Fulfill Your Hiking Dream! Here to help fellow hikers by offering wisdom, ideas, and lessons learned from a two-time AT North and South, Long Trail, Foothills Trail, Allegheny Trail, Colorado Trail, Florida Trail, Shenandoah Nat'l Park 500 miler completions. Former Ridgerunner, Author, and now Speaker
Running Jersey Ridges - Guest Blog on the Life of an AT Ridgerunner Part 1
Blissful Hiking Welcomes Guest Blogger Jerry "Grasshopper" Adams who shares the life of a ridgerunner working New Jersey and New York. If you are ever in the neighborhood, say hello to a ridgerunner (they love to chat!). Blissful of Blissful Hiking is working this summer in Shenandoah National Park.
Running Jersey Ridges, Part 1
Birdman and Grasshopper
By Jerry Adams
summer thunderstorm blew through Delaware Water Gap, up and across the
Kittatinny Ridge, its winds whipping the Backpacker Campsite on a steamy August
thunder boomed and its lightning crackled as heavy wind and rain slapped the
tarp against the tent. Braced inside, I pushed back hard to support straining
poles, happy to be dry but knowing that storms earlier in the summer had
snapped a pole, collapsed the tent and sent the 16x20 tarp sailing.
wind died as the storm moved north.A
steady rain continued as I slipped outside to check for damage and see how
others camped on the mountain had fared. Thankful for having gotten to shelter
just ahead of the nasty weather, I knew others had not been as fortunate and I
used my emergency radio to call park police about some very soggy hikers headed
knew at least a dozen people were scattered along the four miles of Appalachian
Trail back to the visitor center at the Delaware River; I was especially
worried about one heavyset couple I had passed an hour earlier, just before the
were moving slow, wearing the wrong shoes, and starting to mumble and whine
about the long walk back to their car. The four miles up to Sunfish Pond was
harder than they had expected and the pond was very nice; what, now they had to
hike four miles back?
to chat, because that’s what ridgerunners do, I did my best to cheer them on
with the news that it was only three easy miles to the bottom. Yes, I agreed,
walking downhill often hurts more than walking uphill; and yes, hiking is
harder than walking.
trudged slowly on; I moved quickly and eagerly up the trail, heading north,
excited to be starting a 75-mile hike across New Jersey.
with the trail name “Grasshopper,” I had thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in
2011 and had fond memories of the five hot days I had spent crossing Jersey.
Blessed with the opportunity to return in 2012 as a ridgerunner known as AT-3,
I spent five days each week in the woods, hiking different chunks of trail, and
covering about 40 miles.I was living
the dream -- paid to hike and spending the season with hikers, trail
volunteers, work crews, and Trail Angels and hoped to give back and help them
as much as they had helped me on my own long walk north.
told over the past 18 months, I had hiked more than 2500 miles and had lived in
the woods for nearly a year.
by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the New Jersey Parks Service, and the New
York / New Jersey Trail Conference, I was one of three ridgerunners in Jersey
for the season.We are “boots on the
ground” to help folks safely enjoy the AT, its forests and footpaths, to share
the gospel of Leave No Trace and to keep tabs on the trail and those using it.
share directions and advice, remind people to store food in bear boxes, and to
pack out their own trash. We explain that the sign saying “No Ground Fires”
really does mean that campfires are not allowed (yes, this means you) and that
“no alcohol” means “no alcohol.”And
yes, the leash law applies to your dog, too.
we shared housing with summer interns and firefighters at the Lake Wallkill
Wildlife Refuge. In the field, we were wonderfully supported and shuttled by
the good folks who work in and manage the state’s four public forests,
especially Rebecca Fitzgerald at High Point and Ernie Kabert at Worthington.
had been camping at Backpacker for five days, hiking nearby trails and keeping
tabs on Sunfish Pond, a gorgeous glacial lake that attracts hundreds of hikers
and tempts many to ignore the ban against camping and swimming.
had gathered trash from near the pond and in the bear boxes and I was making my
rounds, when I encountered an Outward Bound group headed north.We had met the night before and they happily
gathered again to hear me “talk trash.” Holding my bag aloft, I said, “I know
this isn’t your trash, but this is what others have left. This is why we …Leave No Trace!”
No Trace!” they shouted. “Thank you, Grasshopper,” they say in chorus as my
lesson ended, and they moved on.