Bluegrass Music Trail Blog entry #1

Yesterday, we posted about the efforts of Amos Hopkins and Katy Graves to raise money to provide instruments and bluegrass instruction for children in the Appalachian region with their hike-a-thon of The Appalachian Trail. We mentioned in that post that they would be keeping a journal of their adventure, and that we would post it here on Bluegrass Today.

Their first installment is included here, and it is a compendium of the first two entries they wrote. We have created a category here on Bluegrass Today for his posts, and you can follow them by bookmarking this link, or by clicking on the icon that will accompany their entries.

Anyone who would like to know more about their project, can find it on The Bluegrass Music Trail website, and financial pledges can be made as either a one time flat donation, or in the traditional “pledge per mile” form commonly used in walk-a-thon types of fundraisers. Find all the pledge and donation info here.

From Amos Hopkins and Katy Graves May 19, 2006

So it is our last day in Cincinnati. Our backpacks are full to the brim, and are heavy enough for me to imagine the blisters on the bottom of my feet which will be appearing soon. We slept in late knowing that this would be the last time we sleep in a bed for a long time. It so strange to think that we’ll be sleeping on the ground for the next 6 months. I cant express how excited I am, but there is still a lingering feeling of trepidation. I know that we will have a physically grueling time at first. But it will be amazing none-the-less.

Here is what I expecting to get out of this expedition:

I hope to commune with nature, become more familiar with my ancestral place of origin, learn more about myself without the influences of consumer culture (everything out there must have a viable function or its not worth the weight in the back pack), become even closer with my girlfriend, learn more about my goals in life, bring more spirituality into my life, and to learn to take things “one Step At a Time” so to speak.

To actually finish this hike of 2,175 miles, It takes strategy. The physical aspect of our strategy is tied in greatly with proper nutrition, pacing, and taking care of ourselves and each other. We both have a lot learn in these areas, especially me probably. I am more of a “jump in head first and bite off more then I can chew” kind of guy. I will be the one pushing (or pulling) us down the trail, while Katy will be the one keeping the pace.

Then there is the mental or psychological aspect that is even more daunting. How do we keep ourselves from becoming discouraged, overwhelmed, impatient, or even worse becoming bored? My theory is that it is all about having the right attitude. As we go on this trip it will be our responsibility to make sure that we keep ourselves and each other happy. With happiness, everything is possible. Already this seems like a great thing to master which will benefit us for the rest of our lives.

Of course we are both pretty happy already. But I seek the mechanics of happiness. How often are we conscious about enjoying the finest things in our life? Sometimes it just happens. Other times we forget. My guess is that it is even greater if we make it a priority. While we hike, we will have PLENTY of time for thinking, pondering and practicing. Our happiness is like a garden right? We need to give it the proper ingredients for growth.

While we hike this trail, and I leave these periodic entries, I will talk about the culture of local areas, history, what is going on with us and our trip, and also what is happening with our charities. The truth is, I felt a bit guilty about going out into the woods for 6 months just for self indulgent purposes. These charities will make a huge impact if and when we raise enough money. I guess I will be thinking of the possibilities for the next 6 months.

Today we are leaving for Harper’s Ferry West Virginia. It is a beautiful little town. I’ve always wanted to go there. We’ve got a friend driving us out there. Our plan is to eat a big huge steak dinner, drink way too much beer, and hit the hay for an early start on Saturday.

I’ll send another update soon. Wish us luck!

One Step At a Time,


From Amos Hopkins and Katy Graves May 25, 2006

Greetings from Pennsylvania!

This past week has been quite a start of our adventures, beginning in Harpers Ferry, WV, hiking through Maryland and now in Waynesboro, PA, just across the Mason Dixon line. After receiving a ride into town from a lovely couple and their 5 year old son who could tell you all the state capitols and their slogans, we were able to enjoy our first night with a shower, soft bed and two large pizzas. I almost started to cry when I felt that hot water, it was so divine! Simple pleasures mean so so much, after a week in the woods. We got our first mail drop from Amos’ mom, Bet (You rock, MomBet!) and realized we have planned for way too much food. Our hikers appetites haven’t quite set in yet, so we don’t need the 4,000 calories per day we were expecting. The rubbing alcohol and foot powder were a godsend to treat my lovely blistered feet. Amos and I are fairing pretty well, physically, except for a few aches and pains- my left ACL especially and Amos’ planters tendon.

Other than that we have been doing pretty well. We’ve been doing better mileage than we expected and enjoyed a week of perfect weather. We had a great time meeting fellow thru hikers at the shelters and sharing our trail names with them. A thru hiking tradition, everyone tends to receive a trail name that they use along the way and others come to know you by. Amos has been dubbed “Mowgli” because of his insane tree climbing capabilities and ingenious bear bag hanging. This past week he climbed several trees with diameters of only 6 inches, with no branches. He’s such a monkey! I have been, unfortunately, named “Covergirl” for reasons I will not go too far into, except to say it involved a secretly hidden eyeliner pencil. So we’ve enjoyed meeting other hikers and being amused by their stories and personalities and are surprised by the fact that we are older than most of the thru-hikers we’ve met.

Right now we have been averaging 8-10 miles per day and the terrain has been somewhat tame (according to Amos. I fear what difficult terrain, according to him, is). We’ve decided, already, that we hate oatmeal and are quickly tiring of beef jerky, but we LOVE Paydays.

This next week, we expect to make it through to Port Clinton, PA, in time for a night in a hotel on my 25th B-day (5-31) and then back to the trail.

I’ve really enjoyed the wildflowers and ample springs. It smells so good out in the middle of nowhere! We promised each other on the first day of our trip that our own happiness and the happiness of each other is our number one priority. Amos has done a great job making me laugh, taking care of my feet, and being my personal cheerleader. I have a sense it will get harder in many ways and easier in others and I am thankful we have one another to get us up the Trail.

Amos needs to use the computer, so I gotta go. Thanks to all you have sent such supportive emails our way. We love to know we have such awesome support as we go forth on our awesome adventure!

Love you all and will write more soon!

Happy Trails!,

Covergirl and Mowgli

Email Amos and Katy.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.