No, I’m not starting another A to Z Challenge, at least not this year.
I’m just writing about a friend, Mr. Terry Bliss, who has taken on a challenge of another kind: walking the Appalachian Trail (AT) from its start at Springer Mountain, Georgia (passing through North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire) to trail end at Baxter Peak, Mount Katahdin, Maine. 2180 miles! On this trail, you can be a NOBO (northbound) or a SOBO hiker (southbound).
This trail is tagged moderate to strenuous, with elevations ranging from 124 feet at its lowest point to 6,643 feet at its highest point (Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC/TN). Hazards abound on the trail: buggy pests to American Black Bear, smooth paths to boulder-strewn paths, flat trails to steep trails, dry trails to frozen trails, and warm days to freezing days. It’s a hiking adventure, to be sure, but it’s definitely not for the weak-hearted. Reportedly less than 20% (reports vary from 10% to 29%) of thru-hikers (NOBO or SOBO) finish the hike. Fatigue, accidents, boredom, finances, family issues all interfere with its completion. Those that do complete the AT receive a “2000 Miler” tag by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
Most would agree that this is a formidable challenge, maybe even a bit foolhardy. But Mr. Terry, being the brave man that he is, appeared undaunted in facing this personal quest.
Mr. Terry Bliss and his wife, Mrs. Terry Bliss, are my winter-in-Florida-pool-and walking buddies. And no, I didn’t stutter on their names. To keep them straight in conversation we call them Mr. Terry and Mrs. Terry.
Going by his trail name, Blue Moon, Mr. Terry started his walk on March 1, 2013, on a cold and windy day, hefting a thirty-eight pound backpack. His dear wife, Mrs. Terry, dropped him off at Springer Mountain, Georgia to begin hike. He signed in as hiker number 109 (NOBO) for the 2013 AT hiking season. .
Mrs. Terry has been posting updates on Mr. Terry’s progress at http://www.terrybliss.com. Son, Scott Bliss, has been posting the amazing photos and videos from Mr. Terry at the same site. All pictures in this post are used with Mrs. Terry’s permission.
Along the trail, Blue Moon has seen beautiful scenery…
…and surprising sights.
Along the way he has had sunny days with dry trails…
rocky trails. . .
wet, cross-stream trails. . .
steep, stair-stepped trails. . .
foggy trails. . .
and snowy, icy trails.
And then the weather got worse. More snow and ice. But through it all, Blue Moon kept smiling.
Now, (May 2) at some sixty plus days after he started, Blue Moon is still on the trail somewhere near Waynesboro, Virginia. He has walked 850 miles and is still raring to go. The weather is better now, and he has had a number of good hiking days, reaching his best hike rate of 24 miles in one day. Mrs. Terry reports that he has lost twenty pounds or so along the way. Hiking ten to 24 miles a day uses a lot of calories.
Photo: Blue Moon atop McAfee Knob near Roanoke, VA.
Blue Moon is on top of the world with approximately 1300 miles to go. This man is a mission, and he sets a humbling, but powerful, challenge to us all: if you have a dream, hold it, plan for it, then do it.
Coming soon: Updates on Blue Moon’s progress, Camping on the Appalachian Trail, People on the Trail, Food on the Trail . . .
All photos by Mr. Terry Bliss. Used by permission of Mrs. Terry Bliss. www.terrybliss.com
Here’s another hiker, Barbonabike, heading up the trail from Georgia to Maine, posting in blog, Pieces of Me. Barbonabike’s tagline on WordPress: “I’m a thrill-seeking, life-loving, soul-searching, song-weaving, guitar-picking nomad wandering the world on two wheels and a prayer!”