Climb your mountain!

How many of you have faced literal or figurative mountains in your life?  All of you? Of course!  I have faced many, many types of mountains in my life – many of which I built myself.  One of the things that I have realized during this hike is that there will always be mountains, some small, some seemingly insurmountable.  I faced a pretty good one yesterday.  It was called The Priest and was our first 3,000+ foot climb in over a month.  I stared at the guidebook the night before and thought “This is going to be a tough climb tomorrow.”  As with all of the mountains before, I climbed it and was rewarded with amazing views and a feeling of accomplishment.  Why did I even worry about it?  I had climbed worse before, I had climbed higher before, even if it had been the biggest climb yet that would have been an opportunity to improve on my best. 

I write this to say, we must all climb our personal mountains. It may take a long time or may be exhausting, but if the destination is worth it to you it is also worth the effort.  It is Rett Syndrome Awareness Month – Julie Grace, her Rett sisters, and their families have enormous mountains that they have to keep climbing every day. We can help them climb to the top together, the summit is the cure!  Please reach out to these families, understand their needs, help them to reach that summit!  Join Julie’s Army of Hope!

Tomorrow we should drop under 800 miles to go and maybe late tomorrow or early Sunday we should pass the 1,400 mile mark. We still have a long way to go but we are beginning to glimpse the end!

Since the last blog post we have experienced some of the most beautiful scenery of the hike so far!










We also passed through Harpers Ferry and visited the Appalachian Trail Conservancy headquarters!


We are so grateful for all the love, prayers, and support we have received while on our hike!!!  There are so many people who have supported us and we owe all of you so much for keeping us going and helping us climb these mountains (the physical and mental)!  I will have to dedicate a long blog post to all of you when we are done – it may take a couple of days to write that one!  For tonight I need to make sure and thank all of you for joining Julie’s Army of Hope and a special thank you to the students, faculty, staff, and administration  of the Pell City School System for the amazing way that they have gotten involved in the Hike for Julie!!!  You are all amazing and you inspire us!!!!
Please go to,, or to find out how you can help!!!

By the way, did I mention that a bear walked up behind me on the trail one day recently?  That was an exciting day!!!  May all of you find the inspiration, endurance, encouragement, and strength to climb your mountains!!!!




It is Rett Syndrome Awareness Month!!!

BIG NEWS!!!! October is Rett Syndrome Awareness Month!!! Please show your support for all those Rett families and wear purple this month! The flowers here in Pennsylvania along the Appalachian Trail are even showing their support!!!  



Please join Julie’s Army of Hope and help Julie Grace and all her Rett sisters fight for a cure!!  Go to,, or // to find out how you can help!!!  

It’s been a fantastic couple of weeks here on the trail!  We have had visits from friends and family, received amazing trail magic, and passed the 1,000 mile mark!!!!  What a two weeks it has been!!!!!  We hiked through New Jersey and are about 2/3 of the way through Pennsylvania!  Hopefully we won’t have to wait out a hurricane in a few days!!!!

Here are a few photos from the past two weeks.

My beautiful wife joined us on the trail for a couple of days! 

Family and friends!!!

We hiked through the rocks of Rocksylvania! 


Saw some beautiful wildlife!  Deer, a fox, a bald eagle, a rattlesnake, and another bear!!!   
The smallest snapping turtle ever!

The fall colors are starting to show and the trail and views just keep getting more colorful!!

Janine treated us to breakfast and brought us Tastykakes!!  
Cruise Control and Rabbit provided awesome trail magic!!!

We are honored to play a small part in the fight against Rett Syndrome!  Please join us in Julie’s Army!!!  Thank you for all of the love and support!!!! 

I’ll leave you with views of Delaware Water Gap.  One of my favorite days so far! We crossed into Pennsylvania that day!!!



Flip! Flop! Flip!


It is time to flip!!!  Flip you ask?  Yes, flip!  We started on Katahdin on June 30 planning on heading south to Georgia but the trail had other plans for us. We flipped south to the New Jersey / New York line and hiked north, heading back to Maine. Two days ago we finished the northern 835 miles of trail and now we get to flip back south again!  Tomorrow we start back at the New Jersey / New York line and head south again!

It has been a physically and mentally challenging trip but intensely rewarding too.  There has been no shortage of incredible views, streams, waterfalls, mountain lakes, bogs, fields, sunrises and sunsets, but the most rewarding thing to me has been the people I have met and the friends I have made.  I am grateful for each of them.  

Here are the people we have been hiking with during the past three weeks.  A great group of supportive, encouraging, and fun people to be around!

From left to right are Tonreg, Low Profile, Stretch, Jolly (Bennett), and me. 

From left to right Low Profile, Tonreg, me, Jolly, and in the front Cruise Control. 

All of these people made the hike through Maine so much better!  They should all be climbing Katahdin between today and Saturday!  I am so excited for them!!!!

Most importantly, there have been so many people who are getting involved and supporting the fight against Rett Syndrome and Hike for Julie!!!  Thank you so much everyone!!!!  Together we can help these Rett princesses!!!!!

The southern part of Maine had some serious climbs but the views were worth the effort!!!




Sometimes the climbs were rewarded with blowing rain and fog, and slippery rocks!


There were so many waterfalls!!!


The sunsets and sunrises were beautiful!


The northern part of the trail in Maine follows the shoreline of several large lakes.  We were treated to the sounds of loons and owls as we drifted off to sleep. 


Sometimes the trail was really a scramble over rocks. 

Sometimes it was over and through bogs. 

The trail took us through streams. 

Occasionally  it was actual trail!

But it was also magical at times!

I got to share some amazing things with my son!


Thank you so much everyone for your thoughts, support, and prayers!!!  Tonight we say goodbye to my cousin Craig, his wife Kim, and their children Micah, Gideon, and Lydia.  They have supported us through our hike in the northeast and have been our home away from home.  I don’t think I can ever express enough thanks to them for all that they have done for us!

Please, please, please help fight Rett Syndrome!  A cure is possible and you can help!  Please go to or to find out how you can help!!!  Thank you again everyone!!!   


Hello from Maine!

We have completed 61 miles since we re-entered Maine and we have been lucky to have caught up with a friend we met previously on the trail (Stretch) and made a new one (Low Profile).  These are a couple great guys we are hiking with now.  Both of these guys are positive, encouraging, and just good to be around. They make the miles fly by sometimes and when the miles are not flying by they make the tough miles better. It reminds me that we all should support one another and help bear each other’s burdens.  In the forests up here the soil is very thin and often the roots of the trees are locked together across the rocks.  If they were not supported by the other trees around them they would easily be toppled by the wind.  Please try to support one another.  It will make a bad day more bearable and a good day great!

Southern Maine is not an easy hike.  The mountains are smaller than the Whites but they are rocky and challenging!


Somewhere in the hike on this day Bennett developed knee pain.  We don’t know how or why it started hurting but it slowed him down and really bothered him.  Then my filter broke.  We pushed on through the next day using Bennett’s filter and completed the toughest mile on the trail – Mahoosic Notch!!  This is a mile long stretch of huge jumbled boulders that you have to climb over and under!  There was even ice under some of the lowest boulders!


At the end of this day we were offered a ride back to Gorham, NH and gladly accepted!   Thank you again Advil, Kansas, and Mudder!!!  We were able to stay at our first hiker hostel, The Barn, and it was a great experience!  Paul, the hostel owner, was very helpful and shuttled us to Walmart for a knee brace for Bennett and a new water filter for me. 


The next day we hitched a ride back to Grafton Notch and started hiking again!  We were picked up by a former thru hiker had his wife and they drove 50 minutes out of their way to take us back to Grafton Notch!  Thanks Headhunter and Tomorrow!

This is where we reconnected with Stretch and met Low Profile.  We have had some great campsites and a lot of fun since then!

I hope that all of us can learn to love and support one another.  Life is so much better when you have people around you that care about and love you.  With that in mind, I should thank my wife Vicki every day for loving us enough to let us do this and supporting us!  Thank you so much Vicki!!!

Please continue to help in the fight for a cure for Rett Syndrome!  Go to or to find out how you can help.  Please SUPPORT these wonderful Rett princesses, their families, and their caregivers!!!!  Much love to all of you!

Unfinished Business!

Hello everyone!!!  We are back in Maine!!  It has been a while since my last blog post and a lot has happened since then!

We have now crossed what most people describe as the most difficult state on the AT (New Hampshire) and are now back into the second most difficult (Maine).  As the title of this blog post states, we have unfinished business here in Maine.  We originally started our hike on Katahdin in Maine at the end of June with the intention of hiking straight through south to Georgia.  Well, the trail had other plans for us and we had to leave Maine after 56 miles and then get back on the trail at the New York/New Jersey line to hike back north to Maine.  We are now 211 miles from the point where left the trail in Maine and have put in over 600 miles in this hike!  We are ready to complete these 211 miles and get back on the trail in New Jersey to finish hiking south to Georgia!

We have learned much in the first 600 miles – about hiking, about the kindness of strangers, and about ourselves – and have been blessed to have the love and support of our wonderful family and friends!  Thank you again everyone!!!

An important thing we learned recently was about the power that words have.  Each day on the trail has its own unique challenges.  About a week ago we had one of the most challenging days yet.  The weather was humid and warm, we got a late start, the trail was very steep, and we really missed home.  We only made 5.9 miles that day.  We were at a low point.  We stopped at Carter Notch Hut and were allowed to do work for stay (I’ll explain that later). At the hut we met Cap, a thru hiker who had just finished the trail and was working at the hut.  He was very encouraging and brought our spirits up.  Then, another hiker came in (we will call this hiker Poison Ivy) that was hiking southbound.  Poison Ivy proceeded to tell us that what we planned to hike per day in Maine wouldn’t work, laughed at our plans for the next day, told us that the mountains in Maine would give us a lot of trouble, and even questioned the items we were carrying.  After hearing all of this from Poison Ivy we were both back to the low point again.  Would we ever get to turn south?   The next morning we said goodbye to the crew at the hut and Cap told me “You’ve got this.  I don’t think you will have any problems.”  Those 11 words helped get us going again the next day.  We wound up completing 16.1 miles that day through some of the worst weather and one of the hardest mountains we had been on yet.  I learned that day that I really want to be and encourager and not a discourager. Please do what you can to encourage one another.  Life is short and often difficult, you never know how a kind word can change someone else’s day or week, or even their entire life.  

Now, how about some photos???

We finally got into the White Mountains and they were as beautiful and difficult as we were told they would be!

We crossed Mt. Washington!  The highest point in the Whites!  One day was clear and beautiful weather!

The next day was cold with blowing fog!!  It was cool to see the cog train come up the mountain out of the fog!!!



This kind of climb is a little tough!

This is Carter Notch Hut where we washed dishes and did some cleaning in the kitchen and in return we received a meal and a warm and dry place to sleep!  It was a neat opportunity and we enjoyed it!


A very special thank you to my mom, sister Sarah, and wife  for coming up and visiting us!!!  It was so wonderful to have you with us!!   Thank you to Craig, Kim, and Lydia for camping with us in the Whites!  You don’t know how much we have enjoyed being with you guys and appreciate everything you have done for us!  Thank you to Dick and Sandy (Kim’s parents) for feeding us and giving us a place to sleep and clean up!  It was great meeting you guys!  Thank you to Mudder, Advil, and Kansas for giving us a ride back to Gorham to allow us to get some badly needed supplies!!
Everyone please continue to help to find a cure for Rett Syndrome!   Go to for more information on how you can help!!!  Thank you again everyone for your prayers and support!!!

From Greens to Whites!!!   

Hello from New Hampshire!!!  We have completed our traverse of Vermont and it’s beautiful Green Mountains and are now in New Hampshire and will be in the White Mountains in the next week or two!!

Vermont was beautiful, clean, and we met some truly kind and wonderful people.  We have made some new friends out here – Eric and Heidi from Washington, Miami Vice, Green Bay, Arrow, and Uhaul.  

Before I get to the photos from the past 13 days I want to share some thoughts that have been rattling around in my head lately.  Each day on the trail presents it’s own unique challenges.  Some days are hot and humid with steep trails, some days the mosquitoes and flies swarm, most days there is some type of pain (toe, knee, ankle, shoulder), and every day you miss family and friends.  You can always quit and go home though – this is a choice.  However, for all of the beautiful young ladies with Rett Syndrome, their families, and caregivers there is no option to quit.  The challenges they face every day are much greater than a little pain, sweat, pests, or homesickness.  Each of them are strong and determined, and their families and caregivers are loving and dedicated!  We can all learn from their example!  Please help us to help them!

Now for a few of the highlights from Vermont!

 We had to wait out a rainstorm!  At least we had company.

The view of Bennington was spectacular!

 We had an opportunity to wash all of our clothes and I tried to make a fashion statement. 

We climbed our first fire towers!



The views were absolutely amazing!


 We were joined by a good friend (Paul Beasley) for a weekend!  
We hitched our first couple of rides!


We hiked over Bromley Mountain Ski Resort!  

We saw some really cool rock art!


We crossed a couple of suspension bridges and Clarendon Gorge!   

We were able to gather some blackberries and raspberries.    
I saw my 5th bear!!!  
Got to pile on some calories and finally got the pie I have been craving (strawberry rhubarb). 

My nieces Katy and Norah Simms asked a good question last week and I owe them an answer here :).  They asked if we have seen any bats and what animals we have seen.  Well, no bats but thousands of chipmunks and squirrels, hundreds of snakes, deer, turkeys, and bears!!!!

It has been a good couple of weeks and and I am excited to see New Hampshire!!!

I have to take an opportunity to thank a lot of people and I apologize in advance if I leave anyone out!

Thank you to all of the Rett families who sent food to us!!  It is very much appreciated!!!

Thank you to Girl Power 2 Cure for your help and support!

Thank you to Tom the retired pastor in Bennington who gave us our first hitch!

Thank you to Paul Beasley for taking time to come up and hike with us!  It was fun to have you with and me (and my wallet) appreciate you feeding Bennett!!

Thank you to David and Vickie Wood for sending supplies and food!!

Thank you to my cousin Craig and his wife Kim for taking care of us as we hike across the northeast!  If any of you are near Surry, NH on a Sunday you should drop in to Beth-El Bible Church. Craig is a wonderful pastor and the congregation is warm and friendly.  Great sermon Craig!

Thank you to David and Melanie Carroll and family for supporting us!

Thank you to my sister Sarah and my mother for coming up to Vermont and bringing supplies and especially for bringing my wife (Vicki). It was absolutely wonderful to have all of you here!!!

A very special thank you to my wife for supporting me and Bennett!!  Without her support there is no way we could do this.  

Thank you for all of the notes of encouragement and all of the thoughts and prayers!!!

Last but not least by any means – thank you Julie Grace Carroll for inspiring us!!!

Please help us fight Rett Syndrome!  If we all pitch in and do what we can a cure can be found for this disease.  Please go to for more information about how you can help. 


Next stop – Vermont!

 Hello from Bascom Lodge atop Mt. Greylock, the highest point in the state of Massachusetts!!! Today is our last day in Massachusetts and we should enter Vermont later today!!! The mountains keep getting bigger from here!!!
The past six days have been eventful and we included our highest mile days! We have been lucky so far about rain but three days ago the day started with rain and ended with a summer thunderstorm! Thankfully the tent performed well and kept the rain out!
We had a stretch of three days where we hiked 51 miles total, including an 18.5 mile day. I think I may be getting my trail legs at last!!!  
We experienced trail magic several times in the past week too! (Trail magic is where you experience some unexpected act of kindness as you hike.). We received some supplies from other hikers who had too much in their resupply package, a guy in Dalton, MA gave us ice-cold water from his cooler, and a couple walking a section of the trail gave us Snickers bars! We also met the “Cookie Lady” who is famous among AT hikers for baking homemade cookies for hikers. We had delicious chocolate chip cookies!!!!!
We got to spend time with family for a day which was wonderful! We also walked through two towns where we took the opportunity to eat some hot food!
We have walked across many, many of these plank walkways that cross swampy or boggy sections of trail. 


 Hard to see them but there are sheep in this pasture! Not something we see everyday at home!


We passed the site of the last battle of Shay’s Rebellion. 

Us at one of the beautiful views in southern Massachusetts.

I have been surprised by the number of ponds and lakes we pass as we hike. 

This was one of my favorite views so far!

We saw this posted at one of the shelters. Needless to say we decided to push on and not stay there!

We don’t get to pass through fields often but we really like them. It’s nice to be in the open and sunshine sometimes.  

Loved this Sunday morning view!


 Lunch as we walked through Dalton, MA!!!




 Follow the white blazes!


We made it to the top of Mt. Greylock!




 The view and sunset from Mt. Greylock!

I thought I would share a couple of things about trail life here too:

Each shelter or campsite has a register where hikers can (and should) sign in. These are really useful to other hikers because you can get information about water availability, wildlife activity, or trail conditions. They also help if a hiker is missing because you can go to the last place they signed in and start looking for them from there! Some hikers sign in with brief notes (like we did in this one) and others write long journal-like entries and even include artwork.
 Most shelters and campsites include one of these. Trust me, I have a new appreciation for indoor plumbing!

It has been an amazing journey so far and there is much more to come. I am thankful for all the thoughts and prayers as we continue the Hike for Julie!!! Please help find a cure for Rett Syndrome. Go to or for more information!