Monthly Archives: December 2014

Baxter State Park Needs Federal Funding, And Soon!

There are four times the number of Appalachian Trail thru-hikers hiking and camping in Baxter State Park than there were 20 years ago – when I did my hike.  According to Jensen Bissell, Director of Baxter State Park, this is straining resources.

“From the perspective of Baxter Park, we are concerned that the use of Baxter Park is nearing or has surpassed an acceptable limit for the facilities and effort available from the Park to accomodate A.T. hikers” 

A letter to ATC Executive Director, Ron Tiptop, lays out the current issues – many of which focus on thru-hikers that overwhelm park resources and occasionally don't follow the rules of Baxter Park (ie. no public consumption of alchohol or drugs, camping only designated areas, no dogs in to the park, etc).

Bissell states, and I agree, that this problem will only get worse with the release of Wild and Walk In The Woods in the next twelve months, and with the popularity and Internet accessibility of Appalachian Trail documentaries that generate additional interest in thru-hiking.

Let's all hope that Baxter State Park gets federal funding to expand their operations, because there's no better place to finish (or start) an Appalachian Trail thru-hike than at Mt. Katahdin in the Park.

Just got my Georgia A.T. tag in the mail.  $10 annually goes to the ATC

Just got my Georgia A.T. tag in the mail.  $10 annually goes to the ATC for Appalachian Trail projects in Georgia. These include: trail and facilities maintenance, scenic easements and view preservation, environmental monitoring, increased public information, and education and outreach to Georgia residents.

PA, VA, TN, and NC are also participating.  If you live in these States and want to support the A.T., follow this link.

Prevention Magazine interviewed me earlier in the year ….

Prevention Magazine interviewed me earlier in the year for an article titled “7 Tips For Safer Hiking With Your Dog“.  I believe it appeared in the August 2014 issue, but here's an excerpt from the online version:

“When Steve Goodrich's 3-year-old dog, Boone, sees him get out the backpack, the black Lab leaps for joy. “He goes crazy,” says Goodrich, 46, a sales consultant and the author of Best Hikes with Dogs—Georgia. “He loves the trail.” But then, Boone has never experienced the outdoor mishaps that befell Goodrich's hiking buddy on the Appalachian Trail.

Several years ago, the pooch got sprayed by three skunks and spiked by two porcupines. “Imagine being in the middle of nowhere with a stinking dog or one who's got a bunch of quills in his face,” Goodrich says.

Fortunately, his friend had packed pliers, along with antiseptic wipes and the antihistamine Benadryl, which helped. The stink, however, he had to endure.”

In the spirit of disclosure, this was during my 1994 thru-hike and I wasn't actually present for the “quilling”.  Here's a link to the PDF version.

Above is the Boone Dawg geared up for some hiking on the Appalachian Trail.  We had a surprise 8″ snow storm this day and the weather man totally missed it when a cold front pushed in from the Northwest and clashed with some rain moving up from the South.  You can read more about this western North Carolina mis-adventure here.

100% Chance Of Rain? Backpacking To Plum Orchard Shelter

The weatherman said there was a 100% chance of rain today, and he was 100% right!  It rained all morning, and all afternoon.  I confess that  I'm still not sure how I was talked in to this trip, or how we got away with it at all.  Despite the gloomy weather (and our ventures in to Panthertown Valley just last weekend), the wives reluctantly gave the OK – and here we are climbing “As Knob” on the Appalachian Trail about an hour before dark.

Our destination is Plum Orchard Shelter. It was built in 1992 by the U.S. Forest Service with help from the Army Rangers (who helped fly it in via double prop helicopter). Despite the lousy weather, it is occupied by a northbounder and a southbounder who hiked all day in the rain.  They earned it, so we venture back up to the gap and pitch camp about 20 yards from the A.T.

The storm passes, and a full moon rises to the east.  Here comes the cold front as winds shift from the South to the Northwest.

Fortunately the 6 lb. Duraflame log that we packed in (after cutting it in to three pieces) makes for an effortless fire, and we are able to get some heat from the fire as the temps drop in to the 30's

The next morning, the sun greets us as we wake around 8am.  But it is fleeting – we spend most of the morning in low level clouds and fog.

I head down to the Plum Orchard Shelter to get a few pics.  It is unique in Georgia for it's three level interior on the Appalachian Trail.

Here's a shot from the second level – which is smaller than the other two and can only fit a few hikers.

Back on the Trail, we hike through leafless trees and shoot some really cool pics as we hike back to Blue Ridge Gap.

But the ride out of here is rutted and really rocky.  Don't do this without a 4×4 …. seriously.

Then as fate would have it – the sun comes out as we leave the trailhead.  At least we didn't get rained on this trip, and it turned out to be quite a good one.  I have a feeling we'll be back  – to head northbound next time and visit Bly Gap.  Stay tuned for that.

Episode 25: Flip Flop Flippin'

Flip Flop Flippin

In Episode 25 of the N2Backpacking podcast series, I speak with Scott “Squatch” Herriott about his three part series Flip Flop Flippin'.  The films were shot on the Appalachian Trail during the summers of 2011, 2012, and 2014 and they follow the thru-hiker community as they make their way along the nearly 2200 mile trail.

In the show, “Squatch” talks about his first ventures in to the wilderness, some of the thru-hikers and trail angels that he met on the A.T., and his experience as a filmmaker in the backcountry.  His skills as a stand-up comedian come across in his videos and on the podcast.  So I am sure that you will enjoy both.


For more information on Squatch and his films, click here!  For the audio interview click below.

Subject: Flip Flop Flippin'

Interviewees:  Scott “Squatch” Herriott
Interview Date: 
November 21. 2014
Download Now: 
Flip Flop Flippin' (WMA format 55.1 Meg);
Flip Flop Flippin'  (MP3 format 75.7 Meg)

You can follow or subscribe to this podcast if you click here (via Blubrry, Facebook, Google+, iGoogle, iTunes, RSS, Twitter, Stitcher, Yahoo, Zune). Or click this link for a complete list of N2Backpacking podcasts.

Working Off Thanksgiving Dinner – An Overnight In Panthertown Valley

After fattening up on Thanksgiving dinner, The Camel meets us in North Carolina for a hike in to Panthertown Valley.  No one is more excited than the Boone Dawg who is craving some time in the backcountry.  And we are blessed with sunshine as you can see from the the shadows in this photo.

The weather has been cool this week with snow showers and ice that is still lingering in the valley.  Here is a giant piece floating near Schoohouse Falls.

Our preferred campsite is taken.  So we shift to this area under a bunch of pine trees which is close to Panthertown Creek and has some nice fishing holes for the kids.  Wonder if the fish will bite with the temps in the 40’s?

The kids also try their luck at Schoolhouse Falls, but the verdict is that it’s too cold for the fish to bite – or quite possibly their fishing skills.

So we head back to the campsite and make the boys some hot chocolate.  It’s a winner – as you can see here.

The next morning, we hike out under sunny skies and work to dodge the snowmelt that has collected on the valley floor.  All three kids end up with soaked feet in the process!

And all goes well on the hike out, until we are about 15 minutes from the trailhead.  The leaves are wet, the hill is steep, and Will goes down with a knee injury.  Someone call the medic …

Or step-up and carry his pack out!  Dang, I feel like I am carrying a baby.  Fortunately we are not far from the trailhead and I still have some Thanksgiving Day calories to burn off.

What a beautiful day for the drive back home.  Here’s Lake Toxaway in the distance at about 4000 feet.  And the kids are already “angling” for a return trip!

Episode 24: Backcountry 101-Rookie Mistakes

In Episode 24 of the N2Backpacking podcast series, we satisfy a listener request for a show on backcountry basics.  Recorded at a remote campsite on the Chattooga River, I speak with Therm Rider and The Camel about some of our rookie mistakes in the backcountry and smart things that we've done since our first ventures in to the wilderness.

“Backcountry 101” is the first installment in this mini-series where we sit around the campfire and discuss the fundamentals of backpacking.  In this episode, we talk about the times when we've taken too much, hiked too far, and or put members of our group in terrain that was way above their skill level.  Enjoy the show and have a laugh at our expense.  And yes, this is a photo from the hike with “Bob”!

Subject: Backcountry 101 – Rookie Mistakes

Interviewees:Brett (Therm Rider), Roger (The Camel)
Interview Date: 
October 25. 2014
Download Now: 
Backcountry 101 – Rookie Mistakes (WMA format 37.1 Meg);
Backcountry 101 – Rookie Mistakes  (MP3 format 37.3 Meg)

You can follow or subscribe to this podcast if you click here (via Blubrry, Facebook, Google+, iGoogle, iTunes, RSS, Twitter, Stitcher, Yahoo, Zune). Or click this link for a complete list of N2Backpacking podcasts.