Category Archives: backpacking with dogs

Episode 28: The Benton MacKaye Trail


In Episode 28, Sprinkles and NoKey tell us about their ultimate thru-hiking summer – walking 1400 miles on four major trails on the East Coast – including the Benton MacKaye, Finger Lakes, Northville-Placid and Long Trails.

Forewarning, we spend the majority of the podcast discussing their 20 day, ~290 mile hike on the Benton MacKaye Trail – a great alternative to the Appalachian Trail in the South – but there's lots of great tips on backpacking and thru-hiking in general.

So listen in – and when the mobs of thru-hikers hit the Trail next year after the movies Wild and Walk In The Woods motivate the masses… you now have some great alternatives to the A.T. and P.C.T.!

Subject: The Benton MacKaye Trail

Interviewees:  Jen (Sprinkles)  and Patrick (NoKey)
Interview Date: 
July 21, 2015
Download Now:
The Benton MacKaye Trail  (WMA format 53.5 Meg);
The Benton MacKaye Trail (MP3 format 66.0 Meg)

Follow Sprinkles and NoKey here.  Or click this link to learn more about the Benton MacKaye Trail.

And 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.

Showers Bring Waterfalls And Flowers For Our Summer Backpacking Trip To Panthertown Valley

Panthertown Valley is one of my favorite hiking spots in North Carolina. It is located near Cashiers, NC in the western section of the State and was purchased by the Nature Conservancy from Duke Power in 1989. Panthertown is now part of the Nantahala National Forest and has been growing rapidly in popularity – especially over the last ten years.

Schoolhouse Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in Panthertown. When we first visited Panthertown in 2001, there was only the occasional day hiker at Schoolhouse Falls, but these days you will likely have lots of company – especially on weekends!

But it’s definitely worth the trip. You can hike behind the Schoolhouse Falls and take some really cool photos. The trail is rocky and slippery but no match for energetic kids!

Many visitors come to Panthertown to see the 20+ waterfalls in the ~6300 acre valley, but in spring and summer there are many beautiful wildflowers along the trail.

It rains around 91 inches per year in this area which is more than double the precipitation that the major cities get to the east in Charlotte and Raleigh. So no surprise there are such great waterfalls and wildflowers in this forest.

The kids hike back to the trailhead with our wives, and Alec and I backpack deeper in to the valley to camp at one of our favorite falls on the Tuckaseegee River. Our friend Roger (aka The Camel), hiked in earlier in the morning and has already set up camp.

Roger is determined to catch a trout in the river. He rigs up and hits the water. The streams in the Valley have lots of 4-8” brook trout.

The pool at the base of this falls has produced many trout for us in the past – and once again it delivers.

I pitch my tent while Alec and Roger test the waters. It rained most of the morning and thunderstorms are forecast for the evening hours. So I tuck in under a canopy of rhododendron for some extra cover.

In the meantime, the dog burrows in to the sand to rest. He’s hot and tired from the hike in to the campsite.

Fortunately, the thunderstorms pass to the North and leave us with only a few sprinkles. So we relax next to the falls and set in for some dinner.

Burritos mixed with rice, vegetables, and some Campbell’s Lentil soup mix is on the menu for the night. Round 1 is successful, but my stove gets knocked over and Round 2 ends up in the sand! This doesn’t seem to bother Boone Dawg and he gets and extra meal tonight.

Roger is a fan of the stuffed Burrito! And he enjoys busting my chops for knocking over our dinner.

It rains hard overnight, but the Trail Gods smile on us the following morning – with cloudy skies but no storms for the hike out.

We are back at the mountain house and off the Trail by the time rains finally come – under cover and watching a double rainbow light up the sky. ~91 inches per year – no doubt – and maybe even 100+ inches in 2015. But we’ll be back…

Benton MacKaye Trail Trip Video – March 8, 2015

We had nearly perfect Spring weather for this hike last weekend in North Georgia.  My dog slept for most of the next 24 hours after our 9.7 mile loop hike on and around the Benton MacKaye Trail in the Cohutta Wilderness.  Spring has finally sprung!

Episode 26: Blind Courage

In Episode 26 of the N2Backpacking podcast series, I speak with Director Clint Ross who is hard at work with Producer Paula O'Neal on the film adaptation of the book Blind Courage, which is based on the 1990 Appalachian Trail thru-hike of Bill Irwin – the first legally blind hiker to complete the entire Trail within a single year.

In the show, Clint discusses the first draft of the screenplay, the trailer, and the upcoming plans to film the movie.  He also give us some personal insight in to Bill Irwin and how he overcame alcohol and tobacco addiction through faith in God and by heeding the call to hike the A.T.

For more information or to follow the making of this film, click here.  For the audio interview click below.

Subject: Blind Courage

Interviewees:  Clint Ross
Interview Date: 
February 25, 2015
Download Now: 
Blind Courage – The Bill Irwin Film (WMA format 68.2 Meg);
Blind Courage – The Bill Irwin Film  (MP3 format 49.2 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.

Bly Gap, North Carolina – January 31, 2015


This is a video of a January 31, 2015 backpacking trip to Bly Gap, North Carolina which is located just past the Georgia-North Carolina State line on the Appalachian Trail.  It was the first time I'd been here in 20 years and it was great to be back.  Northbound thru-hikers love this place because it marks the completion of the first of fourteen States on the A.T.  

The Boyz and the dogs do a walk over and leave me in the dust

Hiking northbound on the Appalachian Trail about two miles

from Bly Gap and the Georgia-North Carolina border. The Boyz and the
dogs do a walk over and leave me in the dust.

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.