Tag Archives: Len Foote Hike Inn

THRU: A Pacific Crest Trail Love Story

starcrunch.jpgHere’s a fine looking pair of healthy American youths. To the left is Andrew, a former naturalist at the Len Foote Hike Inn. To the right is Leigh (trail name Starcrunch after the tasty Hostess brand snack), another former LFHI employee who is also an AT thru-hiker. They are shown near the halfway point as they head NOBO on the Pacific Crest Trail. Since that photo was taken, they have made great progress and actually passed the Columbia River which means they are well into their final state — Washington.

A couple of thoughts about these two:  First, they appear trim and fit but not emaciated. Hikers in the 21st century are more fully aware of nutrition. They can carry food that packs far more into their stash — ounce for ounce — than was once the case. When I hiked the AT 44 years ago, I grabbed what was cheap in whatever grocery store I could hitchhike to. I did not know a fat from a protein from a carb. I snatched boxes of store brand mac & cheese and whatever else looked inexpensive, light and flavorful. I ended up looking like a scarecrow at the end of my trip. Fortunately for me, a 21-year-old body is forgiving. I felt fine even though my family doctor told me I was medically malnourished.

As for point number two, this hiking duo look fit, properly fed, svelte and very happy. I suspect some of the happiness is derived from being together and experiencing the kind of loving partnership many experience on the trail. They are living much of what I described in THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story. I hiked mostly alone in 1973. There were few young women thru-hiking in those days. When Starcrunch was working at the Hike Inn and we discussed thru-hiking, I used to kid her saying, “where were girls like you when I was out hiking?”

I was talking to Andrew a month or two before he embarked on his PCT trip. He was saying that his original plan was to hike the AT, but Leigh had talked him into hiking the PCT with her. He seemed a bit conflicted about his decision.

Being the wise old sage that I think I am, I said to Andrew, “Let me get this straight. You have two choices. Hike the AT alone or hike the PCT with Starcrunch. I’m having trouble seeing the problem.”

Andrew smiled sheepishly and replied, “Yeah, it really is a pretty easy decision.”

Duh, Andrew!

 

 

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In the Eclipse Groove!

21032688_10154626056056097_4138275308027879275_n.jpgMany of you checked out the eclipse, so the photo above may match your experience. I chose to go to the Len Foote Hike Inn, a few miles out of the zone of totality but still a fine place to take it all in. Rachel, one of the Hike Inn naturalists, brought a colander out of the kitchen, and we saw a multitude of tiny bright circles with moon shadow crescents in them. A nice Kiwi lady (a New Zealander for those of you wondering) provided me with a spare set of protective specs. You can see me in the middle of this photo — the guy with the green Hike Inn blaze on his shirt — gawking away at the celestial display with all the other Hike Inn guests.

These are stressful times we live in. Sometimes we need to witness a massive visual extravaganza in the heavens, something totally out of our control and much larger than we are, to remember that the quibbling of nearly seven billion souls is but a small squeak in the cosmos. I believe human beings are a great miracle — perhaps unique in all creation. Nonetheless, there is power far greater and intellect far deeper than ours. A little dalliance between the sun and the moon are a good reminder of all that.

So, stay vertical, keep walkin’ and remember that nature is what brings you back to equilibrium, almost every time.

Trail Therapy

cbspringerCB and Jeff Butler are among the many friends I have made over nearly two decades of being part of the Len Foote Hike Inn community. The two of them have illuminated me with their inner strength and their zest for living in the moment of each day.

Not terribly long ago, CB tells me, she had to deal with losing her son and the fiancee of another son in separate accidents just days apart. This unimaginable pain put a massive stumbling block in the path of this marvelous couple, and they tell me that the pain of  dealing with it was almost impossible to bear.

Almost impossible. But somehow they just kept going — surviving in the millions of moments of each day and learning how to thrive and revel in life. CB decided to take on a challenge last year. She wanted to run the equivalent of the distance of the Appalachian Trail, all 2,189 miles of it. Not surprisingly, she succeeded. Now, her goal is to hike the entire actual AT. Jeff, a pretty fair hiker himself, plans to hike part of it with her and spot her the rest of the way.

I am honored that CB was partially inspired to take on this challenge as a result of reading THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story. I know something about tackling challenges having taken on a few in my days. But I am humbled by how this wonderful couple have fused love and commitment to make life way beyond worth living. I think I might hike a few miles with them on the AT when the time comes.

 

 

 

Looking East through the Keyhole at Hike Inn’s Starbase

Looking East through the Keyhole at Hike Inn's Starbase

At Len Foote Hike Inn, you can see Starbase which tracks the sun’s seasonal progress across the heavens. This photo by Jim Hall, an officer in the Pine Mountain Trail Association, is a view due east through the keyhole which zeroes in on the rising sun at the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. For some great hiking, Google Pine Mountain Trail Association to learn about some great hikes in west central Georgia. If you’re in an armchair hiking mood, now’s the time to buy your copy of THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story on sale at Amazon or at the Len Foote Hike Inn, among other places. (Photo by Jim Hall, all rights reserved).

The Old Dunhams Get Resurrected

The Old Dunhams Get Resurrected

Joe Harold, the manager of the Appalachian Trail Museum, sent me this photo taken near the entry of the museum showing a “spinner” book display with my books in it. What amused me is that on top of the display are the four-decade-old Dunham boots I wore on my 1973 thru-hike. As I told my family, this is enough to delight an old codger. If you live in the area, visit the museum and buy a book!
I spent yesterday manning a table at the Thru-hiker Kickoff weekend at the Lodge at Amicalola Falls State Park. The AT Approach Trail trailhead is there, and for many aspiring thru-hikers, it is their first memory of the AT. My table was at an expo crowded with AT lovers of all ages, including the famous Gene Espy who I first met many years ago. He and I traded signed copies of our books. I also spent time talking to the guy who wrote AWOL on the Appalachian Trail and the big tall guy who wrote the book, Skywalker. Kindred spirits galore. I sold and signed a number of copies of THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story and generally had fun promoting the heck out of the Len Foote Hike Inn. Great fun! As my character, Brave Phillie, said: “I love this Springer Mountain. It’s the startin’ line for dreams.” Indeed it is. There are many who dream and do nothing more, but each year, a large group of hopefuls decide to hit the Approach Trail and actually pursue the dream. Now is the time to say Godspeed to them. Stay vertical, you all, and keep walkin’!

Kids in the Woods — Where they belong!

Kids in the Woods -- Where they belong!

These Boy Scouts from a troop near Atlanta were brought to the Len Foote Hike Inn a while back by the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club. Before the hike began, they all leaned against the rail atop Amicalola Falls, highest falls east of the Mississippi, and took in scenery that inner-city middle schoolers rarely see, if ever. Working with GATC, the Hike Inn is developing a program called The Outside School. The plan is to introduce wilderness hiking to kids who would not normally have the opportunity to have an eye-opening recreational experience. You have not hiked until you have been out with a group like this. Laughter is the main activity for sure. If you have not been to the Hike Inn, check us out at http://www.hike-inn.com. One thing that makes the outdoors better is to add kids. We plan to do a lot of that in the coming years.

Looks like a Pixie and Sings Like an Angel

Jacqueline Elsner CD photo Feb 2013

You really need to visit the Len Foote Hike Inn when Jackie Elsner provides after-dinner entertainment. Jackie is a librarian by day, but when she visits the Hike Inn she is a mesmerizing story teller and a cappella balladeer. I love hearing her stories passed down through generations of Appalachian clans, but even more wonderful are her songs. Her latest project is an album of ballads she performed for the Byron Herbert Reece Center. Reece, a North Georgia farmer and poet, was an icon of the mountain lore in our region. Jackie has set his verse to haunting melodies of old ballads that date back centuries. After her clear, sweet voice echoes through the Hike Inn dining hall, she often stands quietly with glistening eyes while her audience sits transfixed for a few moments before bursting into a salvo of enthusiastic applause. She brings a sad, pure remembrance of things that matter to those of us who adore the pinnacles of our state’s wilderness. Learn about the Hike Inn at http://www.hike-inn.com. You can buy Jackie’s album from us next time you visit the Hike Inn or order from Amazon or I-tunes. Jackie, we love you!