Back in Flagstaff

After my son’s graduation in St Louis, I returned to my home town of Flagstaff, AZ. Weather here is cooler than on the AT – seems like early spring.

I’ve had discussions with friends and family and decided to return to the trail around June 10. I’m considering some alternate options to the traditional northbound route that would allow me to complete the northernmost section before it gets too late in the year – hope to have those details worked out this week.

Here’s the family at Peter’s graduation:

And a little Flagstaff beauty on some recent local hikes:

Bitter cherry:

Indian paintbrush:

Here’s a view from a local peak.The white dome is the Sky Dome athletic facility at Northern Arizona University. Behind that is a fire a forest fire that was burning south of Flagstaff.

The Southwest is known for its Penstemons. Here’s a local variety:

Happy Memorial Day!!

Off trail

Just attended the 60th wedding anniversary of this happy couple in High Point, NC


Now off to my son Peter’s college graduation in St Louis.

Trying to enjoy all of these fun off trail activities while still thinking about the magnificence of spring in the mountains.

Some shots from this past week:
I think this is a birdsfoot violet

A new type of trillium


Emerging azaleas:


Some notable events from this week

Another encounter with the beautiful red spotted newt “Eft”


In action:

 The lush countryside of southwest Virginia:

The challenge of hiking across an interstate highway – in this case  I-77  near Bland, VA. The AT usually routes us via an exit underpass or a bridge overpass:


These flame azaleas pop up here and there and are always stunning:


For the next couple of weeks, I’ll be fattening up off the trail and spending time with my family.

Hope you can get out for a walk or a hike,


On again, off again

So it’s May 12. My second goal of this adventure was to reach 700 miles and get to Roanoke. Because of the need to take a week off, I fell a little bit behind, so I stepped off the trail today at mile 608. My brother Tim picked me up at Trent’s store and met some northbound thru hikers:

Later, he did a short, fully loaded section hike on the AT

Now we’re on our way to my parent’s 60th wedding anniversary in High Point NC

I’ll be developing future adventure plans in the next few days


Azaleas, Mountain laurels, and rhododendronsĀ 

These three bush/trees grow in abundance here. Azaleas are widely blooming now


Mountain laurels are just opening up


Rhododendrons will be last to bloom – they form dense thickets and the trail is developed to tunnel  through 

A few more photosfrom yesterday:

Budding shagbark hickory


My new shoes (Hokas) – unloaded my first pair after 500 miles in Damascus. The gaiters on top keep the debris out of the shoes


Full on Spring

It’s awfully nice as spring gets into full swing at 4000 feet elevation in southwest Virginia.


From a birdwatching perspective, I saw a goldfinch, an indigo bunting, a scarlet tanager, and a rose breasted grosbeak yesterday- now that’s a lot of color!




 I’ve been fascinated by Violet’s recently. At first it appears that there are purple ones and white ones and yellow ones, but if you look closely at the leaves and petals you begin to realize there are dozens of different kinds.

Here’s one with a spur like a larkspur: 

Book ‘n Boot

I was hiking with a good friend from Australia yesterday (she’s also been living in Tasmania, (home of the Tasmanian devil and the now extinct Tasmanian tiger). She was about 10 minutes ahead of me on the trail when she fell crossing a stream and broke her wrist. Some fellow hikers and I were able to fashion a splint (from a sandal) and a sling (from a camp towel). We hiked to the nearest forest road crossing and called an ambulance. She was taken safely to a local hospital for care, but will be off the trail for a few weeks. She told me last night that she may do some bus touring of the US while she heals.

Book ‘n boot and the AT thru hiker rescue team (it was raining quite a bit at the time):


Mount Rogers

Mount Rogers is the tallest peak in Virginia. I hit the summit three days ago. I had climbed it 35 years ago with my youngest brother Pete.

It’s a spooky place in a dark conifer forest. No views from the top. Many trees are dead from the recent hemlock/fir infestation.