Saturday, February 6, 2016

Pine Mountain Trail safe!

Fantastic news from Kentucky!  Senator Jones has withdrawn the bill that would have destroyed the Pine Mountain Trail, which hosts the GET.

Read all about it here.

From the article: With the loss of jobs in eastern Kentucky in recent years, "(w)e have to find ways to create economic activity, help local businesses and one way is to grow adventure tourism,"  he added.

I can't think of a single hiker who wouldn't agree. Now the question is: how do we help communities and congressmen understand that hiking is viable adventure tourism?

This trail is awesome.  Go hike it.  And when you spend money in town, make sure people know you're a hiker.

Friday, February 5, 2016

World's Best Hikes

Oh, hey!  Guess which trail is listed on National Geographic's Best New Hikes?

Some of the information is somewhat accurate.  It would really be nice if articles about the GET actually featured a picture from the GET, though.  I know, wishful thinking!  Until that happens, I'll just be glad to see the GET getting publicity. It's a wonderful trail and was the best adventure of my life.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Pine Mountain Trail in trouble

Legislation has been introduced to allow ATVs access to Kentucky's only State Scenic Trail -- The Pine Mountain Trail.

From the link: "SB 102 has catastrophic consequences for the Pine Mountain Trail and its use as a hiking trail. There is zero compatibility between hiking and ATV usage. They cannot coexist. The viability of the Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail as an attraction to bring hikers and tourists into our area has no future if ATV's are allowed continuing use of the Trail. "

The Pine Mountain Trail is glorious - an incredible trail that I recommend to absolutely any backpacker. If this legislation allows ATVs access to this fragile environment, all the work done BY hikers FOR hikers will be destroyed.

Do you care?  Even a little?  PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION. It will take you 1 minute.

If you care even more, send the senator a kind note. 


Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Best 1-Mile Side Trip on the GET

Last summer on my way home from the Appalachian Trail Biennial, I completed a spur trail of the GET that had haunted me since the 2013 thru-hike.

On that late spring day in 2013, we had dry-camped the night before. Water was an issue on the Shenandoah Mountain Trail, but even moreso that day: my water bladder had sprung a leak and I had no water. Zero. Nothing.

When we got to this sign featuring a .5 (yes, it is point-five, the period is hard to see) spur trail to High Knob Tower, Bart and I knew that we just didn't have the water for a 1-mile roundtrip detour.

"It's a thru-hike, not a thorough hike," Bart pointed out, and I knew he was right.  We kept hiking until we found water. Using duct tape and super glue, I fixed the water bladder while Bart sat in the dirt and beheaded woodticks. At that point, it was way too late to turn around to come back and hike the spur trail. We carried on.

So last summer, I was pumped when my travel buddy/mother agreed to climb to High Knob Tower with me.  The trail is marked with this lovely yellow i, sometimes moderately obscured but not too badly. The trail itself was in great shape. The .5 mile climb was brutal in the heat, but the views from the Tower made it worth it!  Views of Virginia and West Virginia made my heart soar.

Mom sits in the grassy shade

Reddish Knob in the distance
 On the way back to the car, we got to visit with this little guy.  He wanted the whole trail to himself:

High Knob Tower is an amazing side trip on the Great Eastern Trail.  I very much wish I could have enjoyed it during the thru-hike, but it probably meant more to me to visit it in 2015.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

10 Awesome Things about the Mid State Trail

I got to revisit the southern terminus of the Mid State Trail a couple of weeks ago and found myself very homesick for the MST.  I thought I would share my top 10 favorite things about hiking this section of the Great Eastern Trail.

1. Remoteness.  Sure, the trail occasionally goes through towns, but the vast majority of the MST felt wild and untamed.  

2. Wildlife.  Hillbilly Bart and I had more bear encounters on the Mid State Trail than any other host trail along the Great Eastern Trail.  We saw porcupines, deer, turtles, snakes, frogs, and countless birds.

3. Solitude.  This is a trail that deserves more traffic than it sees, but it was incredible to go days without seeing another person.

4. Sense of humor.  Those responsible for the guidebook and resupply guide slip in little nuggets of humor that you might miss on first read.  But even on-trail you'll see the MST's sense of humor, with signs that refer to it as the "Metric System Trail" along with signed landmarks such as "Crocodile Spring."

5.  Overlooks.  They're phenomenal.  Enough said.

6. Variety.  Lakes, streams, valleys, ridgetops, fields, forests of all varieties . . . the Mid State Trail is one of the most diverse trails I've hiked.

7. Range of difficulty.  Want an easy hike?  The trail around Cowansque Lake or on the Lower Trail section are good bets.  Want a good workout?  Try climbing up to Gillespie Peak.  Whatever your ambition level, the Mid State Trail has a section that's what you're looking for.

8. Water.  Particularly on the northern half of the Mid State Trail, the springs are works of art.  On the southern half, Maple Run Valley has one of the prettiest streams I've ever seen

9. Trail towns.  What town could be more welcoming than Everett?  And how many towns provide a shelter in their city park like Woolrich?  The trail towns along the Mid State Trail are some of the best along any trail.

10. People.  The people behind the trail, that is.  The blazes are bright and easy to follow and trail volunteers work tirelessly to make the MST a great hiking experience.  It's a huge job, and they tackle it valiantly.  Thanks to the Mid State Trail Association for all you do!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015

Purple blazes

The only purple blazes on the Great Eastern Trail are on the western route of the bifurcation in Green Ridge State Forest.

Mid State Terminus

I visited the southern terminus of the Mid State Trail today. Why? Because I was 3 miles from it and it's there.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Biennial Trip

It wouldn't be fair to drive through Wisconsin without visiting the Ice Age Trail at Devils Lake State Park. I convinced my Mom to roadtrip to the Appalachian Trail Biennial in Virginia where I will present about the GET and geek out. We're well on our way! Hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Botanical Hiker Blog

I've been enjoying following along as the Botanical Hiker thru-hikes the Finger Lakes Trail and all its side trails.  She recently wrote up a great post about the Crystal Hills Trail, which is the northernmost section of the Great Eastern Trail.

Check out her blog and follow along!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Flagg Mountain, Alabama

 Flagg Mountain, Alabama is where Bart and I began our Great Eastern Trail adventure.

It now has its own Facebook page: Flagg Mountain.

From their site: "A new interest group is being formed, "The Friends of Flagg Mountain", to provide valuable input and assistance in restoring the cabins and fire tower on Flagg Mountain to their original conditions, and to also plan the future use of this historic site.
We need your help. We need your ideas on how to best restore the buildings and tower on Flagg Mountain, and how to use the property in the future."

The tower and the mountain are both much prettier than they looked when fogged-in on a mid-January day.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Steuben County, NY

The escaped prisoners from New York have possibly been spotted in Steuben County.

Fun fact: the northern terminus of the Great Eastern Trail is also in Steuben County!

CNY Hiking has a whole page about hiking opportunities in Steuben County, including South Bradford State Forest where Moss Hill Lean-To is.  It's a gorgeous county that probably rarely has escaped killers lurking around.

The second sighting was closer to Pennsylvania's Cowanesque Lake on the Mid State Trail than Moss Hill Lean-To.

Exciting times near the GET.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

2 years later . . .

Two years ago today, Bart and I made it to Moss Hill Lean-To and the northern terminus of the Great Eastern Trail.  
It amazes me how the experience continues to enrich and influence my life, from the friends I made to big life decisions that the trail shines light on from afar.  To say that I'm grateful for the trail does not even begin to describe it.

Thank you to all who were part of the journey!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Recent SAR near the Great Eastern Trail

When a short hike goes wrong is a news story about a recent successful rescue mission in the Ramsey Draft Wilderness in Virginia, which the Great Eastern Trail passes through, hosted on the Shenandoah Mountain Trail.

The Mountain House trailhead where the hikers got lost is just down the mountain from a GET trailhead at Confederate Breastworks.

Coincidentally, Confederate Breastworks is where a man went missing in November 2012.  No trace has been found.

Remember to be prepared even for dayhikes.

View from Confederate Breastworks trailhead