Month: August 2017


Mike Skelton is another listener who wrote into the show and immediately intrigued me. I’d asked for a few examples of the transformative nature of hiking and Mike provided me some thoughtful notes and personal examples. He is a hiker who has spent a lot of time on both the Appalachian Trail and other trails of America. He gave me some useful advice on how to avoid altitude sickness but, as you now know, my body refused to cooperate when I got above about 9,500 feet.




Mike is selfless in his desire to get others into the woods and he told me that he led a group to the Appalachian Trail recently. It was a thrill for me when he told me that they listened to my podcast on the drive to Springer. The picture above, on the left, is of that group, while the other is Mike with a bunch of buddies at Glacier National in 2014. The photo below is Mike on his last trip to the AT.



You can connect with Mike on Twitter, where he goes under the name @beardedskelton, or email him directly at


This week, John Boyet turns his attention to tents. I wish somebody had warned me that I was going to be sharing my tent with my backpack, so my advice is always going to be this; choose a double if you can. Funnily enough, I think John agrees with me on this one. Ask John anything you’d like at


Lynne Savino wrote to me and gave me some funny examples of the differences between a section hiker and a thru-hiker. I have a lot of respect for section hikers and the way in which they have to rediscover their hiking legs EVERY time they go out into the woods. I love to hear these different perspectives so I invited Lynne onto the show. She told us about how she was introduced to camping as a child by her father through adventures in a GMC Motorhome. The picture below is of Lynne and her brother, by the GMC, somewhere out west in the 1970s. She even tried to replicate that spirit, using the very same GMC, with her own family.



While she muses that one day she’ll be able to hike the entire Appalachian Trail, Lynne is currently content to hit the trail any time that she can and bite off sections. She can be found on Facebook and Instagram, though she confesses to being a little behind with her Instagram account and promises to do better!!


In our conversation, I learned that Lynne is a physician and she shared some important information regarding the almost industrial-scale consumption of Ibuprofen, or Vitamin I, on the trail. She referred to a recent article in the New York Times and sent me a link to it. As I used to ship in four of these wonder drugs every day, I’ll be reading it with interest.




Now that I’m back home, I’ve caught up with Jessa once more, so John Boyet’s excellent advice series has been pushed back for this week. Speaking with Jessa proved to be a lovely recap and her progress really lifted my spirits.


Finally, thanks to everybody who pledged to support me on my hike. While I was unable to complete it–and thus reach out to you to collect your pledges–I’m gratified at how generous some of you were. Stuff like that really warms my heart.


When Edwin Thullen decided to hike the Appalachian Trail he had several challenges to overcome. His sheer size made gear acquisition a formidable process, but he gathered what he could and headed for Georgia. The previous winter had been spent living out of his car, so he was expecting Georgia to be warm. It wasn’t. Watch the astonishing physical and mental transformation that Bear undergoes as he learns how to do a thru-hike on the fly.




Follow Bear’s journey as he constantly readjusts his expectations for his eventual finish and modifies his gear to meet the many challenges along the way. His is a story of resilience that will make you laugh, bring a tear to your eye, and fill you with admiration as he battles on toward his goal. The fact that our conversation has a happy ending is a bonus that will please all of you.



John Boyet returns this week with advice on what to look for when you are deciding upon which backpack to buy. You can ask more of John by emailing him at


Don’t forget that you can still pledge a few bucks for my Last 10,000 Feet Challenge to support Family Partnership Center here in Bradenton, Florida. My John Muir Trail is being dedicated to this great cause. Email Bridget Harry at the center at Thanks so much for the support.

Bethany Varner completed her hike on July 1 this year. She had zero overnight backpacking experience, yet she adapted so well to the challenge that she was even able to squeeze in a cruise with her boyfriend while on the trail. On the way, she rediscovered her faith in humanity, sharing her journey on YouTube with an ever-growing following. She also blogged regularly, at The Trek.




You can see some of her photos from the trail on her Instagram account, and if you happen to tweet from time to time, why not follow her on Twitter?



Without any updates from Attie, John Boyet has stepped into the breach by providing us with some excellent gear advice while I’m away on the John Muir Trail. If you have any questions for John, just email him at


If you’d like to follow part of my hike, I’ll be posting on Facebook at When I’m 64. Also, if you’d like to pledge a few bucks to the child abuse prevention agency which I’m supporting on this trip, just email Bridget Harry at the agency at Thanks so much for any help that you can give.


When Robby King and his daughter, Meredith decided to hike the Appalachian Trail, his wife Nancy decided that she could support them far better by driving an RV to various road crossings and providing them sustenance and a bed for the night. While Robby and Meredith covered the standard 2,200-mile length of the Appalachian Trail, Nancy chalked up over 10,000 miles of driving to back up their effort. Their story eloquently demonstrates the importance of familial love and support as hikers take on this daunting challenge.




The physical changes, particularly in Robby, show the toll that this hike can take on the physique, yet with each of them encouraging the other, they made it to the end just a few weeks ago for that picture of pictures at the top of Katahdin..



Not only did Nancy feed and house her family on the trail, she took a major responsibility in ensuring that their blog was kept up to date. You can follow them here.


This episode features the last interview I’ll be able to do with Jessa before I leave for California. She only has a few weeks to go and I’m very proud of the part our podcast may have played in helping her during her hike. I’m also, of course, ridiculously proud of Jessa herself. When I return I’ll be doing a complete program with Jessa, her boyfriend Nick and her mother Joan. If you can’t wait until then, follow her blog and see how she fares.


If you’d like to pledge to support my hike of the John Muir Trail, which I’m doing to support families in my local community, please consider pledging a few bucks for Family Partnership Center by emailing Bridget Harry at  Thanks to everybody who has done so already.