REI Alpharetta – Over 800 people waiting in line at 10am

REI opened their 5th store in the Atlanta metro area today in Alpharetta, GA and clearly their marketing folks have figured it out.  There were over 800 people waiting in line at 10am when the doors opened.  

Yeah …. people love free stuff, and REI delivered.  The first 200 in the door received a water bottle with a $25-100 gift card inside.   I opted to head back to work rather than line up as shopper #804.  How in the world did so many people get off work mid-morning on a Friday anyway?  


Walk In The Woods premieres to mixed reviews

Walk In The Woods premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this week to mixed reviews.  Here’s a sampling…

The Guardian

Plenty of silly little incidents ensue along the way, with lots of jokes about advancing years. Most of these episodes are far too low-stakes to carry a movie and the bigger picture, about two men past their prime trying to figure out what to do in their old age, is handled far too simply to have real impact. The result is something that is just fine. It’s pleasant enough to watch, but by no means riveting or revolutionary.”

Hollywood Reporter

A delightful journey with fine star turns by Redford and Nolte that should prove a good draw for finicky older audiences.” 

New  York Post

“Tame gags are about all the film has to offer. Major distributors were in attendance at the premiere; the chief of one of them left halfway through.” 

Salt Lake Magazine

“I fear the adaptation of the book that premiered at Sundance could destroy future sales of Bryson’s travel cult classic—and could put the uninitiated off the AT itself.” 

Salt Lake City Tribune

“If you’re going on a journey, it’s good to have familiar traveling companions — which is why “A Walk in the Woods” is a trip worth taking.”

It’s pleasant enough cinematic comfort food, but even so, you may be hungry again soon afterward.”

Relying Too Much On Technology On The Trail

Here’s an interesting article about over reliance on technology on the Trail.  From Glacier National Park and reported by the Magic City Morning Star: 


“I don’t know what to do,” she said several times. And that, of course, was the problem. They were strangers in this strange land of “no cell service.” No texts. No calls. No contact. And while the manager offered her options, the girl’s reaction got me thinking. This almost teenager wasn’t prepared to handle even a slight deviation from the easy contact comfort of technology. What would she have done in a real crisis?


Farewell To Bill Irwin, First Blind Hiker To Hike The Appalachian Trail

I read Bill Irwin’s book during my 1994 thru-hike – very inspiring.  He was the first blind hiker to hike the entire Appalachian Trail and did it with the assistance of his dog Orient.  Sad to hear that he has passed over the weekend:

“Bill Irwin, who in 1990 became the first and only blind person to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail without human assistance or companionship, died Saturday morning.”

video story on You Tube…







Krakauer Offers New Insight In To What Killed Chris McCandless

Yesterday, author Jon Krakauer posted an article in the New Yorker  that claims to solve the mystery once and for all on how Chris McCandless died … 

“Considering that potentially crippling levels of ODAP are found in wild-potato seeds, and given the symptoms McCandless described and attributed to the wild-potato seeds he ate, there is ample reason to believe that McCandless contracted lathyrism from eating those seeds.”

You might recall that Chris McCandless was the tragic figure in the Krakauer book and Sean Penn movie “Into The Wild“.  While this latest research will not bring McCandless back, Krakauer points out that it may “prevent other backcountry foragers from accidentally poisoning themselves”.  


Just watched Jester’s “Embrace The Brutality” DVD last night on his thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail. It is both interesting and entertaining. I now have a new respect for route finding on the 3100 mile Trail – which runs from Mexico to Canada.


Mountain Man v's Government – The History Channel's Eustace Conway

Photo of Turtle Island's Eustace Conway on his ranch in N.C. from

It's hard to say how much “reality” is in the History Channel's “Mountain Men” TV series – but I confess to watching and enjoying the program. Here's an interesting article on Eustace Conway, the North Carolina mountain man who promotes sustainable and primative living. It's a tale of man v's government and how the popular TV series may have saved his beloved Turtle Island near the Pisgah National Forest:

Acting on a complaint about alleged illegal building, officials from the Watauga County Planning and Inspection Department raided Turtle Island last fall and found dozens of structures without required permits. Citing numerous potential health and safety code violations, the county attorney gave Conway three options: Bring the buildings up to minimum state standards, have an expert certify that they already met code and obtain proper permits, or tear them down.”

Red Flags In The Idaho Backcountry

When Mark John spotted two hikers in the backcountry of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness – something didn't seem right:  

“Usually when you meet people in the back country, you have a pretty good encounter, you know, and talk about where they've been and where they're going. But they didn't want to talk,” he told reporters at CNN.

Salmon River – Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness

The Idaho horseman was riding with his wife and another couple when he came upon James DiMaggio, 40 and Hannah Anderson, 16 who were hiking near the Salmon River.  He had a backpack, and she was wearing what looked like either sweatpants or pajamas.  

“They were just like a square peg going into a round hole. They didn't fit.” 

Turns out that DiMaggio (who is suspected of killing Anderson's mother and younger brother) resisted arrest after they were later tracked by an FBI tactical team who  shot and killed DiMaggio.  

Hannah Anderson was then returned to her father – who knew and was friends with DiMaggio in San Diego County, California.  Fortunately for Anderson, the horseman recognized that something was wrong in the backcountry and reported it to law enforcment.    

Naked Rambler Gets “”Long” Jail Sentence

From the Daily Echo in the UK….

A HAMPSHIRE man dubbed the Naked Rambler has failed in a bid to challenge his latest jail sentence.

Stephen Gough gained notoriety after walking naked from Land’s End to John o’Groats ten years ago – and has since been handed prison sentences totalling more than six years.

The 54-year-old was jailed for 11 months in June after being found guilty of breaching an antisocial behaviour order (ASBO) which bans him from appearing in public with his genitals or buttocks uncovered.

He had breached the order within minutes of being given it at Southampton Magistrates’ Court in February by appearing on the steps of the court completely naked – save for his socks, hiking boots and a small rucksack.

Gough, of Chamberlayne Road, Eastleigh, has now challenged his sentence at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, with his lawyers arguing it was “too long”.

Search For Missing Maine Hiker Now Focuses On Trail Near Stratton, ME

The Associated Press reports that the search for a missing Maine hiker now focuses on a short section of trail near Stratton, ME:


“The Maine Warden Service is narrowing the search area as it tries to determine what happened to 66-year-old Geraldine Largay of Brentwood, Tenn. She contacted her husband on July 21 from the top of Saddleback Mountain but failed to meet up with him as planned the following day.  Authorities are focusing on a 14-mile section of the trail in Carrabassett Valley, but believe the best chance of finding the missing hiker is in a nine-mile stretch between Lone Mountain and a dirt road west of Sugarloaf Mountain.”


Largay was last heard from on July 22nd and the search is now focused on a steep section of trail near Caribou Valley Road.  I know this area well because I hiked it with my son only three weeks earlier during a trip to Maine this July.  



Steep section of the Appalachian Trail near Caribou Valley Road



It is a very rocky section of trail that makes a steep descent and is quite challenging.  My son fell numerous times, and it's plausible that Largay could have done the same.  Rescuers say they are baffled by her disapperance and have had help from Maine Warden Service aircraft, Civil Air Patrol, Mahoosuc Search and Rescue, Franklin County Search and Rescue, Acadia National Park Search and Rescue, and the Maine Search and Rescue.  


Caribou Valley Road near Sugarloaf Ski Resort



Largay was an experienced hiker that had carried a backpack from Harper's Ferry, WV.  to this area near Sugarloaf Ski Resort.  So she would be better prepared than most to wait out a rescue, but nearly a week in to the effort her fate remains unknown.