Just walked into Hot Springs, NC and am staying the night at Elmer's, which is a very well known hostel on the trail.  Elmer showed me around the house, which is from the 1800's and is really beautiful, there is a whole AT library and every movie made about the trail.  (needless to say, I'm in heaven)  I took a shower and am at the library right now until it closes, which is pretty soon, so this won't be a long one.

The trail continues to be so good to me, I really can't explain in words just what this journey means to me.  It is exactly what I needed at this point in time and wouldn't trade it for anything.  It's been a very healing time for me.  I've listened to "The Shack" a couple of times now and it has helped me a lot in my understanding with God and recommend that book to anyone who is interested in a different perspective on a relationship with God.

I have 271 miles to go and figure that I'll be at Springer Mtn., GA sometime in the middle of September.  Kristin and Guppy if you are still following this blog, any chance you guys want to do a day hike to Springer and pick me up???  Just asking.  It's hard not to start thinking about "what's next", what will interactions with Cassandra be like, what is the timeline for getting back to Washington, seeing family and friends in the Midwest, etc.  It gives me something to think about, but let me assure you, I'm still present on the trail.

I've begun to realize that one reason I enjoy the trail so much is that I have a purpose everyday, so I've started to ask God, what's my purpose?  I often thought it was to be a good husband and to love my family, but that has thrown me for a loop.  So that is my prayer as I finish this trail and continue my journey.

As for the trail, Tennessee has been beautiful, along with North Carolina.  They are well graded and besides the stinging nettles along it, it's been pretty enjoyable hiking.  I'm really looking forward to the Smokies, it's one of the few places that I've backpacked before on the AT.

Hopefully I'll be able to update you once I get to Georgia, but thank you for your prayers and for following my journey.

Well, here is another quick blog just to let everyone know that I'm still alive and doing well.  I'm in Erwin, TN making a quick, or not so quick, food resupply so that I can make it to Hot Springs and soak in a tub.

Tennessee has been beautiful.  I spent a night at the highest shelter on the AT, so that was a fun little novelty.  (although the shelter that sleeps 15 was filled with a college freshman orientation group and it was windy and in the 40's, but I'm not complaining)

I'm really looking forward to making it into the Smokies, it will definitely be a highlight.  (once again, my brain is all over the place trying to cram info onto a computer screen as quickly as possible.  sorry about that)  My body is holding up amazingly, I feel really strong and my energy level is way up there.  I'm not in a hurry to finish, but the reality of the trail coming closer to an end is starting to set in and I'm starting to think about the responsibilities that I will have.

Anyway, still loving the journey, God has been so good in this process.

At last here is a video.  It was taken about 550 miles south of Katahdin, Maine.  1/4 of the way trough.  That was in June. 

And, one about the same time at Mt. Stratton.

And, one about a section in Vermont.

And, Jason meets a legend ... "Cimarron"

You can follow Cimarron's journal at

Here is a board walk section

Here is the Appalachian Trail Train Stop!

Bridge Over the Hudsonhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWXfLq-6lvc
I just made it into Demascus and I have 2 minutes before the computer shuts down.  I am stoked to be here, its supposed to be the best trail town on the planet.  The hiking has been great, weather has been awesome, I still continue to see people every day.

Well, its kicking me off, I might get
I spent the night last night here at Woods Hole Hostel and am looking into spending another night here too.  It's an amazing place and so beautiful, a rustic log cabin built in the 1880's, I can't begin to explain the atmosphere and the hospitality here.  I loaded up on amazing food last night and this morning and am feeling better than ever. 
I met a couple from Indianapolis that I had an instant connection with and hopefully will get to see them sometime in the future.

I have 614 miles left to go and am still trying to figure out what that looks like with getting Thom to hike with me some and possibly having Dave come down and hike that last week or so, it all seems to be happening so fast.

Not too much new to report right now except that I had a pretty good climb coming out of the last town and as I was at the beginning of it, a young family of four, kids were probably 7 and 5 asked if I had ever hiked this trail before?  I said no, I'm an AT thru hiker and they said, just want to warn you, its a doozy buddy.  I said, I'll do my best and watched as the 7 and 5 year olds bounded down the trail with all their energy still with them.  My theory is that if it has switchbacks, it can't be that bad.

Oh, I hiked with Team BlackCat, the first southbounders from Mt. Katahdin that I've seen since the Whites in New Hampshire.  I was with them for two days and really enjoyed their company and hearing more about their story.  Its amazing how quickly a bond can happen when you have shared the same journey.  I will probably get a chance to see them again tonight as they are supposed to come here for the evening.

Alright, my time is almost up, gotta run.


ps. saw my first skunk yesterday.....and no i didn't get sprayed.
and no, this isn't about northbounders. :)

Every night it seems that all the spiders within a half mile of the trail decide to put a single strand of web across the trail and I spend most of my morning wiping spider webs out of my eyes and off my forehead. (I don't know why they choose that level.  Even when nobos would finally come, I would think that they would have cleared all the webs, but I'd still get them in the eyes and forehead)  So it would be pretty funny to watch me try to get the webs out of my face only to walk right into another one as soon as it was clear.

Another thing is stumbing my toes on a rock or root and being sent airborne and trying to recover without falling down.  I really wish that I could have a video camera on me during those times.  Sometimes they come a couple a day, sometimes a few in five minutes, they always get a good reaction out of me.

And lastly, anyone who uses trekking poles knows this, but they have a tendency to get stuck inbetween rocks or roots and try to rip your arm out of its socket as your continue your forward momentum.  I'm sometimes surprised that my arms are still attached.

Now if those are not bad enough by themselves, imagine all three of them happening at the same time as I'm trying to get my trail legs in the morning...
[and then I pass a northbounder... :)]

Thanks for putting the pictures up Rich.  Unfortunately the camera that I've got seems to have a foggy lens most of the time which is why a lot of the photos seem blurry, but hey, at least there are photos right?

My zero day has been awesome, napping, eating, watching t.v., trying to figure out the next section for resupply options, it's been good, although its going fast.

I really liked Harper's Ferry and honestly, this whole A.T. trip has caused me to want to do a road trip here and learn more about the history including the civil war, revolutionary war, french-indian war and just the colonial period.  It's amazing to walk through these out of the way places and see grave stones, or war memorials. 

After Harper's Ferry, I had an amazing stay at the Bear's Den Hostel, a shower, laundry, dvd's, awesome spaghetti dinner and pancake breakfast, it was awesome.  I also spent some time with a sobo section hiker named Gorbo who is finishing up the trail this year, he was refreshing to hang out with. 

The Shenandoah's were great too, everyday I was able to stop at a wayside and have a gardenburger, fries and a shake, not too bad for being on the trail.  I was also able to see and talk to a lot of people while there, including the family that offered to take me to the local town to get a new pair of shoes. (amazing generosity, thanks you guys)  So the shoe story, I got a new pair in Harper's Ferry and they were supposed to be a good pair with recycled materials, (i was at least trying to think about the environment..) and about 40 miles in, the cushioning on the left side of my right heel (did you follow that?) collapsed and caused my right foot to tilt inward and that caused some major pressure points on other parts of my foot, so bad in fact that I had to do some surgery on them and cut out a part of the shoe.  I was able to limp them another 100 miles to get a new pair in Waynesboro, VA, but it definitely effected my allignment and my feet were just really sore.  There is nothing worse that having your feet hurt every step.

After Waynesboro, I had a box waiting for me in Buena Vista, VA, but when I got to the road crossing only 3 cars drove by in 30 min. and I decided to just push on and ration my food.  I made a reservation for my nights at the Howard Johnson in Daleville (side note, as I was making that call, cell reception was bad, but I found a place on a rock and as I was on the phone, a timber rattlesnake decided to check out my backpack and then it started heading up the rocks towards me.  I had to jump off the rock and lost my cell reception.  I felt bad for the woman on the phone I was talking to as I said that there is a rattlesnake coming towards me and then I lost reception and wasn't able to find another place to call for about 20 minutes.  I was wondering if there was a study about snakes being attracted to cell phones signals?)  So back to the story, I thought it was only 60 miles to Daleville and I thought that if I cut a ramen package in half and skimped on my trail mix, I would be alright.  Well, it ended up being 80 miles and a couple of good climbs.  I was provided for though, a hiker coming from GA shared an Uncle Ben's rice dish with me one night, then a wonderful couple that I met at a shelter shared a bag of dried mangos and trail mix, along with a gatorade and bottle of water as the water sources have been less than ideal.  And if that wasn't enough, a trail angel left some gallons of water at a road crossing that got me through until Daleville.  It was pretty humbling and I am so thankful to know that I'm being taken care of even more than the birds in the air.

So I will be leaving here very refreshed, filled with pizza, donuts, gatorade and pineapple.  My next stop will hopefully be Damascus, VA. 

Jason here, just a really quick post to say that I am spending a zero dale in Daleville.  Just got back from going to Little Caesar's and getting a couple of pizzas to tide me over.

The hike continues to go really well, I saw 16 bear in the Shenandoah's, mostly cubs and nothing to worry about, the best was a mom and two cubs up in an apple tree eating apples, or maybe it was the cub that startled me as it did a rapid rappel down a tree as I walked by. 

I pushed to get here for this zero day and had some trail magic help along the way, God is definitely looking out for me.  Anyway, I've gotta run, its a 20 minute max and there's a line up all of the sudden, but I'll try to get back on tomorrow.

Thanks for the prayers, the joy I experience is almost overwhelming.

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Rich here, and ... at last ... here are some photos from Jason's first few hundred miles.  It's been almost a week since we last talked on the phone.  But, he was past the 1,000 mile mark at that time.  He did one day of 35 miles, but otherwise 25 - 30 miles each day.  He isn't trying hard, just enjoying the hike!!  Everything was going well for him.  So, at that rate, he should now be nearing the 800 mile mark!