Category: Uncategorized

Jack Masters is a member of the Class of 2018. While he’s been interested in the possibility of hiking the Appalachian Trail, a year ago it didn’t seem likely. But life changes and Jack has had a tumultuous year. Despite this, he has taken control of and redirected his life and, in a couple of short weeks, Vagabond Jack will be testing himself once more. He even decided to travel and hitched his wagon to hit the road.



I met Jack as a listener to my show. We emailed back and forth and he eventually decided to join the Fat Guys, and Gals, Back in the Woods. I took to him instantly and we became friends. Despite this experience (as opposed to because of it), Jack announced to our group that a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail was in his future. This picture was taken on our hike together.



I hope that you all follow Jack on his journey. You can find his blog on Trail Journals and you can also reach him on Facebook.



Doctor Lynne has plenty of good advice on how to look after orthopedic injuries, with me, once again, providing the idiot questions.


Don’t forget to follow our other show, Returning to Katahdin, with Bruce Matson. Bruce is also getting near the start of his adventure and this week we discuss his winter gear.


I’m so pleased that Trailtopia has continued to support the show, signing up for a further six months. I hope that you support them and, in doing so, you’ll be supporting me.

I met JD Antonen on the Appalachian Trail in 2014 and, as one often did, we shared the odd meal in a shelter and ran into one another from time to time. He was out of the military and had just suffered a traumatic life event, so his journey up the east coast of America was not without internal strife. Yet, as he made his way north, he succumbed to the beauty of the trail, the kindness of people, and the realization that he didn’t have to do it all alone. Yet, when he returned home, he became afflicted by a crippling depression that seemed to snuff out the good that had come from the trail.



Luckily, he met and married Amanda, who had never been a backpacker but was somebody who shared his joy in being outdoors. Despite swearing that she would never go on a long-distance hike, one day Amanda felt compelled to fight for parental justice in the court system and her outlet was a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. To that end, the two of them will be heading out in April and intend to use their hikes to promote causes greater than themselves.



You can find out more about JD and Amanda’s projects by clicking on any of these links.

Amanda‘s Project Addi Facebook page

Amanda‘s fundraising page

Amanda‘s Punished For Protecting page

JD‘s Help End 22 Facebook page:



This week, in Doc Spot, Lynne and I are starting a conversation about the strange phenomenon of post trail depression. We’d really welcome your input, either via email at or on my Mighty Blue Facebook page.


As always, come over to Returning To Katahdin: An Appalachian Trail Dream, where Bruce is now counting down the days to his departure next month.


Of course, both shows are so grateful to Trailtopia for their support and sponsorship.


Damien and Renee Tougas have always made sure that their children were able to experience the outdoors. So it seemed a fairly natural fit to take the entire family on the Appalachian Trail in 2014. To help fund their adventure they produced a high-quality video series that followed their journey.



For each member of the family, it was harder than they had expected. Despite their hardships–compounded when Renee had to leave the trail for much of the last 500 miles–they eventually forced their way to Katahdin, summiting triumphantly together once more as a family.



The children recognized their individual roles in the adventure, each having chores to attend to at the end of the day. Once Renee had left the team, she offered each child the option to quit but, to their credit, they battled on.



You can connect with the family in a multitude of ways.

Renee’s blog:


Just click on the names to access theirOutsideways profiles: Damien and Renee

Renee’s Outsideways journal of their thru-hike (not yet complete):

Their excellent video series:


Dr Lynne shares a personal diabetes story and gives us signs to watch out for.


There is even an update from Jessa.


We first met Nate and Sharon at Trail Days in Damascus earlier in 2017. I was initially fascinated by the signs of Katahdin that Nate was selling, but he had such a compelling story to tell so I went back to him and Sharon to do a full interview. Life (or young Hank) got in the way between then and now, so it wasn’t until recently that we were able to complete the interview. Neither of the children was awake as we talked, though Asher Thomas (AT) decided that he had something to say after our chat.



The signs continue to be a source of pride, income, and an opportunity for The Hiking Vikings to give back to the trail in the form of donations to the ATC. The two pictures below are both of the replica sign; one on top of a mountain and one that lives on my desk. These are a constant reminder of the day you did something special. If you’d like to buy one, go on over to




There is so much about Nate and Sharon’s journey that is worth watching, so these links should give you a flavor of what happened when the two of them took on the Appalachian Trail.


First, there is the MacAfee Knob proposal, surely the most romantic place to pop the question. Then, there is their Katahdin finale video “Walking Together.” You can see these videos and many others on Nate and Sharon’s YouTube channel, Between The Blazes.



If you’d like to follow Nate and Sharon, you can find them on both Facebook and Twitter under the name “tokatahdin.”


We also have a great run through of another lesser-known trail, the Superior Hiking Trail by Blaise Vitale. Blaise is soon to attempt an Appalachian Trail thru-hike in 2018. Learn more about the Superior Hiking Trail here.


Thanks, as always to our generous sponsors, Trailtopia. Don’t forget to visit their site as well as our brother podcast, Returning To Katahdin. If you’d like to find out even more about Bruce’s journey, visit his site,



Zach Davis didn’t hike a long-distance trail until 2011, yet he was intuitively aware of the need to prepare himself mentally for the hike. Establishing his “why” allowed him to be ready for the problems that he would inevitably encounter on the trail. The fact that he contracted West Nile Disease and carried it until the end of the trail is further testimony to his desire to fulfil his goal.



When Zach returned from the AT, he wrote his best-selling book, Appalachian Trialsto assist other hikers in the hiker mindset. He was already a prolific blogger, but used his website to, first, sell more book and, second, to turn his hiking influence into a business.



Zach’s commonsense approach to hiking resonates with Steve in their conversation. You can find Zach at any of these places.

The Trek:

Zach’s Instagram: http://instagram/zrdavis/

The Trek Newsletter:

The Trek on Facebook:

The Trek on Twitter:

The Trek on Instagram:

Zach’s Amazon Author page:



With Trailtopia stepping up to support both this show and Bruce Matsaon’s show, Returning to Katahdin: An Appalachian Trail Dream, I had a chat with Vince Robichaud about his love of both the outdoors and good food–a winning combination.

Julie Gayheart is a very active section hiker, having completed a 12-year thru-hike in 2017, while within 800 miles of a second thru-hike spread over a number of years. Steve and Julie find plenty to discuss and laugh about in their conversation, She has a passion for the AT that shines through, feeling that it is on the AT that she is the best version of herself.




Julie had plenty of problems at Mt Moosilauke in consecutive years, so much so that she regards that glorious mountain as her own Katahdin.



You can reach out to Julie on Twitter, as @jesterhikes, as well as on Instagram as @jesterhikes.


We’re trying something new this week now that Doctor Lynne is away. Eliza Newland told us about the North Fork Mountain Trail. She even told us where to buy breakfast when hitting this short trail. You can learn more about the NFMT from this link to Hiking Upward, while breakfast can be found at Yokum’s.


Don’t forget, you can find my books in paperback at my author’s website, If you’d like me to sign or add a message, please let me know when you check out.


While you’re online, please check out our sponsor, Trailtopia.




Meet Jim Kern, a veteran of the hiking world, yet on a mission to CLOSE THE GAPS on America’s trails. He has hiked all over the world, yet his passion is here at home in Florida, with the Florida Trail. Jim started the Florida Trail in 1966, when a lot of us were in short pants back at school, while many of us weren’t even born yet. Watch this short YouTube video to get a feel of what the trail is about.



The picture above is of Jim overlooking the Appalachian Trail in 1967. In our conversation, Jim points to the relative passivity of hikers–compared to, say, gun owners–when it comes to demanding rights. Jim and I would appreciate everybody signing his petition. I’ve copied the Mission Statement of Hiking Trails for America in full to articulate the need.


America has 11 National Scenic Trails, but after 60 years only the Appalachian National Scenic Trail has a right-of-way set aside for posterity. The other 10 trails have gaps subject to closure and dangerous road-walks. Many have access problems. Hiking Trails for America (HTA) has been formed to support permanent protection and continuity for all National Scenic Trails and to educate the general public in the use of foot trails for walking, hiking and backpacking.



You can sign the petition by visiting Don’t delay, do it right away.


The link below will take you to a site that is highlighting the 50th Anniversary of the National Scenic Trails Act of 1968. Jim is planning a march on Earth Day in D.C. and a full page ad will go into the January issue of Backpacker Magazine. The details are still in the works.  Jim is anxious that our listeners are made aware of this important anniversary.  Many hikers are unaware the Act even exists. Click on the link to learn more.


Jim also refers to his coffee table book, Trail Reflections, 50 Years of Hiking and Backpacking. Click on this Amazon link and you’ll be taken directly to it.



Doctor Lynne takes a well-deserved Christmas break for the rest of December. But, before she goes, she gave us some reassuring information about Lyme Disease. If you’d like to learn a little more, here is a link to a short YouTube lecture by Lynne. She also wanted me to point you towards the CDC website which also covers Lyme.


Don’t forget to listen to our other show, Returning to Katahdin, where we follow Bruce Matson in his preparations, and later execution of his 2018 thru-hike.


Thanks, as ever, to our generous sponsors, Trailtopia.

Kyle Rohrig was one of the first people I wanted to interview on my podcast, so it is somehow fitting that it has taken me more than 60 episodes to finally get the chance to speak with him. For me, it was worth the wait. He comes across as a modest, quiet guy with hiking now firmly in his blood. He made an attempt on the Continental Divide Trail this summer to complete his Triple Crown. The weather played a part in aborting that hike, yet he has now set himself up the opportunity to complete the Triple Crown with his girlfriend, and friend of the show, Jessica “Dixie” Mills.




Kyle and his “aloof” dog, Katana, have appeared in several viral posts on the internet, with the Lion King moments a highlight. When I asked Kyle for pictures, he sent as many of Katana as he did of himself.


If you’d like to find out more about Kyle and his adventures, you can visit his website, and his blog, at , while you can also follow him, as boundless_roamd, on Instagram.


Kyle wrote about his journey on the AT in 2014 with Lost on the Appalachian Trail, following up that big success with his latest, Hear The Challenge: Hike The Appalachian Trail. Click on either link and you’ll be taken directly to Kyle’s book pages on Amazon.



In Doc Spot, Lynne Savino terrifies us all once more with thoughts and remedies for Altitude Sickness. This has been such a successful spot on the show that we’d love to extend its run. If you have any medical issues regarding hiking that you’d like Lynne to consider for us, please drop me an email at and I’ll pass them on to Lynne.


Please remember to join me and Bruce Matson every Monday morning on our other podcast, Returning to Katahdin: An Appalachian Trail Dream. Here, we chat about Bruce’s preparation for his upcoming thru-hike in 2018. We’ll also be catching up with him twice a week from the trail.


Last, but by no means least, thanks as ever to our title sponsor, Trailtopia. Don’t forget to visit their website at






Jessica Mills has become something of a YouTube sensation, with her Appalachian Trail videos securing a base of support during her 2015 thru-hike. However, that support has grown exponentially this year, as she took on, and beat, the Pacific Crest Trail, battling the snow in the Sierras, then smoke from fires the rest of the way.



Her breezy delivery, thoughtful commentary, great pictures (including some taken from a drone, and sheer bravado in the face of difficult conditions, have made her PCT vidoes required viewing for aspiring and veteran hikers alike. Jessica discusses this year’s hike with Steve and answers the inevitable question, “Did you prefer the AT or the PCT?”



Jessica is very active on social media, under the name of Homemade Wanderlust, and she can be contacted through the following sites.


Facebook: homemadewanderlust

Instagram: @homemadewanderlust

YouTube: homemadewanderlust

Patreon: homemadewanderlust

Twitter: @homemadeWL

You can also find Jessica’s book about her 2015 Appalachian Trail thru-hike on Amazon



Lynne Savino gives us another Doc Spot, with her spotlight focused on heat related illness. Steve remains utterly clueless in these pieces and thanks Lynne for her diligence in bringing this important information to hikers. If a hiker learns the thing that can save his or her life then Lynne’s work will be rewarded.


Please check out our sister podcast, Returning to Katahdin: An Appalachian Trail Dream, featuring a detailed look at Bruce Matson’s attempt to hike the AT in 2018. If you want to find out more about Bruce and his hike, go to his website,


Also, don’t forget to try out our title sponsor’s website,, when planning your next trip into the woods.




A thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail isn’t everybody’s idea of the best way to spend time in the woods. Judy Mikesell became interested in the trail through her son’s thru-hike several years ago. She knew that she didn’t want to thru-hike but she certainly wanted to visit the various parts of the trail. Her novel approach has enabled her to build her own version of hiking the AT without ever needing to go without a shower or needing to use a privy.




To try to get as full an AT experience as possible, Judy also took part in the Half-Gallon Challenge at Pine Furnace Grove. From the look of the picture above, it didn’t look like it went too well. Judy is very much into the outdoors, setting herself a similar biking challenge to the one she has her sights set on for the AT, as well as snowshoeing in the winter.



Doc Spot sees Lynne giving us (or at least me) entirely new information about lightning and what to do should you get caught in a storm. Also, click on this link for further information from the NOAA.


Don’t forget to check out our other podcast, Returning to Katahdin: An Appalachian Trail Dream, where we follow Bruce Matson as he prepares, then executes his 44-year dream of thru-hiking the AT. At the same time, Bruce is also raising funds for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. You can learn more about Bruce and his mission by visiting his website,


While you’re online, why not check out the website of our title sponsor, Trailtopia. You’ll find all sorts of goodies there. We thank them so much for supporting our shows.