Monday, July 27, 2015

Viewer Discretion Advised

That title is a marketing tool, like "repeat" on a bottle of shampoo. Viewers will definitely view now though I can safely say, you were duly warned as some scenes may be objectionable. 
Alas poor Yorek, I knew him well. Well enough to warn him in advance: "share a morsel once in a while, tone down the sarcasm....." He didn't heed:
Even No Shame, felt none:
Some critters are cool though we never know what's locked inside those spikes waiting to be injected:
Sometimes you know the critter isn't poisonous though cloaked:
In case u can't expand it, there's a wee black rat snake peaking his ugly lil face out to say sssssteer clear. Then sometimes cloaking and stealth are cast to the wind and all is left to hang out:
I'd say that's a good 8 footer.
Sometimes the critter reminds us of A Bugs Life:
Sometimes we're creeped out as they look in at us with glowing eyes:
Then there are times when they at some point got into the gear and for whatever reason suddenly decide to introduce themselves:
I couldn't believe what I saw gripping my leg! I couldn't wait long enough to take a quality pic with it on my leg which I understand some may be having a hard time ripping your gaze away from so here's a better shot:
I didn't realize the trail came so close to nuclear power plants. Nor can I imagine why one friend was already talked out of spending a night in the woods by her hubby knowing his wife's fear of bugs:
While 9 nights of 10 I'm in the woods. Occasionally I must seek accommodations in order to re supply and shower:
Now again, as some undoubtedly are transfixed by the hairy stick man, try to tear ur gaze away to view the shower stall over Sparky's shoulder. It was hot with good pressure despite an occasional drip from the shower on the floor above. I knew going in that The Doyle Hotel at over 100 yrs old and only $25 should not be one to get expectations up on. Honestly, no man (or woman acting like one) thru hiking the AT would know the full experience without a night at the famous Doyle.
Hand painted oil! As one young thru hiker said the next day: "I think I'm gonna move my medical check up planned for the end of the hike to next week."
There's more to that story for another day. For now, remember the warning. Yesterday I'm walking on a lil trail from shelter lunch to privy after and this guy suddenly backs up off the trail and coils:
Instead of rattling he hissed an encouragement to get one step closer....not. Nevertheless it improved my privy experience exponentially.
Then today, another flees the trail leaving himself sprawled in reeds without the ability to coil, he did share the cute toddler toy rattle:
Karen told me DOD had another saying: "that left teeth marks on my heart" they make me cuss too. Those are Timber Rattlers, NY says the largest most venomous, don't stop praying thanks.

Last warning. 

Story has it that after the last Muppets Movie, the flop a couple years ago, the cast was sent for a retreat to hike the AT. They couldn't take the two funniest old men in the balcony which unfortunately for them left them without comic relief, an absolute essential item. Apparently after a couple weeks, after hiker hunger had totally set in and rations were low Kermit woke up on the wrong side of the tent (Grouchy you might say) with an overwhelming craving for all things ham, bacon and pork:
Sweet dreams my friends.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


Some folks said to me before I started the hike "I hope you find what you're looking for". I appreciated the sentiment while knowing I found what I was looking for 25 years ago.
Nevertheless there was definitely some inspiration along the way and the first was Oct 2010. On my way to Tulsa to spend time with Alec:
I stopped for a night in Nashville and preached at the Clarksville Highway church of Christ on Sunday. Before services during breakfast I met a man they called Papa Smurf (Charlie Moffit) who shared some of his experiences having thru hiked the AT twice in his 60's and once with his wife. Can't imagine how he got the name:
That was the first bug in the ear, blip on the radar. Papa Smurf later went on to help build a shelter in Elizabethtown:
Well having passed the halfway point I'm still finding the experience tremendously inspirational. Indeed there are some sketchy people out here but most are cool and friendly just like life. And of course no one would ever look at Sparky crawling out of the hills all dirty, sweaty, unshaven and think "sketch"....right? 

The sabbatical side of the trek affords hours of time to think of future hopes and plans as well as present prayers and the family and folks I love. The current heat wave inspires me to seek and find air conditioning, bahahaha.
The Shenandoah Range inspired Cool Breeze to take the following pics:

Guess I'm the only one not to have seen one of these:

Thank you Papa Smurf and Cool Breeze
I had been looking forward to the Half Gallon Ice Cream Challenge in Harpers Ferry but strolled in too late. Theeeeeennnn I found another, even more famous at the General Store at the Pine Grove Furnace State Park! 
Not many folks are able to finish an entire half gallon of ice cream but I had been previously inspired and planning ahead. And that's the reward for success:
Thankfully one didn't need to eat using that spoon. The new owners of the ancient store had considered a more elaborate prized spoon but were told to keep this one instead.

As Cool Breeze learned recently, thru hiking is at least a full time gig. There's a list of things before, during and at the end of the day's hike that must be done each day and night. Setting up the tent is an obvious necessity, if it's raining or threatening I can speed up the process by humming the theme to Mission Impossible. Here, let me inject it into ur head: da da daaanana nat.

Speaking of routines, there's a great line in the following devo which speaks to the potential to get trapped inside them:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Wonderful Respite

While Scott Jurek completed his incredible journey I reached what most consider the half way point of Harpers Ferry.
I got into town late and actually ate and ran with a goal reaching my longest hike of 26 miles in 1 day as I wanted to reach my sisters the next day. 
Someone needs to change this sign to Summer as its July and 90.
The Patomac:
If you are able, read to the last line which speaks to when man plans and the "uncertainties of life":
An empty tomb
Another monument at this park:
There's so much history along the trail here, Washington Monument:
Personal as well. My sister Karen, mom, niecey Gina banina, bro-in-law Donald. Mom's in good hands.
I had an awesome visit and the rest did much for my feet. Kudos to Keen and thank you Phil for turning me on to them a few years ago as I put over 1,000 miles on them before buying a new pair:
My dear sweet mom suddenly showed me what she thought of my facial hair:
And my sister and I went for a 10 miler to get a pretty full experience of the trail:
In just a few short hours we went from torrential rain to sunshine:
We stopped at a shelter for lunch and met 3 other hikers then trekked on.
We saw a couple critters along the way:
And had a very close call which could have changed an otherwise great hike into a traumatic disaster. In 1,000 miles I had been warned of but not come across a poisonous adder. I had seen signs on the trail of rattlesnakes ahead (like the yellow jackets) even one that read of a rattler at eye level in the rocks near a view point. Karen was hungry so we stopped on the trail. As she sat a young hiker (20's) Tommy Boy and his mom Dr Quinn (because she carried so many meds) who Denise and I met back in Waynesboro came up. As I was talking to him, after a couple minutes, he said "COPPERHEAD!" He pointed down behind me but I couldn't find it. It took me several seconds to finally see it.
It was literally about 18 inches behind me and poised to strike. Had Tommy Boy advanced to pass vs stop before me and talk, I would have stepped back to let him pass and spent the rest of the day in the hospital.
Thank God and thanks to those who continue to pray as this was another occasion where this trek could have taken a sudden drastic turn for the worse.
My sister Karen is huge. No obviously not  that way. Early in this blog I mentioned an event in my life that changed my life forever. During a 2 hour family intervention the setting of which I remember vividly I can remember only one phrase that was said. I was leaving, my mind made up. My fiancĂ©, mother and father had exhausted every argument they had. Tears in her eyes seeing my blind conviction Karen said only one thing "Jim, all I want you to know is that I love you and the church is praying for you."
Within hours of her utterance I would come to the unmistakable conclusion that I had not only been entirely deceived by the same evil that had captured my friend Kevin who I never heard from again, but that I had been rescued from it. The cult I was in remains ever stronger and more powerful to this day and known to many by the movie stars it has captured including one who visits it 5 days a week and undoubtedly has "donated" millions to. While it calls itself a church it is evil and for what damage it may have done it also gave me a heightened sense of not only cultic behavior which I can smell a mile away but a passion to help others who might need help recovering from such. Additionally, while surveys show most believe there is a God, most do not acknowledge the existence of evil or a force behind it. How advantageous to one who seeks to deceive, kill, eat and destroy than to have so many wallow in ignorance.

Sunday, July 12, 2015


Ha, made you look. Remember Scott Jurek?
He did it! He beat the world record for completing the entire Appalachian Trail in 46 days, 8 hrs and 8 minutes beating the record by a mere 3.5 hours! 
He was sick and injured but gotter done and summitted Katahdin with his wife on her birthday seen here mugging each other. Congratulations Scott and tx for actually stoppin to say hello, you're a class act.
I'm finding NEMO to be a fair, responsive and reputable company. Remember this tent?
Well last Wednesday night at 9:15 while pumping the second of two air beams, the front one popped leaving it to be held up by two strings and a trekking pole looking like this:
Pretty! Ran into Luray VA emailing when possible. By 4:30pm on Thursday NEMO credited me full price for what I had paid in Feb and Fedexed this one to Luray by 12:30 Friday:
Sparky is very happy. Family can readily attest, Sparky no fun to be around when he not happy.
The  fists full of blueberries at the start of Virginia that were replaced by blackberries in the middle have now been replaced by raspberries at its end:
There are millions! What a wonderful unexpected surprise.
Shenandoah National park is finished but not before this little guy said peekaboo 
And then there were two!
S'cute. Reminds me, since this is the memory post, I once had a cabin of 18 female campers around 12-14 yrs old. They came to me one morning complaining of a mouse in the cabin the night before. That afternoon when all the girls were in the cabin I went in with a trap (not what some call a humane kind but the kind I call most effective......snap!)
Before setting trap I explained the mouse was a field mouse, the same exact kind of mouse people buy as pets. The life or death debate which ensued made Congress sound like a picnic. Nevertheless, Freddy the field mouse had assumed room temp by the next morning and at least some were happy.
Speaking of things that multiply. Do u see a problem or two with this sign?
I do. Has Smoky gone back now to remove it? What does Smoky think a hiker will do, take a pic and post it on a blog or something? What about the turtles, ya think since they only have 3 days a year that they really give a royal rats rooney if we watch? And since when is Smoky an expert on anything but preventing forest fires? Ya think hikers have a lil too much time to think? Perhaps.
I've gotten the impression from some innocent comments that some consider this hike as rather like an escape or a happy go lucky lala in the woods for 6 months. Well in some ways it is. But as we know Satan never sleeps and indeed there have been at least 3 occurances already that have nearly thwarted and ended this trek. A few know of some none of which is a dead tent but without enumerating, know that we are all in this together, and as I'm reminded, trying to navigate between struggles and hardships and savor the flavor of those times when life's nasties aren't bombarding us. Each Sunday I listen to my list of Christian music. Today I thought of some of you that I know are or have been hammered when I heard this song by a group my kiddies and I saw, check YouTube or just buy it if you don't already own it. It mentions many of us.

My daily prayer list grew again today, please don't hesitate.
Concentrate on trying to keep in step vs trying to anticipate.

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