Tuesday, December 22, 2009

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

Hello everyone!

Thought I would take a minute to catch my breath, and while doing so, wish you all a Merry Christmas! Hang with me for a moment, while I catch my breath... OK... MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYBODY!!!

It really is a wonderful time of year as we pay our respects to Jesus, our King and Savior, by recognizing His birth! I hope you all will join me in taking just a bit of the hectic time available this Christmas, to reflect on the Hol(y)day Seasons' true meaning. Hey, if nothing else, sit down with the kids, grandkids, or a friend, and watch Linus, in "A Charlie Brown Christmas"... he gets it right! Hmmm... there we go... here's a little "youtube" clip. Just go to it, listen to Linus.


Of course, we will also be busy with gifts, family, friends, and all! We have recieved many wonderful Christmas cards this year, and thank you all for them. We recieved a pretty neat one from Bark and Berry, our ATServants Trail Chaplain friends, that they made themselves... it is a sequence of three pictures, the first, Bark and Berry starting at the first whiteblaze at Springer Mt., the second, a picture of an old AT tree marker, and the last picture, a triumphant celebration of their efforts, at the Northern Terminus, the sign at the summit of Mt. Katahdin. Way cool! Thanks, Bark and Berry! I know... it would be easier for me to show you all the card, right?!? Well... my scanner broke down the other day. If I get it straightened out I will add it in.

We have also been fairly busy getting some ScriptureSticks finished up, some of them intended to be Christmas presents. Mrs. Stickman and I would like to thank ALL of you who have ordered ScriptureSticks this year! We want you to know, that as paying customers, you are allowing us to continue and expand our little ministry. You are very much a part of this ministry! We are able to purchase supplies, and also donate/gift many ScriptureSticks because of your help. Perhaps, with all of your wonderful support, it will become a full time ministry... we are certainly praying and seeking direction. ...please keep Cari and I, and the ScriptureSticks ministry in your prayers.

Hmmm... interesting stuff... We recently were asked, (by Judi), to make up a ScriptureStick for Kay Wood, a dear friend of hers. Does that ring a bell for anyone? How about "Grandma Kay"? ...Kay Wood Shelter? It rang bells for me! Judi filled us in a bit, and "Grandma Kay" Wood is a special lady indeed! For many years, Kay Wood took in hikers, in Dalton, Mass. She did this until the trail was re-routed. "Grandma Kay" also hiked the AT, in 1988, at the tender age of 70 years. She has been deeply involved with the AT for many years, and was the monitor coordinator for Northern Mass, until 2002. In 1987, volunteers built the Kay Wood Shelter to honor her. It was funded by the ATC. In 2008, the shelter recieved a new roof and the gaps in the siding were battened. I stopped there in 2007, on my thruhike attempt, and was quite comfortable! My understanding is that Kay Wood was still active and hiking at age 90 years, and now, at age 91, has been temporarily slowed down by a stroke. Upon last communication with Judi, "Grandma Kay" was recovering quite well, and due to be home first week of December! I hope you will all join me in keeping Kay in prayer for a full recovery, and for her return to many happy trails!

Hmmm... getting a bit late! Thank you Kay, for the wonderful nights' stay in the Kay Wood Shelter. May God Bless you, and keep you well!

God Bless all of you, too! G'night!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Little Critter sighted at Hedgehog!

Hey everybody!

I had a great hike this past week, just haven't had a chance to sit down and tell you about it. I also wanted to share a couple of pictures with you all, but hadn't gotten them downloaded. Thanks go out to my son, Josh, for getting them onto the computer for me.

The hike was a local one, out on Route 201, between Madison,(Maine), and Norridgewock. It is an easy jaunt, up a good sized hill, (or a very tiny mountain)... We always called it Hedgehog Rock. At any rate, it is a relaxing uphill stroll, on an old gravel road. Let's just call it a trail... ahem... a "jeep trail". This little hill holds some special memories for me, as I spent many hours on many visits, on my trailbike when younger. I also hunted the area, years back. Fortunately, for the deer, I never got past the "hunting" part... I never found any deer!

It is an interesting place, an overlook likely used by the Abnaki Indians, before their settlement, located down below the rock and along the banks of the Kennebec River, was destroyed, and a large portion of their population massacred at the same time. If interested, try an online search... try keywords, Abnaki, Abenaki, Wabenaki, Norridgewock, Father Rasle, massacre... you'll find an incredible account of the area and it's history. I believe the attack occured in 1724... ...back to the hike...

Even though I had been to Hedgehog Rock many, many times, this hike qualified as a "first time" hike. It was the first sighting of the "Little Critter" up there. You see, I wasn't alone! I had the pleasure of hiking with our Grandson, Kolby! It was the first hike I had been able to share with him... and his first hike! I am hoping and praying that we will have many more opportunities to share these hikes together, exploring the amazing woods and wildlife that God has created for us. We surely did see some other critters, a squirrel, and a couple of partridge that Kolby rousted into flight!... but the only critter captured on camera was Kolby! I'd like to share these photos with you!

Wow! This is one of the best hikes EVER!

Thanks so much for letting me share this special time with you! If you happen to have a Little Critter hanging around the house with you, take my advice... bring him outside, and let him go! You will both have a wonderful time exploring the great outdoors, and discovering the joys of hiking... 'til next time...

God Bless!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thanksgiving Day full of Thanksgiving

Hello everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving!

I awoke early this morning... (well, early for a "day off from work" day). As the alarm buzzed in my head, I desperately tried to get my mind around it... it sure looked like it was only 6:00AM! I guess that isn't very early, but "early enough". Cari had set the alarm just "early enough" for her to be able to "get cookin'" on our Thanksgiving dinner. I felt very thankful for her willingness to get up and work the kitchen, setting the stage for what surely will be a happy day. I then happily pulled the warm covers back over me, blissfully drifting off to the place in which my mind had been wandering before the alarm nudged me awake. ...

...My wandering mind had good opportunity to put a few miles in before the long climb out of sleep. It was almost 9:00AM when I finally left the shelter of my blankets. I watched the wildlife for a bit before rousting myself from bed. Our two cats, Noah and Sophie were on the foot of the bed, staring out the window. My curiosity having been poked at by the felines, I had to take a look too. There was a fat grey squirrel up in one of our apple trees, and he was having a feast on the three dozen or so apples that were desperately hanging on. He would scurry to an apple, take a couple of nibbles, move to a smaller one, pull it from the tree, and after a bite or two, let it fall to the ground, freeing him to pursue yet another apple! Two thoughts occupied my mind... this squirrel was being well provided for this year. God had prepared a feast for him, and he was apparantly thankful for it. ...This squirrel was also wonderfully made, and although he was quite rotund, he retained his agility, rapidly visiting several apples that were variously placed about the tree. ...
...The smells of the kitchen were quickly catching my attention, and I thought how God has provided for us this year. I was thankful for Him, and that He has not let us go without. We have good food, a home that is not too cold, and our children with us to share the day. ...
...As I readied myself for the day, I looked in the mirror, and had to smile. I have gotten a bit portly over the last few months, but I know that I have been wonderfully made by God! (Maybe I will get a "hike around the block" in before the day is over!)...

Finally, making it down the stairs, and into the kitchen, I thanked Cari for being the wonderful wife that she was, and for all her hard work. (I got a kiss!). The kids were soon sitting in the living room with us, chatting away. I am so thankful that they are both with us!

Yes, today is a "day off from work" day, but it is so much more than that. I do believe that Thanksgiving Day is just that, a day of thanksgiving. So, instead of falling into the rumbling and grumbling of a "normal day", I am going to walk a wide path around the normalcy. I am going to focus on the things that I have to be thankful for, and then, be thankful.

I pray that you all will be able to recognize God's Blessings for you also, even if they are small Blessings. I hope you will all join me in just being Thankful this Thanksgiving Day!

Happy Thanksgiving, and may God Bless you and yours,


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Stuck in a time warp, missing a month!

Hey everybody!

We all wonder the same thing... "Where did the time go to!!?".

Fact is, "Time flys.". We all know it. We just aren't sure where it flys to.

For me, though, time seems to have been dragging slowly along lately. The days at work are generally long and arduous, a normal eight-hour day seems like a double shift. That's not to say that the work itself is bad... but if it seems like i'm working overtime, it seems that they should give me some overtime pay.

Also, everyone seems to be sick. It's the time of year when everyone is supposed to get sick. We don't know why, but it seems to be the thing to do. I know I have done my part these last few weeks to remain sickly. Have you ever really noticed how time drags when you are under the weather? It's awful! I was trying to get some good rest the other day, slept for ten hours... but, when I opened my eyes, I was surprised to see that only twenty minutes had ticked away on the clock! I STILL was tired and ill!

Yeah, I'm going right along, but time is in slow-mo... I got to spend part of last weekend helping to load a semi-trailer with my brother Larry. He and his wife are now in Florida. (We will miss them!). Thing is, though, I was putting boxes in the trailer for what seemed like a LONG TIME... and it never really got FULL! After hours of stacking boxes, and BIG things, like chairs and cabinets, and bed, etc., the truck was only half full! (14 feet?). The good thing is that Larry called it quits. I don't know if he really didn't need more stuff in Florida, or if he realized, as I did, that it was futile to try to fill the trailer. It would have taken a couple, or even a few, more days to fill. We would have not been able to do that, because Larry would already be in Florida by then... I'm still scratching my head over that one...

I have tried to get lot's done during this wierd time delay. I spent a couple of days and evenings raking leaves, clearing up the garden, and the like. We of course, have been making ScriptureSticks, some of them for special orders. We had one order that was for three hiking staffs, 62" long. The scripture that was chosen barely fit on their lengths! It was, for sure, the longest scriptures that we have applied to date! While I was routing the scripture to the sticks, I didn't dare to look at the clock... I knew that if I realized how long it was taking to rout a stick, my hand would cramp!

I guess I would have to say that a lot has taken place or gotten done in a short time that took forever, and very little seems to have been accomplished!

...I got up this morning, puttered around the house while Cari got ready to go to work. I decided to wash up some dishes, and as I scrubbed away, I had this strange feeling of the familier. Although I don't do dishwashing as often as I ought, it seemed as though I had just washed these dishes. I was SURE of it! I don't know if it was last night, or last week, but I had "just washed" these dishes! ...

...The plan, today, is to go out and rake some leaves, wrap up the garden, and... WAIT a MINUTE!!! ...

I decided I'd better jump on the computer for a minute, see what I had blogged to you all yesterday, or the day before. I'm a little freaked out... it's been a MONTH since I last blogged! How can it BE?!? Time has been creeping along, yet I'm missing a whole MONTH!?!

Where did the time go to!!? I feel like I'm stuck in the movie, "Groundhog Day"! Fact is, "Time flys.". We all know it. We just aren't sure where it flys to. All I know is I'm stuck in a time warp, missing a month. ... but...

...Still finding time to ask God to Bless you all,


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pray for the thru-hikers! (NOBO, SOBO, and FLIPPERS)

Hey everyone!

Just taking a minute during my lunch break to send out an appeal to you all. As you know, Bark and Berry summitted Katahdin on October 1st, and we celebrate their achievement. I was fortunate to be able to make the climb that day, meeting them on top. It happened to be a class 3 hiking day, not ideal, but we made it!

So, today, as I am out in the lumber yard, slogging around in the pouring rain and mud, my mind turned to the thru-hikers. The window for Katahdin is slowly closing, yet there are many hikers trying to finish... I saw a group of about 10 NOBO's at Caratunk just the other day. Their spirits were still good, but they have a tough hike ahead!

Could you please join me in taking a little time EVERY DAY to include all of the hikers in our prayers? Please don't forget the SOBO's and FLIPPERS! They have some tough hiking ahead...

Thanks for your prayers, and God Bless!


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bark and Berry summit Katahdin!

Good news everyone!

Bark and Berry have summitted Mt. Katahdin, completing their Appalachian Trail journey of 2,175 miles, from Georgia to Maine! They finished their hike on October 1st, a journey started on April 1st, at Springer Mtn., Georgia. They had been hiking as Trail Chaplains, for ATServants, and, although their missions trip/hike has now ended, I strongly suspect that their ministry has just begun...

They were two of a handful of thru-hikers, (5 thrus plus yours truly!),to brave the class three conditions on Katahdin, a climb that is difficult on the best of days. Class three meant some trail closings, severe weather, icing conditions, and a general warning/recommendation that hiking above treeline would be dangerous and NOT SUGGESTED!

Cari, (now named "Mrs Stickman" by Berry), and I were fortunate to both get October 1st off, at our jobs, so on the night of the 30th, we headed for Baxter State Park, hoping to find that Bark and Berry would be attempting the summit in the morning. We arrived at 1AM, after a drive of 3 HRS., then took a rest in the cab, nestled under a quilt, while we waited for the gatehouse to open at 6AM.

When the gate finally opened, we hurried to get to Katahdin Stream campground... we went to the Ranger Station, where there were two backpacks... Cari identified them as Bark and Berry's! That meant that they had borrowed daypacks at the Station, and were probably on the "Big K" already! Cari and I went to the trail and checked the hiker's sign out sheet (mandatory check-out), and found that they had been on trail for an hour already. I wanted to be up on the summit with them, but also felt it to be fitting for them to finish without my company. I decided, rather quickly, to try to make the climb, at least part way, and possibly accompany them on their way down. I started to hike...

I will say, now, that I will NEVER hike on Katahdin on a class 3 day again! I was alone, and more than just a little concerned for my safety. I took some comfort in knowing that Bark and Berry were somewhere ahead of me, and that when they came down, they would find me! Then, of course, I got concerned for THEIR safety! What if they needed help!?... I pushed myself further. If you have ever hiked Katahdin (if not, you should) on a GOOD day, as in clear, dry, and sunny, with perhaps a slight cooling breeze, then try to imagine climbing it with a good stiff wind, rain, sleet, snow, and icing conditions, making every step, every rock, a challenge in itself!

I pushed on, surprised that I had climbed so high, and had not met them on their way down. I admit that I was more than a little scared. I made it to the "Tablelands", crossed it, and pushed further, towards the last good climb to the summit. Eventually, peering through the fog/sleet/snow, I made out a hint of the sign! ...and just below that, the outline of three hikers, beginning to come down mountain! I continued, and could soon see that it was Bark and Berry, with another hiker, Blackbird (from Bethel, Maine). They spotted me, and Bark gave a shout out to me! It was SO GOOD to catch them up top! They had been there for a half-hour, and although chilled to the bone, they were willing to go back to the top with me. We realized that Patches was walking up on us, and after a greeting, we went to "the sign". Pretty quickly, Crazy Lady approached! It was so nice for them to all be there together!

From left to right in the photo are Patches, Bark, Blackbird, Crazy Lady, and Berry!

I was so glad to be able to take photos of them all together! I was able to use everyones cameras for their summit pictures, and as a group... sure hope they came out OK!

Patches and Crazy Lady left to hike downward, disappearing as quickly as they had appeared. Bark, Berry, Blackbird, and I decided to stick together, and descend carefully, assisting each other as needed. Thank you!!! You were all a comfort to me on the way down! There certainly IS safety in numbers!

Conditions had certainly worsened as we went downward... It wasn't getting any warmer!

Here is Bark and Blackbird, sporting their frosty beards!

I was snacking on a Snickers bar... that was frozen solid! I put it in my pocket, trying to thaw it out, but every bite let me know that it was going to remain in the "ice age".

Eventually, once we hit treeline, conditions improved greatly, and we relaxed. Soon we would be at the campground. The plan was to stop at the hiker's register, log out, and get the cameras ready for when Bark and Berry, and Blackbird were reunited with parents... but the surprise was on us! Berry's parents, Chip and Martha, were waiting beside the register with Mrs. Stickman! What a wonderful reunion, after a six month journey! ...and shortly after, Blackbirds folks showed up!

We made plans to meet for dinner later in the day, and Cari and I lingered in town, getting a few things at the market, and exploring. We met with Bark and Berry and her folks, having a wonderful time at dinner. We so enjoyed Chip and Martha, and got a hint as to why Berry is such a wonderful young lady. Berry is so fortunate to have such great parents! Cari and I would like to thank all of you for including us in your "First Supper" after the trail! You made us feel like family!

Well, I'm starting to get a little long in the blog... so I'd better wind down. Thank you Bark and Berry, for letting us share in your journey! If any of you folks out there have not enjoyed it yet, go to ATServants, check out the Trail Chaplains Journal. You'll love it! Great pictures there, too!

...perhaps this is my favorite picture of all...

...and speaking of prayer... I hope you all know that I continue to pray God's Blessings on all of you!


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blessings from Boni Schanil, Estonia missions, ScriptureStick overseas!

Hi All!

I thought I would take a minute to share an e-mail with you... It is from Boni Schanil, a wonderful lady who just recently returned from a missions trip to Estonia! ...Go ahead... it's OK to look it up on a world map, or "google" it, (I did!). Boni had requested a ScriptureStick to take along, and off it went to her, along with our prayers for her safety, and a fruitful mission. In return, Boni has been a blessing to us in so many ways! Thank you, Boni!

...Here is her recent e-mail to Cari and I...

"Dear Kelly and Cari,

What a blessing it was, first to talk with Cari on the phone, then to receive your wonderful card—and then to have my Scripture Stick with me and in hand on my recent mission trip to Estonia. Because I have a blind spot in my dominant eye, I often fall due to the distortion of my visual perception when there are even slight obstacles. (Earlier in the year while on another mission trip to Russia I fell twice and last year in Estonia fell and broke my shoulder, and so my orthopedic specialist suggested that I begin using a walking stick.) This time, I used my Scripture Stick while traveling through five airports making the various connections—and it was a great help to me on the stairways in the airports (many airports in other countries don’t have escalators—and I even used it in the Chicago airport on a stairway down to a transportation bus). I am happy to report that I didn’t fall once on this trip. And, even though busy, the airport security attendants often took time to read the scripture verse on my stick! It was especially helpful in Tallinn, Estonia during our stay in the old town section where we daily walked on the very old and rough cobblestone streets and walkways.

In Tartu, Estonia, where the focus of our mission trip was located—I used the stick for walking in new areas of the city. Our mission was to teach a Friendship English Language Camp/School, practicing speaking English using the stories of Joseph from the Old Testament and correlating the lessons with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. We had 26 people enrolled and had 45 attend, including the addition of a children’s camp. We praise God and give Him the glory for moving mightily through the camp in His Almighty and Healing Holy Spirit power.

Another aspect of our mission trip was to bring encouragement and strengthen our partnership with Tartu Academy of Theology (TAT)—the only ecumenical Christian college in Estonia—training pastors, lay leaders and professionals with Bachelor and Master degrees. The founder of TAT had the vision for the college while he hid out as a youth for over four years in an underground bunker, while his pastor father was taken and sent to Siberian labor camps by the Stalinists. I also used my Scripture Stick on a field trip deep into the woods of Southern Estonia to see the bunker. To get there we traveled first by bus until the roads ran out and then we walked a marshy forested trail back to the location along with our host, Eenoch Haamer, founder of TAT. There he told us his story. His father’s journals from the time of his arrest while working at the church where he was a pastor through his time in Siberia and return home have been printed into a book, “We Shall Live in Heaven.” It is available for purchase at www.eemn.org, website for East European Missions Network (EEMN), the organization for which I work and traveled on this mission trip. The website for Tartu Academy of Theology is www.teoloogia.ee.

Attached is a picture of me with my stick in my back yard in Minnesota.

May God bless your ministry.

In Christ Jesus,

Boni Schanil"

...WOW!... God is so wonderful! May God Bless your ministry, also, Boni!

It is exciting for me to see God working through folks like Boni! It is also exciting for me to see that the ScriptureSticks that are sent out are often used in an active ministry, sometimes even to other lands, and, on occasion, overseas!

If you would like to share a story about your ministry, or how you were able to use your ScriptureStick in your ministry (or daily walk), please feel free to drop us a line. We would love to hear from you, to be encouraged in our little ministry, and to encourage you and pray for you in yours!

Boni, we thank you for your ministry, and for your generosity. May God Bless you!

...and may God Bless all of you too!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Bark and Berry, New Portland Fair, Sherpa, Moxie hike

Hello hikers, friends, and family,

Here's a little update on our new hiker friends, Bark and Berry, the two ATServant Appalachian Trail Chaplains that we had the privilege of helping recently. All went well with the healing process of Barks legs, and, by Sunday, there was much improvement. They we're almost ready to return to the trail at Caratunk, but we're willing to stay for one more night, so as to attend services at Crossroads Bible Church with me, and to visit the ever-popular New Portland Fair.

We did, in fact, attend Church. Bark shared with me that it was only the third time in a distance of over 2,000 miles that they had gotten the opportunity! They said that they we're pleased and refreshed, being able to share in the singing, and listening to the teaching and scripture reading. I am so glad they stayed!

After Church, we decided to head to a pizza shop to grab a bite to eat, but Cari called, and our plans quickly changed. Cari was at the New Portland Fair, with the ScriptureSticks booth, sharing the scripture with folks through the displaying of the ScriptureStick hiking sticks, and enjoying conversations with them about hiking, etc.... Well... It seems that there was a hiker waiting there to meet me! It was Nuken, who accomplished a NOBO thru-hike of the A.T. in 2007, the same year as my attempt of a SOBO, while I hiked as an outreach to hikers. (NOBO = Northbound, SOBO = Southbound). I had been aware of Nuken, a hiker from nearby Starks, ME,(practically next door to Madison), and had kept an eye out for him. Somehow, we just never did meet! Well, meet we did, and we had a great conversation with him. He has become quite a traveler, and we wish him all the best. God Bless you Nuken, and thanks for waiting to meet me! Give me a call sometime!

Cari also had a surprise for Bark and Berry! It seems that Baine, (Sherpa from '03), and his wife, Rita, were at the fair, and were waiting to meet Bark and Berry!

Sherpa had just recently been reviewing their journal, and had downloaded their photo of Avery Peak as his wallpaper on his computer. (I think it was this one?) ...wicked good pictures Bark and Berry!

It amazes me how God brings people together! It seems that Baine and Rita had contemplated going to Skowhegan, in hopes of finding Bark and Berry there, but decided that they probably were no longer there... then decided to "take a ride",(they are from eastern Maine, we are central...), finally resting on New Portland Fair as a destination. Then they started to talk with my wife, Cari (Mrs. Stickman, now), at the ScriptureStick booth. Conversation turned, of course, to hiking, the A.T., Sherpas' hike, my hike, ...and that I was coming up from Skowhegan with two hiker's in tow... Bark and Berry! Sherpa and Rita were stunned! It could only be one of those "God things", don't you think?!? When we arrived, it was like meeting old friends, with great stories, well-wishing for safe hiking, and invitations to get together after the summit of Katahdin. God is SO good!

Monday arrived, and our hikers were ready to hike... Cari went to Skowhegan to pick them up, to shuttle them the hour North to Caratunk. I went to work, getting ready to take the boom truck North, also, with a load of lumber to Jackman, a tad or two above Caratunk. Amazingly... (again!)... as I pulled the truck to a stop at the intersection of routes 148 and 201, I checked traffic, and from the direction of Skowhegan came my truck, Cari driving and the three of them chatting! I gave a couple of good pulls on the airhorn as they passed in front of me, and we all exchanged waves. I pulled out behind them, and after following them to Caratunk, wheeled it over to say goodby. We shared our last moments appropriately,... goodbys, prayer, goodbys, and an exchange, once again, of waving, before they dissapeared into the trail. ... ...

... ...Tuesday arrived early for me. It was my day off, and I had thrown a couple of things into my pack the night before. The alarm went off at 4:00AM, at 4:15 I was leaving my dooryard, at 4:30 I was on my way to Lake Moxie, having stopped briefly to get Bark a root beer, Berry a lemonade, and a few candy bars to share. I went up through Bingham and Moscow, taking the gravel road that runs by the old radar site, and finally came to the intersection with the Moxie road, which would take me to "Joe's Hole" at the head of Moxie Lake, where the Appalachian Trail runs across the lakes inlet. ... but there was a slight problem. When I came to the intersection there was a sign warning me that the bridge was out of commission, due to repairs in progress. I was at "mile 2", and the bridge was at "mile 15". I couldn't remember how far the bridge was from the trailhead. Well, I had to keep going, and take a chance, or surely not see Bark and Berry. On I went, arriving at the bridge... yep, I couldn't pass over it, and there was a big excavator in the way to boot. I parked the truck, and, in the dark, began picking my way across the big wooden bridge, hoping to not end my hike in disaster. There were a lot of timbers that were missing!
I made it across, then hiked in the dark down the middle of the road. After a mile I came to the trail! I waited another five minutes until the Eastern sky began to light up enough for me to see where I was stepping. I scooted along nicely, and at 7:00AM arrived at Bald Mtn. Lean-to. I said my "good morning" to a NOBO named Matt, and we spoke briefly. Then, I heard a voice in the wilderness! "Stickman, is that YOU!?!". It was. The voice(s) were my new hiking friends, Bark and Berry! We chatted a bit, then headed out for the summit of Moxie Bald. We had a wonderful time hiking together, and talking about all kinds of things. Up on top, pictures were taken, snacks were eaten, and we lingered a bit amidst more conversation. Eventually, the time had come... and that time was just around 10:00AM. Once again, we said our good-bys, and once again we waved upon our parting... we seemed to be getting pretty good at this! I started back down Moxie, SOBO, and they, in turn, started down NOBO...

...Bark and Berry posted their Wednesday, the 23rd, journal. They were in Monson, the beginning of the 100 mile wilderness. They were resupplied, clean, with full bellies, and ready to go North, to Katahdin. They were overjoyed to find that they were in the company of other hikers that they had some familiarity with. "Big Fish" and "Firecracker" would be on the trail with them! They also saw "Dream Catcher", who they hadn't seen since Atkins, VA! She was doing a flip-flop hike, and was now headed NOBO.

I will end this blog entry with a quote from Bark and Berry's Journal...

"Everything is a go! Leg looks good. Oct 1st is still the date for Katahdin... if you're in the area and want to join us we'd love to see you.... "

October 1st... that's Thursday... I already requested that day off... and so did Cari! What do you think??? Care to join us at Katahdin???

G'night all! God Bless!


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bark and Berry, ATServants, Caratunk, and prayers

Bark and Berry, ATServants, Caratunk, and Prayer... these are a few of my favorite things!

If you follow along with my blogging, you might surmise that I love the little town of Caratunk, Maine, and go up that way on lumber deliveries whenever I can. It is a wonderful place on it's own accord, but additionally has gained points with myself and others for having the Appalachian Trail coursing through it. It is also the site for the Kennebec Ferry, which shuttles the hikers safely across the Kennebec River. (This is the only river crossing on the A.T. that utilizes a ferryman, and the ferry is the official means of crossing the Kennebec when hiking the A.T.!)

You've likely noticed also, I have a fondness for ATServants Ministry. (PLEASE check them out online to find out more about their ministry!) One of the activities of their ministry is to send forth missionarys to the Appalachian Trail to act as Trail Chaplains and SERVANTS... Love those folks!

Bark and Berry... well, they are this years' Trail Chaplains! They are a young married couple who are committed to hiking the Appalachian Trail and acting as witnesses for Jesus Christ. They do this by "walking the walk" alongside other hikers, letting them see Christ through them, and "talking the talk" when the opportunity presents itself. They keep a great online journal, through which I am able to share their journey. (You can also access the journal through the ATServants website). Great people, great read!

I am also an advocate of prayer! This is the most important thing we can do as Christians... we pray for all kinds of things, like safety, health, provision for our needs... we pray for others, also, for likewise things... we pray for our parents, our children, our friends. Most importantly, and many times overlooked, is that we need to pray that all we say and do would Glorify God! We really need to be careful in what we say, do, and pray for...

Now, I'll tie it all together... I've been following ATServants for a while now. I pray for an effective ministry, and that they are winning souls for Christ. Most recently, I have followed along (through their journal) with Bark and Berry, as they have moved steadily Northward, edging closer to Maine, and Mt Katahdin. I have prayed for their safety, for "easy" hiking, good weather, other hikers to witness to, and that I might possibly get to meet them somewhere in Maine... yeah, that last prayer was pretty much selfish... So... Ahem! Yes... They were doing quite well, and in my last blog I told how I was in Stratton, helping a few hikers and looking for Bark and Berry. They weren't going to make it to Stratton that day, but I managed to get their number from Duckman, and left a message with them. I was in hopes that they would call me when coming into Little Bigelow Lean-to, or perhaps Pleasant Pond Lean-to, where I might meet with them...

I guess I have to confess that I was more than a little excited at the possibility of meeting Bark and Berry! And, I guess that I have to admit that my prayers for them were overshadowed by my selfish prayer for me. Yes. I guess that in the next few days I didn't pray so much for their safety, their hiking, the weather, or their ministry. I did focus a lot more on praying that they would call me, that I would meet them, that I would have time and gas to get to wherever they called from. (actually, the time and gas prayer turned out to be pretty good!).

Some prayers got answered on Thursday! I got a call from Bark at 4:00PM. I asked where they were, and the answer was Caratunk! Great! I'd be able to meet up with them, probably at Pleasant Pond Lean-to!... No, said Bark... He needed to get to a hospital instead. I needed to refocus.

I was in Fairfield, a pretty good drive to Caratunk, but I promised to finish my business ASAP and pick them up at the Post Office. When I arrived their backpacks were at the entrance to the Post Office, but they were not. A nice lady, Marie Beane, walked toward me, from the house across the road. She asked if I was "Stickman", and I answered in the affirmative. She then asked if I had left a Scripturestick at her door two years ago. I turned, pointing at the door to the Post Office, and asked, "That door?". Yes! Cari had left it as a free gift to whoever retrieved it at the Post Office door. She thanked me for the stick, saying that she had been all this time wondering who to thank. Well, you're welcome Mrs. Beane, I am pleased you are in posession of it.

Marie asked me to come to the house with her, where she was taking good care of Bark and Berry, providing a wonderful meal, and offering up showers and laundry. What a wonderful lady! I believe it was all of God! After introductions all around, and a couple of pictures taken, we were ready to head for the Hospital, but invited to come back anytime. Thanks, Marie!

I'll wrap this up quickly... We got to the Hospital by 7:00PM, with Bark being seen by a Doctor in short order. It seems he has a pretty good infection in both legs, and was running a bit of a temp. My wife, Cari, was just getting off work, in admitting, and came down to meet the hikers. After Bark was finished, and with prescriptions in hand, we headed off to a motel to let them get settled in. I was still excited to meet them and was wanting to talk... my wife saved them from me, and they were able to shut the door... since then they have gone to a less expensive motel, and we were able to provide them with a computer and a guitar, and mostly let them rest. They are planning to attend services with me at Crossroads Bible Church (this morning), while Cari is at the New Portland Fair, with the ScriptureSticks.

I am no less happy to have been able to meet Bark and Berry, and am thankful to provide whatever assistance that Cari and I are able to... but I am sorry that it was under trying times for Bark and Berry. I will say, though, that Bark and Berry have shown much faith and grace under pressure, leaving their ultimate fate up to the Lord, and accepting that He is in control...

So, would you all join me in praying for Bark and Berry? Let's pray for Barks' quick and full healing, and that he and Berry will return to the trail refreshed. Let's pray for their safety, for "easy" hiking, good weather, and for other hikers to witness to... And let's pray that all we say and do would Glorify God!

God Bless you Bark. God Bless you Berry. God Bless you all!



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wandering and wondering...Who is hiking where, in Maine?

Hi everyone!

Sorry I have been a little slow in getting a new entry posted. It isn't that I didn't have anything to talk about,(...you probably KNOW that I like to talk!).

It's just that I've been so BUSY! (...you probably ALSO KNOW that I am a GREAT PROCRASTINATOR!)

With that out of the way, let's see what "trails" I've been down lately. Let's see, there is gardening, which I don't mind, since we are strongly into the harvesting side of the season. Mowing... not as often! The grass has slowed it's growth greatly, and I will enjoy not having to mow as much, at least up until snow flies! Family is always keeping us on our toes, especially the grand-children. We had a special time two weeks ago, as Cari's brother Tim, and his wonderful wife, Robin... wait a minute... Tim might read this... OK, YOU'RE wonderful TOO, Tim! (They are BOTH wonderful!)...let's continue... They made the trip up from Tennessee to attend Tim's Class Reunion, and then spent some time with us, too. We had a great time, and enjoyed some time up around The Forks, and Moxie, trying to give Robin her first Maine Moose sighting experience. We never got to see one, but Robin DID see someone in a MOOSE COSTUME at the I95 toll booth, as they were leaving Maine! We did take a little side trip up to Pleasant Pond Lean-to, to see if there were any hikers around. Not seeing any, I tied off two bags of Marshmallows to the mouse-deterring food hangers, just in case some hikers stopped by. We then scooted up the blue-blazed lean-to access trail to where it joined the white-blazed Appalachian Trail. We walked a little ways on the A.T., always an exciting feeling, no matter how far you venture. On our return to the Lean-to, we found a hiker, "Space Cowboy", and we got to chat for just a bit. That was a couple of Sundays ago, (the 6th?). We all had a wonderful time.

This past week (Sunday), I took a trip up to Stratton. I have been wanting to meet Bark and Berry, this years' Trail Chaplains for the ATServants Ministry. I had been following their Journal, and they had made it into Rangely. My figuring was that they MAY be in Stratton on Sunday. Well, I never did see them, but I got to see a bunch of other hikers, and play "Trail Angel" for a few hours. They told me that Bark and Berry would be another day or two before reaching Stratton, and I managed to get their phone # from one of the hikers. I was able to leave a message, (and the next day recieved a return call from Bark), and have not given up hope of meeting them, perhaps at Little Bigelow, or Pleasant Pond Lean-to.

I made the most of my afternoon at Stratton, being honored to pick up the tab for a hungry hiker's meal, and shuttling several of them from the trailhead to town. I met "Duckman", "Star Trek", "Pellet", "BoShag", "In Deep", "Son", "The Hiking Poles", and others. I met "Son" on a fluke. I was heading out of town, intending to return to Madison, and quickly decided to hike a bit instead. I swung back into the trailhead, grabbed a ScriptureStick, and hurried up the trail. After about an hour of fast hiking uphill, I stopped for a quick rest. I was wheezing like an old steam engine, as I have been battling a tough cold for about a month, and it has taken up (permanent?) residence in my lungs. I got back up after a couple of minutes, and started to move uptrail. I realized that there was a hiker coming my way, and that he was blazing fast! I was able to stop him, although he did so a little reluctantly. He had a good head of steam, and was making the miles. He was "Son", counterpart to "Father", of the Father and Son hikers. I asked where his father was, and found that it was impossible for Father to catch Son before Katahdin. He was waaaay back, and not quite as fast. Son did say though, that he thought his father was in the best shape of his life, at age 47! Son and I talked for a few minutes, and he told me that he had done the "four state challenge", where hikers cover over 40 miles in a single day, to stepping foot in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania! Amazing! He said he intends to pull off a 50 mile stretch in 24 hours before he finishes at Katahdin, figuring the last 50 miles of the 100 mile wilderness is the place he can do it. I know I couldn't do it!

I turned around, to follow him back to the trailhead. He said that I could lead, or he would try to slow down for me. I told him to go, and I would see him at the parking area, and that I had cold soda in the truck. I tried to keep up... after all, he was WALKING... OK, he was walking VERY FAST! I picked up my pace, and he was pulling away. I began to JOG! He was pulling away! ...and he was STILL WALKING!!! I have never seen anyone move so fluidly, especially hiking downhill on sometimes steep and rugged terrain. He was gone... but a little while later I caught up with him, as he was doing a "damage check", after taking a bit of a tumble. No real harm done, he was up, and we were away. He did slow down considerably, allowing me to stay with him, even conversing a bit. When we got to the trailhead, I found that my hour-long uphill hike had taken only a half-hour on the return trip. It is not easy terrain, even hiking downhill, so we were still moving right along. He was impressed that I hiked as fast as I did! He shared with me that he is likely one of the three fastest hikers on the trail right now, and I am honored that he took time to let me hike with him for a bit.

One more trip into Stratton, with "Son". He Grabbed a quick slice of pizza, then I whisked him back to the trail. I looked up trail... reluctantly, I forced the truck onto the road, pointed towards home...

Well, I'd like to keep typing, but... word is "possible frost" through this evening, and I'd better cover some of the veggies. Thank you all for checking in, and may God Bless you all!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, Josh Bernard, American Hero

I dragged myself home after an extremely hot and busy day at the lumberyard... I checked the news immediately, somehow believing that if the following never made the news, then it never happened...

"Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, 21, of New Portland, Maine, died Aug. 14 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, based out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay."

...So, yes it was on the news, and yes, it really is true... all I could do is cry "one more time", knowing full well that the tears will linger and return many more times in the future.

Many of you do not know Josh, or his family. Those of you that did know Josh were keenly aware of his exceptional qualities... and that he came from the finest of families. He was a friend, strong, yet sensitive, and willing to put his life on the line not only for his Country, but for his Christian beliefs. As we have sat grieving with his family and friends, we have heard many wonderful things about him, about how much he CARED. He was not one to judge another, and held fast to his faith in God, striving to live his life as would bring Glory to God. I understand that he had been given the title "Holy man" over there, and had the respect of the men that he served with. I can think of no more honorable way for a man to walk in this world... we have suffered a heavy loss.

So, I grieve. I know that many of you are also reeling from this tragic loss. It will be a long time of grieving. We will grieve for our loss... we will grieve for his wonderful parents, and the most terrific sister a man could ever have, and the aching pain of their loss...

So, now I make these simple requests, that those of you that knew Josh will somehow rejoice amid the tears, thankful that God Blessed us with his presence, if even for this brief time... that ALL of you will take a moment to honor him for his service to our Country... YOUR Country. That you will lift his family and friends in powerful prayer. I believe it is the only thing that will help them heal.

With heavy, yet hopeful, heart, I ask God to Bless me, you, and, especially, the Bernard family.

Stand down Marine, your mission is complete. May our Heavenly Father welcome You home to rest.



Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Me and my gal (and the "Great Moxie Adventure")

Hello everyone!

Stickman here, just checking in... Things are busy around here these days, lots of lawn to mow (apparantly, we didn't plant a big enough garden), and a fairly large garden to weed (and, happily, the beginnings of our harvesting the veggies!). We are both busy at work, and are tired, yet thankful at the end of the week.

So, after working very hard on Saturday, we were very, very happy to see Sunday roll around! We attended services at Crossroads, visited briefly, then went to get a bite to eat. It was a beautiful day, perfect for doing "something"... but what? We talked a bit about it... garden? mow? hike? visit? projects?

We decided to go "adventuring" together! Adventuring can take just about any form, as long as it is exciting, and possibly involves some risk...

ad⋅ven⋅ture  /ædˈvɛntʃər/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ad-ven-cher] Show IPA noun, verb, -tured, -tur⋅ing.
–noun 1. an exciting or very unusual experience.
2. participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises: the spirit of adventure.
3. a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome.

Our adventuring of the day consisted of driving somewhere, maybe explore a backroad or two. Exciting, huh?!? Well, yah!! You never know what you might see! And the risk... well... maybe we'd get a flat tire, or something... I dunno!

So, down the road we went, finding our way to Rt 201, then North. We made a couple of quick scenic stops, spending time together. At some point, we found ourselves at the Forks. If we continued North, we'd go to Jackman... or we could veer right, past Crabapple Whitewater, and we would make our way to Moxie. Moxie... the name just draws you there. A short while later we were parked at the pond, and feeding a huge flock of ducks.

The ducks well fed, and we being thoroughly entertained by them, we decided to adventure further. We started South, down Troutdale Rd., following the shoreline of Moxie Pond. When we got down to "Joes's Hole", I showed Cari where I stepped out of the woods when I was on the Appalachian Trail, and had filtered a good helping of delicious water from the Pond. It brought back good memories, as this was the spot where Pete Lloyd, his son, Scott, and a couple of old friends were fishing from a pontoon boat. I was surprised to come across them that day, and they we're equally surprised to see me! I think it was a Wednesday... I do know that it was a weekday, and I questioned them as to why they were'nt at work. I was told to let them know back in Madison that they were building a new road around the pond, and that it was going well! That tale was almost as big as the "fish tales" that would surely be shared later on! I remember that the encounter that day had lifted my spirits greatly, and that "Faithful" and I then crossed the stream and climbed up magnificent Moxie Bald without a hitch.

Cari and I continued South, and Troutdale Rd. became Old Railroad Rd. We went past Moxie Bog, and were pleased when we finally saw a moose, up near the treeline. It was nice to spend a bit of time watching her, and she seemed content to stare back. Along we went, along Austin Stream, and ultimately coming to a stop at Rt 16, and Bingham.

I figured to head home to Madison... Cari figured to see another Moose. We turned up Stream Rd., and headed North, this time crossing over Austin Stream. On we went past the "Radar Range", a military installation that is closed up. We took a right turn onto Chase Pond Rd., coming back to Old Railroad Rd., turning left, and North a bit. One more right, and we were off to Austin Pond. We saw no more moose, so we got ourselves turned around to begin our trip home. On our way back, on one of the gravel roads, Cari saw something! As we approached, it became clear... Bunnies! They were in the middle of the road, and were excited to see us. They hopped around in circles, and one of them jumped straight up in the air. It was very comical, and they finally found their way into the safety of the woods.

The show was now over, and the curtain of nightfall was fast coming down around us. It was time to go home... We backtracked on our trail, and when we got back home, we unpacked a bunch of fond memories, ones that we will keep and cherish. We are looking forward to our next "adventuring", whatever shape or form that may come in. I suspect that if it isn't on a trail, it will be on some old dirt road...

Until next time, God Bless!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Discovering gravity... re-inventing the wheel... and the relativity of hiking!

Good morning everyone!

I got up this morning savoring the prospects of a day off from work with no (very little) rain forecast for the day. I will take full opportunity of this rare occasion, but thought that I might take a couple of minutes to say "Howdy", and share some thoughts.

I realize that my blog entry title is probably a head-scratcher, seemingly having little to do with hiking. ...But, let's venture a little bit down trail, to take a better look.

There is a lot of discussion among the hiking community concerning the Pros and Cons of Ups and Downs. Is it better to hike uphill or downhill? Hmmm... I think it depends on where you're standing. If it is a wonderfully clear and sunny day, one might find great rewards at the end of a long climb. The view at the top is the prize, with a possible cooling breeze added in as a bonus. However, if it is a particularly stormy day, and you are standing on top of, let's say, Mt. Katahdin, you may be rewarded with your life by simply hiking downhill, off of the exposed summit, to the relative safety found below treeline. So, looking at it from this angle, it's 50/50, better to hike up/better to hike down. What about other considerations? It is generally accepted that a hiker will make more miles in a day when losing altitude than another hiker who is gaining altitude. But, again, there is a trade being made on the hikers' body. Although the uphill hiker is "lifting" his weight (and the weight of his pack) with every step, and slowing his pace, the downhill hiker is "catching" his weight (and the weight of his pack) with every step down. Although he MIGHT be faster, that is pure punishment on the knees! Other factors might include the angle, or "steepness" of the trail, and the type of terrain. Sure, on a smooth, gradually declining trail, one might cruise along rather nicely, but what about a steep, downhill rock scramble? Many times I have chosen to come down these "trails" backwards, just to maintain my stability... I think I am generally faster at climbing these stretches uphill, while facing forward!

So... Discovering gravity... re-inventing the wheel... and the relativity of hiking!

Let me pull it all together for you...

This past week I was out on a simple delivery for the lumberyard, where I work. It was an "easy one", a small load of pressure treated lumber and a few concrete pads. It was small enough that it was loaded into a pickup truck... which meant that I would have to unload it by hand. All in all, that was OK with me... I was going North to Solon, Maine, and getting a good view of the mountains! (the sun actually came out!). As I travelled up busy Route 201, I wished I was going further, to Caratunk, for a quick hike. I arrived at my destination, turning off of Route 201, and up a fairly long, and steep driveway. I began to offload, starting with four 18" ROUND concrete pads... Those little guys are HEAVY, and did I mention... ROUND? I'd be willing to bet that you extremely perceptive folks out there have already realized that I was about to re-invent the wheel... and discover for myself, first-hand, the amazing effects of gravity!

As I rolled the 100 pound "wheel" to the back of the truck, I had to bend down to get under the crossbracing of the trucks rack. As I got to the last brace, I lost control of the pad, and it rolled off the truck, hitting the ground with a thud! It hit the ground with a teetering bounce, and stood itself on edge. The cement pad had, before my eyes, metamorphosed into a very heavy wheel. (much like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly... but not as pretty...). We all know that butterflies do, in fact, fly, and my horrible cement "butterfly" had begun to ROLL, and was heading towards its' maiden flight down the hill! My heart was pounding with the realization that I was about to embark on the fastest, and most exciting hike of my life!...

Yes, I can still move very fast, for a man of 52 years... but not fast enough! As I quickly jumped off of the truck, the re-invented wheel just as quickly moved 20 feet away from me, and gained speed as it moved further downhill. By the time I caught up with it, it was a hundred feet downhill, and we were both moving very fast. I tried to kick at it, from the side, as I ran... it would wobble a bit, then straighten up, to continue its' journey. Now, we could get into other laws of physics, concerning potential and kinetic energy, centripetal and centrifugal forces, bodies in motion, forces acting upon those bodies in motion, and the like... but, nah! Let's suffice to say that I was being severely challenged by gravity acting on my cement wheel.

Downhill we continued! The cement pad had rolled from the lawn to the gravel driveway, going faster and faster, and in turn, I picked up my pace. I kicked at it repeatedly. It was futile. At a distance of about 100 yards, my wheel was going to meet Route 201! My heart was pounding, and I was praying to God that it wouldn't hit anybody driving by. I got slightly ahead of it, running out into the road to warn any oncoming traffic. The wheel flew by me, jumped the ditch on the other side, and entered the woods. The crisis part of my hike was now over! We had safely entered the treeline! I figured that I would not have to go very far now, to retrieve my wheel... after all, it would surely hit a tree in these thick woods. I stood, looking beyond the ditch, at the stupid wheel. It was still moving! It had a great head of steam, was STILL going downhill, and was avoiding every tree in its' way... I figured it might make it all the way to the Kennebec River. I determined that if it DID end up in the Kennebec, then I would jump in myself, just to have a good cool-down!

Another 50 yards in the woods, and I found it! I picked it up, and slowly carried it up the hill, back to Route 201. From there, I went to get the truck, figuring to offer the wheel a ride back to the top of the hill. Once I got back to the summit,(Yay!), I unloaded everything, making sure that I didn't lose another cement pad to gravity.

When I was all done with everything, I had time to reflect on this "hike", and the "ups and downs" of it. I figured to compare two aspects (uphill and downhill) of hiking. Since I had covered the same distance each way, I knew that it was a fair comparison. First, let me say that it was an incredibly fast and tiring hike downhill... and an incredibly slow and tiring hike uphill. On my hike downhill I was carrying less weight, and seemed to be motivated to move quickly. My knees took quite a pounding, yet my heart seemed to be taking a much worse beating! There was danger all the way down the hill, yet I was finally rewarded with a long rest in the quiet and safety of the deep woods! On my uphill journey the hiking was much, much slower! I felt like I was carrying a hundred pounds! My muscles ached with each step uphill, but I felt very much in control of each well-placed step. When I was back to Route 201, a third of the way to the summit, I was able to leave the cement pad at the road, and "slack-packed" my way to the top. I then returned with the truck to retrieve my cement pack... uh, pad.

Once back at the top, I was tired, but happy! There is always a special feeling I get when reaching the top, safely. Today, that was only rivalled by the feeling that I had gotten when I reached the bottom safely!

In summary, in my comparison of hiking up and hiking down, I find that each way has it's ups and downs! In short, hiking is hiking, and there is no comparison! It's all about the forces of gravity, and wheels... relative to hiking, of course!

I have to go now, but, as you all hike along the "ups and downs" of life's trail, I pray that you will see God's Blessing in each step, and that He eases your burdens no matter where you are...

God Bless!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Back to the "Little Biggie"!

Hello to all,

What a beautiful day! I was off to a bit of a slow start today, and didn't know if I would get out on trail at all, but... I managed to get in a couple of miles! I headed North, with a stop at Embden Lake to check up on my old friend... (I meant GOOD friend!), Dave, who was up from Florida for a bit to work on the camp. I thought I might get him to tag along, but he had quite a bit going on, and little time to get things done. I guess I will try to pay him a visit tomorrow...

So, off I went. I decided to head back up to Little Bigelow for a quick hike, and to leave a bit of trail magic. A quick stop to pick up a 6-pack of soda, and I hit the road. A short while later, I was at the trailhead, and parked beside another truck. I think it belonged to Clint Buzzell, the trail maintainer. I was hoping to hear from him if he came back up to repaint the white blazes... but, I goofed... we recently changed our phone number! (Our NEW number is 207-521-4990. I just edited the ScriptureStick website to reflect the change!... oops!)...

Up the trail I scooted, until I arrived at the Little Bigelow Lean-to. I dropped the sodas into the spring to cool down for any hikers that might show up, then read the shelter log. Looks like there are some NOBO's and SOBO's and, quite possibly, others who have stopped by this year. There was a "Rock", and "The Irish Kid", Mary and Dan, "Ledge", "Lupine" & "Black Toe". There was also "Brewer", "Fiddler", "No Money", "Beaner", "Happy Feet", and "Navajo". And... "Gooch", "Animal", and "Bacon"!

As I still wanted to do some work in the garden, I decided not to go to the top of Little Bigelow. I kind of wanted to, and I figured I would probably run into Clint up there, (some of the blazes looked fresh), but I had to go... so off I went, downhill, towards the truck. It was quiet going back, and I came upon a young deer, watching it for a few minutes. On I went, and as I was nearing the trailhead, I crossed paths with four young ladies. They were not stopping to chat... I was not offended, as it is sometimes a very good practice for ladies on the trail to keep moving, and not divulge a whole lot of information to strangers. There have been incidents on the trail where lady hikers have been harassed, stalked, and worse. But, in passing, I enquired as to where they had hiked from, and they said "Caratunk". I told them that the shelter was about a mile away, and to look in the spring for cold drinks. Yay!, that made them very happy hikers, and they thanked me before moving on.

Back to the truck, Clint still not out yet. I had a pleasant drive home, and had a couple of hours to weed the garden. It ended up being a wonderful day, even if I didn't pace out more trailmiles. I reflected on the fact that I didn't get to give away a ScriptureStick today, but was content in knowing that I had tried to give just a bit of myself. The day is not complete, though, until I ask God to Bless you all... Hikers and Homebodys, too!

Good night to you all, God Bless!


Monday, June 15, 2009

Rain, rain, go away! (I want to hike this next wednesday!)

Hello, All!

Rain, rain, go away, come again some... nah, I don't think the rhymin' approach is going to help.

Sure is wet out there! I hope all you hikers are having a safe walk even with the added treachery of rain... and mud... and slippery, slimy rocks! And that is just the tip of things, isn't it? That constant trail-swimming, and staying more than a tad waterlogged will wear down your ability to fight off illnesses. So, take extra care out there, and please know that I pray that you all keep your heads above water!

Since my last entry, (Little Bigelow Birthday Hike), I ran into Clint Buzzell, of Anson. Clint is a local hero of mine. You see, he is a Volunteer Trail Maintainer on the Appalachian Trail, here in Maine. He just happens to maintain the section that I last hiked, up to Little Bigelow. I consider his level of care on his section to be exceptional, and I hereby declare him a Trail Maintainer "Extraordinaire"!... –(adjective French. extraordinary; uncommon; remarkable.)

I've known Clint and his wife, Helen, for a number of years, and, on my 2007 SOBO Thru-hike attempt, was pretty tickled to find him on the trail, waiting for me. He had brought me some much needed gear, and an awesome batch of no-bake cookies that Helen had made for Faithful and I! In typical "Trail Maintainer Extraordinaire" fashion, Clint had passed the time waiting for us by doing... you guessed it! Trail maintenence!... on a section that he isn't even responsible for! Wow!

Anyway... Clint filled me in on trail stuff. He has already assisted NOBO's by offering up a lift in his truck. He took a tumble on the trail, breaking a finger, and doing some damage to the joint. It looked very painful, quite swollen, but he still intends to be out there. He said that he needs to repaint the white blazes soon. My heart quickened just a bit! The beloved blazes! (How cool would it be to actually paint your own white blaze!?!). I know that to some it would seem a bit "funny" to get excited about painting these little white rectangles, that are 2 by 6 inches (5 by 15 cm), but to a hiker on the A.T., (especially thru-hikers), each blaze is taken kinda... you know... personal, like! I left Clint with the offer to carry the paint for him, should he like some help that day. (THANKS, Clint!)

I caught up with another friend, John Bernard, at Church the other day, and upon talking with him, found myself succumbing to one of the "seven deadly sins"...ENVY! He told me that he had taken his daughter, Katie, and her friend Rebecca up to Katahdin the day before! Yay! I was so happy for them! (and a "little" envious). It was the first time up the mountain for them, and they had GREAT weather. They went up via the Hunt Trail, and returned on the same. I was so happy for them!...

...boy, do I have the urge to go hiking! ...and that is the plan, if all things work out. My target, of course, is my next day off, Wednesday! It probably won't be a big hike, but if the weather clears, it will be wonderful! Rain, rain, GO AWAY!!!

...and I, too, must now go away... God Bless!


Monday, June 1, 2009

Hiking the "Little Biggie"...Birthday hike!

Hey everybody!

I've been a little crazy-busy lately, hence haven't taken time to update the ol' "StickBlog". Since I last checked in, I turned 52 (on May 20th)! I treated myself to a short trip up to the Bigelows, and enjoyed a little "birthday hike" up to the peak of Little Bigelow. (elevation 3,040'). This is a very easy, but rewarding hike that can be accomplished by just about anyone! Really! I did it!

I extended the hike a bit by starting out on Long Falls Dam Rd., adding a few miles to the total hike. I think I tallied up about 14 miles, total, but you can surely shorten it up a bit by starting your hike on the Bog Brook Rd., just off Long Falls Dam Rd.... and you get to that road by jumping off of Rt.16 at New Portland, and "go North".

From Bog Brook Rd., take a leisurely walk uphill, along the stream. You will come to the sign for the Little Bigelow Lean-to, which is just a hundred yards, or so, off trail. It is a pleasant little spot, and features "The Basins", a couple of pools in the stream, for your soaking pleasure. It was a little too cold this time of year to brave the water, so I kicked back at the shelter, relaxed, and ate a "birthday Italian sandwich". Delicious!

While I perused the "Shelter log", and made an entry to it's pages, I heard movement, and eventually, conversation out on the trail. Soon, I had good company! I certainly didn't expect to see other hikers, in mid-may, and on a Wednesday, to boot!
I had the pleasure of visiting a bit with Matt Picard, of Readfield, ME, and Eric Altman, of Syracuse, NY. They were just wrapping up a hike from Grafton Notch! They shared with me that they had hiked to raise funds for Camp Sunshine, located at Sebago Lake,ME, and had brought in about $1,000! The purpose of the camp is to provide a retreat for children with life threatening illnesses and their families. WAY TO GO, Matt and Eric!!! (You can find info about "Camp Sunshine" online... check it out!)

I chatted for a bit more, then handed off my ScriptureStick to... I think I gave it to Eric. I did, however, extend the offer of ScriptureSticks to both of them, and asked them to contact me with a preferred Scripture. (Hey, guys!... drop me an e-mail!). It was SO nice meeting the both of them! I wished them well, then scooted up the trail (this is still fairly easy hiking...), to the summit of Little Bigelow. It was great, but since it wasn't too awful late in the day, I continued on for another 1/2 mile or so.

Eventually, you have to go home... so I got myself turned around, and headed back to the truck, parked at Long Falls Dam Rd.. As I approached the road, I heard a vehicle pulling away, and it looked like I was just a few steps shy of being able to bid Matt and Eric a final farewell.

But, farewell it is, to all of you, yet not without first asking that God should Bless you in so many ways!

Thank you all for checking in!


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bamboozled by bamboo!... wish I were (really) hiking!

Hello... again!

Went for a pretty long hike today, but didn't get very far from the house... I haven't felt tip-top for the last few days, have a bit of a bug, slightly swollen glands, and, quite possibly, a touch of the gollywobbles.

My wife, Cari, (Happy Mother's Day Honey!)and I stayed holed up in the house for the start of our day. The weather was so-so, I was tired and felt "yucky", so we didn't venture out to Church. Instead, we watched sermons on the "tube". Eventually, however, we felt the need to at least stand outside for a bit! Sitting in the house is HARD!

So, I came to the conclusion that a hike might brighten up the day. I got Cari to agree, even though the day was kinda drear and rainy-like. We started our hike with a brisk walk to the truck... then drove off a 1/2 mile to "Kennebec Ice Kreamery" for a bit of a treat... for "Mother's Day", of course!

Then, it was downtown bound, to Campbell's True Value, to gather some "garden necessities"... I must have hiked two or three aisles! We then headed home, and thought about going out into the garden. The garden truly is one of the favorite hiking places for me, but I prefer to meander in its' rows and hillocks in fairer weather (actually, this year we have no rows or hillocks... just big, beautiful, raised beds!). We made a couple of trips in, carrying gear (shovel, hoe, etc.), then prepared a couple of beds, finally placing asparagus, onions, peas, carrots, ...think that's all!

Cari was pretty cold by this time, and it had started to rain. She decided that she was probably done hiking for the day, and wanted to go home. I felt like I could make it a little further, and wanted to venture on. Off she went, alone, for home. I watched as she made her way down the little pathway between the raised beds, cross a small piece of grassy area, and eventually disappear into the shed... I was now alone.

Funny, I was starting to lose the desire to hike, now that I had lost my hiking partner to the warmth of home. But, since I was out there, I figured to push on to the next chore. I fixed up a couple more raised beds, put the compost and peat moss to them, and gave them a good mixing. I felt that my days journey was pretty much complete, and was prepared to go home, when I realized I was being "stalked". Yes, there were stalks of bamboo coming up on the lawn...

I had spent a good part of my "Hiking time" these last couple of years in hot pursuit of Mr. Bamboo, and thought that I had him on the run. I knew that he had been crippled by my constant attacks, but THERE HE WAS, all over the place, and coming at me with all he had! It looks like I had been BAMBOOZLED!

"bamboozle   /bæmˈbuzəl/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [bam-boo-zuhl] Show IPA verb, -zled, -zling.
–verb (used with object) 1. to deceive or get the better of (someone) by trickery, flattery, or the like; humbug; hoodwink (often fol. by into): They bamboozled us into joining the club.
2. to perplex; mystify."

Well, it was obvious that I could not return home until I confronted Mr. Bamboo, so off I went to retrieve a swoe... a major battle ensued, and, at the end, I knew that I had won the battle, but not the war! The bitter foe was nowhere in sight, but I knew he was lurking somewhere beneath the lawn, waiting to surprise me in a day or two...

So, off to the house to get warmed up, take nourishment, rest, and regale you with tales of the days hiking! I hope you've enjoyed our time together, and, that someday soon, I will be able to relate some REAL hiking stories... but, until then, take good care of yourselves, and enjoy all of the ways that God has chosen to Bless you.

God Bless!


Jean's Gems, ready to walk for the "Relay for Life"!

Hello everyone!

It's that time of the year... again!

That could mean just about anything depending on who you are, and what you do. My sister, Jody, (and many, many others), is in the midst of getting ready for the "Relay for Life", held this June 9th, at the Skowhegan Fairgrounds. It is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. (Did you know that 1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime?)... They have lot's of other fundraisers also, including a delicious turkey fry, with fixin's, and seeking out donations and items to be raffled or auctioned off. A very worthy cause to support. Jody captain's the awesome "Jean's Gems, the next Gemeration", The team was started up in honor of our Mom, Jean Hibbard, who we lost to cancer. We also honor our Dad, William Frederick (Bill, Fred, or Freddy), who we lost at age 55, and our brother Terry, who passed from cancer at the age of 46. Yes, cancer touches EVERY family... I hope that you will be supportive of a team in your area, participate in a relay, or make a generous donation to a worthy cause. For our area, check out the ("Relay for Life", Skowhegan), online... You will be able to get a load of information, check out all the teams and their members, and even make a donation!... might I even suggest helping out the team dearest to my heart? "JEAN'S GEMS!" ...Thanks! ...also, for all of you hikers out there... this is a great opportunity for you to put some miles on those old boots, for a worthy cause! Check with a team... they would love to include you! Or, consider starting a team!

Thanks, and God Bless!


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Faithfully in prayer for "Faithful"

Hi folks!

I have a request for you, a simple one. I ask that you pray. I hope that you all pray, every day, (and that, sometimes, I might be the recipient of some of your prayers)... but today I am asking that you faithfully pray for Faithful.

David "Faithful" Barnes, a young Christian fella from over Plymouth way, (next to Newport), was my hiking partner on the 2007 SOBO AT HIKE, when I attempted to hike the AT as part of the ScriptureStick Hiking Ministry. Although my hike ended in Peekskill, NY, after a wonderful journey of 800 miles, Faithful was able to complete the whole 2,174 miles! To make his accomplishment even greater, he did this while dealing with health issues... you see, Faithful has had a pretty tough life, dealing with severe epilepsy, and surgery! But, he made it!

Well, life is never easy, and we all have things happen to us at the most unexpected times... Here is the latest "unexpected" in Faithful's life...

Faithful had landed a job at a local Shop n' Save, and was very happy to have a job, and one that he liked! He has been working with the produce, and after a few weeks of work, was involved in the cleaning of the facility. All was going well, until the next day when he had broken out in a severe rash, from head to toe! So... his Doctor has prescribed meds, and we pray that it takes care of this problem. To top it off, Dave is out of work, yet hoping to be able to go back... They are not sure what caused his health problem, (probably a cleaning agent), and would need to see a specialist to investigate further... and of course, that costs $$$... so...

You can immediately see the need for prayer here. Faithful's health is at risk, his job is at risk, and there is, as always, financial burden. I ask you to pray for Faithful, for healing of his body, continued good health, the ability to return to the job that he enjoys so much, and that the financial burdens placed on he and his family will not be unbearable.

"Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22"

Thanks for taking a bit of your time to pray for this young man. God Bless you all!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

ATServants in Spain?

Hello everyone!

I have been in touch with Craig "Clay" and Suzy "Branch" Miles, of the ATServants Ministry. Cari and I were so pleased to gift ScriptureSticks to them, and thank them for their awesome dedication to the hikers along the Appalachian Trail. I am in hopes to someday meet them in person, if they should have opportunity to come to Maine... or if I should have opportunity to take the ScriptureStick Ministry back on the trail for a thru-hike.

They sent me a great picture of the two of them, and a nice, big, "Thank-you!". Here they are! I hope you will join me in keeping their ministry held up in prayer. Jump up on their ATServants website, see what they are all about, what they are up to, and... how you might help!
They do have a specific need for your prayer, at this time...

Suzy writes, "I do have an additional prayer request. I believe that I wrote you
about how we were planning to send two young ladies to hike the Camino de
Santiago in Spain as missionaries. Well, a month before they were supposed
to leave, one of the ladies began to feel that God was not calling her to
this particular mission. It is our firm belief that we need to send at
least two at a time. After all, didn't Jesus send out the disciples two by two?
So, we are trying to help our Chaplain find a qualified, godly hiking partner to hike around the end of May. Please be in prayer for this. Please pray that the remaining partner will have patience and trust in the Lord and that any possible Chaplains would clearly feel God's call and act quickly."

So, yes, ATServants in SPAIN! ...I got back to Suzy, asking what qualifications a young lady would have to posess, to undertake partnering up with the other young lady on this wonderful missions opportunity. Suzy responded as follows...

"As for the Chaplain to Spain, our only true guidelines are that she is super godly, called to the ministry, and because of the short time, has a passport. She would not need to know Spanish at all because the trail that she would be hiking on is a big tourist trail. Another prayer request for whomever God has for this position is that she would need to raise about $4,000. Thank you again for your prayers! We truly covet them!"

Hmmm... what a big undertaking! But NOT bigger than God! First, let us be thankful that the young lady that decided that she was not called to this mission field had the courage to say so. That is certainly a hard thing to face. Let's also pray that God uses her MIGHTILY in the mission field that she IS called to! We want her to be most effective in working for the Lord. ...

But, who will go!?! Is it you? Do you know of someone who might be a perfect fit? No? Well, maybe God can use you just the same... Can you pray? Might you be in a position to help with financing a prospective hiker? If you can help make this mission trip come to fruition, PLEASE contact Suzy at ATServants, ASAP! Tell you what... get up on their site, sign their guestbook, and let them know you are PRAYING! They will be greatly encouraged.

Thanks for reading, bigger thanks for praying! God Bless you all...



Friday, April 3, 2009

CROSSing paths on the A.T.,... ATServants, Lumbermack & LabRat, ScriptureSticks!

Hello dear friends! (Old and New...)

There are times that God moves, ...and moves you! He places you here... or there, at a certain time that is to His liking. And, quite often, it is to your liking also! I would like to share a little bit with you about how He is orchestrating events in our lives lately. He NEVER ceases to surprise and amaze me!

This past week I was online and checking up on Joel "Bark" & Cortney "Berry" Leachman, who are Trail Chaplains with ATServants this hiking season. They were scheduled to be on trail April 1st, so they should be on their way! I hope you will all join me in keeping them in prayer, and for ALL of the ATServants, that their ministry is fruitful. Please get on to their site, and follow Bark & Berry as they make their way NOBO. ... ...I was checking out their guestbook, just breezin' through, and happened to notice the following post to it... Hope they don't mind my sharing... here goes...

"Name: Mack (Lumbermack) Spainhour Email Recorded
From: Holly Springs, NC.
Message: Hello Guys- my name is Mack (Lumbermack) Spainhour, 2006 AT 2000-Miler: I completed the AT in 2006. My Wife Kelly has hiked much of the AT with me and we have felt a connection to the AT for many years. We have felt impressed of God to start a Hiker Hostel in Southwest VA called the Appalachian Dreamer Hostel. It is located about 20 miles north of Partnership Shelter at Mt Rogers Headquarters, or about 20 miles south of Bland VA. We are approximately 2.5 miles from where the AT crosses highway 42( at the picnic shelter) OR at the route 610 (Nebo rd/Old Rich Valley Rd)- crossing. We are going to be open this year (2009) on an interim basis, and hope to be open full time in the spring of 2010. Please call us between Damascus and our location (northbounders) or Pearisburg/Bland and our location (southbounders) and if we are open we will come and pick you up at the 42 or 610 crossing. We will offer you a place to stay, hot shower, hot meal at night, continental type breakfast, place to wash your clothes and a ride back to the trail. Maximum two night stay. We only request a donation or may have a work for stay option. Limited re-supply and shuttles for a fee. I am aware , as a former thru hiker, of how much Trail hospitality means to the weary hiker. God has blessed me and I want to share His blessings on my life with the AT trail community. We are a Christian ministry (but not supported by or associated with any religious organization)- no profanity or alcoholic beverages permitted- no drugs. My number is 919-622-5574. Please check in with us and if we are open we would love to have the opportunity to share our hospitality with you. God bless you and be with you on your journey. My email address is mspain7857@aol.com We hope to have internet access.
Got Here: A Friend
Date: Feb 24 2009 3:34PM" ... ...

As I read the guestbook entry, I thought that these were truly wonderful people, deeply committed to the leading of the Lord! How wonderful to have another Christian outreach on the Appalachian Trail! I was just about to move on, then became aware of something familier... Spainhour... Mack Spainhour. A bell went off in my head! I think I met him once! Holly Springs, North Carolina! OH, MY!!! I knew I had missed something, first time around, so started to read it again... his wife is "KELLY"!...

I just sat there, staring at the computer, my mind swirling back in time...

Seven or so years ago, Cari and I had moved back to Maine, from North Carolina. We had left a wonderful home, a terrific Church, fantastic jobs, and friends and co-workers that were dear to us. We felt led by God to leave all that good stuff, and of course, to try to follow where he was leading! ...

One of the folks I had the pleasure of working with in North Carolina was a sweet Christian lady named Kelly Spainhour, whose husband's name was Mack! Our paths had crossed, after all these years! Not only had they crossed, but it surely seemed that we were also on the SAME path!

I made a call to Mack, left a message on his phone, and sure enough, I was soon rewarded with an e-mail from Kelly! It was a wonderful letter, full of information about them, their hopes for their ministry, encouragement for ours. I am so thankful to again be in touch, after all this time! I was so surprised, as I didn't know that they were hikers, loved the A.T., and that Mack had finished the trail up here in Maine in 2006, as I was planning my 2007 SOBO. I didn't know that Kelly had been to Katahdin three times... that there is a wonderful picture of Kelly "LabRat", and Mack "LumberMack" at the summit, on LumberMack's Journal! (Here it is!)

I so wish that I could have been part of their experience. Maybe I can try to do a little better in maintaining relationships over time and distance? Yeah, I'll try.

I thank God for putting us on paths that cross, and, that sometimes, the same paths become walked with friends... and at even more joyous times, He let's us realize that we are on His path, together.

I am so thankful for ATServants, for Mack "LumberMack" and Kelly "LabRat" Spainhour. I am thankful for old friends and new friends, for unknown friends, folks who I have yet to cross paths with. I would like to ask that God would Bless you all, greatly. I would ask that He Blesses you all in such a way that His walking with you cannot be denied...



Sunday, March 29, 2009

Snowshoe hike to Harrison's Pierce Pond Camps

Good afternoon to all of you!

I just got home from a terrific morning that started out with our enjoying a delicious breakfast with my family, at the "Golden Eagle" in Madison, located near the town line with Skowhegan... and followed up with a good sermon, wonderful music, and precious fellowship, at our church, Crossroads Bible Church, up at Rt 201 and Rt 148 (Clough's Corner), in Madison.

I thought I would quickly share with you all, the events of yesterday, my hiking adventure, that was to possibly take me on the A.T., up towards Bigelow Mtn. ... Plans often change, and change quickly, so when I left Madison, I headed North to Solon, up Rt 201. I was able to get an Italian sandwich for my lunch, and while I waited for it to be made, had a good chat with the polite young man making it. We talked briefly about my days plans, the A.T., White House Landing up in the 100 mile wilderness, and the like. Upon my return through Solon, after my hike, I dropped off one of our ScriptureSticks, asking that it be given to him, next time he worked. When asked who they should say left it for him, I said that he didn't know me, and they should just tell him that it was the "Stickman"....

After leaving Solon, I continued North to Bingham, crossed the Kennebec River, and struck North again, to Pleasant Ridge. From there, I veered right, again going North, through Carrying Place. (Excerpt from article by Spencer Merrill..."Colonel Arnold and his men reached the Great Carrying Place on October 11, 1775, only a few days from Caratunk. He and his men left the Kennebec River as they headed to the Chaudiere River, a boundary between Maine and Quebec." referring to the march of Col. Benedict Arnold and his army of about 1100men.) I pushed beyond, with intent to get as close to Harrison's Pierce Pond Camps as possible. I finally could go no further, with my 2 wheel drive Ford... time to walk. The road was uphill, icy, with a layer of mud, and muddy, with patches of ice and snow... which quickly became deep, as you went uphill. Off I went, having to put the snowshoes on... after trekking uphill a mile, it levelled off a bit, and at the top was a white Dodge truck. I recognized it as belonging to Tim Harrison. I was encouraged that I might be able to visit with Tim, but wasn't sure how far I would have to hike to get to Pierce Pond Camps. The hiking was downhill now, so off I went, and after three miles, I found the bottom, and the entrance to the camps. Shortly after that, I was standing at the Lodge, looking down at the porch floor. I was a little higher than the porch, and could have walked onto the roof. I gave a shout out, to announce my presence, and two little dogs came running over the ridgeline of the roof to greet me. Then Tim, and his friend, Sharon, followed. He chuckeled, as they were just wondering if anyone would brave the snow to hike in. They had decided that no one would. A snowmobiler, maybe... but no hikers. We hadn't seen each other for some time, and had a nice reunion. When Faithful and I had done our A.T. hike in 2007, Harrison's Pierce Pond Camps was one of the high points. At the time, Tim wasn't open for business, but he was very gracious in serving us up a GREAT pancake breakfast, heaped with friendly hospitality! If you are planning to be on the A.T. this year... you will not find him open for business. However, he did indicate that he will once again welcome the company of thruhikers. There may be a pancake breakfast in your future!

After visiting a bit, we all pushed through the snow, with Tim breaking trail. Destination... the falls. The falls were just as beautiful as I remembered, but this time it was surrounded by a wonderful coating of snow, and adorned with icicles. We lingered a bit, and looking back at the lodge, I could see why Tim and Sharon had been on the roof. It was clear of snow, in full sun... a perfect place to soak up the warmth of Spring, and bake away the worries of Winter.

On we went, up to the Lean-to. Yes... I was officially on the Appalachian Trail! I looked into the shelter, but did not venture in/down... it was about a four foot drop in elevation to go from snow to shelter! We looked out on Pierce Pond... beautiful! We talked about the beauty of this particular spot. Although the Lean-to is not the best on the trail, the location is unparalleled! Tim said that some of the books comment that this is one of the prettiest stopovers on the trail. I concur!

We decided that the best way to get back would be across the Pond, and back through the convienience of a snowmobile trail. The pond was fun to walk on, solid, yet getting a layer of slush in areas... and showing water in some areas. It was definitely easier walking, and a good rest for my legs. We got ourselves back to the trail entrance to the Camps, talked for a bit, then said our goodbys. Tim offered to fire up his snowsled, give me a lift back to my truck, but I declined. He reminded me that it was uphill... I still declined, figuring I could make it to my truck before dark, probably by 7 PM, or so.

Off I went, uphill... three miles later, I crested, walking by Tim's truck. Well, I almost crested. Shortly after, I did, and began a relaxing, one mile, downhill stroll.

I made it to my truck in good time, got myself turned around without somehow getting stuck, and began the ride home. I stepped into the house, weary and sore, struggling to get my boots off. Through all the pain, I had to smile... every ache was a painful and happy reminder of that first day of my Appalachian Trail thruhike attempt. Although the pain was the same, there was one big difference. TODAY I didn't have to continue hiking!

Yesterday was an encouragement for me. Although I have gotten myself a little heavier, and a little more "out of shape" since the 2007 ScriptureStick Ministry A.T. Hike, I was still able to pull off a hike of about ten miles... on snowshoes. I do believe that if the Lord chooses to put me back on the A.T. to do ministry work, He will give me strength to survive the Trail!

So... see you on the Trail, or elswhere. And... God Bless!