Psalm 136: 1-3 “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of Lord’s. His love endures forever.”

I have been safely home for about two weeks now. I’ve mostly relaxed and fulfilled a promise to myself that I would do the CPT (Couch Potato Trail), which has led to a lot of time reflecting back on my AT thru hike.

I know that I would not have completed the trail if it had not been for so many people that supported my efforts through help, encouragement, and especially prayer. I also know that God answered those prayers!

I am thankful for literally hundreds of you that faithfully prayed for me and the Chaplaincy. Most of you, I have not personally met, but one day hope to. Many reported that their church, Sunday School class, or prayer group also prayed for me.

I’m thankful that my wife Marty, went from calling me “crazy’ for wanting to do the trail to being my biggest supporter! Thanks to all of my family and friends for your support and encouragement.

Thanks to the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church for trusting me to carry out the mission of this unique ministry and thanks to the Chaplaincy Board members that gave me total support.

Thank You to all the friends of the Chaplaincy that fed me, let me stay in their homes, gave me transportation, took me to the ER, and even washed my clothes or allowed me to wash my clothes.

Thank you to all the Trail Angels along the way. Not many of you will be reading this, but my thanks to you will be to return trail magic in the years to come.

By the way, I hear that Board Members have conducted interviews for the 2020 AT Chaplain. I can’t wait to hear who they have chosen!!

Thank you all!!!!

Mt. Katahdin from Abol Bridge

Taken at the base of Mt. Washington


Miles Completed: 2192

Miles to go: 0

Location: Headed for home (Opelika, Alabama)

After finally completing this incredible journey I have been pondering whether the cost of the journey was worth the result.

The cost includes the financial cost, which I was very fortunate to have the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church to fund most of the journey. The biggest cost to me was being away from family and friends. There are so many people I want to see, asap. The cost also includes weight loss (which is a positive). However, I have had many blisters on the tops of my toes resulting in the loss of 4 toenails, and too many cuts, scrapes, and bruises to count. I developed trigger finger in 2 fingers. I had bruised ribs from one of my falls, which have totally healed. I have swelling between the lower knuckle and the little finger of my left hand. I also developed a hernia. The final cost was missing out on some prime fishin’.

Back to being worth the cost. ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


John 19: 28-30

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty”. A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus lips. When he had received the drink Jesus said, “IT IS FINISHED.”

Please note that in NO WAY am I inferring that the cost of my journey compares to the pain, suffering, and humiliation that Jesus endured for us! Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing can compare to the depth of his love for us in order to bring us into his heavenly kingdom!

Pastor Stephen Dean and his wife Glenna on each end. Co-founder of the Chaplaincy Pastor Alan Ashworth and his wife Mary in the middle. Stephen completed an AT thru hike in 1996 and then became a pastor. Steven and Glenna brought me my resupply in the Hundred Mile Wilderness along with trail magic for around 40 hikers. Alan and I were blessed to speak at Stephen’s 2 churches and were treated to a delicious pot luck.

Alan working his way down from Mt.


I ran across a Trail Maintainer re-painting white blazes. He was surprised that I asked to paint one.

Sign posted at one of Stephen’s churches.

Alan and I shaking hands at the summit of Mt. Katahdin.



Location: Stratton, Maine

Miles Completed: 2004

Miles to Go: 188

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his riches in glory.

Hikers on the AT either use 2 hiking (trekking) poles (sticks), one hiking pole, or none at all. I use two. They are used to prevent falls and to take pressure off of your knees.

Other hikers can hear me as I go down the trail because I pound my sticks into the ground. The result of this pounding is the development of trigger finger on two fingers, and the need for FOUR sets of sticks.

Some hikers say, “the trail always provides”. I agree with Philippians, God meets all my needs.

My first set of sticks broke as my son D.J.was finishing up spending 10 days on the trail with me. He gave his sticks to me. After a while I broke one of those. The day after it was broken, I found a set in a Hiker box. Businesses along the trail set up boxes in their business that hikers leave for other hikers. I soon wore these sticks out, too. A Hiker friend that was leaving the trail to attend his son’s wedding gave me his sticks because he wanted to buy new ones. As he handed me his two sticks, another hiker friend asked if he could have the remaining good stick that I was about to place in a Hiker box.

In talking of prayer with another hiker, I explained that we do not have a candy store God. However, God does like us to make our request for our needs, and sometimes he surprises us with things beyond our needs. He loves us more than we can understand!

Fall is fast approaching in Maine

Friends of the Chaplaincy, Chuck and Cindy Martindale put up with me for three nights. They are now friends for life! What a wonderful couple these two are!!!

Rock scramble under, around, and through Mahoosic Notch. This is considered the most difficult and the most fun mile of the AT. I agree!

A friend on part of Mahoosic. Notice that he carries one stick. His stick is natural wood and not manufactured.

Caretaker of 4 shelters, Tigger (thru hiker 2017), helped me get to town to meet Chuck and Cindy after an injury at Mahoosic Notch. Yes. Thanks to Tigger, Chuck, Cindy, and all of you that are praying for me. I am ok, and ready to complete the last 188 miles.


Location: Lincoln, New HampshireMile: 1820Miles to go: 372Psalm 116: 6-9 The LORD protects the simple hearted; when I was in great trouble he saved me. Be at rest once more my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. That I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.When walking 15-18 miles day after day, it’s inevitable that falls will occur. I have had more than my share of falls. Just this past week, I fell 8 times! Most of my falls are just my feet slipping out from under me and I land on my bottom, or on the bottom of my backpack. This past week, while going down Mount Moosilauke, I fell face forward landing between two large stones and forward rolled into trees and bushes. Thanks be to God! I only had a skinned knee and a bruised ego.Lord Jesus, I thank you that you are protecting me physically! I thank you that you have saved me spiritually! I thank you that you are protecting me emotionally. I thank you that you are there to walk with me every day.1800 milesMy hat almost blew off from the strong wind blowing.Steel rings hammered into the rock to assist with the steep climb.Vermont/New Hampshire borderI’ve reached the Whites.

Heavenly Sunshine

Location: Manchester Center, Vermont

Mile: 1652

Miles to go: 540

“Heavenly Sunshine, Heavenly Sunshine! Flooding my soul with glory Divine! Heavenly Sunshine, Heavenly Sunshine, Hallelujah Jesus is mine.”

While hiking this week, this hymm that I can remember from my early childhood, came flooding back to memory. This hymm describes my mood as I am feeling refreshed physically, mentally, and spiritually, due to the answered prayers of so many wonderful people. I can’t wait to see so many places between here and Katahdin, Maine that I have heard and read about. As my Grandmother used to say, “Thank You, Thank You, Thank You”!

Another thing that helped to rejuvenate me was to spend a little time at New Hope United Methodist Church of North Adams, Massachusetts. My hiking buddy and I spent the night in their extra parsonage, and were invited to speak at their children’s Ready Set Serve program. As I continue to be bombarded with kindness from total strangers along my journey, it was easy to speak to their project S.P.A.R.K. (Seeing People And Responding With Kindness).

Project S.P.A.R.K

I didn’t get to personally meet this superhero, but he favors Pastor Dan Randall. Pastor Dan, 10 year old daughter Ceara, and 9 year old son Caleb treated us to a delicious breakfast at a local restaurant. We later got to meet Dan’s wife, Pastor Courtney, and their 2 and a half year old son Caden.

It’s been quite a while since I rode a bike, but was loaned one to ride into town to resupply.

I woke up early enough to climb a firetower for sunrise.


Location: Dalton, Massachusetts

Mile: 1572

Miles to go: 620

Matthew 11:28-29

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”.

I have slammed into the proverbial brick wall!! I have reached a level of exaustion that I have seldom known. Mile after mile of walking and not getting adequate rest and caloric intake has depleted all my energy.

For the first time in this journey, I have considered calling it quits! However, I have heard over and over again, “fatigue almost always occurs to everyone attempting an AT thru- hike” and, “before quitting slow down, quit concentrating on daily miles completed, and take some days off”.

So, I am doing the above, and I am handing this burden over to the Lord! He has promised to give me rest for my soul. I love the word picture of Psalms 23: 2-3, as it says “He MAKES ME (my emphasis) lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul….”

Please be in prayer for me as I finish the last 620 miles. Pray that I get the needed rest along the way and that I allow the Lord to refresh my body, my mind, and my spirit.

When a Hiker drops something on the trail, the next Hiker hangs the item in a tree in hopes that the rightful owner finds it. I found this hat and took the pic as a way of telling my daughter-in-law “Happy Birthday Pretty Girl!!” And yes, I placed the hat back in the tree.

“Blueberry” Minta Ray, the blueberries are plentiful! I eat some every day

Massachusetts has some views, but what I have loved the most are the forest with very large towering trees.

Enlarge this pic and you will see a very large bear standing on the trail looking right at me and making sure that I know that he is the boss I get it!! I get it!!


Location: Great Barrington, Mass.

Mile: 1523

Miles to go: 670

Romans 12:3 For by grace given me I say to every one of you, Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but think of yourself with sober judgement in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

The AT is often referred to as “the great equalizer”. It does not matter what race or creed, social or financial status, or past accomplishment, all AT hikers have to go step by step to complete the 2,192 mile journey.

My wife, Marty, recently asked me during our nightly phone conversation, how the AT has changed me. I did not have an answer for her at the time, but the question did put me in pondering mode.

I know that I have always been quick to judge people by appearance alone, and being judgemental is rooted in pride and arrogance. As I have made these quick judgements on the AT, I have been proven wrong time after time. The hikers that I previously judged, have been extremely good at skills needed for the AT, and simply just “good people”.

So, now back to my wife’s question on how I have changed, I hope and pray that I am becoming less judgemental and prideful.

Lord Jesus, forgive me for my pride and arrogance. Help me by to love ALL others.

Climbing ladder built into stone boulder.

New Jersey/New York line

Nice to have non-hiker restaurant food.

Yes, there are bears on the trail in New York. Big bears on the trail in New York.

With my hiking buddy “Doc”.


Mile: 1293.8

Location: Delaware Water Gap, Penn.

Miles to Katahdin, Maine: 898.2

Psalm 18:2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliver. My God is my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

“Rocksylvania” has lived up to it’s name among AT hikers as a state filled with rocks. Big, medium, small, and sharp, littered over countless miles on the trail. These rocks bruise feet, twist ankles, and trip hikers as they make their way across 227 miles of Pennsylvania. Hikers have left the trail from injuries or from relentless foot pain.

OnIf anything could make up for the Pennsylvania rocks, it would be the people of Pennsylvania. They have been warm, kind, and generous. Trail magic (often in the form of much needed water, sodas, or gator aid) has been plentiful. In one-day alone, trail magic occurred three times!

Psalm 18:2 is one of my favorite scriptures. In times of stress or trouble, I like to imagine that Christ is like a huge Boulder that I am clinging to.

My feet are currently swollen and painful, but as I plod across “Rocksylvania”, I call to mind Psalm 18:2 and that “the LORD is my rock”.

Lord Jesus, I thank you that you have kept me free from injury. I pray that your peace would be upon those hikers that have left the trail because of injuries or pain. Please protect hikers as they hike across “Rocksylvania”.

Tomorrow, I cross into New Jersey! The rocks don’t stop at the state line, but I hear that they end soon!

Notice the white blaze on the rock about a quarter way down on the right. Yes, these boulders are part of the trail.

Another Boulder scramble. Notice the blaze o the very too rock.

Using duct tape to repair shoe ripped by the rocks.

Smaller rocks across the trail.

Hiker buddies wanted me to wear a helmet, but then decided that I was too hard headed for the rocks to hurt me in a fall.


March 20, 2019

Mile: 109.4

Location: Franklin, Ga.

Please Read: I Thessalonians 5: 11-18

Verse 11: Therefore encourage one and build each other up, just in fact you are doing.

The Apostle Paul encourages the Thessalonians to build each other up and acknowledges that they are in fact doing so.

As the AT Chaplain, I see this as a duty to encourage and build up other hikers. At the same time, I acknowledge that other hikers constantly encourage me and build me up.

I have quickly learned that the AT hiker world is a distinctive community of people with a common goal. Numerous times each day someone showers me with a gift of encouragement.

Lord Jesus, I pray that I would be as willing to encourage others in their pursuit of you as I am in encouraging others in their pursuit of the Appalachian Trail.

This week, I have completed three small goals; (1) completed Georgia and I am now hiking in North Carolina, (2) passed the 100 mile marker, and (3) completed a twelve mile day.

However, on the larger scope of things, I have 13 more states and 2000 more miles to complete. To prevent injury, I have purposely kept my miles at approximately 8 per day. However, it’s now time to step it up to 10-12 miles daily. At a later date, I will need to increase to 12-18 miles daily.