Photo illustration courtesy of Brenda Crenshaw

October 1, 2008
James Davis reaches Baxter Peak at Katahdin, Mountain to complete his 2,176.2 mile walking journey on the Appalachian Trail! CONGRATULATIONS JAMES (Brushstrokes)

September 11, 2008
Hiked 13 miles over Big Blue. Very hard hiking. I am exhausted. Going to try to go 13 miles tomorrow into Rangeley, Maine. That will leave only 220 miles to go. Maine has been the toughest so far.

September 9, 2008
Left at 6 a.m. this morning, cold rain all day.  We did not hike too far today with the miserable weather. We are at Ella’s Hostel in Andover, Maine. Hopefully, it will clear up tomorrow so we can make so  more miles. Cell phone is limited.

September 8, 2008
Left Spect Pond Shelter and went over the Arm and the Eyebrower today - raining and windy and cold. Climbed on all fours. These mountains are dangerous and tougher than the Whites. Have to watch every step you take. Went about 7 miles today and hitched a ride to Bethel, Maine. Taking a nero day to heal up, took a fall and my body needs some rest. Serene has a terrible cold and needs to rest.

September 4, 2008
I survived the Whites.  Making a charge to the Maine border this weekend—only 297 miles left.  I climbed 2800 feet straight up out of Carter Hut, left about 8:00 a.m.  I arrived in Gorham, NH early evening. Whites were amazing—hard climbs but beautiful scenery.

September 2, 2008
I am here!!  Standing on top of Mt. Washington at 11 am.  Views are incredible!  Can see 100 miles in every direction.  Weather is beautiful, cool at 40 degrees – 40 to 50 mile an hour winds.  We had to hold up and wait a day to climb this monster; but I am so glad we did.  I am truly enjoying Mt. Washington.  Now to go down – 5 miles heading to Madison Hut. I arrived at Madison Hut about 5 p.m., hungry and tired.  But feeling good – had such a great day!!  The sunset tonight is lavender and peach with purple mountains – taking my breath away.  It is like walking across a canvas. The Whites have taken my breath away—iterally by climbing and their amazing views.

August 26, 2008
Serene and I hiked over 9 miles up 5,200 feet.  The views were absolutely amazing.  This climb was the most spectacular and scary that I have had on the trail.  It was thrilling and full adventure – I love the Whites.  Late afternoon the weather started to turn, the wind blew so hard that I had to use my poles so I would not be blown over.  The fog came in and cold winds.  We decided that 9 miles was enough and went to Greenleaf Hut to spend the night.  This hut costs $66, has no heat, a communal shower – New England has been expensive.  I look forward to getting up tomorrow and back into the Whites – I am pumped!

August 24, 2008
It been about 5 days that I have been in the Whites.  No cell phone coverage.  Serene & I have been doing 15 to 18 mile days, going from 5 am till dark.  The weather has been good so we take advantage of these sunny days.  Nights are cold. The hostel we are in is a dome tent with cots in it.  The shower and privy is out doors.  Not much around these neck of the woods.  We are hoping to be in Maine - yes, Maine - by September 1.  It is so hard to believe that we are almost there.  We are tired but very excited. In Maine, we must prepare for 11 days with no food stops - so we will be carrying a lot of food - heavy pack.  The scenery in New Hampshire has been breathtaking. 
Only 350 miles to go  -  should take no time at all..........

August 16, 2008
Up from the loft of the barn early today. Sure enjoyed the beauty of the end of Vermont.  Got to Hanover early afternoon. What a great college town this is.  I am definitely coming back here.  Got a free piece of pizza at Roma Bitsies and it was really good.  Went to the outfitters and got a new pair of boots. A stick went through my boot today and I literally had no shoe left.  That pair went over 700 miles.  I think the rest of my equipment will last for the remaining 442 miles. There is a hostel here that Serene and I will stay tonight

August 15, 2008
Only 11 miles today. I enjoyed the hike today as it was sunny. I am still excited about getting to New Hamshire.  We slept in a farmer's barn in the loft tonight. He was so nice.

August 6-14, 2008
So sorry for no entries for 1 week.  Mission Control has had a lot going on at Home Base.  Vermont has just been a mud slide.  Every day into mud 4 to 5 inches deep.  Really makes your legs tired.  And it seems that it has rained nearly every day.  All I remember in the last week is being cold and wet.  I am so glad Mission Control sent my jacket back to me before I started into Vermont.  Serene and I have decided we will hike the rest of the way together.  My birthday is Sept 14 and Serene's birthday is Sept 19.  Our hope and wish when starting this journey was to arrive on Katahdin on our birthdays or very close to it.  We will both turn 60 in September.  We have done some 135 miles in 7 days—all long days and late nights and not much sleep.  We have to keep the pace up to make it on our time schedule.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008
At Upper Goose Pond Cabin, breakfast is served; and what a wonderful breakfast—  coffee (good coffee) and pancakes.  I was up at 6 a.m. and eating.  About 11 miles into the hike, I came across the Cookie Lady (that’s what the hikers call her).  She has homemade cookies for the hikers.  Wow!  After more than 20 miles, I reached Dalton, MASS.  A Trail Angel named Tom is fixing me dinner and letting me take a shower and do laundry at his home.  Then I can sleep on the front porch.  A great day of hiking.

Monday, August 04, 2008
Up early and the day is good.  Hiked up and down mountains all day long.  Then the rains came.  I got soaked.  It stopped raining as I got to the shelter—Upper Goose Pond Cabin.  I put all my wet clothes out, hoping they will dry some before I have to put them back on in the morning.  A good hike of 20 miles today.

Sunday August 3, 2008
I hiked 14 miles today to South Egremont, Mass.  I got ice cream at the Corn Crib Restaurant that was right on the trail, what a nice break.  I went by the Shay Rebellion of 1887.  The day was a nice day, but threatened rain.  I had a good day of hiking.  I had some nice views over Massachusetts and took some photos.

Saturday, August 02, 2008
Maria took us to the trail head early this morning.  We hiked about 11 miles and the rains came, pouring down.  So we had to stop earlier than we wanted to.  Major goal attained today—1,503 miles!!!! This is significant to me.  I hiked 11 miles as it rained a cool rain all day.  I arrived at Brassie Brook Lean.  Zephry got off the trail for a few days to visit his son who lives in the area, so Serene and I are hiking together.

Friday, August 01, 2008
I was up at 5:30 and off to the trail head.  The last 3 hours I was coming straight down a mountain with slabs of stone—a dangerous hike today.  I am so glad I made it without any injury, but my body aches all over.  I hiked 20 miles today. I stopped at a Hostel in Salisbury, Conn.  A sweet lady named Maria was the trail angel there.  I am really homesick.

Thursday, July 31, 2008
 The doctor hiked with us today again.  He has invited us to his home again tonight.  I saw a baby eagle in a squeeze today and I took a picture.  It was a slow day over big rocks and over cliffs.  We hiked 13 miles today.  Then we went to the doctor’s house for a shower and out to eat.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008 
After a good night sleep and good food, hiking is so much easier.  Spirit Walker (doctor) is hiking with us today.  We will spend another night at the Spirit Walker’s house tonight.  We went 13 miles today.  The evening was absolutely wonderful—the food was fantastic!  Thank you Spirit Walker for being such a marvelous Trail Angel.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 
Yesterday, I hiked hard to get to Pawling, NY, to meet my good friend, John Domoney.  He lives in Wilmington, NC, and just happened to be visiting in Connecticut.  He came to bring me to lunch.  We had a great time talking and eating.  John took some wonderful pictures. They are in my Trail Shots Photo Gallery.  After lunch I hiked into Wiley Shelter for a total of 18 miles—that’s a pretty good day.
I left Wiley Shelter about 9 am today.  As I left the sign on the Shelter said 724 miles to Kathadin—that made me feel good.
It has stopped raining today, but all is wet and muddy.  The terrain is rough again today.  I bent one of poles yesterday, so I will have to get used to this crooked pole.

Sunday, July 27
It rained all night and all day today.  It was a rough day with rain and up and down rocky mountains, but I made it to Morgan Stewart Shelter wet and okay.  That was about 20 miles for today.  I got in about 7 p.m.  So glad I made it the Shelter, because I have no tent and it is raining.  I already am thinking about getting up in the morning putting on wet socks and wet clothes….ugh!!!!

Saturday, July 26
Started out at 6:00 a.m.  It was nice day, and I hiked 20 miles today.  Successfully climbed Bear Mountain—what a challenge!!  I hiked across the Hudson River. It was just beautiful.  Then another big climb after the Hudson River.  I am tired and happy after a good hiking day.

Friday, July 25, 2008
Up at 5:30 a.m., the rain has finally stopped.  I am so ready to hike today.  I plan to hike about 15 miles today, getting close to Bear Mountain.   About 4 miles up on a mountain, I could see New York City, looked like an enchanted city.  Terrain is still rough, going through "Lemon Squeeze" today. I have to be conservative with water—New York has not been good with water supply.  I stopped at 4:30 at Fingerboard Shelter, and there was no water.  I hiked 14.3 miles today.  Trail Angels Martin and Sally were section hiking.  They came upon me and Serene and Zephry at the Shelter.  They were driving back to the hotel in Arden and offered to take us back….we went!!!  Martin and Sally will bring us back to the trailhead at 6 a.m. on Saturday.  We will load up on water before our hike tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008
It rained all night.  Absolutely everything is wet.  I had to pack up (weight was heavy) and hike in the pouring rain storms—all day long.  It took me over 14 hours to go 12 miles, landing at Arden NY.  Serene, Zephyr and I shared a room at a  motel for the night.  Water is deeper than the bucket on my tent—I could not tent tonight.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The Mayor took me to the trailhead to start out early this morning.  The Mayor cooked another great breakfast.  Thank you Mr. Mayor, I have enjoyed my time with you!  I hiked just over 13 miles today.  I  had to climb most of the day over the mountain using wooden ladders to go straight up the side of the mountain.  There was no water anywhere, so I had to carry 6 liters of water.  Heavy load and horribly hot.  I am now in NY—yes!!!  I had to stop around 4:30 because a big storm was chasing me into the Wildcat Shelter.  I really wanted to do more miles today, but the rains came.

Monday, July 21, 2008
The Mayor of Unionville cooked me a great big breakfast, absolutely delicious.  He then drove me to the trailhead, and I started out early in the morning.  Another hot and humid day, I made good time for the first 11 miles, then I slowed way down – the heat just drained me.  It is still rock after rock.  I have been eating a lot of blueberries this week on the trail. The Mayor had told me if I could go 18.8 miles to Glenwood NJ, he would pick me up there and bring me back to his house for dinner and shower and nice bed.  I made it there by 4:30 p.m.  The Mayor made homemade chicken soup, excellent!  I got a nice shower after a hot day.  The Mayor of Unionville is the Ultimate Trail Angel!!!  He will take me back to the trailhead at Glenwood tomorrow morning.  Then just 4 miles to New York.  I feel good where I am on the hike and feel confident that I will make it to Katahdin by my 60th birthday…September 14.  Mission Control tells me that I must average just over 15 miles per day to make it by September 14.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008
My feet are so sore; they feel like they have been beaten with a hammer.  It took me 2 hours to come down off the mountain.  Today was a long day, but I made it 20.4 miles to Delaware Water Gap, PA.  I plan to stay at a church Hostel tonight.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I hiked 21.8 miles today from Slatington PA to Wind Gap, PA.  It was a very, very hard day. I felt I needed to make up some miles since I took a 0 day yesterday.  The rocks are sharp and jagged; this has been the worst part of the trail.  You have to take one step to make sure the rock is secure before you take the next step. It makes for a long, tedious day.  I now have a blister on the bottom of my foot—first blister.  I am totaled tonight.

Monday, July 14, 2008
The wind and rains were tremendous again today.  I knew I could not attempt to go over Leigh High Gap; it is the most dangerous section of the entire trail.  It scares to me to just to look at it.  It would be crazy and dangerous to go over the wet and slick rock.  So a 0 day for me, staying at the hotel of “sorts” with Zephry and Serene.

Sunday, July 13, 2008
I hiked about 14 miles over Bear Rock, tough hike.  My hips and knees really are hurting.  The winds picked up late afternoon with winds I know were over 50 miles an hour; and I know wind, as I live in Wilmington NC—hurricane capital!!  I knew I could not make it to the next shelter, so I called for a shuttle from Slatington PA, and stayed in a hotel of “sorts”.  I shared a room with 2 other hikers—Zephry and Serene. 

Saturday, July 12, 2008
Brian took me to the trailhead and I hiked 15 miles, tented close to Route 309.

Friday, July 11, 2008
A good friend, Brian, from New Jersey met me to hike a section of the trail.  Brian had been training for this stretch with me.  We hiked 15.2 miles, a fun hike.  We arrived in Port Clinton about 4:30 pm, hiking good and fast today.  We checked into the Hotel, got cleaned up and went to dinner.  We went to an Art Show at the Goggle Factory in Reading, PA with Matt (friend of Brian).  The city has renovated an old Goggle Factory and gives (free) studio space to artists. Reading has become a center for art with a great vision for promoting the arts.  I am going to strongly consider moving to Reading to be part of this center.  We then went to a Gaelic concert (Burns and Neals, cloggers from Nova Scotia) in an amphitheatre in Reading.  It was just the best night.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 
I tented last night as the shelter was not in very good shape.  The rain stopped in the evening; but I was wet all night from the full day of rain.  I met a section hiker yesterday—Home Slice, a manager with GM who lives in PA.  He stayed at the shelter last night.
I left early this morning and hiked about 5 miles with Home Slice to where he had parked his car.  He took me into town to Wendy’s for lunch—it tasted so, so good.  Thank you, Home Slice.

It was a very tough trail today, so many rocks.  My feet are taking a punishment. It is not raining today; but my clothes are still wet from yesterday.  I have went through 20 pairs of socks, 8 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, 3 pairs of shoes and 4 back packs.  I am in need of clothes badly.  I hope to go to an outfitters in Hamburg, PA. I stopped at the 501 Shelter tonight.  Weather is to be stormy tonight and all day tomorrow.  Mileage for today is almost 18 miles.

Monday, July 7, 2008 
The rain started just as I was leaving Peters Mountain Shelter at 6 a.m.  It rained all day making the rocks very slick.  My slow pace today made for a long day.
I have seen 3 different bears, big monster bears.  At different times, one would pop out on me right on the trail  Only 1 of the 3 was a bit aggressive.  I hope to make it 17.8 miles today, stopping at Raush Gap Shelter for the night. 
Sunday, July 6, 2008
I left from Clarks Ferry Shelter this morning.  A rainy and very cloudy day.   The rocks are massive today, I hope my shoes make it through Pennsylvania.  I got some Trail Magic early this evening.  There was a cabin on the side of the hill. Two couples there invited me into their cabin.  They fixed me a big roast beef sandwich and gave me a beer and filled up water bottles for me.  They asked me to sign the Patriot Newspaper article in which I was quoted.  Such nice people—a big Thank You!!!   They now will follow me on  I got to Peters Mountain Shelter about 6 pm.  I was just beat, did my chores and went straight to sleep.  Only hiked 11 miles today.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
I stayed in Duncannon today to enjoy the “hiker feed”.  A pig was roasted and served with all the trimmings.  We, hikers, can eat a lot.  Plates were piled up—seconds and thirds were the name of the game.  I need a full day off the trail as my shins are black and hurt terribly; so 0 miles today.  So great to see and talk to all the hikers as they all came in for this “feed”.

Thursday, July 3, 2008
Left Alec Kennedy Shelter at 5:30 a.m., it's  nice to get a start on the day so early while the morning is fresh.  I was looking forward to going into Boiling Springs for breakfast as it is only a 3 mile hike and is on the trail.  Well, I got into Boiling Springs, I asked a lady where I could get breakfast and she said “no where”.  I could not believe it, so I asked her again.  She said that there was a diner downtown that opens around 9.  I thought I am here, I am going to that diner.  Well, she was right.  I got there about 8:15 am, the sign on the door said “To Open 9ish”.  I waited and it finally opened at 9:20.  They really did not have “breakfast” items; but I got some good coffee and an egg sandwich.  I stopped at a general store to resupply—prices were outrageous!  I do not recommend stopping at this town.  I had a good hike of 18.1 miles today.  I came into Darlington Shelter about 5:30 pm.  Within 30 minutes, it was storming and pouring the rain.  Thank heavens for these shelters.  I am right on schedule—my schedule to be in Duncannon on Fourth of July.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008
I left Deer Lick Shelter at 5:30 a.m..  The rains had stopped and the morning was fresh.  I hiked a little more than 18 miles today and stopped at 1 p.m. in Pine Furnace PA.  I had heard about a Hostel there that is full of history and a great place to stay—Iron Masters Mansion.  Ironmaster's Mansion was built in 1829 as the home of the ironmaster of the Pine Grove Furnace Ironworks. The ironworks manufactured cannonballs during the Revolutionary War and the hostel was a stop on the Underground Railroad for sheltering runaway slaves.  It is an official National Historical Preservation site. I stayed in the bunk house, though it cost $22, but includes laundry and a hot shower.  I had not eaten since last night so I went to the Pine Grove Store (next to the hostel) and got two hot dogs, chips and a coke, then another coke and then an ice cream cone.  Other hikers started coming in.  The owner of the Store asked if we were ready for the “Ice Cream Challenge”—to eat a gallon of ice cream.  I was definitely in.  I ate it all and got a wooden spoon with “Winner of the Ice Cream Challenge” on it.  Also a newspaper fellow was there from Duncannon, PA, doing a story on the Ice Cream Challenge.  He interviewed me and took some pics; the story is to be in Friday’s copy of the Duncannon newspaper.  What a fun day!  I stocked up at the market, did my laundry and planned my trip to arrive in Duncannon on Fourth of July.  This is a special holiday for me because my son, Jeff, was born on this holiday.

Monday, June 30, 2008
It was another hot and muggy day as I left Deer Lick Shelter.  I found a blackberry patch, nice big luscious ones.  It was a nice lunch.  Most of the day I had my head down, trying to get some miles in.  All I have seen is rock.  I think my feet have been rearranged.  I moved fast all day with a storm behind me.  I just beat the storm – by only 5 miles as I reached Birch Run Shelter.  Another night of heavy rains.  Thank goodness for these shelters.  There were lots of hikers here tonight – full house with hikers:  Peregine, Zephry, Ravon, Bearbait, EZDoes It, Slow Train, Tetris, Poppins, August, Cayene and Tailgate.  Miles 15.8.

Sunday, June 29, 2008
I went to church with Bill and Amy who are Sunday School teachers – such a nice young couple.  The church was like the church I attend at home—The Rock.  I truly enjoyed the worship music and the sermon.  Bill and Amy took me back to the trail head at noon time.  After the storms, the day was hot and muggy.  I hiked 5 miles to Deer Lick Shelter till the storms came again and forced me to stop at this shelter.  It rained – heavy rains and bad storms all night.  I was so glad I stayed at this shelter.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
I left Ensign Cowall Shelter about 7:30 am, knowing I was facing Devils Racecourse today.  It is named appropriately, it was a racecourse designed by the devil.  Very tough climb and hike today.  In early evening, I could hear tornado warning horns; so I picked up my pace trying to get to a shelter.  It was dark and very windy.  There upon my trail were Bill and Amy— trail angels – truly angels.  They knew I was out here and had come to get me and other hikers because of the tornado warning.  They took us to the fire station where we stayed in the shelter there till the tornado passed.  Bill and Amy then took us to their home, and we slept in the basement.  I had met Bill and Amy a few days back when a hiker was injured on the trail.  The hiker had called already called for help when I came upon him.  I went down the trail to meet Bill and Amy who were coming to take him for medical attention.  Mileage 9.6.

Thursday, June 26, 2008
I did not leave hostel till after 10 a.m. because I was watching the weather as severe storms were forecasted.  I crossed into Maryland around 2 p.m.  It sure feels good to go from one state to another.  I am hiking right ahead of a big storm.  I had to keep moving.  I hiked 12 miles, arriving at Crampton Gap Shelter about 5:30.  Because of the bugs, I tented instead of staying in the Shelter.

Monday, June 23, 2008
Then up early on Monday to hike some more.  Tim & Woody decided it was beer time so they left me about noon time.  I wanted to get some miles in today so I kept going.  They picked me up in the evening and drove me to the Bears Den Hostel.  What a nice place the Bears Den is.  Tim & Woody went on home from there.  I truly enjoyed having my friends with me.  Especially after the Virginia blues - recommend to all hikers to have friends meet you around this spot.

Sunday, June 22, 2008
My friends, Tim and Woody, are taking me to an Urgent Care today because my ribs are still hurting from my fall 3 weeks ago.  The doctor at Urgent Care sent me to the hospital to get an x-ray.  This took all kinds of time  so we did not get on the trail till afternoon. 
Saturday, June 21, 2008
I was the only one in the shelter (3 sides) last night. The animals in the Shennadohs are not afraid of people.  A large beautiful doe walked in last night, looked at me and walked out.  I left at daybreak this morning.  I made it to the Wayside at 11 a.m.  I called my friend, Tim, he was less then one hour from me.  We both made great time.  As I was walking the trail this morning, a rattle snake shot out and bit my hiking pole - the quickness of that snake - scared me.  I am so fortunate that he did not get my foot.  These poles are good for protection also.
I want to thank all of you who email me with such encouraging words.  It means so very much to me.  I have had the "Virginia" blues, I see so few people.  These emails pick me up, giving me the desire to keeping on hiking.  Especially those from my son, Jeff.

I am really excited.  My friend Tim from Wilmington NC and my friend Woody from West Virginia are meeting me today to hike some of the trail.  It was not as easy as we thought to meet up.  Tim's map was different from my map so it was early evening before we got together.  We made it!  We went to Woody's house for a great steak dinner and comfy bed.  We celebrated Woody’s birthday—met lots of great people.
At first Tim & Woody that this was loads of fun; then came the mountain to climb with rocks all over the place.  They were huffing & puffing - drinking lots of water.  We had a good time being together and taking pics.  We went to a motel for the night and had a nice dinner.  It has been great to be with friends!

Friday, June 20, 2008
Last night I stayed at Pass Mountain Hut.  The rain and hail pounded the shelter roof.  I am so glad I stayed here.
I hiked 13.1 miles today to Gravel Springs Hut.  I saw 4 bears today.  One bear was standing in the trail; I put my hiking sticks up in the air and shook them at the bear, the bear just looked at me and moved down the trail. 
About 2 more miles down the trail was commotion in the trees.  I looked over and there was a mother bear with 2 cubs in the top of the tree eating berries.  I knew to move on down the trail – don’t want to mess with a mother and her cubs.
It is still cold and rainy today.  I plan to leave early tomorrow morning to get to the Compton Gap where I will meet my friend, Tim from Wilmington.  Tim drove up from Wilmington to hike with me this weekend.  I am really looking forward to seeing and visiting with him.  We are planning to eat steak tomorrow night.

Monday, June 16, 2008
Day of heavy rain, cold rain and high winds.  Tornado warnings out.  Very tought hike.  Finally made it to Blackrock Hut about 9 p.m.; but the shelter was full so I had to pay $20 to tent in the rain.  I am soaking wet and cold.  Only good thing I went over 900 miles today.
May 29, 2008 
Yesterday, I fell twice coming down off the face of Dragon’s Tooth.  It was freezing cold and raining.  I had to come down Dragon’s Tooth with Iron Hand-Holds – most dangerous thing I have done on this trip.  It took forever and was so slippery with the rain.  I went into Catawba to resupply.  While at the store, I met Briar Patch and Mandy (they hiked in 2001); they took me home with them for the night so I had a warm shower and good food.  They absolutely rescued me as I did not have to tent in the rain after the horrible day of climbing – What Wonderful Trail Angels!  They had 3 dogs; I enjoyed playing with them.  I looked at their photo album of their hike in 2001; I enjoyed their pictures and their stories so much. 
The sun is out today.  Briar Patch brought me back to the trail head.  I am headed to Lamberts Meadow Shelter which would be over 22 miles for today.

May 28, 2008
I left at 7 this morning, pouring rain and cold.  I saw lots of snakes the last 2 days on the trail.  You see leaves moving and “whoa” – watch out – it’s a snake.  I took some pictures of a beautiful rat snake today, he was friendly; I think he wanted me to pet him. I am heading for Catawba to resupply.  If I make it, it would be 13.9 miles today

May 27, 2008
It stopped raining early in the morning.  I was up at 6 am climbing, another big climb today.  It was overcast today with bit of sunshine.  I met Rabbit from Cleveland, Ohio today.  He was going North Bound also.  Since I am from Chillicothe, Ohio; we had much to talk about.
I went to the Audie Murphy memorial today.  I laid a rock beside the monument as many hikers have done.  I saluted him – from this Airborne Ranger to the most decorated soldier of World War II.  This memorial designates the site where his plane crashed in 1971.
I plan to hike past Pickle Branch Shelter and tent tonight, going 13 miles. I got to Pickle Branch Shelter and the rains came; so I only hiked 10.2 miles today.  I really wanted to go further, but did not want to tent in the rain.  Had a good night.

May 26, 2008
I slept in till 7; we had a nice, quiet breakfast.  My wife took me back to Rt. 41; I climbed up to the Laurel Creek Shelter to begin my journey again.  I hiked 12.4 miles today; it was a nice sunny day.  It was a very hard climb with lots of rocks and cliffs.  I was walking on ledges at 4,000 feet elevations; I felt the danger.   I stopped about 6:30 p.m. at the Niday Shelter.  I was there about 1 hour and it started to rain.  It rained all night.  My wife brought me an egg crate to sleep on – it worked great.  Thanks to George at Provisions Great Outdoors for helping me with supplies I need.

May 25, 2008
I am so used to being up at dawn that we rose at 6 p.m. to eat a nice breakfast; I cannot get enough fruit and milk.  Blacksburg is a very clean town with a unique downtown and very nice people.  We got supplies for my next trek.  Then we went to the movies – we saw the new Indian Jones movie and ate movie popcorn and movie candy bars.  It was the ultimate.  We had a nice mid-day meal at Texas Steakhouse.  Of course, I had a nice steak – very tasty!!  We then watched the race on TV.  0 day.

May 24, 2008
I hiked 14.6 miles today. I hurried as my wife was to pick me up on Rt. 41, just down from Laurel Creek Shelter around 7 p.m. As I was coming off the mountain, there was a meadow with donkeys. I petted and talked to the donkeys, they were so tame. My wife flew from Wilmington into Roanoke and picked up me up a little after seven. We went to Blacksburg to Comfort Inn. On Saturday evening, we went to a fine Mexican Restaurant with great food and great service.

May 22, 2008
Sun is shining, what a nice day!  I was able to take off my down vest and jacket.
Trees and trail are wonderful.  On top of the bald, I can see for about 40 miles, the streams the towns – spectacular site.  I stopped at Pine Swamp Branch Shelter for lunch. The roof had blown off during the storms last week.  My next stop will be Bailey Gap Shelter, but I hear from southbound hikers, I will have to take a detour as the bridge was washed away this past weekend.  So glad to have my maps.

May 21, 2008
Up early here at the Holy Hostel in Pearisburg.  It rained all night and is still raining.  About 9:30 am the rain slowed, so I left Pearisburg.  It took me over 2 hours just to reach 1 miles outside of Pearisburg at the trail head—this hike up out of Pearisburg is a killer.  It was a dark and gloomy day, threatening rain.  I arrived at Rice Field Shelter at 3 pm and I am staying the night here, as it is very windy with black skies, getting ready to storm. I hiked 14.2 miles today.  I am very pleased with the day.  I am really hoping for sunshine tomorrow.

May 20, 2008
I slept on a cot last night, it was so nice.  My body hurts all over, it is all re-arranged.  My knees feel like they need to go down another 6 inches to lock into my knee caps.  I went to PO and got a package from my honey.  Thank you so much – I love you big!  I was able to launder my clothes.  I went to $ store to get some pain medicine.  I ate a nice breakfast at local café.  Coffee was so good.  I rested on the cot most of the day.  I ate at Pizza Hut with some other hikers (section hiking-southbound) for dinner.  It has rained all day today.  I surely hope that it does not rain much tomorrow, I want to get started early.

May 19, 2008
I took a fall over a tree limb and feet went out from under me – twisted my back.  Not feeling very well.  It is so muddy from all the rains.  Nothing I have is dry.
I am calling all these rocks – mine fields – jumping all around always hoping to land on a flat solid rock that does tip over with me,
I found the town of Pearisburg at 8:30 in the dark - falling, literally, down the mountain, hanging onto small trees to keep my falls at a minimal.  It was so very dark, very dark, walking around this town in the rain trying to find the Holy Hostel.  After about an hour, a man who works with the Division of Wildlife drove by and picked me up and took me to the Holy Hostel – I would have never found the hostel?  Thank you!!!
I hiked from Wapiti Shelter to Pearisburg, 17.6 miles and then 3 miles around Pearisburg.

May 17, 2008
I left about 10:30 this morning, waiting for the rain to subside and did 14.2 miles to Jenny Knob Shelter.  I had sunshine today, still cold.  Light is affecting the color of the leaves with new growth on the trees.  The forest is changing so.  I have many visions for my paintings.  I can see another storm coming in for tonight.  So I am staying here for the night even though it is only 5 p.m.  The water supply is down, down over the hill. 

May 16, 2008
Thursday night I stayed at the Jenkins Shelter.  My right leg is hurting from straining it in the mud so I hobbled into Jenkins Shelter.  Another hiker came into the shelter later in the evening.  He asked me if I had seen Brush Strokes; I was so surprised and told him that I was Brush Strokes.  He was from Wilmington where he is a locksmith.  We had a lot to talk about, so nice to see someone from home.  He was doing a section hike, going south.
I was up at 7 and started my hike, my leg is much better.  It is another dark and rainy day, and I am cold and soaked to the bone.
I came out on a 2 lane road about 4:30; a lady picked me up and took me into Bland, VA.  She was nice enough to take me to get some supplies and dropped me off at the Big Walker Hotel where I stayed the evening – hot shower!!! I did 10.0 miles today.

May 14, 2008
Up at 7 am with overcast skies and very windy and cold.  It took me 8 hours to hike 8.9 miles with the last 4.5 miles straight up.  I stopped at the Chestnut Knob Shelter about 2:30 to rest and eat some lunch.  The sky turned black and storms came; so I stayed at this shelter for the night.  I did not see anyone today except a tall, tall deer who was very thin; he roamed around and checked me out.  I really did not want to stop so early; but the storms were set in for the night.

May 13, 2008
Another gloomy day with heavy winds and cold.  The terrain and climb are both difficult.  I came across a man sitting in the middle of the trail, he had pulled a tendon and was waiting for someone to come and get him to take him back to Atkins.  Two other hikers passed by me; they told me they had been held up for 2 days in a shelter during the tornados and storms.  I hiked 14.2 miles today to Knot Maul shelter.  I was all alone at the shelter.  Animal noises woke me up around 4:30 am

May 12, 2008
It is still raining and cold.  We had hail today.  It was just too rainy and windy to leave for the trail today so another 0 day here in Atkins.  I wrote some poetry today and continued to take my cold medicine, feeling so much better.  I am so ready to hit the trail.  I will leave tomorrow—no matter what.

May 11, 2008
What a miserable day—dark all day with vicious storms, hard rain the entire day.  I decided to take a 0 day today.  I am staying at a small motel.  The only place to get food is a Shell gas station, so hot dogs it is.  Tornados touched down around us here.  So glad I held up here, as I can't image what it would be like to be on the mountain in this terrible weather.  The winds here in the gap are 40 miles an hour. The winds on the mountain would be at least 60.  With rain for 2 solid days, the creeks would probably be now up to my waist to cross.  I have been fighting a cold since Damascus.  This 0 day will be good for my cold and my body.

May 9, 2008
Up at dawn, I hiked 6 miles to Hurricane Gap where I reached the road to Sugar Grove where I needed to go to resupply, as I am totally out of food.  It is still raining today, a cold rain.  A man in a pick up truck gave me a ride into Sugar Grove, another ride in the back end of a pick up; but it was a lot better than walking.  After I resupplied, a man named Shane took me back to Hurricane Gap.  I really appreciated these fellows giving me rides.  I made it into Partnership Shelter about 6:30 tonight.  I had 20.9 mile day— Yea!

May 8, 2008
The day started cool and stayed cool, as bad thunderstorms roared all afternoon.  Winds were hurricane strength; and I had to use all my strength to hike 17 miles today.  I am very proud of myself.  I was wet all afternoon and evening.  Cell phone coverage was very limited.

May 7, 2008
When I woke this morning and climbed out of my tent, there to my amazement was a herd of wild ponies.  They were all around my camp site.  I grabbed my camera and took lots of pictures.  They were not bothered by me being there; so I walked a little closer and petted some of them.  What a wonderful experience.  I climbed Mt Rogers today and camped past the Thomas Knob Shelter.  I had a good hike of 16 miles.

May 6, 2008
I felt much better today.  I hiked 20 miles today.  The day was beautiful and the scenery awesome with beautiful mountain streams with trout playing. The cell service is nil.  I camped at dark just past Lost Mountain Shelter.  I was very tired, ate a bit and went to sleep

May 5, 2008
I hiked up the mountain out of Damascus.  I was ill all day and night, so I only made 6.2 miles.  I made camp early.

May 4, 2008
I sure did rest good last night, no coyotes crying.  I am taking a 0 day to let my body heal.  I went to church this morning at a quaint country church with a young pastor who delivered a powerful sermon. I went to the Outfitters and purchased new boots.  I think 500 miles was good for 1 pair of boots.  I also had to purchase a new backpack.  On to do laundry. I am feeling good and ready to go to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

May 3, 2008
I broke camp early, so excited to get to Damascus.  I hiked the 6 miles and arrived.  The town was such a disappointment.  It had an outfitters store and a Dollar Store and a Subway (sandwich shop)—not much to this town.  All hostels were full, everyone staying in as it is storming today and is to storm tomorrow.  I found a church hostel to stay in.  It has a bunk bed and a shower.  The Subway sandwich tasted great!  No cell service here, so I purchased a telephone card and used a phone booth to call my wife.  I went to the outfitters store and picked a package from wife (thank you) and a package from George at the Great Outdoor Provision Company.  Wow!  Thanks, George, for the goodies.  My body is so tired. 

May 2, 2008
I had no water for 5 hours yesterday, so I will have water today.  The weight of the water is tremendous.  The terrain is tough, like a roller coaster—I am sure I am paying the price to get into Damascus.  Ha!  Ha!  The weather is good, cool and sunny.  I hiked 19 miles today, camping just 6 miles from Damascus.  I am out of food, just power drinks.

May 1, 2008
I had a good night sleep last night.  It was very cold and I was glad I was inside the “lean- to” shelter.  Another hiker, “See The Land” was his name, came in to the shelter about 8:30 last night.  He was 32 years old, started out from Springer on March 15 and is originally from Maine.
I climbed to 3,900 elevation with rough terrain – rocks and rocks and more rocks.  It took every bit of my energy today to get to the “top of the world”.  I stopped in the “heavens” to eat my lunch of cheese and sausage.  The weather is sunny and cool.  I hiked 13.6 miles today and made it to the Iron Mountain Shelter where I camped for the night.

© Copyright 2008 James Davis. May not be used for publication without express permisssion of the author. All rights reserved.

by James Davis 3.7.08

You, majestic earth, proud and tall, called me to enter your space. You are bold, and you do not take kindly to the hikers that scale you. We intrude on the
face of your beauty 
I stand on your top, but I did not conquer you. You battled me—rock and mud and ledges and cliffs. You are old for wisdom, this your grandeur. I bow to you great mountain. You have weathered the storms, the years of time; and I, like you, have weathered the storms. I seek your wisdom, Great Mountain, for many men have not experienced you in the way that I have. Although I did battle with
you today, I respect you;

And through the eyes of the artist, I saw your magic, your trees bending in the wind, your power of silence, your toughness of scaling you today. 

Today, Great Springer Mountain, I felt the pain of you and saw your colors; yes, grays and blacks and hues of greens and turquoise. I saw you in all your splendor. I felt you speak to me, and my soul
spoke back to you. 

And men would say, you are just a mountain; but I say your spirit flows through your trees and the silence of your night. Your spirit, free and wondering, like me. I am glad I came to you.