Back to the Mountains

June 24, 2016
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Noon. After a night in the Super8 Motel, we walked back to the trail, 1/4 mile away to the pedestrian overpass on US Rt 11, a 1,185-mile long highway from Canada to New Orleans. The AT crosses it down in Daleville, VA as well.


2 p.m. we took a break at Scott Farm Work Center, where John and I reminisced about our Ridgerunner Training held here in 2010. The path headed north was lined with daylilies!


3 p.m. the tunnel under PA 944, a good example of a successful partnership project for constructing the AT. PA 944 is a major commuter route, so the engineers did meticulous planning to shut down the road for only a minimal number of hours to build the tunnel. read more

Mildred Norman Ryder

June 22, 2016
A big question arose from my visit to the Appalachian Trail Museum in Pine Grove Furnace. Where is Mildred Norman Ryder, the first woman to walk the entire  Appalachian Trail? Yep. Another woman did it before the famous Grandma Gatewood.

When I first learned of Mildred, it was while reading Peace Pilgrim, a biography of the woman who walked across the U.S. numerous times advocating for peace.

I was stunned to read that she had her vision of what to do with her life while walking the Appalachian Trail! “What?!” I thought. “She walked the trail in 1952?! Why, Grandma Gatewood’s famed thruhike was in 1956?!” read more

PA Rocks

  • June 22, 2016
    So, we’re walking in Pennsylvania, on the Appalachian Trail, right? 230 miles of woods, ridges, rivers….and popularly known for its rocks.

And you know me, right? If I’m supposed to be experiencing rocks, rocks, and more rocks, I will notice the preponderance of smooth, soil padded rocks, right? Right!
Here you go!
And this..
And yes, there are some awesome, beautiful rock formations here in Pennsylvania, like this:
And this:

OK. So there are rocks in some places and not in others. If I walk carefully, stepping on the soil and not on the rocks, the dance of the trail unfolds one moment at a time.

I understand that the rocks in northern PA really ARE treacherous and ubiquitous! I’ll keep you posted! read more


June 21, 2016

It’s a landmark day! It’s our 19th day on the trail, halfway through our days in this section. And, we passed our half way mark in mileage too! That happened at mile 1077.5 from Springer Mtn, GA, 215.5 miles for us from Rockfish Gap where we started on June 3.


A fledgling blue jay, flapping his way to freedom, reminds us to keep going as well! Half way!

In addition, it’s June 21, first day of summer (AND today is popular as Hike Naked Day).

Not only did this day feature all these noteworthy qualities, we also passed the half way point on this year’s Appalachian Trail. I say “this year” because the trail changes length just about every year as trail updating is done. Most rerouting makes the trail gentler in slope, thus longer in length.  This year’s half way point is at mile 1094.5 read more

Cumberland Valley

June 23, 2016
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No camping for 17 miles! It’s the traverse across Cumberland Valley, PA that includes the town of Boiling Springs. The trail skirts farms and crosses a dozen roads, including the PA Turnpike, US 11, and I-81. Most hikers hoof it across the 17-mile stretch of easy walking all in one day. We did that as well in 2007 when we walked south. This time, we’re doing the stretch over two days, with a hotel stop in the middle.

The corridor of the trail is owned by the Park Service as what is known as Appalachian Trail Lands. In the Cumberland Valley, signs tell us this, along with the information that these lands are being farmed to preserve the historical and pastoral quality of the area. read more


June 15, 2016
Harpers Ferry, WV.


My heart sings reaching the ATC headquarters with “Hiker John”, free to share the classic hiker photo.

I look back in the archives and find my solo photo,



Back then, in October, 2007, I felt awesome having walked over half of the trail. But, I wasn’t ready to claim that I had found a hiking partner. My husband was still at home in Georgia. I believed that the world of the trail and the world of home were separate.  What a journey of inner exploration, radical forgiveness, and outward change it’s been during the time between these photos. read more


June 14, 2016
From a campsite north of Raven Rocks, VA to Econolodge in Bolivar, WV, including a short visit at Blackburn Trail Center.


Crossing the Shenandoah River in the evening on SR 340.


Mountain Laurel fading


Red Toad


Goodbye Virginia! Hello WV

This section of trail is called “The Rollercoaster” because of its quick up and down pattern. Both times I’ve walked this 13-mile stretch I have had strong judgements about that name!

The whole way, I’m grumbling these sentiments: “There’s no coasting whatsoever in the Roller Coaster! Roller coasters are one-way rides. This one has two directions! It would be more accurate to call it Stegasaurus Back Or Rust Saw! Rocks, rocks, rocks make it a diligent dance of danger. Definitely not a roller coaster!!!” read more

Little Things

June 11, 2016
I have a list of small mishaps that we’ve been able to deal with and keep going. HeartSinging walking reflects how gracefully I can dance with the little things.

**Broken watchband. My cheap fake leather watchband  snapped.  Irritating! The good thing was that I noticed that it had fallen off. I threw away the band and stuck the watchface in my waist pouch where I can still get at it easily. Keep moving!

**Melted food bowl. Drat! My favorite lidded Glad bowl where I rehydrate my food on the trail was NOT microwave safe for repeated uses! I like this solution! We made an extra stop at Food Lion on our way out of Front Royal and bought  small bowl of hummus. The container fits perfectly inside our cooking pot, and the hummus was a fine extra snack for the afternoon. We might even switch to PLANNING it this way, getting hummus to pack out and a new bowl! Keep moving! read more

Gollum Revealed

June 4, 2016
7 a.m. Fog. Ah! Sun breaks through and lights the tree trunks. A restful night opens to a birdsong morning.



12 p.m. Walking feels good! The trail through Shenandoah Park is gentle, though consistently up amd down. We cross the Skyline Drive every 2 or so miles! I want to call a woman I know who wants to walk just six miles a day to say, “You could do that here, no problem. If you have a car support person to meet you at road crossings, you could do this!”

3 p.m. Well, it’s been great all day, and I see in the guidebook that water and camping limitations mean that we can stop in a couple of miles or in as many as four miles. That gives us a short, easy day or a dubious and maybe long one. THAT’S where the day’s challenge begins! read more



June 2, 2016
Today, there were two completions. One was completing our gear packing! All ready to go! That’s completing our journey from our winter season to this hiking season.
The second was completing ridgerunning. Technically, I did that last July, or maybe in January when I declared my intention to do something else. Today’s meeting with the new ridgerunner really FELT like I have moved on from that six-year phase. I am actually happy to be away from the ridgerunning issues! Creating programs, hiking, and visiting my grandson are more appealing! read more