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Southbound: episode 9

  November 7th 2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White

We told you that we were leaving Dalton, Mass. in the last journal, only not as soon as we expected. After Anna took us to the store to resupply, she dropped us back off at the gas station next to the trail. It was already after noon, so putting in a lot of miles was out of the question. Instead of hiking just a few miles out of town, we decided to visit Rob Bird, a gentleman that has been welcoming hikers into his home for years and is really well known on the trail. We had heard so much about this man that we had to stop in and meet him. He welcomed us in and we felt immediately at home. Rob volunteered his time to drive us to different parts of the trail for “slack packing”. We would hike fourty miles, and all the while end the night in a warm bed four nights in a row. One of the highlights for us was the Skyline Chili that Joe’s family sent, its never tasted so good, Rob enjoyed it as well.

The first day back,the trail brushed by corn fields and mountain sides. We would walk bogs over swamps and river-walk along the Housatonic River for a few miles. We got halfway up Mt. Everett when the snow began and night fell, with just about two miles to go. The night would end cold for what was such a warm day. The next morning began early because we had to make it in to Salisburry for our mail-drop. We felt good about our quick start, our first dark morning night since Katahdin (day 1). We found the sunrise just as we reached the top of Mt. Everett. The trail then followed the Mt. Race ridgeline, completely exposed to the view below. It was a great morning! We came down Race and crossed over into Connecticut, our 5th state! By the time we realize we are here, we will be in New York. This fine state starts with Bear Mtn., the tallest in the state. The mountain offered amazing views of what is past and whats to come. We resupplied and left town fairly quickly to do another 3 miles to our lean-to.

In the past few days we have crossed over,and done countless miles next to the Housatonic River. Having already planned a short day, this worked out to our benefit yet again. We came to the river and its glorious water falls and spent the vast majority of our afternoon enjoying its scenery and the bright sun in the blue skies. That night would be shared with the very first southbound thru-hiker we have met, his name is Early Bird. Still ahead of us, Little Engine, Elipse, and Chase. We have not met these hikers, but have followed them in registers, there have been a few others get off the trail already.

Today marks not only 2 months, but also 722 miles behind us which puts us at one third of the way. We are staying in Kent, CT tonight with a relative of another gentleman that we had met on Mt. Washington. Bill picked us up from the post office and treated us to a nice Italian dinner, then opened up his home for us to stay. He has a wonderful family and he tells some good stories. We feel truly blessed to have met so many wonderful people on the trail, we call them “Trail Angels”. Our confidence is higher than ever, and we owe it to the overwhelming generosity they have provided.

From here we cross into New York tomorrow, and just a few days to Jersey and then a few more to Pennsylvania. It gets tough after that, we’ll be in PA for some time as it stretches 230 miles! The forecast looks good as a heat wave is coming in to give us high 50s to mid 60s for the next week! That sounds sooooo good!

This exert was originally published on It’s content has not been edited from the original post. (maybe spell checked)

by: Bryan Wolf

We first found out about Rob during one of our very first weeks on the trail up in Maine. We tried to capture notes and suggestions from Northbound hikers that were not in the guidebook. It seemed crazy at the time but we were told that in Dalton we needed to go the Shell gas station and ask for a man named Rob. It sounded kind of creepy, at least in a underground secret society kind of way.  We did as we were told, we walked the street to the small Shell station. It was an old full service station with one attendant working, and he wasn’t Rob. The guy made a phone call though and in minutes a van pulled in to the station. I guess this guy was the filter, he could tell how serious of a hiker you were and if Rob was going to come by.

There was no doubt that we looked the part. Rob introduced himself and was shocked to see anyone this late in the season. Before we knew what happened we were in the van and he was running by a liquor store. He came back with a case of beer and a brown bag. Like he had known me for years, I peak in the brown bag and he had a bottle of Captain Morgan. I told him that we had something in common, that is my go to drink back home. He looked over and told me, “that’s not for me, that’s for you”. This guy can read minds!

As for our friend Early Bird; we didn’t get to know Early Bird all that much, but he still ended up being the hiker we would see the most, and the only other Southbounder that we are sure finished with us. I still occasionally chat with him online. I believe the most interesting thing that he brought to our attention is how he described the mental difficulty of the trail. Early Bird told us about his time in the military and the challenges that he of course faced, but he then said that the AT is much more difficult. I think Joe and I were both stunned by this. He explained that the AT is a choice everyday and therefor harder to keep the mental toughness, whereas in the military he did not see it as a choice. Waking up and getting through the day was going to happen and that was life for him, but on the trail he only has himself to rely on, to get up, to move, to fight on.

This section is incredibly scenic and a bit less challenging than many parts of the AT. The miles are coming somewhat easy for us at this point. It is easy to see what is ahead and feel like there is no question of whether or not we will finish it.

Rab Generator

Generating Serious Heat
Written by: Bryan Wolf

Outside of arctic sub zero situations there are few of us that want to wear a bulky marshmallow puff jacket in everyday use. Even in the backcountry, warmth can be achieved without high bulk; the Generator, despite its slim size, can pack a dependable punch in holding in your precious temperature.  I’m now entering my third winter with my Rab Generator Jacket and through backcountry use and everyday wear I have found the perfect all purpose jacket.

In an urban setting I like something that looks clean and is free of lines or eye popping style. The Generator has little stitching on the face and since it has a Primaloft fill it doesn’t need a lot of baffling to keep the insulating fill in place. I’ll get to the technical uses of this jacket but what was immediately important to me was its usefulness keeping me warm everyday. We all know know a Cincinnati winter isn’t the worst that can be thrown our way but it does get cold and can be unpredictable. This jacket was my winter jacket.  With sweaters, long sleeve wool tops, sweatshirts, cotton waffles, or hoodies I could layer up with what ever style I needed and be warm enough for all my Christmas parties, festivals, walks in the park, or runs to the grocery store. I know that my time waiting for my car to warm up is less painful and I couldn’t be more comfortable. With an everyday or urban jacket you want to feel good walking out the door but also walking in the door.  This is a tech jacket that looks less like a tech jacket.

Now what about outside the treacherous winter of Cincinnati? Well if you are looking at this piece as a active outdoors man/woman than you’ll like it even more. This jacket has been to the tops of several peaks in Maine with snow sticking to my face, and traveled with me to the Alaskan wild. The jacket has 100 grams of Primaloft ONE in the body and 60 grams in the sleeves.  That is almost twice as much fill in the body as other major brands. Primaloft ONE is the lightest weight synthetic fill on the market, and it is also the most resilient toward getting wet.  That means that when it gets wet, you’ll stay warmer. The jacket packs to the size of a softball and better yet does so in it’s own chest pocket (stuffed up it can be your camp or airlines pillow). Who has time for a separate stuff sack or who has the room for a big heavy jacket on top of your already cumbersome backpack?  When it comes to synthetic winter wear, Primaloft is the only way to go.

When on the trail the only way to really keep warm and dry is with an adequate layer system. This jacket as a stand alone piece could come up short if your looking to stay warm at the top of your favorite peak, but you’ve already lost the war if that is what your plan is. An active piece means that you are on the go, constantly moving and most likely changing in elevations and with it temperatures. If you haven’t already learned this, your ability to add and subtract layers as you move is crucial to your comfort.  The Generator is a flexible fitting, quick throw on piece that is going to hold your heat in fast and stuff back in your pack even faster.

Feature wise the jacket has tight elastic wrist cuffs to keep the temperature in. For the same reason they add a drawcord at the waist to block off one more exit for your life force. The jacket is cut a little longer too to protect heat loss from your lower back.  The neck comes up to the chin but not past (this is nice for those urban events so you don’t have a big goofy tech collar). The zipper is covered and lined at the top to be soft on the chin if it rubs. There are three pockets, one on the chest (the stuff sack) and two hand warming pockets. The insulation is on the inside next to the body when using the pockets. It would be nice if the fill was split between the top and bottom of the hand pockets to hold more hand warmth but that would add some lines and some dollars I presume.

The entire jacket is warm and sleek, and is also a good guard against mother nature. The Pertex outer material seems to be impossible to snag and has a DWR finish as well.  DWR is the water repellent finish put on the material.  This kind of thing needs rejuvenated every so often but when light snow or rain hit I’ve stayed dry much longer than I ever thought I would, and thanks to the Primaloft I didn’t notice a difference in my warmth either (synthetic fibers retain heat when wet). This has to be the single most complimented feature in our store too; I’ve had several Generator users amazed at the protection it provided from wind and rain. (This does not replace a shell however)

Altogether it takes a beating from mother nature, from Cincy streets, and from the shove and go backpack life all to keep me happily warm.  My name is Bryan Wolf, I am a gear junkie and outdoor enthusiast, and this is my favorite piece of gear! You can pick up the Rab Generator and other top notch Rab gear at Roads Rivers and Trails in downtown Milford, OH.


Southbound: episode 6

October 16th 2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White

  It is amazing to think that it has been almost exactly two weeks since we crossed over into New Hampshire . Tonight, we sit in the Dartmouth College Library just a mile from the Vermont border. We will cross over late tonight after updating the journal and dinner in town. The NH – VT border marks a big milestone for us. Its marks our 2nd state completed (hardest 2), 20% finished, 440 miles, and 40 days of continuous backpacking. This is my longest consecutive backpacking trip ever, but lets not forget that it is Ice Man’s first backpacking trip. Both of us are still excited and feeling great.

After our night camping under the I-93 bridge outside of North Woodstock , we had a beautiful short hike back into the mountains. That night Ice Man built his first fire on his own with no fire starters or fuel from the stove. It was a nice size fire that kept us warm before dinner. That night, we had the heaviest rainfall of the whole trip. In the morning the stream beside the shelter had risen almost a foot higher than the day before. Ice Man was excited to summit Mt. Wolf , but disappointed that no one actually put a sign at the top. The sadness didn’t last long. We stopped later at a stream to filter some water and the water filter has been making strange noises. Well, as Ice Man was pumping water, a moose walked up behind him making a similar grunting noise as the water filter. It was the funniest thing. The moose stopped just 10 or 15 feet away and looked at us, and we just starred back. It didn’t take but a few seconds before it realized that we were not another moose, and took off running. There wasn’t enough time to even get the camera out.

We had hoped to climb up and over Mt. Moosilake , the last of the White Mountains, before the following day was over. The rain slowed us down, but not nearly as much as the beautiful mile climb up Moosilake. Almost the entire climb paralleled a brook with endless cascading waterfalls. We stopped at the shelter just below the peak instead of risking night hiking. As the night went on, the weather cleared, the mountains hidden in the clouds came out, and the night sky was perfectly clear. It was a great sign of what was to come, or so we thought.

In the morning, there was a 1/2 inch of snow on the ground, our boots were frozen, and the water filter was iced over. We boiled 4 quarts of water for the day and used the stove to de-ice our boots. We were not expecting this to happen anytime soon. It was a miserable start to a great day. The views from the top of Moosilake were clear. To the east, was the taller rugged White Mountains that we already conquered, and to the west, hahaha. We were a little bummed out to be standing on a mountain that was taller than anything to come in a long while. On the maps, we started to see not just mountains labeled, but also hills.

We knew we were leaving the hardest part of the trail behind as we came down the mountain. The trail almost instantly became smoother and more gradual than before. We ended up doing 16 miles that day even after taking a two hour snack break at the bottom of Moosilake. We wanted to make sure we could make it into Hanover by this morning, so the following day we pushed out a 20 miler over smaller mountains and fields. Yesterday, we made 18 miles to the edge of town. We were hoping to stay in town, but there was nothing cheaper than $80 a night. Luckily a wonderful man, named Dwight offered us a place to stay for the night.

We were so excited. He had a wonderful family and he and his wife treated us very well. They treated us to hot showers, laundry, and a fabulous dinner. He mapped out the town and dropped us off to wonder around. We stopped by Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Murphy’s Pub. It was nice to sit and relax for a while. We slept on a nice comfy bed with a down comforter and our own bathroom right next door. It was excellent. We came into town this morning to resupply and tie up loose ends.
We are going to experiment with our diet this week by doubling our calorie intake. According to backpacker magazine, winter hikers that hike for 8 hours need 5 to 6 thousand calories a day. I think we were somewhere in the ballpark of 2500 on a good day. Food is heavy, but we are loading up this time. The only thing harder to hike with other than an aching body is a hungry stomach. It is amazing the diet we can handle out here. It really is. The plan is to be in North Adams , Mass. in 9 days which is where we hope to update you once again, but it may come sooner. We have to resupply in a town again in a few days.

This exert was originally published on It’s content has not been edited from the original post.

by: Bryan Wolf

My first memory of Hanover is that of randomly hiking up on Dwight and his son. It was a great display of faith and trust on his part to extend his hand and his home.  There couldn’t of been five minutes in conversation before he offered showers and home cooking.  This was an amazing surprise after what was one of the very hardest nights and mornings on the trail.  What we came to find out at dinner, is that Dwight was one of the original founders of Jetboil.  We will always have a wonderful story and proudly sell Jetboil because of the good nature we received that day, besides they are great stoves too!

Depite the top of Mt. Mooilake being one of the more difficult mornings, it was also one of the more thrilling. I remember and often revisit that adrenaline rush that comes with harsh weather and long exposure to the elements of our raw world.  My boots had frozen and took the first two miles to thaw, even after which my feet remained frozen for several more. The first time you face these challenges, and the first time you realize the severity of your choice to do a winter thru-hike is scary.  At the same time it is exhilarating and makes you feel very alive.  It is these experiences that build your confidence and knowledge in these trips.

Southbound: episode 5

October 10th 2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White

   It has been a while since you last heard from us in Andover , Maine . I’ll start from the beginning I guess. The first few days out were also our last in Maine . The first day, the weather was incredible and we tackled two 4,000 ft + peaks in 15 miles. We were so excited to have done so much over that terrain, but the following day put us in our place. The Mahoosuc Notch, the hardest mile on the whole trail, took us 3 hours to do a mile. It was nothing but climbing over, in between and under boulders, of course it was wet too. We had a few close calls, but only a bumped head and some scratches. That day we only went 5 miles before we called it a day.

The following day was soiled with bad weather, yet crossing into New Hampshire and finishing our first state kept us in good spirits until Ice Man fell into the mud. His right leg missed a board and sunk into the mud up to his thigh. Luckily, his left leg was still on the board, otherwise, I don’t know how he would have gotten out. We called it an early day and stayed dry at the next shelter. We stopped in Gorham , NH for a dollar menu feast at Mcdonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts in the morning.

We had 2 and a half days until Pinkham Notch, which is the gateway to the Presidential Mountains. They were spectacular mountains to say the least. They are called the “wildcats” and the views the gave of Mt. Washington were incredible. Our second day in the wildcats, there was ice covering the whole north side of the mountains(the pics turned out great). We have had nothing but the best weather since we left Pinkham Notch. Locals say that the weather we had going over the Presidential Mountains and Mt. Washington , was by far the best all year. This was the place we expected to be having the worst weather. We had warm days, clear skies, 120 mile + visibility, and winds of less than 10 mph for days. Not even the Columbus Day weekend crowds and tourists on the mountain could make us wish for better. We were down right spoiled. We hiked 2 and a half days above treeline in the White Mountains with unimaginable weather. Mt. Washington put us over 6,000 feet at exactly one month since we had made the summit of Katahdin, a nice coincidence.

A couple nights ago, we camped right on some cliffs, watched the sunset after dinner, and relaxed under the stars with hot apple cider. We stayed up swapping trail stories with a going to be “3 time” thru-hiker named Doc Knarley. Oh, he had some crazy stories. Last night, we spent a few hours relaxing on top of Mt. Garfield . We are going to miss these mountains. We rolled into North Woodstock today to refuel, and send you guys an update. We hope you enjoy these pictures. We love you all and wish you could be here. We have to catch a ride back to the trail soon. We figured we would “troll camp” tonight under the I-93 bridge. We hope to update you again in Hanover in less than a week.

This exert was originally published on It’s content has not been edited from the original post.

by: Bryan Wolf

This is a big section to stop and reflect on and I feel like there are many untold stories. For starters; Mt. Success.  I am over 6 feet tall and almost all legs, when we reached the top of cloudy Mt. Success the last thing I thought I’d encounter was a endless pit of doom trying to swallow me in the mist.  The mountain even at the very top had wood planks to walk on to avoid the swampy mess but even those boards were covered by mud. I found myself poking the ground in front to find the boards before taking each step, to no avail.  I fell (in a very flexible moment) over waist deep in mud while keeping my left foot still on the board ahead.  Joe was up in front and after a try or two I had to shout ahead for help getting out.  The mud and cold water was sinking into my boot making it feel like concrete holding me down.

After getting pried from the depths and retiring to the following shelter, I was quickly warmed up from some trail magic: tequila! This whole section had chance encounters of booze carrying trail angels. Passing a flask of vodka back and forth with “Doc” on top of Zeacliffs near the hut made for one heck of a night! That had to have been the single most entertaining hiker we stayed with on the trail. As far as Washington, I’m not sure I could ever go back. If you ever are lucky enough to have that “perfect moment” than you don’t dare chance ruining it by going back.

Southbound: episode 1

September 4th-5th  2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White

The road brought us to the small town of Millinocket, Maine about 30 miles from the trail head.  This is our last night of fast food, caffeine, warm showers, comfortable beds, and all the other amenities of our routine lives.  We met a North bound hiker, “Johnny Storm”, today while getting dinner at Subway.  He had just finished the entire trail in just over four months.  Johnny storm was in great spirits, it was exciting to see and talk to him.  We are very anxious to be starting the trail tomorrow.

The drive up went really well considering how late we left Cincinnati on Monday.  We didn’t take the most direct route to Maine to say the least.  We took a detour through D.C. at 2 in the morning, ran through rush hour traffic in New York, and still made it in time to eat breakfast in Connecticut with our friend Mike Sobol, a fellow guide in Alaska.  We crashed on his couch for a few hours then made the final stretch into Maine.

This exert was originally published on It’s content has not been edited from the original post.

by: Bryan Wolf

Ignorance is bliss sometimes. I had no idea what was about to happen and was more or less along for the ride. A little disclosure, this was my very first backpacking trip….ever! My gut was a little tied up with anticipation, nervousness, fear, and just about anything else that would be gut wrenching.

Soapbox Media “Roads Rivers and Trails Takes Advantage of Regional Parks and Local Adventures”

Published April 5, 2011
Written by Michael Kearns

“Have you ever been in mid-preparation for your latest road trip and/or outdoor adventure and found yourself wishing that Cincinnati had a true outfitter’s store? A small, friendly knowledgeable local alternative to the sterile, ubiquitous chain?

Roads, Rivers and Trails (RRT) is now open and ready to outfit you for any adventure whether it be a weekend roadie to Asheville, a month long slog through the Bob Marshall Wilderness, or through Cincinnati’s hundreds of miles of parks and greenspace.

Located at 118 Main Street in the heart of Old Milford, RRT is owned and operated by a troika of young outdoors-persons: Joe White, Emily White, and Bryan Wolf. Each of the owners has deep roots in the community. They’re as committed to the region as they are to one another – Joe and Emily are married; Bryan and Joe are long time friends who have, amongst other adventures, driven cross country and hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trial during the winter.

RRT opened this past winter and celebrates a long tradition of specialty outfitters in Milford; occupying the same space formally held by Adventure Outfitters. In addition to selling quality outdoor gear, RRT also goes the extra mile to see that trips progress beyond the planning stages; supplying experience, encouragement and a resource library as well as meeting space in the store where co-conspirators can come together and plot their adventures.

“We want to take the time to get to know our customers and we want to provide the motivation they need to make their experience happen,” says Emily White.

The interests of the owners dovetail nicely – Emily is a University of Cincinnati grad with a business degree, Joe is finishing at UC this semester having studied entrepreneurship, and Bryan has long dreamed of owning an outfitter store.

The century old building that houses RRT is both comfortable, complete with worn wooden floors, chainsaw carved book cases and a painted tin ceiling; as well as convenient.  Situated at the cross roads of all things outdoors in the Midwest, the store is at the junction of over 22,000 miles of long distance hiking, cycling and regional paddling trails which converge in Milford.

Given both their close personal affiliations, as well as their attachment to the Cincinnati area, the three UC graduates say that they are here to stay.

“We want to make Milford the adventure capital of Cincinnati,” says Wolf.”

You can find the original article and other Soapbox Media stories at: “Eastern Cincinnati Has New Outdoor Outfitter”

Published February 18, 2011
Written by: Jim Rahtz

With spring not quite here, those oriented to the outdoors often battle cabin fever by shopping for that new piece of equipment or clothing needed for upcoming hikes, backpacking trips or river outings. With the closing of Nature Outfitters early in 2010 though, the east side of Cincinnati was left without an outdoor specialty store. However, that void has been filled with the recent opening of Roads Rivers and Trails (RRT) near the Little Miami River in Milford.

Located at 118 Main Street, the store is in the same location that housed Nature Outfitters, but it is not the same store. RRT is owned and operated by Bryan Wolf, Emily and Joe White, all who have extensive experience in the out of doors. In fact, both Bryan and Joe have through-hiked the Appalachian Trail (AT). I recently got a chance to discuss RRT and its philosophy with Bryan and Emily. They both displayed an energy and passion for the outdoors that should inspire those that stop in to spend more time with nature.

Emily describes the store as having “everything you need to have fun and survive in any outdoor situation.” It’s obvious that the statement not only includes the product lines, but also readily given advice, whether for a beginning kayaker or someone planning to hike the AT. Educational programs are presented regularly, and vary from a winter camping seminar to bringing in the authors of the family oriented book, Adventures Around Cincinnati, which happens on March 4.

With a facsimile of an AT shelter as a design feature, the store obviously welcomes the hiker, but the product mix provides something for everyone wanting to experience the outdoors. I expected to, and did, see items like backpacks, freeze dried food, tents and sleeping bags, but they also stock clothes, books and even vehicle racks.

Something else that sets the store apart from the “big box” outdoor retailers are the different brands that they carry. Brands that Bryan has “faith in and can believe in.” That includes Big Agnes tents, Sherpa clothing (from Nepal) and Rab (UK) clothing and sleeping bags.

While the store doesn’t have much paddling equipment at the moment, it’s on the way. Brands in that area will include Native and Liquid Logic kayaks, Wenonah canoes and Bending Branches paddles. Plans are to host demo days and to keep demo boats on hand so customers can try before they buy.

Whether you’re a hard core backpacker, beginning kayaker, Scout leader, or just need an outdoor “fix,” Bryan, Emily and Joe would love to share their love of the outdoors with you. You can stop by Monday through Saturday 11 AM – 8 PM, call at 513-248-7787 or visit their website.

You can find the original article and other articles by the at:
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