A Tale of Two Sticks

By Chappy Jack

September 5, 2019

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.


The Infinite Love of Christ

By Chappy Jack

Location: West Hartford, Vermont

Miles: 1740

Miles to go: 452

Isaiah 40:26: Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

With less than 500 miles to go in this incredible journey, I still at times can’t believe that I have this opportunity to accomplish this dream. I continue to find the trail quite difficult at times, however, I also can’t believe how beautiful the trail is. Every day I see a vista, stream, forest setting, or even a tiny bug, butterfly, animal, or insect that is overwhelmingly beautiful.

Usually at night, I am either in a shelter or my tent and the stars are blocked by the trees of the forest. Two nights ago, I was in my tent and had a clear view of the cloudless night. Of course, there was no artificial light for miles and the stars were breathtaking. I even got to see a falling star!

Heavenly Father, I praise you as the Creator of all things! You are an awesome God!

Climbing a 14-ft. ladder on the Appalachian Trail.

Heavenly Sunshine

By Chappy Jack

July 30, 2019

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 .

Fatigue!!

By Chappy Jack

July 23, 2019

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 exhaustion 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!!


Me, Humble??

By Chappy Jack

July 18, 2019

Location: Great Barrington, Massachusetts

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 judgmental is rooted in pride and arrogance. As I have made these quick judgments 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 judgmental 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.
My hiking buddy, “Doc.”

PENNSYLVANIA ROCKS

By Chappy Jack

July 1, 2019

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.

If 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 Gatorade) 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 on the very top 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.

Trail maintenance

By Chappy Jack

June 18, 2019

Location: Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania

Mile: 1123

II Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

There are hundreds of volunteer trail maintainers that belong to 31 trail maintenance clubs that work constantly to keep the AT walkable from Georgia to Maine.

These volunteers remove downed trees from the trail, makes sure that the trail properly drains water from the trail, keeps white blazes painted and visible, makes sure that shelters are well maintained, maintains privys, keeps grass and high weeds cut, and does many other maintenance items.

Without these volunteers, life on the trail would be much much more difficult for hikers! I am so thankful for each and every volunteer trail maintainer!

However nice it is to have trail maintainers to maintain the AT, we individually have to maintain our relationship with God. This too, takes work and discipline!

I sometimes find it difficult on the trail to maintain the discipline of prayer and scripture reading. I get too caught up in the duties of the day. My relationship with God soon becomes covered with weeds and downed trees.

Lord Jesus, forgive me for not being attentive to you. Help me to keep my focus on you.

Chappy Jack at McAfee Knob
Chappy Jack reaches the 1,000-mile mark!
The unofficial halfway mark on the AT – Chappy Jack at the AT Conservancy Office at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.
Chappy Jack leaving Maryland at the Mason Dixon line.
1,096 miles! The official half way mark. Congratulations, Chappy Jack!

Feeling the love

By Chappy Jack

May 30, 2019

Mile: 849.4

Location: Waynesboro, Virginia

John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”.

With a bit of sadness, I have walked through the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church. Sad, because I have seen familiar faces and met many wonderful people! All have been extremely supportive of this unique ministry, and I have really “felt the love”!

Jesus, in speaking to his disciples before the Passover Feast, declared that all people would know them as his disciples by their love for one another. He then gave them (and us as his followers and disciples) a new commandment to “…Love one another as I have loved you,…”.

What a tough thing to do! Jesus loved us so much that he gave his life up for us! It sounds like an impossible command! However, I have experienced being the recipient of that kind of love from the great people of the Holston conference.

Lord Jesus, Thank you for loving me so much that you gave your life for me! Thank you that you use people like the people of the Holston Conference to demonstrate your love. Thank you that I’m “feeling the love”.

Jack with Pastor Rick Lindamood, center, and wife Carol. Rick is the pastor of West End United Methodist Church. Rick’s Grandfather attended Lindamood School. West End UMC provides Trail Magic (soft drinks, gator aide, snacks, and hiker toiletries) at the school. I was fortunate enough to run into them while they were resupplying the trail magic boxes. Their son Josh was the Holston Conference’s first Appalachian Trail Chaplain.

Pastor Alan Ashworth and wife Mary. Alan is the co-founder of the Chaplaincy and is the Chairman of the Chaplaincy Board. I had the pleasure of spending two nights with them and shared several meals.
Pastor Brian Burch and his wife DeAnne. Pastor Burch is the pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Pearisburg, Virginia. Brian and DeAnne invited myself and a hiker buddy to stay at their home for the night. Brian and DeAnne, along with their friends Tim and Trish, treated us to Italian at a local Italian restaurant. Hiker hunger was raging and I ate, then ate, and then ate some more.
2016 Chaplain Bert “Wildcat” Emmerson and his wife joined me on the trail at a shelter in the Smokies. He taught me how to serve others by gathering wood, building fire for the long cold night, and even providing trail magic for other hikers.

There have been many others in the Holston Conference that have helped along the way! Did I mention that I’m “feeling the love!”

Evening meal

By Chappy Jack

May 19, 2019

Location: Catawba, Virginia

Mile:704

Acts 2:46. Everyday they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.

The best meal on the AT is the evening meal. Not everyone stops to eat a full breakfast or lunch, but at the end of the day everyone is ready for a full meal. All shelters have some type of picnic table and the tables are full of hikers cooking, eating, and having lively conversation.

Meals are mostly made from some type of store bought dehydrated food that can be quickly rehydrated. Ramen noodles with tuna, chicken, or even peanut butter are a staple. I like instant mashed potatoes with spam… Don’t knock it ’till ya try it.

To me, the evening meal is the best time to get to know other hikers. It sounds to me that in the early church, immediately after Pentecost, early believers also used meals eaten together to get to know one another and to learn more about Christ.

Lord Jesus, I thank you for the privilege of walking the Appalachian Trail. Help me to connect with other hikers. Show me ways in which I can serve them in your name.


First pair of shoes just barely made 700 miles. I can’t believe how much they stank.

Dragons Teeth – Pictures do not give this massive structure justice.
Chappy Jack hits 700 miles!
Keefer Oak, the second largest tree on the AT.
Virginia is beautiful.

Wild ponies at Mt. Rogers lick salt off of sweaty hikers. Cute at first, but after several smelly ponies surrounded me while I was trying to eat lunch, I had to find another lunch spot.


Tribute to ‘Stronghold’

By Chappy Jack

May 19, 2019

Location:

Location: Catawba, Virginia

Mile: 704

Psalm 31:1 In You, Lord, I have taken refuge.

This past week has brought much sadness, mourning, fear, and despair to the AT hiking community with the murder of “Stronghold.”

I did not personally have the chance to meet “Stronghold,” however all of us in the hiker community have a strangely close bond whether we have met, or not.

We have all become more cautious of people outside of the hiker community as we meet them on the trail, and as we visit trail towns and communitys. We tell ourselves that this was a very isolated event. And yes, this was a very isolated event, but we still have our fears.

I personally know of one hiker who left the trail in tears, and I am sure there are more that have left.

I wonder about the trail name “Stronghold” since stronghold is mentioned many times in the Bible mostly in relation to spiritual warfare. It is my hope that “Stronghold” used this term because of his relationship to his Heavenly Father.

Lord Jesus, with all my fears, I take refuge in You! You God, are my refuge and my stronghold!

Some of my favorite trail photos as a tribute to “Stronghold.”

“Stronghold”, Rest in Heavenly Peace!

Chappy Jack