on 30 June 2009

Tyler and Jason cooked up some great veggie burgers!

Groton Troop 77

Yesterday we met up with the Groton Boy Scouts at Clarence Fahnestock
State Park. The boys cooked us a great dinner and breakfast. This
morning, we hiked about 2 miles on the AT together and had lunch on
the beach of Canopus Lake before we left to continue on North. It was
great to see some of my (former) 7th grade students again. You guys
have a solid troop and I look forward to hearing of your adventures in
the future. Thanks everyone!

Still Truckin'

on 29 June 2009

We're about 1/2 way through NY. We crossed the Hudson River last night
in the dark. We've had to put in big miles to make sure we join up
with the Groton Boy Scouts tonight at dinnertime. For the past 15
miles or so we've heard loud booms off in the distance and today I
figured it must be bombs and gun shots from West Point. I would
probably get sick of it if I lived around here.

Hello NY

on 27 June 2009

Today we hit the 9th state, my homestate of New York. I haven't been
here in nearly 3 months so it was nice. Mr Barry, my former host
teacher from Homer, sent me a compact fishing pole that I used for the
first time today. All I caught was a small Northern Pike which was too
small to cook up.

Goodbye NJ

After a 35 mile slackpack we finished New Jersey in only 2 days. The
2nd half was much better than the first. The trail was marked and
maintained much better. We hiked through some very nice parts of NJ
including a National Wildlife Refuge and a sweet boardwalk with lots
of good waterfowl to observe. Lucy enjoyed the slackpack too.

New Jersey

on 25 June 2009

Yesterday morning Kevin got picked by his mom at Delaware Water Gap to
take care of some things at home and he already did the NJ section in
high school. He took everything in my pack but food and water and I
"slackpacked" 41 miles to High Point State Park where Kevin and his
mom picked me up. I hiked from 5:30am until 7:15pm. My legs are like
machines right now but i definitely maxed out. It's weird to think
that I will never walk that far in one day again for the rest of my

I saw 3 bears and 4 deer yesterday. After 26 miles I came across a
deli so I decided to get a sandwich and a couple Gatorades. Ok, I also
got ice cream, candy, and some chips. I walked in and pluged my phone
in on my way to the counter and waited for the owner to finish up
filling to cooler with juice. He finished and walked around to serve
me. The first thing he said was "I unplugged your phone, I can't allow
that. So what can I get you"? If I had more willpower I would have
said "nothing, I think I'm all set" and walked out. In
hindsight I should have offered him the 3 cents to charge my phone for
a half hour just for the entertainment of his reply. The funny thing
is that at the beginning of the trip I used to ask people if they
minded if I plugged in my phone while I ate at a diner or deli but I
usually got a look like "of course you can, why bother asking"?
Anyway, this was my first experience ever with someone in NJ. I've
only driven through the state. Right now I'm staying at Kevin's
parents house - where people are a little more human. They're great
people and have a cool post/beam house in a really nice part of the
state. We're taking a "zero" day and my feet appreciate it after
yesterday. Tomorrow we're shooting to finish the state and enter good
ol' New York.

Food and Family

on 23 June 2009

Tonight my 2nd cousin, Barb, met up with us in Delaware Water Gap, PA
and took us out to dinner. It was nice seeing her again and food other
than granola bars and honey buns is always a special treat.

Someone mentioned I should try out for a Geico caveman commercial.
Yesterday we got a ride to a store from an elementary teacher down
here and he seemed VERY surprised when I told him I was a teacher as
well. What?? Teachers in PA don't look like this?? So tomorrow we
enter state #8, New Jersey. Have a great summer Groton students and
make sure you check the blog all summer!

My GPS Position

on 22 June 2009

This is a pretty crazy area. We are outside of Palmerton, PA which was home to a century of zinc mining and smelting. This practice severly affected the area as emmisions created very acidic soils and removed a lot of the mountain vegetation. The federal governent shut down the zinc furnaces in 1980 and put it on the Superfund cleanup list in 1982. The area is slowly coming back to life thanks to the application of Ecoloam -a mixture of municipal waste sludge, fly ash, lime, fertilizer, and seeds. Pines, tall grasses, and blueberries have taken hold as the wounds heal. There are still plenty of sandstone and quartzite boulders as well. 

Before you begin cursing the zinc industry though we should consider all of the products that contain zinc. It's just a shame it was processed so irresponsibly.  

This is My Current GPS Position:
Latitude: 40.782377
Longitude: -75.618253
Google Maps link

Sent from my iPhone


The wild blueberries are coming ripe here in PA along the trail.
Needless to say I am getting my fix of antioxidants!

Right now it's 5:55am and we just woke up for a big day. We've been
putting in around 20 miles a day but we're shooting for 25 today.
We're outside of Allentown, PA right now and it seems the further east
we get in this state, the rockier it gets. Our feet are pretty sore
from walking on sharp pointed rocks. Today we'll go through
Palmerton, PA which supposedly has the toughest rock scramble south of
New Hampshire so that'll take some time. Tomorrow evening we''ll be
entering the 8th state, New Jersey.

Sent from my iPhone


on 20 June 2009

Yesterday afternoon Kevin saw a rattlesnake. PA is the best state for
sighting these things. He described the snake as "not very long but
very thick". It was coiled up and it rattled as he got closer. The
rattle was like "the sound of Tic-Tacs being shaken". Honestly, I'm ok
if I don't see one.

My GPS Position

on 17 June 2009

This is Stony Mtn. I can hear hammering from the coal mine on the other side of the mountain. Is it visable on Google Earth?

This is My Current GPS Position:
Latitude: 40.451467
Longitude: -76.735146
Google Maps link

Sent from my iPhone

Have a great summer

Hi Groton Elementary! I'm taking a rest in this tree while Lucy and I
wait for Mr DeVoe and Kevin to catch up. I just remembered that school
is almost out for summer so I wanted to say a few things.

First of all, I hope you all had a great but challenging school year.
Make sure you keep your brain busy this summer by reading a couple
books. I know I will be.

Secondly, try to get outside as much as possible. I know a lot of you
play soccer or baseball over the summer but there are all sorts of
other ways to stay busy outside. I've learned from this trip that life
is all about your experiences and things you learn not about what
video games you own or stuff like that. In the Shenandoah Mtns, my
favorite moment was standing on Stoney Man cliff after a thunderstorm
cleared up. It created the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen. That
experience could never be reproduced on a TV screen.

Get outside and be safe this summer Groton.


Yesterday the AT went through a tunnel that was constructed to avoid a
dangerous road crossing. The fact that this trail extends non-stop
through the Eastern US is truly amazing. Thousands of people have
spent thousands of hours building and maintaining this 2,175 mile long
trail. Funding for projects like this tunnel come from Appalachian
Trail Conservancy memberships, donations, and grants.

1/2 way

on 15 June 2009

One of the best things about hiking the AT is that you can pretty much
eat anything and still lose weight. I try to eat healthy but calories
and fat are actually very necessary when you hike 10 hrs a day.

It's tradition that at the 1/2 way point hikers take the "1/2 gallon
challenge". I finished mine easily in under 20 minutes but I don't
think I'd ever do it again. It totalled 1600 calories.

I chose Peanut Butter Mania in honor of my girlfriend Courtney because
I think that's what she would have picked out of the selection. As you
can imagine it takes a lot of work for someone to disapear into the
wood for 5 months. Not only has she been finishing up a great 1st year
of teaching at Caroline Elementary in Ithaca but she has also been
filling a critical role of mailing us food drops, taking care of the
pets, mowing the lawn, taking care of my mail, etc. I'm 1/2 way done
and enjoying everything but really looking forward to getting home to
her and back to the "normal" life.

Message to 7th graders

Dear Groton 7th graders,

I hope you enjoyed this year and getting the opportunity to learn from Mr Rafferty in science as well. I heard he's been doing a great job. The first day of school I said that this would be a year of transition and great personal accomplishments. I enjoyed seeing many of you succeed in a variety of ways this year but I am sorry I missed out on spring sports, the drama club production, and the spring awards picnic. Even though I missed these things I look forward to seeing your accomplishments in the years to come. Even though you change teachers each year, you should know that we all keep an eye on you as you progress through school and after. Right now I am seeing the 9th and 10th graders (my first group) become leaders in the high school and the community.

Today marks the 1/2 way point on the Appalachian Trail. Most hikers that start in Georgia never make it this far due to injury or the monotony of doing the same thing every day. I feel lucky because I haven't really gotten bored of the woods yet. I think it is, in part, because I went into this with some knowledge of the woods already. When most see trees, I see oaks, maples, and hickories. When most hear birds, I hear thrushes, owls, and sparrows. When most see the same things over and over, I try to look at them differently. My point is that the more you learn about things in life, the more you can appreciate and admire the diversity of things around you. Just because it is summer doesn't mean you should sit around and I hope you do not realize one August morning that you've already wasted a month of break. Get out and learn something new, explore the waterfalls of the area, or develop a new talent. I think you'll find that others will admire you for this. So today, since I will be eating a 1/2 gallon of ice cream to celebrate the 1/2 way point I wanted to leave you a gift as well. Enjoy.


Mr. DeVoe

A day off

on 13 June 2009

Today Mr Filzen and Mr Wiech came down to southern PA to "rescue" us
from the trail. They also brought amazing support from Groton
teachers, administrators, and students. This school and community
truly is amazing. Thank you everyone. Today we toured Gettysburg with
the best tour guide I could think of; Groton's very own, Mr Filzen
with his enthusiastic and intense delivery. The students are lucky to
have such a great history department. Mr Wiech also answered my
Appalachian Mountain geology questions. I think the science department
is pretty solid as well = ) It was a great day of relaxation and
learning. The history aspect of this trip has been most personally
rewarding to me. It is definitely something that needs to be
experienced. Tomorrow we'll say our goodbyes and they'll drop us off
to start our 18 mile day to the official 1/2 way point on the AT. I'm
looking forward to coming home but also look forward to each day of
hiking in the amazing country.

on 11 June 2009

Hi Mr D.'s class. Thanks for posting. I always enjoy hearing what you
guys are up to. It sounds like you had a good time at the MOST. I went
to college in Syracuse so I've been there a couple times. It's a great
place and the IMAX is killer! Have fun at SeaBeaze for those going.
I've never been there but have heard good things. The trail is great
but it's starting to get rocky so we need to be careful not to roll an
ankle. Someone asked a question about the AT. I've heard that around
2000 people attempt to thru-hike it each year (like us). Most do not
make it. There are, however, thousands of others that do day hikes or
section hikes each year. It's a really popular trail. It's still fun
and I don't plan on giving up until I reach Maine this August! Enjoy
your weekend everyone.

Sent from my iPhone

Goodbye Maryland

We're about to enter the 7th state as we cross the Mason-Dixon line into Pennsylvania. Maryland was a nice hike and full of history. 

This is My Current GPS Position:
Latitude: 39.717057
Longitude: -77.508867
Google Maps link

Sent from my iPhone

Harpers Ferry

on 10 June 2009

This morning we stopped in at the AT headquarters. It's tradition that
all hikers stop here in Harpers Ferry to register and get their photos
taken. We were hikers number 287 and 288 for 2009.

My GPS Position

on 09 June 2009

What a cool town. OK Groton, who can tell me the historical significance of Harpers Ferry?

This is My Current GPS Position:
Latitude: 39.322944
Longitude: -77.730267
Google Maps link

Sent from my iPhone

Goodbye Virginia (almost)

It's been awhile since we've seen a state line. We do cross back into
Virginia again though before Harpers Ferry. The next 3 states will go
fairly quickly.

We've been adjusting to the transition into summer. Today and
yesterday are in the upper 80s and the insects are swarming our heads.
It's been rough but it's all part of it.


on 07 June 2009

Coal mining is a huge part of the Appalachian economy. Coal is a "fossil fuel" which is the accumulation of ancient plants that died 540-240 millions of years ago in "coal swamps". It's so abundant down here that a geologic period was named the "Pennsylvanian" to reflect this. This point in Earth's history was dominated by ferns and gymnosperms with many winged insects and amphibians as the dominate land creatures. This was much earlier than the age of dinosaurs.

In the early 1900's, the burning of these "fossil fuels" became routine in our lives as we heated our homes and filled up our cars with this "stored sunlight". The sun is the ultimate source of energy on the planet and fossil fuels represent a very concentrated form of sunlight that gives off enormous amounts of energy when lit. Think about how easy it is to light your stove, ignite a lighter, turn on your car, and start your furnace.

Sadly we import a large amount of fossil fuels from the middle east in the form of oil to do the above activities. Many suggest we should be relying more on our country's abundance of coal. Coal, however, pollutes the air more than other fossil fuels. In addition, it it common practice down here to extract it from the Earth through "Mountain-Top Removal". This is where companies go into the mountains and dig through a whole mountain to clear out the coal like in the picture above. This is an ugly process that puts pollution into streams an is an eyesore from above. There is a movement to ban this practice but we need more public support. These companies are careful not to do it where people can see it (next to highways or close to where people live). If you'd like to voice your concern about this please visit this website to help and learn more. Click here for a Google Earth tour of mountaintop removal.

Instead of fossil fuels, let's Go Green! I'm interested to hear about what you all know about "alternative" forms of energy. How can we create electricity without causing pollution? Please leave a comment.

MotionX GPS Track: Va 522 - I-66


Mr. DeVoe uses MotionX-GPS on the iPhone 3G and is sharing with you the following track:

Name: Va 522 - I-66
Date: Jun 7, 2009 11:33 am
Distance: 7.88 miles
Elapsed Time: 2:53:46
Avg Speed: 2.7 mph
Max Speed: 7.6 mph
Avg Pace: 22' 03" per mile
Min Altitude: 733 ft
Max Altitude: 1,858 ft
Start Time: 2009-06-07T15:33:35Z
Start Location:
Latitude: 38.878298º N
Longitude: 78.150859º W
End Time: 2009-06-07T18:27:21Z
End Location:
Latitude: 38.909208º N
Longitude: 78.053372º W

Click on this link to display the track in Google Maps. This link will be valid until Jul 7, 2009 12:23 PM PDT.

There are two files attached to this email:

"Va 522 - I-66.kmz" is a Google KML track that can be displayed in Google Earth or Google Maps.

"Va 522 - I-66.gpx" is an Open Standard track that can be displayed by select mapping software.

MotionX-GPS Commonly Asked Questions:

Q1: What is MotionX-GPS?
A1: MotionX-GPS, available for the iPhone 3G, is the essential application for hikers, bike riders, joggers, and geocaching enthusiasts. It puts an easy-to-use, state-of-the-art handheld GPS system on your iPhone 3G.
Q2: Can I use MotionX-GPS?
A2: Sure! MotionX-GPS Lite for the iPhone 3G is free and can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store here.
Q3: How can I display tracks in Google Earth?
A3: Follow the directions on the Google Earth web site to download and install the Google Earth program. Save the attached Va 522 - I-66.kml file to your computer. Launch Google Earth, select File, Open, and open the saved Va 522 - I-66.kml file.
Q4: What is a GPX Track?
A4: GPX stands for GPS Exchange Format and is used to transfer GPS data between many GPS devices and applications, including Google Earth. A track is a path recorded by MotionX-GPS showing movement over the surface of the Earth.
Q5: This e-mail was forwarded to me and I can't find the attachments!
A5: Some e-mail programs do not include the original attachments by default when forwarding an e-mail. In this case, the sender must reattach the original files for them to be included.

Please contact us here with any comments or questions.

All the best,

The MotionX Team

US and Foreign Patents Granted and Pending. Fullpower® is a registered trademark of Fullpower Technologies, Inc. MotionX™ is a trademark of Fullpower Technologies, Inc. © Copyright 2003 - 2009 Fullpower Technologies, Inc. All rights reserved.

ref-id: 349cec3f-7196-4973-b07d-06f0b3ee0017

Diet and Exercize

on 06 June 2009

Hi, my name is Kevin and I lost 30 pounds in only one month using the
AT weight loss plan. All you do is consume 5000-6000 calories a day
in any form you want. I usually eat a mixture of Little Debbie snacks,
protein bars, and try for one all you can eat buffet a week. Sound too
good to be true? Well it's not, as long as you carry a 35 lb pack 15
- 20 miles a day!


on 05 June 2009

Last night around 7 we got a real treat. We saw a bear from a distance
and as we got closer we saw that she had her 3 cubs with her. They
were climbing a tree as we walked by. We definitely got lucky! Today
we'll be leaving the park and hopefully get better weather soon.

It's business time

on 04 June 2009

Several people have asked about going to the bathroom in the woods.
It's a good question actually. This is a picture of a privy that every
shelter has. They are much like the outhouses that houses used to have
before indoor plumbing. If you're lucky, they even have doors!
Because the human intestines have millions of bacteria to digest food
it is very important that human waste is burried at least 150ft from a
water source so things like E.coli aren't consumed by people drinking
the water. This is part of the "leave no trace" ethics that the Groton
boy scouts are learning about. So what do you think? Do you
appreciate you bathroom at home now?

on 03 June 2009

Here is the sunset from Skyline Drive. Shenandoah is a beautiful place
and the closest national park to Groton. It's definitely worth the trip.

Today we got another package from Groton Elementary. Thanks so much
guys! I loved reading the morning announcements scripts too. We also
received a package from the 2 airline pilots I met on the approach
trail back on Springer Mtn in Georgia. Everyone has been amazingly
supportive. Thank you all.


on 02 June 2009

Today we crossed the 900 mile mark and are creeping closer to the 1/2
way point on the AT. For the past 4 days we've done over 20 miles a
day. The terrain is a lot easier but the feet still get tender by the
end of the day. Yesterday we were on the trail at 8am and hiked until
sunset. My feet are in good shape but my baby toenails are ready to
fall off. They've been dead since week 2.

Shenandoah National Park

on 01 June 2009

We are now hiking through our second National Park. Shenandoah National Park includes 300 square miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the southern Appalachians with tens of thousands of living creatures including white tail deer, black bear and 36 fish species that live within the park’s streams. The Appalachian Trail covers around 75 miles within the slender park that runs North-South through Northern Virginia.