Obvious Lostness

railway-2439189_1920If I had kept my eyes lifted and looked straight ahead of me, I would never have become lost. But since the sweltering blaze of a blistering midsummer afternoon in August on the A.T. in Pennsylvania kept my head down — literally — I must have missed the turn.

Time has wilted with my motivation. A long roadwork through a dusty valley seemed at first an easy endeavor. An early start to beat the rising sun, to outrun its zenith, was the intention. Never made it. Lots of “cameling up” kept me alive, but pouring sweat and drenching humidity did their evil best to sap my energy. Despite many stops to rest in what shade I could find, I ended up in a late afternoon slog. The white blazes had directed me through some newly sown fields and alongside a two-lane asphalt road, now redolent with the smell of cooked tar clogging my nostrils.

Over an hour I had stashed my topographic map. Who needed in on flat roads which were well blazed and a route which was obvious?

Parched, I dipped my bandana in a trickle of dirty brown water and situated in on my neck to cool down. My breath was labored in the thick air. I wiped sweat from my brown, the bill of my ball cap soaked through. I noticed another clear turn and ended up on a shady unused railroad grade. I felt a bit more energetic and my pace quickened. Before I realized it I had covered another mile or two at least. But what tipped me off to trouble was the time; by now I should be leaving the valley to climb to a ridgeline where I would descend the other side to a cool, shaded campsite.

I stopped along the graded path and fetched my map. Nothing indicated rail line, used or not. I had decided a compass was unnecessary. My keen sense of direction said I was a fool headed East. I paid attention.

That’s when my newly recaptured attention noticed something else. I looked ahead and turned to look back. No white blazes on tree or stone. I walked ahead five minutes; no blaze. I headed back. No blazes.

I was lost.

Frustration settled in. I had never, ever become lost before. Not in the wilds of Vermont of upper Maine, not in the southern Appalachians. Nowhere. But here, where one would least expect it, it had happened. I had not been paying attention and had become mislocated.

Long story short; by the time I followed the railway grade to a road and hiked another few hours, I rediscovered the Appalachian Trail crossing.

mountain-727449_1280A long, tough, hot climb — already exhausted — I fell into the campsite nearly at sunset and had just enough energy to pitch my tent before a late summer storm deluged me with thunder, lightning, and plenty of warm rain.

Later, after the storm blew itself out, I calculated my day. I should have ended up backpacking only nine miles. I had completed…twenty-two! It was the longest day of backpacking I had ever undertaken. Unintentionally, of course.

Simple lesson learned through misery: always keep your head up! Never assume you won’t require a compass check. And don’t assume that walking such a well-blazed trail as the A.T. means you can’t get lost!
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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Decision making, Goals, Hiking, lost, Outdoor skills, outdoors, risk

7 Posts From My Archives Every Anticipating AT Hiker Should Read

Stubbs offers some fascinating and worthwhile advice on how to increase your chances of enjoying a successful Appalachian Trail backpacking adventure!

Stubbs Rambles On

Hello readers! My apologies for my total lack of new content lately, especially on trail life. I’ve been tied up in the “real world” trying to get my life back on track after my injury, and I’ve also been in the process of getting back to work. It’s about that time of year when expectant thru hikers and section hikers are about to get the show on the road, and are wrapping up on that last minute planning and preparation. I aim to kick out some more hiking content in the coming weeks, but until then, I’ve put together a wrap up of some of my archived posts that I thought are worth a read if you’re still concerned or confused about things. All of these posts can also be found on “The Trek” blog, which I used to write for.


1) Happy Feet: Your Guide to Not Having Angry…

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Filed under Adventure, Adversity, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camping, Dreams, Hiking, Long distance backpacking, outdoors, Transformation

Top Ten Fire Starters — ON TARGET in CANADA

Follow our FISHING BLOG WEBSITE RATES FISH HUNT CABINS PHOTOS TESTIMONIALS BROCHURE HUNT BOOKLET

via Top Ten Fire Starters — ON TARGET in CANADA

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7 Reasons Thru Hikes Fail and How to Prevent Defeat

Stubbs provides great insight and wisdom which is crucial to upping your odds for a successful Appalachian Trail hike.

Stubbs Rambles On

Originally posted on The Trek on January 17th, 2017

There are numerous reasons why people quit their thru-hike, and some of them are preventable. Here are several examples of reasons why people fail their thru hike attempt and how they can be avoided.


1) A Negative Mindset

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I met a hiker in the beginning who was extremely negative about EVERYTHING under the sun (Including the sun, actually). You would try to help guide her into thinking about things on the bright side and she would find a way to turn it around in hopes of making you feel bad for her entirely hopeless situation.

Prevention: A bad mindset when you’re constantly in a funk about everything will force you off trail as early as day one (unless you’re as stubborn as the hiker I just described).

  • Think Positive – The key is to try to rewire yourself to become more positive…

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Filed under Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Outdoor sports, outdoors, The Appalachian Trail, Writing

How old is too old to thru-hike the A.T.? The Grey Bear Adventurer has your answer!

Dale on the Trail – The Oldest Man to Ever Thru-Hike the Appalachian Trail 2017 from Adventureitus Productions on Vimeo.

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Filed under A.T., Adventure, aging, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Courage, Hiking, outdoors, seniors

Peaks and Valleys: A 30 mile GSMNP Loop

Thanks to Ryan for taking us on a peaks and valleys trek of the Smokies. It’s great seeing this park from a different perspective!

Ryan M. Ignatius

Much like life, I believe the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) is best understood and appreciated only after both the peaks and valleys have been explored.

The Park’s high country along the Appalachian Trail offers spectacular views and miles of knife’s edge ridgewalking.  However, the lesser known (and lower elevation) trails explore the Park’s vastness, with massive trees, huge creeks, and large mammals (bears and boars) that dwarf the hiker.

We chose a nice weekend loop that offered a taste of everything.  Let’s get walking!

07-IMG_8885 Me, my brother in law Dylan, and close friend Jonathon on the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP).  As you can see, we’re pretty tough dudes, so the wild boar we stumbled upon in the Park absolutely made the right choice to just keep walking.  April 2017.

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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camping, Great Smoky Mountains, Hiking, outdoors, Weather

Y’all come sit by the fire now…it’s story time! (Tales, Poems, and Songs for the Appalachian Trail Hiker)

What’s a hike along the Appalachian Trail without a good fireside tale?  Let Robert W. Service (1874-1958), known as “the Bard of the Yukon,” warm your bones with this classic chiller poem “The Cremation of Sam McGee.

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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camping, Fear, Hiking, Long distance backpacking, outdoors, Poetry, stories