Monday, October 13, 2008

Just a Few of the Critters of the Blue Ridge Parkway

How Big a Boy Are You? Only ~2.5 Ft. and ~3 inches of Timber Rattlesnake

Beech Gap Tunnel Gap Area Monarch Migration
Did not see a single Bear, but this was the Mac Daddy evidence ~3 Pounds worth
Wooley Worm says
"Cold start to the winter followed by a warm spell and then a cold end to the Winter season."
Salamander found outside my tent door after 15 hours of steady rain
Katydid or Katydidn't
Just a few of the Critters I encountered on my walk on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Lots More to Come in the Coming Weeks

Kaci Campbell, Dr. Harley Jolley, Dave Barlow, BRP Superintendent Phil Francis at Headquarters
Sun's Rays settling behind Water Rock Knob
Fall has arrived at the Water Rock Knob Area of the Parkway

Dave "Sojourner" Barlow and Granddaughters Rebecka and Alicia Barlow with a wagon load of Operation Christmas Child Gift Boxes.

Now that the Blue Ridge Parkway Walk is finished, the work really begins. I kept a detailed Journal and have more than 350 pages of information and more than 2,360 photos that were taken on the 42 -day "Walk of a Lifetime" Some of the photos and Trail Journal entries will be posted here soon.

Anyone that hikes long distances will recognize the expression "Trail Angels" I will try to list in the coming days some of the Trail Angels that have enriched my experience. I will also try to post some of the absolutely incredible photos that I have had the privilege to try to capture for all to see.

Sooooo...... Here is a little sampling!!!
Dave "Sojourner" Barlow

Derek - The Trail eMail Publisher

Derek Miller and Dave Barlow
(Click to Enlarge)
Many of you have followed my walk through regular "Trail eMail" Posts from the ubiquitous E-mailer - Derek Miller. Let me take a few minutes of your time to introduce you to this unique individual. Derek is a personal friend of mine that is like both a Brother and a Son, a mentor and an apprentice. We sometimes jokingly explain to others that we are "Long Lost Brothers from Different Mothers"
Derek is the "Lead Staff Member" of my summer American Odyssey programs that have been offered for the last 13 years. Derek assists me in designing the offerings of American Odyssey, Derek and I have traveled throughout North America together, from the Arctic Ocean throughout Alaska, Canada, New England, and Mexico. We have been to all of the lower 48 states together as well as all of the Canadian Provinces.
Derek and I met in 1998 and he has served as a Staff member from 1999 - to the present on almost all of the American Odyssey offerings. You can ask any of the American Odyssey participants and they will tell you that it is uncanny how you can ask Dave or Derek the same question at the same time even if they are in different locations and you will receive the same answer. We are programmed on the exact same frequency and have the same wavelength down to the nano Angstrom.
He is a former High School Math Teacher, a Nurse at the Burn Center in Chapel Hill, NC, a student of New Games and Initiative Games, Tom Brown Jr. and Early American Ways, Music, Guitar and Native Ameican Flute.
Derek took most of the photos at the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway Hike and actually was able to assist with the resupplys that took place in Roanoke, Hwy 52 at Fancy Gap in Virginia, Boone, and was there at the end of the Parkway Walk for me. I am Proud to introuduce you to:

Derek Miller
"My Long Lost Little Brother From a Different Mother"
Thank You from the bottom of my heart for the Friend You Are To Me!


David Barlow at Southern End of the Blue Ridge Parkway
MP 469

On Sunday October 12th at 1:35 pm David Barlow took his Backpack off and set it down on the side of the Blue Ridge Parkway next to the 469 Milepost marker and declared that -

"The Original Blue Ridge Parkway Is Mine - And also part of Operation Christmas Child."

A total of more than 479 miles was walked over a 42 day period to raise awareness for the World's Largest Christmas Project. Hundreds of people were able to hear about the ministry of Samaritan's Purse and several newspaper articles and web articles were the result of the effort. More than 250 Business Cards were given out with this Blog site address and other contact information.


An article from The News & Advance, in Lynchburg, VA.
"Retired Park Ranger Hiking 469-Mile Blue Ridge Parkway"
Special thanks to Chris Dumond, the author of the article, and Chet White, the photographer.

Samaritan's Purse -Located in Boone, NC has an amazing Web Article on their Website
Look at the changing Photos at the top left of the website.

This article thanks to Valerie Davis, Rachael Fugate, and Jon Black - Photographer. and all of the folks at Samaritan's Purse in Boone, NC
The Samaritan's Purse Web article is titled
"Sharing The Journey"

The Charlotte Observer
The Christian Post Article
"Russian Adoptee, U.S. Hiker Changing Lives with Shoe Boxes"
By Michelle A. Vu
Christian Post Reporter
Wed, Oct. 08 2008

Possibly More to Follow.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

In the Final Week of the Parkway Hike


I can hardly believe it!! I am finally within sight of Mount Pisgah and the Great Smoky Mountains. I rounded the turn at Balsam Gap Overlook, climbed onto the Craggy Mountains and when I looked off into the Weaverville, NC area and toward I-26 I could see them both.

This Journey has been amazing and yet I know there is much still to be done. I still have more than 70 miles to go. I will meet with the Headquarters Staff on Monday, October 6th and then "Press On" toward Cherokee and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

I apologize for not being able to update the Blog as I go. I have passed out so many Cards. I plan on spending quite a bit of time updating after I complete the Journey. I must tell you though, there is enough information for several books. The wonderful kindness of strangers, the intensity of the experience, the sights, the smells, the people, the culture of the road and the visitors and more......

Please keep returning. Within the next couple of weeks, I will have much more here to share.

Also, Remember www.Samaritan'

The National Collection Week is November 17-24, but you may send completed boxes year-round to our headquarters:

Operation Christmas Child
Samaritan's Purse
P.O. Box 3000
801 Bamboo Road
Boone, NC 28607

More Soon to Come!!!!

Dave "Sojourner" Barlow

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"The Journey Is The Destination"

I Hope to Make John Muir Proud.

"The Journey Is The Destination"

Greetings Friends, Family, Colleagues and Others:

Tomorrow morning I will depart for the Northern end of the “Original Blue Ridge Parkway” at Jarman Gap on the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park to begin my “Hike of a Lifetime”. I took a 2 day rain delay while the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay refilled the springs and seeps of the high country for me so that I will have plenty of fresh water.
I have been trying for a while to decide on what to use for a “Trail Name”. In church on Sunday our Pastor dedicated the school children’s Book Bags and of course my Pack. She also spoke about Journeys, and "Kingdom, Power, and Glory” and how it was all God’s Kingdom, and His Power, and all for His Glory. The Scripture was Psalms 121. Our Pastor also gave me a copy printed out of this verse for me to take with me from the Church Family. During the sermon the word "Sojourn" came up and I think I will adopt it for now as my Trail Name – “Sojourner”. However, if rain from more tropical storms like "Fay", "Gustav", and "Hanna" continue to bring their moisture to the Blue Ridge, I may have to adopt the trail name of “Rain Dance”. Two weeks ago, while on the Parkway, I noticed that the Parkway was extremely dry due to the drought. I was a bit concerned that there would be little water available for me at higher elevations. It looks as if my prayers regarding this have been answered.

I have also been trying to decide how to dedicate this undertaking to a “Greater Cause”. I finally decided to dedicate it to raising awareness about Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child. After my Mother mentioned hearing of a runner wearing a Bumper Sticker for Operation Christmas Child running across the State of Minnesota to raise awareness, I decided to do something similar. I plan to carry on my Pack the Operation Christmas Child Bumper Sticker and during one of my resupply stops near Boone, NC. I plan to have some friends bring me a little red wagon and some of the OCC Shoe Boxes and we will do a Photo Shoot on the Parkway of the Thru Hiker (Me) wearing my Pack and Bumper Sticker, pulling a Little Red Wagon carrying Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes, wearing an OCC T-Shirt.

I will be thinking of all of you while I take this stroll down the Blue Ridge Parkway to visit places I always heard about but have never visited. I will reminisce about the past- both mine as a National Park Service Ranger, and of the “Boys of the Civilian Conservation Corps”, who 75 years ago, built this wonderful, scenic, most visited, and most treasured, National Parkway. As I get closer to NC, the experience should be more of a Homecoming – since I am very familiar with most of the Parkway in NC. If you can, come visit me. I shouldn’t be that hard to find. Milk and cookies are always nice as well as fresh fruit and ice. Please keep me in your Prayers for Strength, Health, and Safety. I have had the Bible Verse Psalms 121 claimed for me and I will cling to it. So long for now. Watch for the updates that will be forthcoming as I get underway.

“Sojourner” or “Rain Dance” Barlow

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rain Delay is In Effect for my Blue Ridge Parkway Hike

Update to this Blog entry on 8/28/08
It turned out that the rain totals in the Landis, China Grove area of NC received between 12-14 inches of rain in a 36 hour period. The storms moved into Virginia and are just now clearing out.
It appears that Tropical Storm Fay has entered the equation and will delay the start of my Blue Ridge Parkway Thru Hike for at least one and possibly part of another day.

"It is not too bad if you are caught in it while on the trail. You adapt to the card you are dealt. It is quite another thing to start out in a terrible, sloppy, mess. It can set a negative tone for the whole experience" "Sojourner" Barlow
From Weather Center in Carlotte, NC
Wednesday: Periods of rain, heavy at times, even pockets of thunder and lightning can still develop Wednesday in the vicinity of the remnants of Fay as she slowly pulls away to the northeast of the Carolinas. Highs near 80. This system should be on its way out of the region by Thursday, but not before rain putting down rain totals of 3 to 7 inches. While we sure need the rain, it may be too much of a good thing in a short period of time, particularly in the mountains and foothills, where flooding is a concern.
All of this weather is heading up the Blue Ridge Mountains and will be in the Jarman Gap area for the next two days putting down some huge numbers of inches of rain.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Dedicating the Blue Ridge Parkway Thru Hike To a "Higher Cause"

Ever since I decided to Backpack the Blue Ridge Parkway from end to end and include with it Section 1A that is now a part of Shenandoah National Park, I have tried to decide how to dedicate this undertaking to a “Greater Cause”. I have prayed long and hard about it and I had not received and answer – that is until last Friday.

I received an Email from my Mother on Friday night and she mentioned that she had recently learned about a runner that was running across the state of Minnesota?? to raise awareness about Samaritan’s Purse - Operation Christmas Child. My Mother is very involved with this wonderful ministry through her Church - Master Builder Ministries and beyond by doing awareness sessions for other churches. Her idea was for me to put an Operation Christmas Child Bumper Sticker on the back of my pack for the Parkway Hike. I could speak to people along the way about the program to raise awareness. I also took a cue from the way Mom and Dad dedicate the Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes. The boxes are pulled in to the church sanctuary by children in wagons.

That was it! I plan to carry on my Pack the Operation Christmas Child Bumper Sticker and during one of my resupply stops near Boone, NC. I plan to have some friends bring me a little red wagon and some of the OCC Shoe Boxes and we will do a Photo Shoot on the Parkway of the Thru Hiker (Me) wearing my Pack and Bumper Sticker, pulling a Little Red Wagon carrying Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes, wearing an OCC T-Shirt.

In the Church that I attend, First United Methodist of Landis, NC this last Sunday we had the Dedication of the Book bags for all of the students returning to school this week. Since I spent 33 years in the classroom and I will not be returning to the classroom this year, but will be living out of my pack for about six weeks – I was asked to bring mine for the dedication as well.

Our Minister, Rev. Bev Coppley was a student in my Homeroom class when she was in the 7th Grade. On Sunday her message was all about “Journeys” and "Kingom, Power, and Glory”, and the Scripture was Psalm 121. Our Pastor also gave me a copy printed out of this verse for me to take with me from the Church Family. During the sermon the word "Sojourn" came up and I think I will adopt it for now as my "Trail Name" - Sojourner.


Samaritan’s Purse
Operation Christmas Child
Master Builder Ministries

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Only One Week Left until I start My Journey Down the Parkway

Where I will begin my Journey on August 28th, 2008

It is early Wednesday morning and I still have a list of about 100 things to do before I can head for Jarman Gap in Shenandoah National Park to begin the "Journey That Will Be The Destination".

My teacher colleagues are already attending school - these are the Teacher Workdays that allow the Teachers to Gear Up for the start of a New Year. The excited faces will all be in their seats on Monday the 25th of August and I will not be their Teacher this year.

Instead I will be making my final preparations for my approximately 500 mile Backpacking Trip that will cover the Entire length of the Original Blue Ridge Parkway from Jarman Gap (Map) in Shenandoah National Park all the way down the Blue Ridge Parkway (Map) to Cherokee, NC. The actual road distance of this journey is listed at 478 miles and is ~8.5 miles longer than the Blue Ridge Parkway due to my inclusion of Section 1A that was deeded over to Shenandoah NP in 1961. Just think - No Stop Signs for almost 500 miles.

On August 12th while returning from a visit with my parents in Rhode Island, I stopped by the Otter Creek Restaurant on the Parkway. I left a parcel of food with the Manager - Mr. Calvin Rice. He has been the Manager of the Otter Creek Restaurant for almost 50 years. This supply of food will last me a week so I will not need to carry as much when I start out.

I guess I'd better wrap it up for now, it is late and I have a lot of preparation still and items that have to be done in advance for me to be able to be gone for nearly 6 weeks.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"The Order of The Long Leaf Pine"

"The Order Of The Long Leaf Pine Certificate"

On Tuesday, June 10th, 2008 the Faculty and Staff of Mooresville High School Gathered for a Retirement Luncheon for Mr. Rankin and David Barlow. We have been good friends and colleagues for many years having worked together in several schools - but longest at Mooresville High School. I had Mr. Rankin's daughter in my class and she was present as well as my family and Susan Shields and Natalie Miller another of my former students and Staff Member of the American Odyssey program.
What a festive occasion it was - Balloons and cakes representing our career interests, wonderful lasagna and salad and ice cream. The Faculty really outdid themselves. Cathy Black the Bible Teacher put together a slide show of the past and present for both Mr. Rankin and myself. There were photos of his coaching activities and my Hands On activities in class as well as photos from the American Odyssey Trips. It was awesome!!!!
Coach Nancy Dilks served as the Emcee and many wonderful stories were recounted from both of our careers. Mr. Eddie Karriker spoke about both of us. Natalie Miller spoke almost to tears. So did Mr. Rankin's daughter.
Margaret Shoe, a History Teacher, that I had the pleasure of working with for 20 years - (I also had her daughters in class) got up to speak and began to summarize my career. Shortly thereafter, she began to read a letter from the Governor of North Carolina - Mike Easley.

I was being presented "The Order of the Longleaf Pine" The Highest Award that can be given for a civilian in the State of North Carolina for dedication and years of service.
Wow! What an Honor!!

Information on the Order of The Long Leaf Pine
Longleaf Pine information from the Governors Office

Yes, there were newspaper articles. My recognition even made the Charlotte Television Station WCNC News 6 - 36. Links to the Newspaper articles are here:
"For Outdoors-Loving Teacher, It's on to the Next Adventure"
Friday, June 13, 2008
Landis Resident, Firefighter, Teacher Honored with Long Leaf Pine Award
By Sarah Nagem
Friday, June 20, 2008

What a Send Off!!!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

My Last Day At School

"My Last Day At School"
Click Photo To Enlarge

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Celebrating 75 Years of the CCC

Former Supt. Gary Everhardt and David Barlow

Former BRP Superintendent Dan Brown

Gary Everhardt
Dr. Harley Jolley
Linda Brown

Representative Ray Rapp presents
The Order of The Long Leaf Pine

President FDR introduces the four CCC members

On Thursday, June 19th, I attended a wonderful event at the Claxton Farm in Weaverville, NC to recognize 4 Civilian Conservation Corps members for their contributions with the building of the Blue Ridge Parkay and to celebrate the release of Harley Jolley's new book "The Magnificant Army of Youth and Peace" In addition, Dr. Jolley and all persons present were treated to a visit by President FDR. Conversations were had relative to the work done by the CCC members as well as the book.
Shortly after discussing the book and the contributions of the CCC, Representative Ray Rapp presented Dr. Harley Jolley with the "Order of the Long Leaf Pine" The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, created in 1965, is the highest civilian honor that can be granted in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is among the most prestigious awards presented by the Governor of North Carolina. The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is presented to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state.
In addition to the presentation of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, Dan Lundsford the President of Mars Hill College spoke about Dr. Jolley and time spent in his class. Also, a lovely artwork was presented to Dr. Jolley which was a view from Waterrock Knob. Finally, Patrick Flaherty of the Blue Ridge Parkway shared a song titled "Cutting Rock and Building Trail (The CCC Boys)" with all present.
Many supporters of the Parkway were present. The event was organized by the BRP Foundation and its Executive Director Houck M. Medford. Many members of the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway were present, as well as a good number of the Blue Ridge Parkway Employees and Alumni Association. Also present were Gary Everhardt and Dan Brown - former Superintendents of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

To view this story in the Asheville Citizen Times Click Here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tim Pegram's Book

"The Blue Ridge Parkway By Foot - A Park Ranger's Memoir"
By Tim Pegram

As skillfully as early landscape architects planned the Blue Ridge Parkway to "lie lightly upon the land," author Tim Pegram has crafted a delightful journey in words to pay tribute to his years as a National Park Service park ranger and his endeavor to be the first person to through-hike the linear park's 469 miles. I don't know when I have enjoyed a book more! I have chosen to read, and reread, it at a leisurely pace, much like Pegram's 41-day walk, or a relaxed drive along the Parkway. That way, I can stop at all the overlooks, savor each person, place, view, milepost, story, and insight, and look forward to what lies around the next bend, on the next page. Written in a personable, engaging style, this book is sure to become a treasured favorite of everyone who loves the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Kathryn Brett review on

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The "Big Idea"

It had been nearly 30 years since I left the Blue Ridge Parkway for a career in Public Education when I noticed an article in the Salisbury Post about a retired Park Ranger who was Backpacking the Parkway. This was a feat that had never been done before. As I read the article, I noticed that it was Tim Pegram, my colleague from 1974 and 1975. We had worked as Seasonal Interpretive Park Rangers at the Museum of NC Minerals at Gillespie Gap Mile Post 331.3 near Spruce Pine, NC.

Tim recently published his book "The Blue Ridge Parkway By Foot" A Park Rangers Memoir. His wonderful book weaves the magic of the Parkway and its people, its places, and its history with stories of his career as a Protection Ranger in several of the Districts that he worked in.
Immediately after I turned in my retirement papers I called Tim to let him know that I planned on repeating his Thru Hike on the Parkway. What a great way to "Bookend a Career teaching Geology and Astronomy in High School and College.

The next question was - How could I make it different?

Tim suggested that I add ~10 miles to the walk by starting at Jarman Gap in Shenandoah National Park and that way I would have backpacked the original Blue Ridge Parkway Section 1A - the first section completed. This section had been deeded over to Shenandoah Nat. Park in 1961. Next, I would continue onto the current Blue Ridge Parkway at Rockfish Gap at Milepost 0 and would then only have 469 more miles to go to arrive in Cherokee, NC.

There are definite ground rules that I have established for this experience. They are listed below.

1. Make myself very visible - People driving cars do not expect to see a backpacker on a curvy roadway. Flourescent Green and Orange and retroreflective I will be.
2. No overnight stays in Motels, Hotels, or Lodges.
3. No Fires.
4. Keep a neat appearance. I am not homeless - my home for these 40 days is just a long and winding road.
5. No Firearms. They are illegal on the Parkway.
6. I will carry a Cell Phone but it is for a weekly check in only.
7. Resupplys will take place in Roanoke, I-77, Boone- Blowing Rock area, and Asheville.

I really want to make this event unique. I am trying right now to decide how to best use this event to raise funds to dig wells in underdeveloped countries through an organization like World Vision. Since I am a Captain in the Fire Service and involved in Urban Search and Rescue, I am also looking into the possibility of using a particular brand of boots for later promotion.

More to come later. I need to go and finish packing. I'll bet you can't tell how excited I am.

Dave Barlow