hit me with another revelation. When I was editing this interview, I was struck by the passion that she eventually had for MY adventure. Her understanding of it, and the AT sense of community, helped her to cope better with our separation. I always knew that I was a lucky guy; this proved it to me yet again. I just hope that everybody on the A.T. this year has somebody at home who cares as deeply for them and their journey..




Our globe-trotting adventurer, Jessa, has returned from her pre thru-hike trip to Europe. She had just a couple of days at home and will be leaving on her hike this morning, March 23. We spoke for the last time when she got to Atlanta. The next time we talk, she’ll be somewhere on a mountain. I can’t wait and will be presenting her updates from the trail every week. You can also follow her blog, by clicking here.


Dixie gave us plenty of sensible advice with her Fear and Loathing segment. She, too, is preparing to plunge back into the “homeless by choice” lifestyle, as she is getting ready for her PCT adventure. Don’t forget to follow her on Facebook at Homemade Wanderlust Backpacking Forum and, of course, catch her great YouTube series of videos which will soon include scenes from her PCT trip


This week, I introduced my Patreon account for the people who’d like to support the show with a couple of bucks every now and then. You can find the page at I hope you’d like to become a patron if you enjoy what I’m sharing with you each week.


Erin McKenzie loves her dogs. She hiked nearly half of the Appalachian Trail with her favorite, Chevy, before having to leave the trail through injury. Chevy was such a star that Erin was totally aware, yet totally happy, to be a sideshow in the Camaro and Chevy team. She then took on the Colorado Trail with three of her dogs, for reasons that will become apparent in her story. Her resilience and the strength that she found on both trails are inspirational.




These pictures of Chevy and Camaro together, and her three loaded-up dogs, convey the peace, the quiet, and the magnificence of both the Appalachian Trail and the Colorado Trail. Erin also sent me another couple of pics, once again with Chevy and one of the team of four at the finish of the Colorado Trail.




You can find Erin on Facebook and email her at


With Jessa vacationing in Europe, I took the opportunity to chat with Kate Schmidlin’s mom, Jeanne. Kate was in episode #21, and I thought her instinct to suggest that I should speak with her mother was a good one. There can’t be many tougher things for a mother to do than to wave goodbye to her daughter as she plunges into a forest. You’ll really love Jeanne’s attitude.


Our old friend Grizz resurfaced recently in Florida and we spent several hours together, so I took the opportunity to record a fear and loathing section with him. As always, he was insightful and interesting.


Please keep the reviews ticking over in iTunes. They really help me gain visibility (and often make me feel good at the same time).


Lastly, don’t forget that I’m relying on you, my listeners, to ask me questions you may have for this aging, fat, fool who thought that hiking 2100 miles for my first hike was a good idea. As it turned out, it really was a good idea. If you click here, you’ll be taken to the SpeakPipe button.