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Mighty Blue on the Appalachian Trail: The Ultimate Mid-Life Crisis

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Episode #145 - Appalachian Trail (Days 43 to 46)

It’s been an exhausting few days and my body is telling me to rest. I’m taking a double zero in Damascus, though I’m still getting in some good mileage days. I’ve visited a couple of great hostels recently and also had a night back in my tent. Tennessee has been wonderful but we’re now into Virginia for the next month and a half. When I move into West Virginia I’ll be nearly halfway there.


Episode #144 - Appalachian Trail (Days 40 to 42)

Another diverse few days, with tiredness, bailouts, glorious views, wonderful people, and poignant stories filling my days. From a sun-filled Carvers Gap I crossed the balds and revealed in both the physicality and the beauty. Then, a totally unexpected evening that filled my heart with joy with a bunch of new friends thrown in. A chance meeting with a listener led to another new and solid friendship that enabled me to complete my longest day and learn a tragic story. Today, a short hike...


Episode #143 - Appalachian Trail (Days 36 to 39)

More miles and experiences under his belt, Steve is planning ahead to ensure that he extracts the best parts of his hike when the weather is cooperating. He has met up with a listener, spent time with several new people, witnessed the sunset from Beauty Spot, and is coping better and better with big climbs. He reached Carvers Gap today and is relishing a day of balds tomorrow.


Episode #142 - Appalachian Trail (Days 32 to 35)

Another great few days, with weather extremes influencing the hike. Eventually, Steve learned–yet again–the importance of hiking your own hike. He has put in some fairly long days and found himself to be completely exhausted. Eventually, a plan was hatched and he is now in a far better frame of mind.


Episode #141 - Appalachian Trail (Days 29 to 31)

A short few days and a cloudy Max Patch. Getting the mileage up to 14s and 15s but still feeling tired, either through lack of sleep, lack of food, or both. Now in beautiful Hot Springs and enjoying the hospitality at Sunnybank Inn, or Elmer’s. Life is still good.


Episode #140 - Appalachian Trail (Days 24 to 28)

This is the Smokies Part II episode. With five days the cover the mileage may seem unimpressive. However, within those five days, there are two “nearos” and a “zero.” This has been a pretty brutal few days with snow, bone-jarring cold, warmth, slush, and a seemingly endless climb down out of these iconic mountains. In retrospect, I think that, while I’m glad they are over, the Smokies will stay in my mind long after the snow has melted and I’m pushing my way through Virginia.


Episode #139 - Appalachian Trail (Days 20 to 23)

It’s Smokies Week on the show and plenty of uphills on the way to Clingmans Dome. I became part of, and lost, my first tramily, and loved my time with them. I also met the very sweet Little Foot (follow her YouTube channel “Hike with Little Foot”) and the enormously positive Posi (@MattBurnsFat on Facebook and Instagram). I even hiked with Ryan Hopkins and his buddy Chris. Ryan is the man putting this show out every week. It was great to meet up with both of them. Now, I’m alone again and...


Episode #138 - Appalachian Trail (Days Seventeen to Nineteen)

Another few days with varying fortunes. The week started disastrously with the loss of a vital piece of equipment. The views continued to make the heart fly and the Smoky Mountain got closer and closer. Along the way, the humanity of hikers was on full display, especially one night in a very full shelter (Picture thanks to Ashley “Boomer” Enders). These are the evenings to relish and the ones that will stick in my mind long after the hike is over. Now, after my longest day, I’m set to...


Episode #137 - Appalachian Trail (Days Fourteen to Sixteen)

Another three-day stint between stops in town took Steve from Franklin to Nantahala Outdoor Center. Before he even left Franklin, however, he started with one of the finest breakfasts that he has ever had. Listen to what he had. Another view, this time with Rowemer in the foreground, was taken from about 5,000 feet elevation. The rain has stayed away and an opportunity to catch a perfect sunrise came just north of Cold Spring Shelter. While the picture doesn’t do justice to the moment, you...


Episode #136 - Appalachian Trail (Days Ten to Thirteen)

The trail has been testing this past four days. Steve left Dick’s Creek Gap last Thursday morning and has now reached Franklin NC after three nights in the woods. 48 hours of rain and not enough food has been testing but he has managed to push through. He is already learning how different his two journeys are going to be, with new challenges making him manage his clothing a little differently to last time. He has met a few families along the trail and two of them share their stories this...


Episode #135 - Appalachian Trail (Days Seven to Nine)

It has been an emotional three days for Steve as he faced up to his first real adversity. He knew it would happen, he was even expecting it, yet his emotional reaction took even Steve by surprise. It just reinforced his belief that the Trail impacts us all in different and often unexpected ways. He has now reached Dick’s Creek Gap, at Mile 69.2, and has zeroed to reassess his pack and to restore his slightly bruised ego. He’ll be back at it tomorrow (Thursday).


Episode #134 - Appalachian Trail (Days Four to Six)

Now six days in, Steve is getting into something of a rhythm. His toes are hurting a little, though nothing too serious. He is constantly on the lookout for individual stories but only includes one today because he lost touch with his next intended “victims” in the bad weather today. With frigid weather in the forecast, he will be planning the next few days to carefully consider his options.


Episode #133 - Appalachian Trail (Days One to Three)

Steve is on his way and trying to adjust to his new lifestyle. So far, he has kept to the schedule he gave himself and finished day three in Suches. It has brought back memories from his first thru-hike, with a bunch of new characters already emerging. He is listening to other people’s stories and is starting to bring them to the show. There is also a magical moment when a young woman plays the violin at the top of a mountain as the mist and cloud swirl around her. Don’t forget to follow...


Episode #132 - Megan Dolman (Giggles) and Mark Bychowski (Pepperjack)

When Megan (from the UK) and Mark (an American) started their respective hikes on March 5, 2018, neither could have imagined how their lives were about to change. They met that first day–Megan was the very first person who Mark met on the trail–and started hiking together the following morning. Their meeting and the unfolding of their hike reflects the serendipity of the Appalachian Trail and they summited together five months later. When they had finished, Mark put together this short...


Episode #131 - Suzanne Dixon (Irish Fire)

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is THE critical component in a healthy trail for hikers, both now and for the future. Suzanne Dixon is the President and CEO of the ATC and in this week's show, she tells us about the exciting new initiative that the ATC has recently launched. Mighty Blue on the Appalachian Trail is lucky to have the first media interview about this initiative, called The Wild East. The poster below will give you some of the flavor of the Wild East and there is a new...


Episode #130 - Paul Maguire (Irish Paul)

As soon as I started speaking with Paul Maguire I knew we'd get on well. He has that cheeky Irish lilt to his voice with a smile just under the surface, ready to make an appearance at a moment's notice. Paul retired and was looking for something to do when the AT caught his attention. Unlike some, though, he didn't go straight to the trail. He hiked in Ireland for a while before spreading his wings and touring Europe with a kayak, his bike, and his backpack. He even took a major detour up...


Episode #129 - Lea Ann Hogan and Lotta Anvret

Another two members of the Mighty Blue Class of 2019 this week. Lea Ann Hogan and Lotta Anvret have given to others all their lives. They are a nurse and a special needs teacher respectively and feel the time is right to do something for themselves. Lea Ann (on the right below) has a calm determination to succeed and Lotta (on the left below) is flying in from Sweden in the hope that she can finish within her six-month visa. She is hoping that she meets a friendly Homeland Security agent at...


Episode #128 - Tyler Lau (The Prodigy)

The awesome Tyler Lau is a man on a mission. Not only has he completed a Calendar Year Triple Crown, but he is also working for more diversity on the trails of America. An Asian American, he volunteers to support his various social projects and truly walks the walk. He started a Go Fund Me page to sponsor the various causes. You can find that at www.gofundme.com/8000milesto8000smiles. He hasn't had the chance to fully absorb the scale of his walking achievement and is slowly adjusting to...


Episode #127 - Randy Forest (PT)

When Randy Forrest reached out to me so that he could tell his own story of hiking the Appalachian Trail as a member of the Class of 2018, I knew straight away that I'd found a man changed by the experience. Like many people, Randy came to the trail via YouTube, comments made in passing, and the end of his career. The challenge appealed to him, so he planned accordingly. We all rely upon good fortune to get us to the end and most of us fear a hike-ending injury. A fractured ankle would...


Episode #126 - Dawanna Blue (Sally Forth)

Dawanna Blue is a self-confessed high-maintenance hiker. She is a member of the Class of 2018 and her hike was five years in the making. Having arrived at the trail, she soon discovered that she preferred a hotel or a hostel to her tent or a shelter. Despite this aversion to one of the main parts of a thru-hike, Dawanna shaped her walk to make it the best experience for her. She embraced slackpacking and found all the other elements of the hike to be a joy, with new friends to be found...