“What about the Bears”?

When I told my mom that I was going to be hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, her immediate question was; “What about the bears”?. I shrugged it off and replied; “I’m more worried about the ticks and mosquitoes than the bears”. Much like any mothers concern, she worried for my safety!

Ticks have a subtle way of climbing up a leg or dropping from a tree limb undetected. They scurry to the warmest nether regions of the human anatomy undetected and latch on for a meal of blood. They carry Lyme Disease and this worries me the most!

This reminds me of something that occurred in 2003.

While stationed at the time, at an undisclosed military base in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Myself and two fellow soldiers were manning a guard tower overlooking a gate that led out to a firing range. This gate was manned by three host country soldiers. They were seated at a plastic table outside the typical mud building of that region and, were carrying on in conversation. There was a large spotlight shining upon their seating area, of which I will explain later. We had been watching them for a few hours when suddenly, about 2a.m., they summoned us with a whistle and in their best broken English gestured; “come, come”. We all three looked at one another and the other two guys told me they weren’t going down there. We were a little leery of them, they were armed with American made M-16’s! I figured, what the hell, I’ll go find out what they wanted. So, I grabbed my M-16 and climbed down from our perch to go see what they wanted. I walked over to where they were seated and greeted them the way we were taught, by putting my hand across my heart and stumbling with my worst Arabic greeting! They offered me a seat at their table. One of the men went off to one of the rooms in the outbuilding. It was apparent that they were making tea. I knew this because, I smelled the sweet aroma known to every Southerner! This is what they wanted us to come down for. I was set at ease and much relieved! They were offering us some Chai. I was curious as to how they prepared this tea, so I walked over to their kitchen to watch the gentleman make it. He had a kettle of boiling water on a hot plate. Once it came to a boil, he added the sugar. If you think the tea down South is sweet, we have nothing on these guys. He must have dumped half a pound of sugar in this kettle. He let it dissolve a bit and then added what appeared to be ground up tea leaves to the mix. It steeped for a very short time and then he poured this sweet mixture into what appeared to be over-sized shot glasses. I later learned why such small glasses. We returned to the table, I offered them some of my American cigarettes. (They loved our cigarettes). We all raised our glasses in an awkward toast and I chugged mine down like I would a shot of Jack. Holy Hell in a handbasket, it was the strongest tea that’s ever crossed my palette! Apparently you are to sip this tea, not shoot it! Hot, very sweet and STRONG! I’ll explain later what happened to my second glass.

While seated at the table I noticed that they all had their feet up on the vacant chairs. I asked them why, and they immediately took out their flashlight and showed me the dead scorpions they had stomped earlier. There must have been a dozen or more. Apparently, from what I gathered from their broken English and sign language, there was an insect that they feared more than the scorpion. With hand gestures and pointing at their pants legs, I learned that there was an insect that would climb up inside a pants leg and, make the hanging parts of the male genitalia apparently swell up to such a size that you would require a wheelbarrow to carry these swollen parts in, once bitten. I put my feet in the chair!

After sharing my cigarettes and chatting a while, a HMMWV pulled up with apparently was their superior officer. They had poured me another shot of tea, and I had been nursing it with very tiny sips. When they all rose from their seats to go greet this officer, I proceeded to toss the remaining tea over my shoulder! Their superior came over and I told him that his soldiers had graciously offered me some of their fine tea. I offered him the rest of my pack of cigarettes and said my adieu’s and returned to my post. I was caffeinated and ready to run a 3-minute mile!



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Thanks Dr. Sturtz!!!

12 visits. That’s how many adjustments it took for me to leave Dr. J’s (Janelle) office feeling much better!

I had gained relief of an injury incurred while in the service of country. I was slouching/crouching(unlike the tiger!), my head was canted forward, I had uneven body alignment, and my left calf was tighter than a camels ass in a sand storm! All lingering effects of my back injury and subsequent surgery in 2001. As we say here in North Carolina, “I was hurtin’ “.

Dr. J performed pure magic. She did a tap dance on my back that would make Fred Astaire  blush over! That part is totally untrue. But seriously, she did her magic and I came out of her office on Thursday, with a new skip in my step, in less pain and most importantly…a smile on my face!

Dr. Sturtz has a nice cozy and quiet office located at 1812 Becketts Ridge Dr. in Hillsborough. So, if you’re in need of chiropractic services in the surrounding area I would highly recommend her. She sure helped me out! Thanks again Dr. J.!!!



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Okay. Today I did a leisurely 4.1 miles or so. Gently gradual climbs and ascents on the trail. The 21lb pack on my back felt lighter today. It’s still 21lbs. I knocked the miles out in less than two hours. So, I don’t feel too awfully bad about the outlook on doing 8 mile days starting out March 17th. I’ll increase my pack weight starting tomorrow and increase my mileage too. I may do more more walking without the pack just to get the miles in. We’ll see.

What I did realize is that layering your clothing is definitely the best method for hiking. I wore a polypropylene t-shirt with another polypro long sleeve shirt over top. My outer layer I wore a fleece chamois button down shirt. Typically not something I would wear out on the trail, but I didn’t feel like I needed my soft-shell jacket, it would probably have been too warm. It was 42 degrees when I started out and didn’t feel that cold. I did manage to work up a sweat on my first hill and had to put the toboggan on to mop some of it up! If I had worn cotton layers I probably would have been close to being hypothermic at trails end. I have been letting my hair grow out for the extra warmth. It’s the longest it’s been since 1986 when I had a semi-mullet cut. Hey, it was the style…what can I say! I’ll see how long I can stand it. I have a feeling it will be swept up by “Floyd” in some small mountain town barber shop! Stay tuned…this is going to be epic!

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This suspense i…

This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.
~Oscar Wilde

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A little history about the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, otherwise known as the Appalachian Trail. We hikers  tend to just call it the AT, for short.

The trail is about 2200 miles long and passes through 14 states starting on Springer Mountain in Georgia to the northern terminus on Mount Katahdin in Maine. Most of the trail is in the wilderness but some of it enters local towns. It crosses many roads and rivers along the way as well.

One of the earliest hikers to draw attention to the trail was Earl Shaffer. Earl was a WWII veteran, and told a friend that he was “going to walk off the war”. He completed the first documented thru-hike in 1948. He went on to complete the trail twice more, the last time at the age of almost 80 years. He was the oldest hiker to do so at the time, in 1998. This is what Warrior Hike is all about for our group…to walk off the war. Hopefully we all end this journey with a little more hope, more faith, and with a new sense of direction in our lives. If we shed just one bad memory over these many steps we take, it’ll all have been worthwhile. We all have something in common known only to those that have endured war. War is Hell, as Sherman well said. Please pray for us on this journey.

There are many different ways to complete the entire AT. The most popular is what is called a thru-hike. Generally most start in the south in Georgia and hike north to Maine. NO-BO is what we hikers call it for short. It’s the most popular way to complete the entire trail. You start in Spring and end in Autumn/Fall. Another way to complete the trail is to start in Maine and hike south to Georgia. Some prefer to do a So-Bo because there are less hikers starting in Maine, and it offers more solitude. It also starts out with some of the toughest hiking on the entire trail from day one. Hiking No-bo gives you a chance to acclimate gradually to the rigors of hiking with a pack on your back for many miles a day. There is also a way to complete the trail by doing it by sections, thus this way is called Section Hiking. There’s also Leap Frogging, starting in say Harpers Ferry, WVa. and hiking north to Pennsylvania, then jumping north to Maine and going South back to Penn. Then starting at Harpers Ferry and finishing up in the fall in Georgia. This way you get to see the changing of the season and fall colors of the Virginia highlands. Roughly less than 10% that attempt a thru-hike each year complete it. We’re determined to defy those odds!

I’m exceptionally grateful for this opportunity of a lifetime. I’m thankful for the founders of Warrior Hike, Mark Silvers and Sean Gobin. Without their tireless legwork and efforts, this wouldn’t be possible. It’s been one of my dreams for many years now and I guess it’s one of the things on my bucket list I can check off upon completion,God willing! Life is Good!

I’ll try my best to keep this blog up to date and maybe even throw a few pictures up of our activities. Stay tuned!

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