I know, my Ginger Beard Maniacs, I know. I’ve failed miserably in keeping my promise to keep you updated I won’t placate you with any more apologies. It’s been an amazing and difficult few months. Ive had to get off trail a few times, most recently due to some pain in my heel. At several points, it looked like I might have to call the whole thing off.

Well, although I’m more than a month behind schedule, you can rest assured, I’m not through hiking, I’m still thru hiking. Starting today with the first installment of my 100 Mile Wilderness, I will be finally getting you guys up to speed with a series of updates. (And I promise you wont have to wait three months for the next one!) Currently, I’m in Pinkham Notch and this afternoon I begin my traverse of the Presedential Range of the White Mountains.

“What about the snow?”

“What about the cold?”

“Well, do you still plan to finsh?”

From NOBOs to townspeople to even members of my own family, these have been the common responses when people discover I’m still thru hiking so late in the season. Well, perhaps when others might throw in the towel and be through hiking, your man, Ginger Beard, is still plugging away. Aye, there will be snow. Aye, there will be bitter cold. And I’ll deal with that when the time arises. Right now, I’m just focused on safely making it through the Whites. However, in answer to that last question…yes, I do plan to finish. Unless this body of mine fails, I’m going to continue walking towards Springer Mountain.

So please read the 100 Mile Wilderness update when you get a chance. If you like what you see, please share it with a friend. If you really like what you see, I strongly encourage you to take a look at my Crowdrise page (Click here) and make a donation.

July 15th

Snapping awake, I sat up and nearly smacked my head on the low ceiling above the bed. My mouth was drier than a Gobi sand dune which could only mean one thing…I had a great time last night but was in for a world of pain today. Memories of yesterday’s events slowly flowed into my mind.

Read More

Southbound and down…sorta

Sorry for not updating the blog in the past few weeks. Unfortunately, it’s been tough getting access to a computer in northern Maine and I actually had to get off trail to resolve some serious issues that came up during the sale of my parents’ condo. However, I have completed about 120 miles of the trail, including the notorious 100 Mile Wilderness. I’ll be posting a couple longer updates in the next few days to describe my first 11 days on the trail. In the meantime, here’s a few words I posted on Facebook about my experience in the 100 Mile Wilderness as well as the requisite Katahdin summit pic.

Last summer, I went on an 8 day trek to Alaska that pushed me to my limits. The past 2 weeks in Maine pushed me past my limits. The 100 Mile Wilderness is considered the most difficult stretch of the AT and the only way out is to hike or an embarrassing call to someone in Millinocket or Monson to come get you on one of the logging roads that traverse it because you couldn’t hack it. For northbounders, it’s one last obstacle to conquer. For us, southbounders, it’s trial by fire. There were several times when I asked myself “Is this worth it?” The sweat’s pouring down your face. Mosquitoes are stinging you in parts of your body that you can’t even reach. A black fly just stung you near the eye. And this goddamn backpack feels like an angry chimpanzee hanging on your back. Suddenly, you slip on slick slate and fall hard.  Is this worth it? YES! Each and every time the answer was a resounding Yes! Because…for every tough mile, there’s two mountain vistas that are so beautiful they’ll nearly bring you to tears. Because…your parents raised you to be made of sterner stuff. Because….this hike is bigger than just me.

20150715_143424

As you can tell by the title of the post, instead of being a few days into my thru-hike attempt, I’m still in Boston. “What happened?”, I hear you ask. [Pretends not to hear that you actually grumbled, “Who gives a shit?”] Well, last week, I found myself becoming increasingly more frantic as I made a mad dash to finish all that needed to be done before I left.  As the stress reached a boiling point, I suddenly recalled one of my dear friend Ryan’s favorite sayings, “Slow ya roll!”, and decided to follow his advice and postpone my trip. Originally, I thought I’d delay my departure by just a few days, however, due to lack of campsite vacancies at Baxter State Park, I won’t be heading up to Millinocket until Friday, July 11th. In addition, instead of staying at Katahdin Stream Campground, which lies right alongside the Appalachian Trail at the base of the mountain, I’ll be staying at Abol Campground. The only trail that leads to the summit of Katahdin from Abol has been closed this year due to a rock slide so I’ll have to walk an extra 5 miles or so along the park’s main dirt road in order to get back to my campsite. Oh well..Mama Tee didn’t raise me to leave town without my affairs in order so it’s a small price to pay (speaking of which, in terms of actual money, it only cost $20 to change the dates of all my reservations). Besides, I’m hoping I’ll either be able to: a.) hitch a ride from a passing vehicle on the park road or b.) see if there is any thru hikers staying at the lodge in Millinocket the night before who have a reservation at Katahdin Stream Campground and are willing to let me stay at their campsite. If I do I have to walk the extra 4 miles on that day, it will be a painful reminder not to procrastinate next time.

Read More

Three Men and a Beard

Since Earl Shaffer first hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in 1948, the number of people who attempt to follow in his footsteps has grown greatly every year. As the numbers have increased, thru-hiking the AT has developed its own subculture as well as certain traditions, both common and controversial. Of the latter, there is the practice of “mooning the cog” in which hikers bare their butt cheeks to the Cog Railway train as it ascends Mt. Washington. (This risque tradition is disappearing, however. With the local authorities arresting hikers who doff their drawers and harsher penalties for crimes committed on federal land, fewer hikers are willing to put their asses on the line, so to speak). One of the AT’s grandest traditions is the practice of adopting “trail names”. Most thru hikers will take on a trail name, or nickname, during the course of their journey and they will be referred to by this name, their trail name, rather than their real name for the remainder of the trek. As you can imagine, the various monikers that people come up with are as varying as the myriad personalities you meet on the trail. (Here’s a good sampler from the Appalachian Trail Museum). Some people come up with their own while others prefer to be given one.(Although, then you run the risk of being dubbed something unsavory like “Mr. Poopy Pants”). Rather than discuss the psychology behind trail names or explore the ways such a practice could be abused (such as this recent example), I’d like to share the story behind how I acquired my trail name and the significance behind it.

Read More

8 days away!

Hello everyone! Sorry, I have been so quiet as of late. Things have been hectic since I’ve returned from Iceland, mostly getting things ready for the condo sale. However, it looks like I’ll have a deal in place before I start my hike which is a huge relief. Definitely wasn’t looking forward to having to deal with offers/counteroffers, etc. while hiking. So hopefully, now that the papers have been signed, the sale goes through without a hitch.

Read More

My friend, Kevin O’ Shea, has been producing a podcast, Just Japan, for about a year now and he’s built up quite a following. Kevin and I met about ten years while teaching English in Goyang, a small city in the shadows of the DMZ in the Republic of Korea. Eventually, Kevin moved to the southern tip of the Korean peninsula, the city of Busan, where he met a Japanese woman and ended up getting married to her. These days, the two of them are raising a family in his wife’s native homeland of Japan where Kevin teaches at an international school. Having a passion for media as well as education, Kevin first began posting videos about life in Japan a couple of years ago and then started podcasting (check out Kevin’s blog on WordPress for more of his videos and podcasts). Although his podcast typically deals with issues about daily life in Japan, a few days ago Kevin was kind enough to have me on as guest to help me get the the word out about my fundraising trek. During the interview, which clocked in at about an hour and a half, we discussed a wide variety of topics. In terms of the Appalachian Trail, we went over my reasons for thru-hiking, the preparation such an endeavor requires as well as Nick Nolte’s upcoming role as an annoying fat-ass in “A Walk in the Woods”. However, the conversation also veered into other interesting topics as well such our lives in Korea and what brought each of us there many years ago. Grab yourself a bevy, sit down in a comfy chair and have a listen to the interview below:

Read More

 “The Green Hoof?” The bearded man spoke up suddenly when he heard the name mentioned and looked at the rest of the adults and children sitting around the campfire. “It’s real, alright. What is it? Well… they say it’s a half-man, half-deer beast that terrorizes these woods.” The bearded man gestured to the darkness that surrounded them. Some of the children squirmed closer to their mothers. A few of the adults laughed, some in derision, some to hide their fear. “It got the name The Green Hoof because the creature apparently has green fur. You see many, many years ago stories started popping up of local hunters seeing a strange creature deep in the woods. They all described seeing the same thing…a dark green creature that looked like it was half-man, half-deer. Most people laughed the stories off, saying the men were drunk when they claimed to see the creature or that it was some kind of hoax. Then one day, rangers found the bodies of a family that had been camping at the base of Mt. Washington. They had been viciously mauled, worse than the rangers had ever seen. The authorities were dumbfounded as to what had happened as the attack didn’t show the signs normally associated with the predators typically found in this area…bears, say, or coyotes. Plus, the newspapers reported the rangers had found tufts of green fur on the tree branches and bushes around the bodies. Thus, the legend of The Green Hoof was born…”

Read More