Monday, November 12, 2012

Look What Arrived in the Mail Today

Such an amazing feeling getting my oversized envelope from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy today -- It's in the official ATC records, folks! The past 2 and half months in Michigan have been wonderful I am really enjoying my time as an Outdoor Education Instructor at YMCA Camp Pendalouan. It's a very similar job to my summer camp gigs in the past. However, it has a stronger education component to it than summer camp. My favorite classes to teach are Michigan Fur Trade and Lumber. Not a coincidence that those involve a lot of local history. 


It was recently brought to my attention that this photo never made it to the blog, just my facebook. Didn't want to leave anyone out! Another huge "Thank You!" to all those that donated this would not have been successful without your donations. 

Chicago Fire Soccer Club President, Julian Posada & Chicago Fire Foundation Executive Director, Jessica Yavitz
Accepting the donations. **The Final amount exceeded $2,500** 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Media Blitz!

Could not help but make a Mckayla is not impressed meme. See more at
Yesterday my mug and pair of beaten up shoes were on the front page of the Journal Standard! On  Wednesday, Chicago Fire staff writer Jeff Crandall published an story about my hike. Jeff's story has 15+ never before seen photos from my hike, so you have to check those out. I enjoyed both interviews and hope that they will bring in more donations to the Chicago Fire Foundation!

No challenge too big by Jane Lethlean

Matt Mason Finishes Appalachian Trail by Jeff Crandall

Tomorrow I will present the Chicago Fire Foundation with a oversized check of all my donations I have collected. If you have not donated, there is still time, donate today!

I finally have all of my photos in my possession after visiting with the wonderful Shelby Rogers this week. Stay tuned as they will be featured on the blog, soon. Just after wade thru 5,000 photos first!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Happy 75th Birthday Appalachian Trail!

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the completion of the Appalachian Trail! The trail was constructed by the hard work of volunteers and Civilian Conservation Corps. members of the Maine Civilian Conservation Corps finished building a 2-mile section of trail in the woods of western Maine, thus marking, for the first time ever, a continuous footpath from Maine to Georgia. On Saturday July 21, 2012 we passed by the final stretch of trail and paid our respects. To celebrate the anniversary I will be filling out my 2,000er Miler Application!

Just finished an interview with the Journal Standard. Thanks again to Jane Lethlean, for her stories and on going coverage of my hike in the Journal Standard. Hope to finish up my "media tour" (ha!) today with an interview with Jeff Crandall of the Chicago Fire. Speaking of the Fire, the club will be honoring me at half time this Saturday. I am very excited and anxious about that!

In other news, I will be moving to Montague, MI on August 31st to start my job as an Outdoor Education Instructor at YMCA Camp Pendalouan.

1,984.1 miles into the hike! July 21, 2012

Another photo from Katadin, flashing the NoBo "gang sign" !

JC, Roll Tide and I happy as clams on our summit day. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Blood, Sweat, Tears & Katahdin!

August 1, 2012. Katahdin, Baxter State Park, Maine.
5,000,000 steps, 2184.2 Miles, 154 days, 28 pounds on my back, 14 states, 8 National Forests, 4 pairs of shoes, 2 National Parks, 1 amazing adventure!.

August 1, 2012 around 10:30AM my thru-hike came to a very bittersweet end! It was such a wonderful feeling seeing the very iconic Katahdin sign from a quarter mile away. When JC, Roll Tide and I approached the sign there was a group of boys from a summer camp that moved away from the sign without us having to ask. It was like they knew how special Baxter Peak was to us.

I would not have been able to make this hike possible with out the love and support of my grandma, Weezie, Mom and Shelby! These three women helped a great deal, sending packages, dealing with my "estate" in my absence, and being 100% supportive of my dream to hike the AT!

The Independent Supporters Association for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club board also needs a mention! They did lots of promotion for the hike, set up the donation page and handled the money. Their support has been unwavering!


I apologize for the delay of this photo being published here. My sister Molly came for a visit and my blog was put on the back burner. In the coming days and weeks I will be posting tons of photos/video here.

If you would like to donate please wait, there seems to be some problems with the donation page. They are currently being investigated.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How many miles left?!


It's well past "hiker midnight" (8:30pm)... the anticipation of entering the 100 Mile Wilderness is keeping me awake.

For the past nine summers I have worked/played/had tons of fun at residential summer camps, this has been my first summer without camp in my life. Just wanted to give a shout out to all my camp family at YMCA Camp Benson, Phantom Lake YMCA Camp, & YMCA Camp Pendalouan! Hope you are all enjoying your time at camp this summer. It has been strange not living the camp lifestyle this summer. I'm excited to return to it this fall in Michigan. Time to get some sleep, did I mention I'm trying to break the $1,000 fundraising mark? Please donate, here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Enter Sobos...

A rare moment in time when Sobos outnumber Nobos! Lakes of the Clouds Hut, White Mountains National Forest, New Hampshire. 
Yesterday was a short hike to the Northern Outdoors. We crossed the Kennebec River using the official AT route -- canoe! The crossing is the biggest crossing of it's kind on the Trail. It is over 100 yards across a wide river with swift and unpredictable currents. Thus, the ATC provides a free ferry across for all thru-hikers. The canoe is even properly marked with a white blaze on the hull.

As Shelby said in the previous post, I was interviewed for a documentary about thru-hiking. It is an independent film being shot under the working title "Thru-Hikers" by a group of Southbounders (SoBos). The filmmakers interviewed three Northbounders (NoBos) Jack Rabit (back row, yellow shirt) as well as J.C. (back row, HUGE BEARD) and I. Their questions were pretty standard, nothing too outrageous. If all goes according to plan J.C. and I might give the group of SoBos hiking under the group name of Dirty SouthBounders, some trail magic on Springer Mountain in December when they finish. Hopefully my interview does not end up on the editing room floor, I'll keep you posted on the release date.

Over the last few weeks we have been running into tons of SoBos. The more north we hike, the less experienced Southbounders we run into, simply because they have been hiking less miles. It is great to have someone to exchange information with about the trail ahead, hostels, upcoming side trails, or swimming holes. It's also fun to mess with SoBos. We enjoy beating them in Uno games at campsites and telling them completely false statements like "Oh yeah! Virginia is totally flat!" -- It's just good clean fun : )

I can't believe this journey will be coming to an end in less than 155 miles. My Katahdin ETA is July 31st or August 1st, (it's hard put things in stone when using foot travel) which is weird to think about... being able to put a date on the end of this hike. It seems like just a few weeks ago I was standing on a foggy mountain in Georgia called, Springer. The trail is calling my name, time to get off this internet machine and get to walking. Hope all is well!


Can you help me top the $1,000 fundraising mark for the Chicago Fire Foundation?

Please donate, here.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Hello friends and followers of Matt's hike!

Today Matt, or Pretzel, hiked his 2,000th mile on the Appalachian Trail! Now he has only around 180 miles left. 

The stretch of trail that he has been hiking for the past few weeks, in and around the White Mountains, is known as the most difficult section of the either trip. However, he is still trekking along and is on his fourth, and hopefully last, pair of shoes.

Recently Matt was interviewed for an upcoming documentary about the Appalachian Trail. I believe that the name of the documentary is simply going to be called "Thru Hikers." Hopefully he will make it to a computer soon so that he can fill in the rest of the details. 

Happy Trails! 
-Intern Shelby

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Vermont Moving Picture Show!

These videos hail from the Green Mountain State, Vermont. Reaching the state line was one of my big milestones of this trip. It proved us with great views/actual mountains (something the last few hundred miles were lacking), trail magic, stories and lots of rain!

Hiker Trash Speedometer

Hiker Trash Shower in West Hartford, VT - Spice still needs to work on his camera operating skills.

JC and I were the last ones on Bromley's lookout tower before it was taken down. 

An old section hiker once asked me "You know what the best part about wet shoes are?" I tried my best to think of something witty but the three days of continuous rain were not helping. He replied, "They'll dry out." Wise words.

Special thanks to the Dartmouth Outing Club allowing thru-hikers full access to their computer lab. Would not have been able to upload these without it!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Better Late Than Never!

I wanted to make it to Vermont before Father's Day, ended up just two days short. Sorry about the delay Dad, I kept on getting into towns while the libraries were closed.

Happy (Belated) Father's Day! 

Sad News From Maine...

Parkside at New Hampshire/Maine state line.

This is Parkside, he started hiking February 17th. Parkside was the 11th thru-hiker to pass thru the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters in Harpers Ferry, WV. He drowned on June 16th in Pierce Pond, just 11 days from summiting Mount Katahdin. I never met Parkside and only knew him from the trail registers. It was very shocking news to here of his passing. His ashes were carried from Pierce Pond to Katahdin by his friends he was hiking with. He summited yesterday.

My heart goes out to all those that hiked with Parkside, his friends and family back home.

Rest In Peace Parkside

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's cold and wet in Connecticut!

It's been a quick run through New Jersey, New York and today I hiked into my 10th state (of 14!) Over the last 8 days I have averaged over 21.7 miles a day. On June 5th I hike 31.3 miles, my longest single day of hiking in my entire life.

Myself at Gillette Stadium - June 2, 2012
After the Fire match that I attended last weekend Jeff Crandall, the Chicago Fire's team writer, did a story about me. I saw it for the first time just a few moments ago. The quote from Frank Klopas about my me/my hike is beyond flattering. Klopas is a proven legend of the Chicago Fire and it means so much to read these words from him...

“This is a special kid,” said the Fire head coach. “Getting to meet him, I’m blown away by his drive and character. Over and over you see our supporters behind us in the stands but also finding ways to help others through charity. I’m impressed with Matt’s dedication and proud to know he’s on our side.”

The entire article can be read here.

Well the library is closing up shop very soon. I hope to meet up with my Aunt Jane and Uncle Andrew in Massachusetts in the coming days. If the stars align I might even be able arrange a visit with my Dad in Bennington, Vermont!

All-in-all I'm in great spirits and very happy to be reunited with my hiking buddy JC! Happy Trails, folks!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

We travel land and sea...

Left to Right - Tony, Freddy, Casey, Frank and myself
It has been a very exciting last few days. I got a new pair of Merrell shoes, that my feet are loving -the previous pair had a rip large enough that my big two could pop out! My pack size/weight has gotten even smaller. I switched from a ULA Catalyst to a ULA Circuit. Some of my beloved Fire fans picked me up in Wind Gap, PA yesterday. We are in Massachusetts and will be attending tonight's Chicago v. New England match. Hopefully the Fire can walk away with a good result tonight! Regardless it has been great catching up with some of my friends and seeing some of the sights in Boston today. My time away from the trail will end tomorrow and I hope to cross the Delware Water Gap and enter New Jersey my 8th state so far.

I'm just past the half way point both on the AT and in my fundraising efforts. Please donate today!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 15-20


Last week I (intern Shelby) went out to Pennsylvania with one of my grade school friends, Hannah, to pay a visit to our favorite hiker, Matt!

We picked him and JC up less than half a mile away from the Mason-Dixon line between Maryland and Pennsylvania, at PenMar Park. We all spent the night at a hotel in Gettysburg, and after the men-folk hiked for a bit we met up at the Antietam Shelter in Pennsylvania, where Matt, Hannah and I spent the evening.

After that the three of us all headed down to the annual hiker festival, Trail Days, in Damascus, VA. Of course Matt made us take a slight detour at the James River Bridge, so that he could jump off a few more times.

Trail Days was great! Matt got some of his gear repaired for free by a variety of vendors, and won a free pair of Birkenstocks! He also got to meet Gene Epsy, the second man to ever thru-hike the AT. After Trail Days was over Matt and I parted ways, so that he could do two days of trail maintenance by participating in Tennessee Eastman Hiking Clubs's Hard Core (TEHC,) while I returned to Illinois.

We also took a side trip while in Virginia to the Grayson Highlands, to see wild ponies.

It was an awesome trip, but now I can't wait until I get to see Matt again! 

--Intern Shelby

Matt jumping into the James River

Matt and Gene Epsy

 Wild ponies in the Grayson Highlands

 It's MY mountain 

Hiker Parade during Trail Days!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May 9-13

I had a great time in Washington, DC. JC and I both took four zeros off. JC met up with his girlfriend for a while. I was visiting my childhood friend/Camp Benson Staffer, Tom Stowe. He works for Senator Kohl of Wisconsin. He also gives mighty fine tour of the our Nation's Capitol. It was great to kick back and relax. Being in an urban environment is such a contrast to the woods I've lived in the last two and half months. While in DC I visited the Arlington National Cemetery, Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Korean Memorial, National Museum of the American Indian, American History Museum, Capitol Building, and the National Arboretum. I was most excited to see the Dr. King Memorial. It was good to see my donation to the memorial in person. Below are a collection of my tourist photos.
Arlington Amphitheater

JFK's Grave.

Hiker Trash

Lincoln Memorial

In the footsteps of Dr. King.

Classic tourist photo

Vietnam Memorial

Vietnam Memorial
WWII Memorial
WWII Memorial & Washington Memorial

"Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope."

MLK Memorial
Korean War Memorial. This was the best image I shot while in D.C.

National Museum of the American Indian.
Tom and I at the Capitol

JC and I at the Georgia statue in the Capitol Building

JC and I at the Maine statue in the Capitol Building

The former Supreme Court Chambers. It was in this court room that the Dread Scott case was argued.

National Arboretum

Tom shreddin' down Kalmia Ave.
Never carved in Crocs before...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May 2-8th

Highlights from May 2-8th. JC, Bugger and I did a 30 something miles on the North Fork of the Shenandoah instead of hiking. This is called Aqua Blazing and is a recognized form of travel by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). We also made it to Harpers Ferry, WV home of the ATC. Harpers is known as the midway point of the Trail, even though it is almost 100 miles south of the actual midway point!

The man on the left, Brooklyn, was an amazing Trail Angel! He picked us up and took us into Elkton, VA so we could start our Aqua Blazing. He also took us for a short resupply. Thanks so much Brooklyn! L-R Brooklyn, Bugger, JC.
Bugger, JC and their vessel Tree Hugger.

One of two portages on our trip.

Whitewater on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River
Getting my paddle on.
Drying out our gear after the big tip!

Waiting out the rain at the Gravel Spring Hut in the Shenandoah National Park.

Hemingway enjoying a hitch.
Solid Hitch! Bugger & JC.

The Western Virginia state line, goodbye Virginia! Also the 1,000 mile marker.

Harpers Ferry is filled with African American history.

Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters, Harpers Ferry, WV.
Packs outside the ATC.
John Brown's Fort, Harpers Ferry, WV.