You probably read about the couple who decided to attempt a thru-hike this summer with their 12-month old daughter, Ellie. I was skeptical myself when I read what they were attempting to do. Having found it tough enough to take care of myself on the trail, the thought of carrying an infant for nearly 2200 miles filled me with dread. Yet Derrick and Bekah Quirin were experienced hikers and really prepared for the trip. Ellie was clearly just along for the ride, but they had an adventure that will live with them all forever.
Ellie loved to collapse her parents’ poles and would often wander around camp with them, much to the amusement of one and all. You can read about their adventure on their blog, Ellie on the AT, which is being updated now that they are home, They also have an Instagram account, where Ellie is the undoubted star.
Lynne Savino, in Doc Spot, features the joys of W.A.D. You’ll have to listen to find out what that means!
I’ve added destinations to my podcast this week, meaning that there should be more places to find it. You can now get it on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, and YouTube. Soon, it will be up on iHeart Radio and Tunein.com. If I can ever work out how to add an iTunes subscribe button to my site then I’ll be a happy man.
I met Beans in my first couple of days on the trail. We shared a particularly funny evening in a bar in North Carolina and I found him to be a very funny, free-spirited kind of guy. He joined quite a large group of hikers who stayed together for several hundred miles. I would often turn up at a shelter in those early weeks to find them all having a lot of fun as a trail family. As these things do, the family split up over time and I ran into Beans once more, somewhere in Virginia. I last saw him in Port Clinton, where I noticed that he was distinctly quieter and more thoughtful. He still made me laugh, but his growing introspection was apparent.
In our conversation, he was quietly intense as he considered everything carefully. I even had to edit quite a few of the pauses, from both of us, in order to maintain the flow. Despite that, it was great to catch up with one of my trail friends as he works through what the trail meant to him. You can read Beans’ blog at https://northboundatthruhike.wordpress.com and connect with him on Instagram under the name of j.bird1.
In this week’s Doc Spot, Lynne Savino gives us some great advice on the type of things we should consider for our first aid kit on the trail.
The third interview this week is with Rawmin Ehyai, from Gregory. I took the Gregory Baltoro 65 backpack on my trip and, as I have with other pieces of equipment that I took with me, I wanted to know more about my pack.
Having lived for several years in Costa Rica, Greg and Jen Seymour were searching for an adventure. They chose a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2017 and prepared meticulously so that they would arrive at Springer Mountain in good shape for their journey. Recording their daily progress through YouTube, they grew their audience with their charming–and often hilarious–interactions as they made their way up the trail. By the time they got to Katahdin, they had lost nearly 100lbs in weight between them and gained an appreciation of their capabilities under duress. Jen even felt sufficiently pumped to refer to herself as a “badass.”
This is a story of how a couple can spend nearly six months in immediate proximity to one another yet retain their spirit, their companionship, and their love.
If you’d like to follow Greg and Jen’s adventures, visit any of these links on YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook. As they mentioned on the show, they are also both authors, Click on their names to be taken to their respective Amazon author pages.
Lynne Savino was a guest on the show several episodes back. It turned out that, along with being an avid hiker, Lynne is also a doctor. Consequently, we’ve put together “Doc Spot.” Each week, Lynne will tell us about medical issues that can arise when out hiking. This week, she gives us advice on steps you should consider before you even set foot on the trail.
Great news this week. We’re following the preparations and the hike of a member of the Class of 2018. His name is Bruce Matson and, along with fulfilling a long-held dream, Bruce is making this hike about so much more than himself. I really wanted to make this a deep dive into Bruce’s hike, so we’re starting a new podcast precisely for this purpose. Returning to Katahdin: An Appalachian Trail Dream will be making its debut on Monday, November 6. I hope that you take the time out to listen to Bruce and his story.
We’ve followed several hikers this year, with Jessa covered pretty much the whole of the way. For this week’s show, I decided to find out what had happened to some of the hikers we spoke to in earlier episodes. I wanted to know whether or not they finished and how things may have changed since we spoke with them previously.
These three–Sarah Williams, Byron Church, and Kyle Bock–all had vastly different paths to Katahdin, yet all three were happy to share the rest of their story with me.
You can follow Sarah’s video log on Youtube
Byron’s blog of his various adventures is at earthandasphalt.com
Kyle’s amazing pictures can be found on Instagram.
When Jeff Alt set out to fulfil a long-held dream and hike the Appalachian Trail in 1998, he could have had no idea that his walk would eventually become the catalyst for a wonderful fund-raising effort that continues to this day. He raises money for Sunshine Homes, a facility that has been home to his brother Aaron for much of his life.
Not only did he raise an enormous amount of money for this worthy cause, he became a writer and acclaimed speaker on the back of that singular decision to step onto the Appalachian Trail. He even appeared as a speaker in a Tedx talk. Click on the link to hear his story. He also offers National Park lectures that are free to attend. Click on this link to see an upcoming event in Shenandoah National Park. As you can see below, Jeff also has a very interesting wedding photo!!
You can learn a lot about Jeff’s myriad interests and adventures by going to his website and, if you have youngsters interested in hiking, check out the official site for his “The Adventures of Bubba Jones” book series. Of course, he is also on Facebook.
With the amount of books that Jeff has written, it seems sensible just to link you to his Amazon author page, where you can check out his books, including A Walk For Sunshine.
The lovely Kelly Anderson, who we met back in episode #40, spoke with me to let me know how her thru-hike ended. She is always enthusiastic and entertaining to talk with and this was no exception.
Lastly, please come and visit (then like) my Mighty Blue on the Appalachian Trail Facebook page. I intend to do a lot more with this page in the future, so stay tuned.
For our 52nd episode–which commemorates the fact that we’ve been podcasting for precisely a year–I caught up with Jessa Hackman, otherwise known as Attie. Jessa was first introduced to listeners of the show in Episode #16. She had written to me requesting Grizz’s hiking preparations spreadsheet and, as I sent that to her, I wondered if she would be a candidate for a project I’d been considering. I wanted to follow a hiker in their preparations for the hike, then continue to hear from them throughout their journey. Jessa had just qualified as lawyer, she was very articulate, and it seemed to me that she had the potential to really give the Appalachian Trail a determined try.
We discussed the idea and I immediately gave her an “out.” I wanted her to be sure that this show would be something that she could commit to and, after a weekend’s thought, she agreed. Later hearing from her mother, Joan, about Jessa’s many achievements already in her young life, I knew that we’d found an exceptional woman. Moreover, involving both Joan and Jessa’s fiance, Nick, in her journey seemed to give extra impetus to the project.
For this week’s pictures, I asked for one of Jessa as a lawyer and one of her at her skankiest as a hiker. Typically, Jessa obliged by giving me a neat set of “kind of matching” images.
For me, this is something of a sad farewell, as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my weekly chats with Jessa. That said, we now have a permanent record of her hike that, in some small way, this show has helped bring to fruition. Hopefully, guests, listeners and I feel some part of that success and can share in the feeling in the picture below.
Daryl Fleischer is aware that his thru-hike, hopefully with his lovely wife, is several years in his future. He has work and family responsibilities, like many of us. Yet his joy at being a weekend or occasional day hiker shines through in our conversation. He is a self-confessed trail addict and is prepared to work for his hiking fixes, including sleeping in his car overnight to get a good spot on McAfee Knob the next morning.
If you’d like to follow our weekend warrior, you can connect with Daryl through Facebook.
John Boyet returns to feed us another serving of information. This time, John is talking about food and the various options available to hikers. You can always reach out to John for more advice at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t forget to return to the show next week. I will be celebrating my one year of podcasting and will mark it by talking with Jessa after her successful return from Katahdin.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much for the support.