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Kelly Anderson is a former professional tennis player from South Africa. She came to the US to attend Georgia Tech in their tennis program before taking up coaching positions, first at USF and then as Head Coach at Stetson. She even has her own Wikipedia entry! A chance meeting with a number of AT thru-hikers intrigued her and planted within her a desire to take on the Appalachian Trail someday.


Deciding that she needed to do it sooner rather than later, she divested herself of many of her possessions and started from Katahdin 2016, heading south to finish at Harpers Ferry in December.  This year, she is back on the trail to finish what she started. Her tale of grit and determination is inspiring. The two pictures below are of Kelly on Mt Madison and, bizarrely, Kelly in rather strange loaner clothes on a launderette stop.




There are a bunch of ways to follow Kelly. You can email her, follow her on Facebook or Instagram, and go to her blog as she reaches the conclusion of her journey.



Jessa/Attie and Nick continue to travel north, with the halfway point approaching rapidly. You can also follow Jessa through her blog.


As a bit of a preview for next week’s show, I promised to add Craig McPherson’s video to really whet your appetite for our interview. Once you see this, you’ll get some of the magic that we used to see on a daily basis on the Appalachian Trail


Don’t forget that the price of my two Kindle books will soon be increased from $2.99 each to $3.99 each. Save a couple of bucks if you’d like to get the Christmas price mistakenly left up for over six months!!

This week, I’ve got another diverse array of guests from Trail Days in Damascus a few weeks ago. While I guess a parade of hikers could have been interviewed, I preferred to go with others associated with the Appalachian Trail, so I’ve managed to get another interesting mix together.


Dan Bedore is hiking a kind of alternative AT, keeping the pioneering spirit of the trail alive by spending large amounts of time totally by himself. He said that he preferred it that way. When I checked his website,, I was amazed at the variety of trails that he has completed. For those of you wishing to go a little off the beaten track, Dan’s site is a good place to start. You can reach out to Dan at if you’d like to find out more about his journeys.


Next, I spoke with the first of the vendors this week. One of the Jacks, of Jacks R Better, demonstrated the Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock, based upon the design of a suspension bridge. It provides a flat sleeping surface. I was a little doubtful, but it was terrific. Had I seen this in 2014, I may have even considered a hammock. You can find out more about the company at the Jacks R Better website and this video demonstrates the setup of the hammock.


Eric Fox, the son of Alison and Bob Fox, hiked the AT a couple of years back. Bob wrote Eric’s story for him, in a really interesting family collaboration, called The Endless Trail. Check out the book on Amazon. You can also see more about the book at Bob’s website and Facebook page. Click on the appropriate link. Here’s a picture of the two of us.



Kyle Jeffreys introduced me to a very reasonably priced air pad. The company is Klymit, and I highly recommend their website. I tried out the Static V2. At just over $60, it is a bargain and extremely comfortable. The website will give you far more information, as well as some really excellent deals for somebody putting together a bunch of equipment from one supplier. Once again, click on the link that appeals to you.


Moe Lemire is a hiker who wanted to give back. Instead of just talking about it, he joined the NY-NJ Trail Conference, responsible for more than 50 miles of the AT in these two states. If you’re from that area, or simply want to see the great work that Moe and his team do, check out their website.


Eddie Hinnant was showing us The Packa, his very own invention, at Trail Days. He demonstrated his combination pack cover and jacket with the fervor of a man who knows he has done good work. Let Eddie himself show you in this video. If you want to learn more, go to Eddie’s website.


Lisa Quigley, representing the Virginia Creeper Trail, told us as much as she could in the few minutes we spoke. If you’d like to learn more, you can see their pretty website or even their Facebook page.


Finally, Dave Degler was kind enough to talk to me about the work of A Christian Ministry in the National Parks. I was so impressed with Dave and his charming team, three of whom are hiking the trail this year. If you’d like to learn more about the extensive outreach that they do, visit their website.


I hope that you enjoyed meeting some of the people at Trail Days. I’m really glad that I went, and I PROMISE, the audio quality of outdoor recordings will improve if I do this again!!


Charlotte Taney, a previous guest, was originally unsure about any concerns that she may have had prior to starting the AT. On reflection, however, it turned out that she had a few for this week’s Fear and Loathing on the Appalachian Trail.


Attie seems right back into it, so we’re both looking longer term than we had in previous weeks. I can’t tell you how delighted I am. I also know that I posted this picture a few weeks ago, but I wanted a Trail Days picture to go with the podcast on Facebook and this turns out to be it.



One last thing.


If you’ve read any of my three books and you HAVEN’T left a review, please do me a big favor and click on the appropriate link below to take you directly to the review page of that book. Thanks so much.


My Appalachian Trial I: Three Weddings and a Sabbatical


My Appalachian Trial II: Creaking Geezer, Hidden Flagon


Hiking the Appalachian Trail is Easy: Especially if You’ve Never Hiked Before.


By the way, remember that this last book is free at my author’s website, though I won’t be in the least bit offended if you want to pay me $2.99 for it!!

Kyle Bock has had some dark days, not least because he lived in Alaska for over fifteen years with no running water and, for the past few years, with no electricity. Kyle has taken on the challenge of an AT thru-hike with an almost professional approach, yet enjoyed his journey as he contemplates what the trail means to him. He is expressing himself with his beautiful photographs, altering them to reflect how he felt at the time.


The only contact information that he shared was his Instagram account, which is under the name of Bockasaurus. Pay a visit to Kyle’s page; you’ll be glad that you did. The three photos here are examples of the thought he has put into his pictures.





Kyle hopes to complete the trail in about four months; I’m really looking forward to catching up with him on his return.


Attie has reassessed her situation and is now pushing forward with her hike. She continues to enjoy her adventures but has been a great example of somebody who may have expected much of what she has experienced but didn’t necessarily count on the yearning to be at home. I faced similar times when I was away; I’m just glad that she has made this reassessment and pushed forward.


As always, thanks to everybody who supports the show. I hope that you listen to my new podcast, Mighty Blue on the John Muir Trail when it comes out soon. Watch this space.

A trip to Trail Days wasn’t on my itinerary when I hiked the AT in 2014, so my visit this year had a dual purpose. I was going there to both see what I’d missed and to interview others who were attending. I was trying to capture some of the spirit of both Damascus at party time and the Appalachian Trail. This episode will focus on Trail Days and forms the first of two such episodes.

I’m still following Attie, as she makes her way north. She has hit a few walls on the way but is upbeat pretty much whenever we speak and is taking each day as it comes. She has teamed up with a couple of other hikers, Bananas and The Machine. Here is her iconic shot at the glorious McAfee Knob.



Another past guest, Erin McKenzie, told us about her Fear and Loathing thoughts on the AT.


But this week is mainly about Trail Days. I’ve pulled together a number of the short, live conversations that I had with a wide variety of people. I hope you enjoy them.

First up was Nathan Harrington, the enthusiastic maker of his Katahdin sign replica. These signs are all handmade by Nathan personally, so each will be unique. Nathan also has a great story to tell about how he proposed to his lovely wife, Sharon, at McAfee Knob. You can actually see the moment he proposes on his YouTube channel, Between the Blazes, as well as other AT videos.
You can also follow him on Twitter as @ToKatahdin. If you’d like to buy one of Nathan’s exquisite hand-made Katahdin signs, go to his website,
Tim Keenan told me his moving story that combined his AT thru-hike with a reconciliation of his “enemy,” as he referred to him, later in Vietnam. You can get Tim’s book, The Good Hike, on Amazon. It has excellent ratings.
Next, I spoke with Will Ransom and his beautiful dog, Retta. They seemed to have such a calm and mutual understanding of one another and were utterly devoted to one another. I asked Will if he’d carry on if Retta couldn’t continue. Interesting answer.
Dick Klane, from the Friends of Baxter State Park, kindly gave me a run-through of the new rules regarding permits to summit Katahdin at the end of your hike (as a NOBO). It is really worth listening to Dick, because you really need the climax of your hike to run smoothly on the day. If you’d like further clarification, you can check out their site, at It is an excellent site and full of information on the park. It is well worth checking out before you end up in the park.
Bob Peoples is quite simply one of the legends of the Appalachian Trail. His Hardcore Crew work to build and maintain sections of the trail and his selfless devotion to all things AT is remarkable. We are so lucky to have Bob in our lives.
Last, but certainly not least, I ran into two young women at the All You Can Eat (AYCE) pancake breakfast in town. Nadia and Kathleen were at the same table as me and, when Nadia saw my podcast tee shirt, she asked if I was the podcast host. Apparently, she is a listener and I couldn’t miss out on interviewing a fan!!

Sarah Williams is a true force of nature. Her goal is to inspire women and girls to think beyond the boundaries of their previously limited lives, and she has earned her recognition as a true leader in her community. To challenge herself further, she is attempting a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail from June 2017 and hoping to complete that challenge in 100 days. Her defiant self-belief and powerful determination lead her to challenge others to test themselves.

Sarah quit her well-paid City of London job to pursue her dreams and spent 18 months traveling the world, climbing Kilimanjaro in Africa and hiking around South America among her many adventures. She can be contacted in many ways and through many platforms, all of which will appear at the bottom of these notes, after her second photograph.

Jessa / Attie has come to something of a crossroads in her hike. We met at Trail Days and she seemed to have made up her mind that perhaps a thru-hike wasn’t for her. A couple of days later, she was back hiking, relishing the trail once more and happy with her decision. She’ll make the final decision on Memorial Day. Before that happens, though, we got the chance of a picture together for the first time.

By the way, I mention my bear sighting in the show. Here is the YouTube link as promised.

Back to Sarah and the many ways to contact her.

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You can listen to the Tough Girl Podcast on the go via iTunes, Soundcloud & Stitcher!

If you can’t get hold of Sarah through all those choices, you’re not really trying!!

Thanks so much to everybody for their continued support for the show. Please tell your friends and share the links that you see on Facebook with your own network.

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.