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


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: 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

Spring, Winter, Spring

By Chappy Jack

April 30, 2019

Location: Damascus, Va.

Mile: 470.8

Please read: Job 38:1-41

Job 38:22 “Have you entered the storehouses of snow or seen the storehouses of the hail,”

The AT (God’s creation) continues to amaze me! All in one day, I can go from green lush foliage in the lower elevations to wintry conditions in the higher elevations.

This past week has been marked by passing the 400 mile marker and entering Virginia. It has also been marked by wet wintry conditions before crossing over Roan Mountain forcing me to flee to a hostel to dry out of my wet and freezing clothing.

However, the next day was a gloriously beautiful day crossing over Roan Mountain. I enjoyed 360-degree views from 3 different balds.

Two days later, I was again bombarded with wet wintry conditions including thunder and hale. Once again I fled to a hostel to dry out and warm up.

Once again, the weather turned beautiful as I approached Damascus, Va.

I have been tempted to complain and moan, but my small group of friends, including my son D.J. (he joined me for a few days on the trail), has adopted Blueberry’s slogan, “Embrace the suck.”

In the scripture reading, even though Job’s trials and tribulations were far, far greater than the AT, I think God was telling Job that He was and is the Creator of all, and that he is in control of all. He controls our sunny days and he controls our wet soggy days.

Lord Jesus, I praise you for what you have created. Your creation is totally awesome! You are an awesome God! I thank you that I have the opportunity to experience your creation in such a unique way.

The AT is often called the Green Tunnel.

My son D.J. and I taking a break. Yes, I was tired!
Laurel Creek Falls
Sudden turn in the weather

Thanks to the Holston Conference of The United Methodist Church for this unique ministry!

D.J. and me the day after wintry mix including snow, rain, hail, and thunder.

Trail magic from 2014 thru hikers. They do this every year as a reunion.

Leaving Tennessee and crossing into Virginia

Arriving at Damascus, Virginia, a well-known trail town.
Damascus United Methodist Church

Limestone Cove UMC near Irwin, Tennessee

He knows me

By Chappy Jack

April 20, 2019

Mile: 368.5

Location: Greasy Creek Hostel, near Road Mountain, Tennessee

John 10:14 “I (Jesus) am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”

After a long day of hiking, it is a big relief to reach the intended shelter or camping spot. It is refreshing to reach that spot and hear one or two hikers to call out “Hey Chappy.” It feels good to be known and to welcome.

Most hikers by now have a trail name. I named myself, and some hikers do the same to make sure they don’t receive a name they don’t like. Some of my hiker friends have names such as Doc, Mom (a man), Heartbreaker, Pegleg, Sandman, and Fireweed.

More refreshing, welcoming, and good to know is that God knows me! He knows my real name and he knows my hiker name. He knows everything about me. He knows my failures, my weaknesses, my strengths, and I think He probably celebrates my victories in life.

As fellow hikers call out my name, I think He probably calls my name a lot! I don’t think I’m always listening!

Lord Jesus, help me to listen. Help me to hear your voice and and to know your presence.

The AT continues to baffle me. I go from seeing beautiful flowers and spring-like weather to rain and wintry conditions.
Green forest floor

Arriving at a shelter late in the afternoon after walking most of the day in the pouring rain
Wintry conditions from a distance
Wintry conditions a little closer

On top of a bald with ice and winds gusting at 40 mph

Last year’s AT Chaplain, Blueberry, encouraged me to “embrace the suck”! It has become my motto.

Trail Angels

By Chappy Jack

Mile: 274.6

Location: Hot Springs, NC

Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for so by doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

In the world that we live in today, it is difficult to trust people, especially strangers.

On the trail, I continuously ask myself where this high level of trust in the Hiker community comes from. How could people that are so different have such a trusting bond?

A similar aspect of the trail is Trail Angels that provide Trail Magic. I received my first trail magic in the form of a free shuttle to start my hike at Springer Mountain in Georgia. The 2017 AT Chaplain, Matt “Trigger” Hall, had made a friend on his 2017 thru hike. This same friend is the Trail Angel who gave me the free shuttle.

Only a half mile into my hike, the Stay Young group of Ellijay, Georgia gave me trail magic in the form of a granola bar. It is amazing and uplifting to come to a trailhead and to find a Trail Angel grilling hot dogs and hamburgers and to sit with other hikers and just enjoy.

Have I ever entertained an angel without knowing it? I hope so! If I haven’t, I hope that through the trail that I will become more trusting of people. Maybe, just maybe, one of those people will be an angel.

Lord Jesus, help me to trust people more, but especially to trust you more!

Sunrise after a rainy night.
Snow a few days ago and, now, signs of spring. It’s possible that I will have more winter to come.
Thousands of pinkish white flowers.

Atop Max Patch. The summit was cleared for cattle and is maintained as a bald. I removed my hat to prove that you really don’t have to do a lot to maintain baldness.
One view from Max Patch. Max Patch provides a 360-degree view.

Slip and Slide

Chappy Jack

April 3, 2019

Location: Newfound Gap, border of North Carolina and Tennessee

Mile: 207.7

Psalm 94: 18-19 When I said, my foot is slipping,” your love, O LORD, supported me.

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.

I awoke yesterday to a beautiful snowy morning. However, I knew that my plans for the day included climbing Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Great Smokey Mountains.

The climb with the elevation and the snow was very enjoyable. I was not surprised that the 360-degree view from Clingmans Dome was clouded over since it was still snowing when I arrived.

Chappy Jack along the AT near the North Carolina/Tennessee border.

I was very surprised when I started my descent on my way for another six miles to Newfound Gap.

The snow had very quickly turned to ice that was very difficult to see. Falling is common on the AT, and I fell a total of 4 times. Thank God, no injuries. I arrived safely to Newfound Gap.

In Psalm 94, the Psalmist writes of the Lord’s love supporting him when his foot was slipping. My literal feet were slipping yesterday, but I believe the Psalmist is speaking of anxiety as he talks about the Lord’s consolation in verse 19.

Thankfully, we have God’s Holy Spirit who is our Peace! He is the Peace that passes all understanding!

The snow can be miserable. However, I can’t get used to its beauty.

Trail magic. Hot coffee. Much needed! Much appreciated!

How can we know the way?

March 28, 2019

Location: Fontana Village, N.C.

Mile: 165.9

Please read: John 14: 5-14

John 14: 5-6 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered , I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.

Approximately 165,000 white blazes mark the path of the Appalachian Trail to show hikers the way from Georgia to Maine.

These white blazes can be seen mostly on trees, but also on stone boulders, posts, sidewalks, streets, and buildings.

My family will tell you that I get easily lost while in the woods. I have a very poor sense of direction. However, this simple system of white blazes has served me well, and I have not been lost, yet….

Similarly, Jesus’ answer to Thomas’s question is very simple. Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.

Lord Jesus, I tend to complicate things. Please help me to keep your simple truths simple.

I have not seen any bears.

To all my fishin’ buddies. Yes, it’s almost time for spring fishin’ in Alabama. However, I’m in the right place.

Hints of spring in the lower elevations. I’m about to enter the Smokies, I bet I see a lot more winter.

I hope all are as blessed as I am!

Chappy Jack