Winter Walk In Pennsylvania

Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
January 2 – 22, 2014

What a lovely walk John and I had for 6 days in the snowy mountains of Pennsylvania! Enjoy this 5-minute slide show featuring Barbara Hotz singing “Wild Wind” and a few words of explanation from me! Highlights of this walk included:

  • Super Trail Angel help from my sister, Betsy!
  • Fireplaces with split wood in every shelter!
  • Beautiful snow starting the second day!
  • Crisp, cold, fresh water from mountain streams
  • Moderate walking on a well-marked trail

Please comment after you watch! Post your questions too!


Winter Walk Complete

Well, we did it! Walked in the mountains of Pennsylvania for six days in snow, with temps down near zero a couple of nights. It’s strange how significant this rather short walk seems, even though I’ve walked so many other long walks in the past six years.

Why is that, I wondered.

Is it because the wintry conditions were challenging and this was a new trail for me?

Is it because walking is my new lifestyle and that perhaps my walking has value not just for myself but for others too?  Is it because now, as I walk, I’m more keenly aware of the transformational qualities of the journey and I’m flooded with the metaphorical  qualities of my walking for other aspects of my life – my general way of being, my business?

Is it because I’m making choices about a new relationship and noticing all the opportunities that come up each day to either go unconscious into my Old Stories or expand into Love with a New relationship story?
Is it because I’m constantly asking myself “how can my walking be of service to others” and help me walk into my own dream of joyous prosperity?

Well, yes, to all of those questions! I’ll keep pondering them and wondering if you, dear reader and follower of my journeys, have similar questions about your own journey – on trails, in cities, in new businesses or old, new relationships with others or yourself, or similar yearning to create a New Story for your own life.

I’ll keep this short today because I’m on the road for the next few days headed to Georgia to join the Trail Dames at their annual trip to the Hike Inn. I’ll get to share fresh tales and pictures from this walk in the evening program.

I’ll leave you with a few snapshots of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail and be back next week with more details!  Thanks for reading!

We followed the Yellow Blazes of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail for 70 miles. In addition to the frequent yellow paint marks on trees and posts, there were 18″ high concrete pillars etched with a number at each mile point! That was encouraging on the 14-mile days when we were plowing through 5″ of powdery snow!

Occasionally, stands of Hemlock trees rose majestically, creating dramatic contrast with the bright snow.

The last three miles of the Laurel Highlands Trail took us on a steep 1000′ descent from the Laurel Ridge to the Youghiogheny River, Viewpoints like this one jutted out from the trail. We were NOT tempted to veer off our snowy path to look through the curtain of snowflakes to get a look at the icy river below!

Blessings on your own journey!

Tell me about it!
I’m coasting on the thrill of an amazing walk with gratitude for the privelege of walking to my heart’s content! To celebrate this abundance, I’m offering my upcoming course, Journey to YOUR Heartland for another couple of days for an amazing price. Come check it out and join me in February for an exploration of STORIES.

Journey to YOUR HeartLand

Journey to the Heart Land

After a full week of walking along the Miami-Erie Canal Towpath, along country roads, and through small towns in rural Ohio along the Buckeye Trail, I’m convinced that walking is my calling. 

  • Walking as an exercise tones my body and gets my thoughts clear and my creativity flowing.
  • Walking in Nature connects me to Spirit and to the realm of infinite possibility and joy.
  • Walking through towns connects me with people.

Meeting people used to be scary for me, but now that I am living my own favorite expression, meeting people is a delightful stream of magical encounters. This week, my hiking partner, John, and I have met over a dozen generous people just by doing our walk!

Here are the stories of a few of them:

Minnie walks for exercise regularly in St. John the Evangelist Church in Delphos, OH. “I walk for 30 minutes a few times a week. While I walk I say my rosary. If I get finished with one rosary, I just start over and say another one. “

“That makes exercising and praying go together, bringing the spiritual world and human world closer together.” I said.

“Oh, I know about that! Here’s something that happened that still gives me chills to tell it.. Just a couple of weeks after my mother-in-law died, I sat up one night hearing a harp playing. It was very loud and it was a whole orchestra! I nudged my husband, ‘Do you hear that music? He said yes, he heard it too.’ I’m hesitant to tell people, because they might think I’m crazy. But, it was so beautiful.  If heaven is like that, I want to go there!

“I certainly believe you, and I’m really happy for you for having that experience with Heaven. Maybe it’s closer to us than we realize most of the time. Thanks so much for sharing that with us.”


Linda manages the IGA in Ft. Jennings. She was very curious about our walk. We chose several items there: peanut butter, noodle sides, tuna, coconut, animal cookies.

“Do you take debit cards? “

“Oh no, sorry. Only cash.”

“OK. Well, I have $6.00 in cash. Well, really seven counting my coins. But, we’ll choose a few items.”

We chose the animal cookies and the peanut butter for a total of $5.95

And she didn’t mind reshelving the groceries we left behind.

Regina and MillieMillie  had answered a call from Sam from the Buckeye Trail Clubl for a place to camp in Ottoville.  Mille and I played message tag and we found out we could indeed camp in her yard. She would pick us up in Ottoville. We walked into town and past Immaculate Conception Catholic Church at 6:15 p.m. I called Millie, who said she’d be right over to the church.

“Did you see the church?”

“Just the outside. It’s dark inside.”

“I know how to turn on the lights.”

“Then, Yes, we’d love to see it.”

Millie went in first, bidding us to wait in the back while she walked up the dark aisle through the sanctuary to the sacristy. Click. Click.  Banks of lights gradually lit up the heavenly reaches of the church.

“Oh God, it’s beautiful,” I cried. “It’s easy to feel close to God in here.”

The Mary’s blue highlights of the corners of the archways magnified the reverence to Mary, the Mother of God, to whom this church is dedicated. The rose-colored marble panels and pillars of the sanctuary evoked a heartfelt warmth and Earthly connection through Mary’s intercession.  Even though Millie shared her own disappointment in the sacrifice of the old majestic altarpiece for this simpler one, I enjoyed the symbolic artistry of this wondrous architectural prayer.

With the help of my ever-present headlamp, Millie restored the building to its darkness and we left the church. That was the first spot on our tour of Ottoville. We were impressed with the comprehensive facilities in this little town, from city services, new park, and Subway sandwich shop, to DoItYourself store and new bakery, chiropractor and dentist, all within a few blocks. Millie was again not happy with the demise of several historic buildings along the Miami-Erie Canal channel – liveries, hotels, and school. We didn’t notice them missing though.

Our stay with Millie was pure delight! She never even mentioned camping out, offering us dinner of her unique soup. “Nobody likes this soup, but you’re welcome to it” We loved it.

“Do you want bread with that?  I usually eat popcorn. You’re welcome to that, but you’ll have to shell it yourselves.”

That was fun!. “

And here are hickory nuts”  She cracked them open with a hammer on her vise.

She showeus the potted begonias, strawberries, and other perennials stashed on shelves for winter. 

Around the stairs were four Tupperware bins – “Worms. They help improve my garden soil.”

Our lively conversations filled the night ‘til 10 p.m. Maps, memories of Ottoville, family stories, dog petting, and multiple servings of bean soup and fresh popcorn turned us strangers into friends. The popcorn was the best I’d ever had. It tasted like corn!



Irene and ReginaIrene I was embarrassed that my hiking partner had put his trekking poles on the coffee counter at the convenience store in Ottoville. As I reached to pick them up, I caught the eye of a woman who smiled and said, “You’re taking a long walk?”

“Yes. We’re walking the Buckeye Trail.” She had so many questions which led to her sharing her own story about recently moving back to Ottoville to build a house and resettle. Her heart was still connected to St. Louis as well because that’s where her step-daughter lives. Her eyes lit up when she said,  “She’s really my daughter, because I raised her. Her mother left when she was young.”  Her phone rang. In a minute, she came back laughing, “You won’t believe who that was! My sister, Millie! You stayed at her house last night.”

Now, Ottoville is a small town, but the magic of meeting Millie’s sister was pretty wonderful. We walked out of that little canal town with two friends. Walking spins that thread of friendship, and I feel oneness with humanity.

Farmer’s Wife I didn’t get her name, but I listened with compassion as she shared her story of disappointment with her job at Family Services in Paulding. Soon she’ll retire, though, she explained, and work only on her husband’s farm. And that’s hard work! The day I met her, she was walking on the woods path on the edge of the corn field waiting for her husband, the farmer, to call her.  “I’m the Go-fer.”

What goes through my mind when I hear her story is confirmation that a common belief in our culture is that life and work have to be hard and disappointing.

“Is that true?” I wonder.

What would happen if lots of people shift to heeding the call of what they love to do more than what they ‘should’ do? What if more people did what was joyful and fulfilling more than what is disappointing and unfulfilling?



This story was written by Hiker John:

We were happy to finally make it back to the wooded Tow Path along the Canal after a long country road walk.  The soft ground felt good underneath our feet.  The familiar and friendly blue blazes of the Buckeye trail had led us to this place.  We noticed that adjacent to the path, a Combine was harvesting a field of corn.  Regina met a woman walking down the path who was helping with the harvest.  While Regina and the woman were talking I simply had to pee.  Excusing myself for a while, I then returned to hear another voice.

It was a very loud voice, demanding to be heard.  It was that of the woman’s husband, the farmer, expressing anger that the trail was crossing “his” land.  His angry words were hard to listen to at first and Regina almost retreated back to the country road to escape his barrage of acquisitions and complaints.  I really wanted to continue hiking forward along the Buckeye Trail so I needed to carefully listen to what he was saying behind his upset to come to an understanding.   I let the farmer play the “blame” game.

He was upset that someone had re-painted the blue blazes along the Tow Path after he had removed them. He was concerned about liability in case someone got hurt (there are a lot of large gopher holes).  He was afraid of losing his farm (which he had worked many years to create) if someone sued him.   He was upset that the state of Ohio had established the Buckeye Trail across the Tow Path public right-of-way that he believe was his private property.  He was upset that a local school group had once parked a bus blocking access to his field sand that a bunch of kids were walking around on the tow path.  He was upset about 4 wheelers using the Tow Path.  Most of all he was upset that people were not asking him if they could cross this section of trail and that trail users in the past had responded angrily and disrespectfully back to him.

After listening and acknowledging his upset, I asked if Regina and I could please continue our hike across “his” property.  I also got his contact information and later gave it the Buckeye Trail association so they could create future dialog and an agreement of trail right of way could be made.  What had started off as a hostile encounter turned into one of more mutual respect and greater understanding of differing points of view.  Even though all the trail issues along the Buckeye may not be resolved yet, with cooperation and patience I believe everybody’s voice can be heard.  The Forgiveness Rose protected us, but all the yelling made Regina and I a little more wary of the corn fields lying just beyond our little Tow Path trail.

Larry, Regina, and CarolLarry and Carol As evening approached, we reached Ft. Brown. Where would we camp? Our list of campsites in the Delphos Secttion of the Trail, provided by Sam Boniface of the Buckeye Trail Club included the name of Larry who let hikers camp on his property on the bank of the Auglaize River. I called the number.

“Yes”, Carol replied. “You can camp here.  Just look across the bridge and you’ll see our house with the driveway leading down to the river.”

I got confused and called back. The call dropped. We could see two people inside the kitchen and bravely knocked on the door.

“Oh! You’re the hikers. Come on in! Do you want dinner?  We’ve got pot roast. We were going to go out to eat, but decided to just stay home this evening. How about something to drink? Root beer? Creme soda? Oh, and here’s a bag of candy from Halloween.”

Carol wouldn’t let us say no. We ate heartily.

Meanwhile, Larry had been outside building us a fire. He had said he would bring down some firewood, but he even built the fire! Carol urged us to take down chairs.

We had set up our tarp and were enjoying the fire when Carol came out and said, “I just couldn’t let you sit out here by a fire without hot dogs! We couldn’t refuse.

In the morning, we walked up the hill to Larry’s tool and dye shop where he had invited us for morning coffee and use of the bathroom. Then, we got a full tour of his shop, learning all about the production of plastic arrow knocks and the multi-colored feathers on arrow shafts. It was getting late in the morning. We wouldn’t be getting an early start!

“What else can we give you? A calendar (from the shop)?”

“No thanks. Too heavy.”

“OK. Well, you can at least use a pen inscribed with our name!”  That worked.

After photos with Carol and Larry, we were ready to walk on, two more friends on our list.

But not until our pockets were filled with Larry’s homegrown English Walnuts!

We couldn’t say No.



Trail Journals Photos – 2013 Continental Divide Trail – Who is the tallest hiker?

The Govt Shutdown changed my plan to send daily photos! Yesterday was my last day working at Yellowstone Park as a room attendant for the Xanterra concession company. Originally, my contract offered a job until Oct. 16. With the park closed and no tourists allowed, there’s no need for Old Faithful Inn, so we spent three days closing it down for winter. Closing for winter is a normal occurrence, but this year it happened a week early.

With my Yellowstone stay over, my Wyoming Walk, in my mind, is officially complete! So, today’s installment of photos will give a sampling of the final five days of the journey! those days went quickly for me too (Well, except for the last one, in which that last 15 miles seemed to take forever!).

During that last stretch, John and I continued on our own, as Gary chose a different route and a faster pace. John and I took a day’s rest at a remote dude ranch near the trail. Then, we continued on a common route for the CDT, climbing the exquisite and remote Temple Pass, where we camped at over 10,000 ft altitude.

Temple Pass was our last high pass, after which we eased our way down from the Wind River Range and descended gradually through the foothills and down even more to South Pass City, where we ended our hike – and John celebrated his completion of the entire 3,000+ miles of the Continental Divide Trail.

Two days of creative traveling brought us back to Old Faithful and the beginning of our employment with Xanterra for a little over one month.

I’ve added photos with little stories for each of the days seventeen through twenty-one. Peruse them all or check out just a few. If nothing else, please open the photos from 08/22/2013 when we traversed Temple Pass. What a wonder it is!

I’d love to hear your comments and questions about my journey. Especially, I’d love to hear what your own journey provides for your soul.

Here’s the link:

Note that at the top of this page: Who’s the Tallest Hiker, there’s a scroll bar to choose which photo you want to view. You can click through all of them in sequence using the “Next” button or use the scroll bar to select your choice.

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Trail Journals Photos – 2013 Continental Divide Trail – Split Level House

Wyoming Walk Day 16:Sheep, Swimming, and Cirque of the Towers.
What a different walk today from our Pass Climbing of the past couple of days! This 16-mile day had no big climbs, just consistent miles of open plains, lakes, and views of majestic peaks.

Just a handful of 5 photos for today that capture the highlights of the persistent awesome views of this wilderness walk.

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Wild and White Blazing!

For AT thru hike aspirants! Join Carla Robertson me and a list of AT experts to plan and prepare for your walk.
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Trail Journals Photos – 2013 Continental Divide Trail – Forested Morning

Wyoming Walk Day 14: Now this is backpacking at its best in the high passes of the Wind River Range!
Here are 14 photos from the day:

We got an early start today. Just as we were about to leave our campsite who should show up but Gary, our former companion who had taken a different route two days earlier! “Well, how was the high route?” we asked. “I lived,” was all he said, looking a tad haggard. “I came down Pixley Creek, and at one point, I was talking to the boulders asking them to show me the way. It was straight down from the Divide!”
Just at that moment, two other CDT hikers came along. One of them, named Bluefoot, had taken another treacherous route down from the Divide. He and Gary bonded instantly, and the three of them took off on the trail, sharing stories of their adventures. John and I continued at our slower pace, thinking that Gary had found fast walking comrades for the rest of his walk.
A turn-off sign indicated our route toward Vista Pass. The trail was getting rockier as it wound up the forested mountain side. Near here, we took a break to talk with a group of about a dozen women on a Sierra Club trip called Women in the Winds. Some of them were from Florida and were finding the altitude of nearly 10,000 feet quite an adjustment! I was feeling pretty good myself. My body must have been acclimated now.
“What a beautiful place to get to camp and spend a whole day!” we marveled when we took a snack break at Vista Pass, a peaceful spot surrounded by jagged peaks. The Sierra Club group had done that midway through their weeklong trek. Captivating boulder piles and flowers graced the snowmelt lake area. Reluctantly, we moved on toward further passes.
We walked on to Vista Pass, a steep, rocky ravine that rose several hundred feet in a notch between steep ridges. John and I had found a well- defined trail that made the climb moderately easy! To our surprise, about half way up the 1/2 mile climb, we saw Gary, Steve, and Bluefoot way down below scrambling over boulders as big as rooms. They had missed the trail while concluding that there was none to be found. When they saw us up above them, they were crestfallen with the extra effort they had endured! The CDT is so varied in that way. Sometimes it’s actually a good trail!
At Cube Rock Pass, Steve, Gary, and Bluefoot joined us for a break. Steve talked about his life as a Community Supported Agriculture farmer at his farm called Prescott’s Patch in PA. Bluefoot was interested in what we were eating – hummus! They were heading for a route through Titcombe Pass, which would take them past some reportedly beautiful lakes not on the usual route. We had planned to stay on the main CDT route over Shannon Pass. Gary asked us if it would be ok if he walked with us again, admitting that his high route adventure had left him with strained leg muscles, and he would appreciate our slower pace while he recovered.
“Stunning, simply stunning,” we cried when we topped Cube Rock Pass and saw a remote lake called Peak Lake caught within the steep sides of the mountains. This is the Wind River Range at its finest! The landscape up here was starkly awesome and vast.
After winding up through the rocks for about an hour, we saw the mountain level off. The terrain is bare, jumbled rock, stretching out on all sides. Here and there, pioneer plants poke up through the rocks, ever so gradually breaking them down, finding their nourishment in the grainy new soil.
At 11,200 ft, there was still a patch of snow!!
Shannon Pass, with its challenging elevation and rocks gave way to Jean Lake, quite a bit lower and verdant. We looked back to the high peaks that had loomed just next to us on the Pass. Although we had already climbed three passes, we kept walking for another hour or so, past Jean Lakes, descending several hundred feet in elevation to Freemont Crossing. By contrast to the bare landscape of the high passes, the river valley was lush with plants that had filled in between the boulders and rocks.
It wasn’t completely soft, though and finding a flat, smooth sleeping spot proved challenging. This is where the tarp proves its value being adaptable to marginal terrain like this. There was just enough flat ground for two among the boulders where we made our home for the night. Particularly challenging here, however, was locating a tree for hanging our food bag!
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