Wolverine Hikes

People who know me know that I belong on the Trail. I've thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail (twice),the Pacific Crest Trail and the mighty Continental Divide Trail. I've hiked many of the long trails here in Michigan including being the first to hike both the Ironwood Trail and the Great Lake To Lake Trail. In 2017, I hiked the Israel National Trail and the Golan Heights Trail. I was the first to hike the Baja Divide Trail in Mexico but failed miserably to thru-hike the Bruce Trail in Canada. In 2019, I hiked the TEMBR in Ecuador and now, I'm going to attempt to hike 1,150 miles of the North Country Trail as it runs through my home state of Michigan.

The purpose of this blog is to keep anyone who is interested informed of my progress and to encourage those who are able to support me in these endeavors.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Still The King?

This is not good. 

I'm stealth camping in Palmerton, PA and I'm gonna get busted. Here's why:

The morning started off great. I had been hiking all day in the rain with a guy and his 11 year old daughter (DR and Baby Blue). They were loads of fun and their joy of hiking was infectious. They made the heavy rain and our soaking wet packs seem like not such a big deal.  We camped together at night and enjoyed some great conversation in the morning. They got going earlier than I did so I hiked alone today. 

The trail took me across a 'Superfund Site'. This was an entire hillside that had been decimated by zinc mining in the early 1900's. The whole area had a weird vibe to it with fences and warning signs everywhere. It put me in a funky mood. 

Then the trail twits and turns down the side of a very steep, rocky mountain and spills right out onto a super-busy highway (with no shoulder) that leads 1.5 miles into the city of Palmerton. There are plenty of hiker services here but they are very spread out. It was a long walk to the Dunkin Donuts to get a cup of coffee, an outlet to charge my phone and a wifi signal. 

Today is Sunday so I can't get my re-supply box from the post office until tomorrow morning. Usually, this is no problem. I just find a place to stealth camp on the edge of town, hit the post office in the morning and get back to the trail. The problem with Palmerton is that there is no where to camp! People who know me know that I have an eagle-eye for great stealth camping spots but nothing here was looking good. I ended up hiking out to the edge of town and finding a spot on the banks of the Aquashicola Creek. 

The vibe here is not good. I can hear lots of cars passing by and several people have walked past and seen me already. This makes for poor stealth camping but there really is no where else to go. I dare not hike the deadly highway back out of town because I'll just have to come back in tomorrow morning. 

If I get busted - that is, if I'm asked to leave - I certainly will but that will ruin my streak of never having been caught. I will lose the title of the 'King of Stealth Camping'. 

The question for the reader is: When is the last time you slept anywhere that wasn't on a comfortable bed behind a locked door? Leave a comment below and describe.

I'll post again to let you know how it turns out. 

Good Lord my boots stink. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Good Intentions

I want to write a post about a small market I happened to come across during my 2011 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (AT). Back then, the store was called 'Joe To Go' and it was on the south side of where the AT crosses (the very busy) State Road 206 in New Jersey. It was kind of a cool little shop. There was an old guy behind the counter serving greasy breakfast sandwiches and burgers. Back then, they weren't exactly known as 'hiker friendly'. Back then, a breakfast sandwich was $4. Back then, I stopped in, felt the unwelcoming vibe and immediately went back to the trail.

Recently, the store was bought by an older guy who re-named it Sunrise Appalachian Trail Deli. 

His intention, it seemed, was to cater specifically to AT hikers. That to me, is a great idea and it fills me with gratitude. He wants to help hikers! He started carrying some hiker supplies (Ramen noodles, Cliff bars, canister fuel,  etc... ) and he put out a notebook for hikers to leave recommendations on what products they thought that he should carry to better serve the hiking community. More great ideas!

The comments left on Guthook's app and in the shelter journals along the trail were all very positive. Everyone said how 'hiker friendly' this place had become and how hard the store was trying to attract and accommodate hikers. I can't wait! I thought to myself, to spend some (of my very little) money here and to show them how much I appreciate that they appreciate hikers. 

But the attitude with which I was welcomed left much to be desired. The guy who actually ran the place, day to day, you see, was not the guy who bought the place. The guy who ran the place had a different perspective entirely. He was the one who came in early every morning. He was the one who made the sandwiches and the burgers. His pay, I learned later, was based on how well the store did in overall sales. 

He wanted to sell cigarettes, lottery tickets and energy drinks. He wanted to have a big cooler full of ice for the tourists. But the new owner would have none of it. "Those things are poison!" the new owner exclaimed, "And those aren't the kinds of things that hikers need."

Back to the guy who had to work there everyday. He was not so hot on hikers. He didn't like it that they sometimes brought their packs (all smelly and dirty) into the store despite the obvious signage telling hikers to park their packs on the bench outside. He didn't like it that they complained that he didn't have wifi or group seating. And he really didn't like it when one of them stole the money out of his tip jar. 

The guy mentioned that the owner wanted to start accepting re-supply boxes for hikers. I had to warn him that hikers get really uptight about their re-supply. If a box isn't there when it's supposed to be, they freak out. Worse, they won't move on until they get that box and will literally camp near that business until that box comes in. They will check dutifully twice a day, every day because they literaly can't keep hiking until they get the food, fuel, maps, etc... that come in those boxes. 

My point is that thru-hikers are a tough bunch to handle. They are often strapped for cash and looking to get the very most for their few dollars. I hate saying it because it's trite but true about any small group: A few bad apples. Most of us want to support a business that welcomes hikers. We want to leave a good impression. 

My hope is that hikers, as a group, will get their shit together and respectfully patronize businesses that welcome us and that more business owners will recognize that hikers want to spend their money at stores like the Sunrise Appalachian Trail Deli.