Roads Rivers and Trails

Dream. Plan. Live.

Tag Archives: Trail Angel


Appalachian Trail Conservancy

If you’ve met us you probably already know: we are all AT obsessed! The AT is part of the origin story at RRT, but is also what continues to make us who we are. We have been fortunate to continually have a staff that shares our passion for the trail and have completed portions or the trail in entirely. This is the quintessential match made in heaven. RRT owners have supported the ATC with personal memberships since 2007. RRT has been a supporting partner as a retailer since opening in 2010, contributing through the sales of ATC merchandise.

Indirect to the ATC, our biggest contribution has been our assistance, education, and passion that we have passed on for others to both enjoy and appreciate the trail. Spreading the word and growing the trail community to both use the trail and give back to it has been a surrounding message. Every year, RRT is able to help people chase their dreams on the AT. Through presentations and events, we help grow the imagination and confidence of the next generation of AT hikers.

In 2015, RRT wanted to bring as many of those people together, so they hosted their first ATC fundraiser. With giveaways, games, a photo booth, and local favorite 50 West Brewery, RRT raised an additional $500 to contribute to the ATC. We hope to continue to grow the AT community, and although we are in Milford, Ohio, we will continue our work as AT trail angels from afar.

For more information on the ATC please visit the link below:

Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Back to Community Involvement Page

Southbound: episode 15

December 21st 2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White

The roller coaster wasn’t much to scream about, nor was it long enough to wear us out. We should have been more tired after 23 miles. The next morning, we went into Linden to pick up our maildrop and food. We were so excited to be sleeping less than a mile from the beginning of the Shenadoah National Park . In the morning, we registered for our permit for camping in the park and started strolling down some of the nicest trails we have seen yet. The weather was beautiful and so were the views. The views were better than any since Vermont and Massachusetts . It is nice being above 3000ft again.

After 23 miles, all we wanted was a good nights sleep, but there were a couple of mice that kept us up most of the night. In the morning, we hitched into Luray for mail, resupply, and a bucket of chicken from KFC. We were told that it was illegal to hitch in Virginia , but so far its been the easiest place to get a ride in and out of town. The rest of the day was still filled with great views and nice trails. We stayed the night with a couple out for the weekend. The one guy was in the Navy at Norfolk , and he was planning a thru-hike once he finishes his service. We shared a lot of stories from different adventures we have had as the campfire slowly burnt out.Hogback Overlook

The following day we hiked 21 miles until we hit rt33, which passes through the park, so we could be picked up by a trail angel named Melanie. Before we made it there, we bumped into a thru-hiker named “super dave” and he was also from Cincinnati . He started in WV and hiked north to Maine , then went to Georgia and was on his way to WV. We were all so excited to meet each other, because we had met his friend in New Hampshire and we were told to look out for him. He actually knew who we were before we introduced ourselves. He should be finishing up his journey in the next couple of days. Congrats Super Dave and we wish you the best.Shenandoah

We finally made it to the road and Melanie picked us up and took us in for the night. We met her in Harpers Ferry at the trail club dinner, its funny how everything falls together. She cooked us dinner, let us shower, and do laundry. She had an awesome music collection. In the morning, she took us to the store to pick up enough food to get us to Waynesboro and then back to the trail. Thanks Melanie.

In the Shenadoah National Park , skyline drives runs parallel to the AT and follows the ridgline all the way, so the mileage is pretty much the same. We had to hike along the road for both that day and the following, about 45 miles. The reason: Around thanksgiving, the southern section of the park was hit with a devastating ice storm leaving the trail and road covered with trees, branches, and tree tops. The AT was closed and was recommended to skip, but we instead walked the closed skyline drive.

The road walk hurt and it seem to go on forever. There were a few good things though. We could listen to our transistor radio while we walked, we still had great overlooks, and we didn’t have to stare at our feet to make sure we weren’t going to trip. Our last shelter in the park had a big rat living there that was rumored to eat holes in backpacks. We hung our food and packs outside the shelter, but we still caught a glimpse of the nasty beast. The last 20 miles out of the park was miserable. We were hurting so bad and we looked funny as we were limping along. We made it though, and we were fortunate to know another trail angel that picked us up and dropped us off at the Quality Inn.

Some of my family came down that night and stayed with us. We ate some Papa John’s pizza while watching our first Bengals game. It was a depressing game though. The next morning 8 of our friends from home dropped in to visit. The rest of my family came down later in the evening. By the end of the night, there was 18 of us, it was like being at home. We spent the day tossing Frisbee and football. They even brought down the corn hole set. That night we all went down to the bowling ally, what a great time. The fun lasted until 3 or 4 in the morning, way past our bedtime.Shenandoah Sunset

Yesterday, they all went home after we all went out to lunch together. It was sad to see them go, but it was a reminder of all the great people we can’t wait to get home and see once again. Someone did get left behind though, by choice, her name is Ginger Snap, formerly known as Barbara. She is going to hike with us for a week and a half or so. Last night we just kicked back and relaxed and tried to re-cooperate. Today we are just doing the usual in town resupply and journal update before we hit the trail. We will hike out of town here in a little bit to the first shelter 5 miles away. We hope to be about 135 miles farther in about 8-10 days where we can update you once again. Thank you to all of those that came to visit. Merry Christmas to everyone. We miss and love you all.

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

 

Epilogue:
by: Bryan Wolf

This was a big post, both in time, miles, and events. Like most of our other posts the most interesting moments are not about the physical trail but more about the characters that help shape it.  We introduced and met back up with several new characters in this post.  The first was Melanie; we first met Melanie back in Harpers Ferry at the Potomac Trail Clubs Christmas Party.  She offered us a place to stay down the road and we were happy to make the call.  Melanie refueled us for our adventure and I’d like to think that we fueled her adventurous spirit too. After dinner Joe and I helped her start planning an epic trip around the country. Not long after finishing the trail we would meet her again in Cincinnati; a detour on her epic life changing adventure!! I think this is a good time to maybe reconnect again.

Hiking into Waynesboro was hard for me too enjoy. Some things were in our favor, we had an easy road walk due to the trail shattering ice storm and amazing views, however the anticipation of meeting family and friends seemed to draw things out a while. To make matters worse I secretly was feeling the worse I had felt yet. The top of my right foot had a stinging pain with each step. I found my self stopping often trying to readjust my boot to no avail. I think the road walking, although flat, was also rough on my feet and put a lot of stress on them. I hobbled into town and put ice on the slightly swollen foot. I didn’t want to blow it out of proportion and especially worry any of our friends that had traveled so far to see us, but secretly I was concerned that it would not heal.

One car load at a time our friends and family piled in. As you can imagine this was a great few days enjoying every creature comfort you could want and laughing again with those you miss.  It meant so much to us that they all came down and I will forever be grateful to each one of them for taking the journey. As all good things do, the time went all too fast, the cornhole boards, cards, Frisbee, beer, and pizza was packed up and drove away making it home hundreds of miles away in the time it takes us to travel less than a half dozen miles. The one who stayed behind, Ginger Snap, was Joe’s friend from Alaska who was going to hike with us a while.

I was excited to have someone else around for a while at this point (but that did not last). When we hiked out I found that my foot had still not healed and the miles were slow. Despite the miles moving slow, I was still way out in front of the two of them and suddenly felt very alone. Ginger snap had a tough go at the first few miles despite being a backpacker (The AT has that affect on people) and we stopped 5 miles in. I took a few “Vitamin I” (Ibuprofen)  pills and just wanted to go back asleep. Tundra, or as I called him, “TW” and Ginger played games and I just wrote and slept. The next day I still wasn’t feeling well and it started to become quite concerning, luckily my partners in crime were fine staying in so we did another shelter zero (5 miles from a real town I may add!). My best guess was that it was a stress fracture and I needed to stay off it.  At least we packed out some Beef and Cheddars.

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.Waterfall

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.Bear Mountain SP

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.Into New York

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 atwishhikers.com. It’s content has not been edited from the original post. (maybe spell checked)

Epilogue:
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.

Southbound: episode 8

October 30th 2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White

I know its only been 3 days since you heard from us last, but we made another pit stop. We are staying with a family that we had met coming down Mt. Washington 3 weeks ago. They have been absolutely wonderful, very hospitable. We had a great dinner and we got to watch some football too. Two days ago, we crossed over into Massachusetts , our 4th state. We had to hitch into North Adams to pick up our mail-drop at the post office. We didn’t think anyone would pick us up because it had been raining so hard and we were soaked, but we were wrong. While we were in the post office sorting our packages, two different people had come up to us offering rides back to the trail. We hit the trail and hiked another 7 miles to a shelter and called it a day.Appalachian Trail View

It had been raining for the past 24 hrs and wasn’t letting up. A lot of our gear got soaked and to top it off, the shelter leaked really bad. The wind was also blowing rain into the shelter, so it was impossible to stay completely dry. There was some uno cards left in the shelter, so Ice Man taught me how to play gin with a deck of UNO cards. The following day, yesterday, we climbed Mt. Greylock , our last peak above 3000 ft until we get down into Virginia . There was snow, ice, and the winds were blowing around 80 mile and hour on top of Greylock.Kilington Memorial

It was definitely an adrenaline rush. We ended up doing 20 miles into Dalton that day. We are hoping to be in Salisbury , CT by Friday I think. The weather is suppose to be dry, but the nights are suppose to dip below freezing, gotta love it.  Happy Halloween everyone.

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

Epilogue:
by: Bryan Wolf

Coming down from Mt. Washington is when we met the Matty family. At first it was our high spirits and large packs that caught their eye I’m sure. I suppose they could of just caught our stench coming down the mountain. When we stopped to chat however they were most intrigued about our work with the Make A Wish Foundation, since they themselves had worked with that group before. In just minutes they were giving us a business card with phone numbers for when we got to the Massachusetts and Connecticut area. Amazing that in minutes it all transpired, and weeks later the offer still stood.

The wind on Greylock was pretty amazing. 80 miles can be hard to imagine, but when we were up there it was tough to stand. The monument and area around it completely exposed us for a little while.  You can drive to the top and I believe there is even a lodge during the warmer months. There was one man that braved the elements and drove to the top that day, and I would say it was very ill advised.  He had a little girl with him, maybe 5 or 6 years old. She got out of the car and hit the ice around the monument, it a quick second she was being blown across the monument with her slippery feet still below her. Her dad chased her down as she began to cry and scream. We would of helped but Joe was bush chasing his pack cover into the brush. (Osprey puts a button tab there for a reason)

I feel like this was the most spoiled, and lazy part of the trail for us. You’ll see why in future posts, but this was the beginning of even more hot meals, bedrooms, and hospitality.

No complaints.

From the Beginning

RRT
At The Core
Written by: Bryan Wolf

While business sense is the only thing that can keep the doors open, there is another reason that the doors were ever opened at all.  Getting those thoughts on paper ended up being extremely difficult.  I wanted to write about myself which is hard enough, but I also wanted to make it a piece that describes RRT. I wanted to share how our fates were intertwined this whole time. What I came up with is this:

In 2000, I had little interest in going outside, and less in extreme adventures. I don’t believe I had a grasp even on what it meant to go out in nature. It took just one instance; however, before I would blossom quickly into an adventure junkie . Looking back I think it was that limited exposure and poor understanding that made me thirst for more.  A direct exposure to something so beautiful, like tasting something so sweet for the first time, and forever craving it thereafter.  It goes to show that if you can just open someones eyes, they may be inspired to take it to all new levels.

A post high school graduation road trip would of never happened without trying to live up to my brother Rick’s wild side, in fact that mentality still gets me in trouble. My brother was in college at the time, and he was good at it.  I don’t just mean the grades,  I mean the experience. I realized I had never experienced anything quite the same way he does; to the fullest. I don’t remember hesitating when he black canyoninvited me to cross the country with him, because at that crossroads, there was no real choice. With Rick and three perfect strangers we crossed the entire American landscape on our way to San Francisco.

Do you remember the first time that you took a deep breathe of fresh air and felt adventure filling your lungs? The people I was with, and those we would meet, allowed me to open up and pierce the shell I was hiding in all those years.  What I found when I came out of that shell was the most nurturing and addictive substance ever to be consumed by man, it was naturecrack (leezie 2011). It wasn’t the sights, the sights can be captured on high-definition television. You can try and witness all the beautiful sights of endless blue skies, deep red canyons, or towering white peaks though a TV. These are not just sights however, they are more a sense or emotion, and therefore can never be expressed or experienced on 72 inch plasma. Sharing the experience; that is the only way to understand or help anyone else understand what it feels like. The power of nature lies in every sense of your being.

I wanted to see the country’s wonders, I wanted my feet dangling from its deepest canyons, so I traveled on with old friends and with new. Each year I crossed parks, states, cities, and landmarks off my list.  It was early 2006 when I first realized for all the experience and check marks I still needed more.  It was my friend Joe that opened my eyes this time. Joe’s introduction to our wonderful world was much different than mine.  Through the scouts, Joe was brought up to always look for the longest lasting trip, the biggest craziest trip! I had been across the country with Joe already, so what was this big crazy trip?

Yellowstone FallsShooting pool and making life lists was a regular occurrence for the two of us, and it was one of those fateful nights that a new idea was born. What if instead of a dozen places in a dozen days we had but just one goal in mind……for six months.  The plan was to be completely consumed in nature and to completely consume it, to have an experience that was not in passing but challenged our commitment and understanding of everything. A feeling came over me much like it did years earlier: I don’t remember hesitating when he invited me to hike the Appalachian Trail with him because once again, I don’t feel life gives us the luxury of hesitation. Hesitation can be associated with disappointment, at least with all decisions regarding stoplights and the Appalachian Trail.

Nature would be defined differently from that moment on and yet undefinable.  Adventure would hold new meaning but with it be as contradicting as the previous statement. Adventure is of course synonymous with high adrenaline activities, but this time I found it to equally stand for the peace and tranquility found in truly knowing the wilderness. Stillness and silence was an adventure like no other.  The store (RRT) was born on one of our very first days on Appalachian Trail in late 2006.  It started with a dream and a passion, the way all good things come to be. In the midst of one adventure we were constantly planning the next.  We thought about having our own place to call home, a hub for adventurous spirits with the goods and advice to create those adventures.  We couldn’t turn and open up shop then, but that idea would never fade.

2178This experience we wanted shared on every platform that we could reach. We created a web site (the same one that hosts the store page now) and with it a blog and link to our photo journals while on the AT.  Beyond sharing with family and friends we wanted to reach a wider audience so we sought out media and were published in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Still, we wanted this trip to be big, and we wanted this thirst for adventure to spread so we decided to hike for a cause. On our 2,175 mile winter-journey we would raise $10,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southwest Ohio. What I saw was an opportunity; this was our opportunity to turn what we were doing into something bigger than ourselves. As each of us make our way in life we fight to be and to do the best we can.  When we find our moment(s) however, we need to ask ourselves if we are making the very best of the situation? Don’t be satisfied with “good for one” if you can use that moment and turn it into something that is “great for all”.  This is a lesson that I hope to carry with me for life.

I would spend 170 days out on the Appalachian Trail, my first backpacking trip ever.  This trip showed me a million things about myself, but even more of the generosity and compassion that is in this world.  The trail is much like a fairy tale, many of stories seemingly impossible or at least unlikely this day in age.  It was all real, and like I promised myself, to the fullest.  While I expected answers to very specific questions, I received almost the exact opposite; I would learn answers to questions I hadn’t even thought to ask.  You don’t always need to solve a problem, you just need a better perspective on the situation.

That entire experience was rewarding in a million ways, and as addiction goes, I wanted more. Our next trip we tried a new charity “Hike for Haiti” as I attempted a barefoot hike through Vermont’s Green Mountains. Barefoot through nature teaches humility as well, as that trip ended prematurely. When we came home my feet had no time to soften from the sharp rocky trails before more sour news came; our adventure hub had closed its doors. Nature Outfitters, a base of not just gear but support that had been a Milford staple for 20 years, was gone!  There was only one logical thing to do at this point, open our own shop.  It was a phone call after one of my evening classes at UC from my cousin Emily that set things in motion. store transition Confidently Emily and Joe asked if I was in for another adventure, and being that we are all very optimistically stubborn the next chapter soon began.  In a haste of 20-hour workdays Joe, Emily, and myself , opened the doors of RRT, not 2 months after deciding to do so.  That dream we had on the AT several years back was going to be real!

Not a moment passes that we don’t feel blessed to be in the environment we are and doing what-it-is we’re doing here at RRT.  There are too few people in life that truly get to do what they are passionate about. It was late 2010 when we opened our doors, but I couldn’t help but to feel like there was 10 years leading-up to this day. My personal growth and never ending love for the outdoors needed a home base.  With like minded friends we had the opportunity to create just that. The original idea for RRT was actually a story telling, trip planning cafe, but Roads Rivers and Trails would become much more.

CEFEveryday I look for new adventures but also new ways to share them.  RRT was never created to be a retail giant, nor was it purchased as a retirement hobby: It was created from scratch and is an adventure unto itself.  For me, adventure exists year-in and year-out through Alaska back country trips and AT visits, but adventure is also in creating running groups, educating today’s youth, organizing presentations, and preparing people young-and-old for adventures of a lifetime. One of the very first lessons I learned, and the backbone of RRT, is that it’s about sharing the experience. Through this adventure I’ve been part of more adventures than one could dream, and although I’ve had my own summits and trails completions I can honestly say my greatest satisfaction is having been there when new friends have experienced their own.  Twice now I have reached the summit of Katahdin (plus two times on my own) and shared in the pure explosion of emotions from thru-hikers, acting as more of a spectator as they finish their crowning achievement. Teaching and then leading inner city kids from classroom to trail, I have seen strangers from different schools cooperate and explore together, often for the first time.  With each day the definition of adventure changes and grows to be more than I ever expected.

Camping and Education FoundationRRT is a tool that we created: A tool that fuels adventure and drives passion. That is our business at it’s core; Our business is us. As the little guy in the market we don’t have command of supply chains, nor do we have extensive capital or corporate support, but what we found is that we don’t need those things to succeed.   In life and in business it seems it is never about the advantages that you have but the disadvantages that you overcome.  These lessons are often taught in nature, where self discovery and personal awareness last a lifetime. I challenge you all to escape to nature, even if right now you find yourself sitting at a desk.  Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and remember the first time that you let that adventurous spirit in. Let it fill your lungs once again.

Dream big, and share often.

 

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