I told you so…

Well, I am less than a week away from when I was supposed to start my 300 mile section hike on the A.T.  It was hard to cancel the trip that was going through PA, NJ, NY and CT.  But today the CDC issued a warning for the area.

CDC Warning

It sure looks like I made the right call.  Instead I’ve been on point for the past 2 weeks in the COVID-19 battle in St Louis.  It’s OK though, I signed up for this…

Time will say nothing but I told you so, Time only knows the price we have to pay; If I could tell you I would let you know. – W. H. Auden

Coronavirus and the A.T.

Things sure have changed since my last post. I was here getting all ready to go back for my next section and the country blew up with Covid-19! After a lot of deliberation and watching the ever changing situation evolve, I have decided to postpone my section hike that was due to start in a little over 2 weeks. Utilizing multiple modes of transportation to get to and from the trail, visiting hostels / hotels and hiking through the most populated region of the Appalachian Trail just posed too much of a risk. Instead, I’m looking at a 100+ mile section hike on the Ozark Trail here in Missouri. The start date will likely be mid-April. I’ll be hiking the Taum Sauk, Trace Creek and Courtois setons of the trail. More details to follow…

If you’re interested in how I expect the Coronavirus Pandemic to affect hiking on the Appalachian Trail, I posted a video today: Puffin’s Covid-19 YouTube video

Failed plans should not be interpreted as a failed vision. Visions don’t change, they are only refined. Plans rarely stay the same, and are scrapped or adjusted as needed. Be stubborn about the vision, but flexible with your plan. – John C. Maxwell

Remembering the trail…

I thought it would be worthwhile, for me at least, to remember the sections of the A.T. that I’ve done so far. I’ve been reviewing my blog posts recently and that’s brought back at lot of nice memories. So, here we go:


Section #1
Harpers Ferry, WV to Daleville, VA
June-July 2015
295 miles  28 days (1 zero)  Avg 10.5 mi/day
Most memorable day:  My first day on the trail.  It rained like stink but I was bound and determined to get going on the trail.  I hiked NOBO from Bears Den to the Blackburn Trail Center with my brother in-law.  I bet he thought I was totally nuts!
Best day:  Hike into Skyland in Shenandoah National Park.  Summited Mary’s Rock, the Pinnacle and Old Stony Man all in the same day.  Booked a cabin that evening for a zero the next day.  Ate blackberry cobbler at the restaurant too!  After Skyland I felt like I belonged on the trail and haven’t looked back.


Puffin with Jeff Wingard – Day #1 of AT hike


Blackberry Cobbler at Skyland


Section #2
Hanover, NH to Great Barrington, MA
August 2015
218 miles  21 days (2 zeros)  Avg 10.4 mi/day
Most memorable day:  Hiking into N Adams, Mass.  I hiked with Wildcat for part of the day as we finished off Vermont.  We ran into Dixie and I couldn’t believe someone like her was hiking the trail.  Little did I know how famous she would become!
Best day:  Hiking out of N Adams, Mass. After spending my zero day with my brother Nat,  I hiked down off the summit of Mount Graylock all the way to Dalton, Mass.  I found Wildcat again and we ate an awesome meal at the local pub.


Dixie before she was famous


Puffin on top of Mount Graylock                     (Still not famous)

Section #3
Great Barrington, MA to Great Barrington, MA
July 2016
7 miles  2 days (No zeros)  Avg NAappalachian-trail-2016
Most memorable day:  It was hotter than stink when I left Tom Leonard shelter before 7 am on Day #2.  I couldn’t to sleep in the shelter overnight and ended up getting up in the middle of the night to set up my hammock.  I hiked about 5 miles in the heat, fell once, broke a trekking pole and had a trail side cat hole accident, which I won’t discuss further.  When I ran into a NOBO hiker he told me that he hadn’t seen any water for many miles.  I only had 1 liter with me, so I took the bus to Albany, flew to BWI and visited Betsy at the beach!  My hiking plans for 2016 were a bust…
Best day:  On my first day, the 2 mile uphill hike to the shelter was manageable and it felt nice to be back on the trail.


White Blaze in Mass

Section #4
Harpers Ferry, WV to Duncannon, PA
March 2017
124 miles  10 days (No zeros)  Avg 12.4 mi/dayappalachian-trail-2017
Most memorable day:  Hiking in the rain and the cold weather.  I finally felt like I had adjusted to the elements and managed just fine.
Best day:  Slack packing from Pine Grove Furnace to Trail of Hope Hostel.  The weather was beautiful and it was my first 20 mile day on the AT!


Hiking in the rain


Half Way Point in PA

Section #5
Duncannon, PA to Port Clinton, PA
June-July 2018
69 miles  6 days (No zeros)  Avg 11.5 mi/dayAT2018
Most memorable day:  OMG What a storm!  There were 6 inches of rain in 2 1/2 hours overnight.  I stayed dry under my hammock, the the trail was flooded out the next day.  Several of us spent most of the day finding ways around flooded out sections of trail.
Best day:  Day #1, I hiked up to the ridge from Duncannon and camped overlooking Harrisburg, PA.  It was a very pretty night.


Flooded out trail


Overlooking PA

Section #6
Daleville, VA to Damascus, VA
May 2019
259 miles  23 days (2 zeros)  Avg 11.3 mi/dayAT 2019
Most memorable day:  Slack packing from the Dragon’s Tooth back to Jake and Christie’s place for the night.  The sights were great and the second part of the hike was some of the best trail I’ve done.  This was all in spite of pouring rain!
Best day:  Hiking through Grayson Highlands to Mount Rodgers.  It’s just an epic part of the trail.


Puffin at Dragon’s Tooth


Ponies at Grayson Highlands

So that’s it.  Six section hikes over 5 years, totaling about 975 miles on the Appalachian appalachian-trail-2020Trail.  I’m not expecting this next section to be particularly beautiful or memorable.  It’s going to be all about the challenge of getting 300+ miles done and hooking up all of the above sections.  If it goes as planned, I will have done from Hanover, NH to Damascus, VA.  1,280 miles!


No dream is too big. No challenge is too great. Nothing we want for our future is beyond our reach. – Donald Trump


I’ve started Vlogging!

As promised, I’m getting set up to do a video blog this hiking season. I’ve got a few videos on my YouTube channel now, so check it out at: Puffins Hike YouTube Channel

The first few videos talk about some memorable experiences in my first few years on the trail and there’s also information about my hammock set-up. Don’t forget to subscribe to the channel if you want to keep track!

Hammock Suspension Set-up

Oh, I forgot to mention that the first casualty of the hiking season has already happened. A thru hiker who started a week ago went missing on the AT approach trail in Amicalola State Park. His body was found Wednesday. The cause of death is not yet determined. Wow!

Eddie Noonkester

45 days until I’m back on the trail!

“After a day’s walk, everything has twice its usual value.” – G.M. Trevelyan