THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story & Hike Inn

Whiteboard quote below the day's menu at The Hike Inn
Whiteboard quote below the day’s menu at The Hike Inn

I love good books, nice views, walking with family, delicious food, and talking trail.

Last year, I had the pleasure to receive the book THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story by Richard Judy. Who knew the little package in the mail would lead to my first visit to the Appalachian Trail.

What really intrigued me at first is that 100% of the proceeds of the book THRU go directly to the Appalachian Trail Museum. The author Richard Judy was one of the first hikers to thru-hike the AT. He southbounded the trail in 1973 with the trail name, Peregrine. Also, he is the board president of the small nonprofit overseeing the Len Foote Hike Inn. The Hike Inn is located 4.5 miles south of Springer Mountain, Georgia, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The Hike Inn is dedicated to the mission “protecting Georgia’s natural resources through education and recreation.”

If that wasn’t enough to perk my ears up, Richard is a follower of Lady on a Rock and left a very enticing blog comment with an invite to come and visit the Hike Inn. Last Thanksgiving break, we flew to Nashville to visit my son, Grant (many of you know him as Silly Chili) where he is working as an ICU Pediatric Nurse at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. The perfect opportunity opened up.


My autographed copy of Thru: An Appalachian Trail Love Story
My autographed copy of Thru: An Appalachian Trail Love Story

Rockin’s Thoughts on the book THRU:

First off, this is NOT your ordinary tale on the trail. It is about a very interesting group of fictional characters hiking the Appalachian Trail that come together to form the “Bly Gap Gang”. The book is written as a series of journal entries from each of the gang’s point of view. I think this is what makes the book different, along with the fact that clean romance is sprinkled throughout the book.

Given the style and format of the book, I found that I wanted to savor the funny, painful, heartbreaking, joyous and scary events and did not rush through the book. It was uplifting to look forward to reading what the group was going to do next and who was going to end up with love.  I even took notes to keep all the characters and their trail names straight. As a newbie to the AT, I appreciated the handy and helpful AT map included in the book.

With no experience hiking in the United States east of Colorado, I was intrigued by the contrast of the AT. I loved that Richard added throughout the book factual background on plants, AT history, and hiker trivia along the way. In my mind, I climbed those mountains, drank the water, trudged through mud, leaned into the wind, and triumphed.

I found the book entertaining and educational.

I give this book a double thumbs up. Heck, the read even put the Appalachian Trail on my radar for upcoming adventures.

You can follow Richard Judy at:
THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story
Facebook page
Or better yet support the Appalachian Trail by getting a copy on Amazon.

Day 1: Visit to the Len Foote Hike Inn

After cruising and site-seeing around Nashville, we headed to Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia. A couple weeks before our visit, I contacted Richard letting him know we were actually heading to the Hike Inn. He offered to meet us there to visit a bit, which was more than I had hoped for. He drove up from Atlanta to meet us on the trail the day before Thanksgiving. With his family visiting for the holiday, it was quite a sacrifice on his part.

The hike to the inn can be started from the bottom of the falls (5.5 miles) or from the top of the falls (4.5 miles). Leaving from the bottom includes 604 stairs. My group, of course, not only hit the stairs, but raced to the top. The rest of the trail from the top of the falls is gentle and designed for families to reach the Hike Inn on foot.

As we were nearing the Hike Inn, Richard Judy and Corinne, manager of the inn were coming up the trail. I immediately bombarded him with questions about his book, “Are one of the characters really you?”, “Really? Why did you end the book with obvious unfulfilled romances?”

Richard and I had a chance to chat a bit about life, family, and hiking before he headed home. It was really special.

Guests at the inn experience sustainably designed buildings, solar panels, rainwater harvesting, composting toilets, hot showers, comfortable rustic rooms, family style dining, and after dinner educational programs. The inn is open year round.

As my family entered the inn, David “Silky” Sullivan and his wife immediately recognized Stealthy from this summer’s PCT blog entries hiking through Washington. It is always fun to meet readers in the real world. Silky and I had fun trading gear ideas and thoughts.

Our after dinner program was presented by Leigh “Star Crunch” Rothermel. She gave an informative, beautiful, and entertaining presentation of her 2015 AT thru-hike. I loved every minute.

Star Crunch is part of a new program to get kids involved with the Appalachian Trail and the outdoors. The aim is to connect 2016 AT thru-hikers as ambassadors with several schools. Jackpot!!!! Her enthusiasm was just what I needed to give this year’s tHInK outsidE class a boost. I am looking forward to sharing ideas with Star Crunch in the future. To follow and support their program visit AT Ambassador to the Schools or on Facebook.

Beginning of the Approach Trail to the AT
Beginning of the Approach Trail to the AT


Hiking with Richard Judy
Hiking with Richard Judy


Silly Chili, Stealthy, Dan, author: Richard, Corinne, and Rockin'
Silly Chili, Stealthy, Dan, author: Richard, Corinne, and Rockin’



Day 2: Thanksgiving Day – Hike Inn to Springer Mountain

After an amazing sunrise and a delicious family style breakfast, we headed up to Springer Mountain. I have always been intrigued by so many things about the AT and wanted to make sure I saw it all first hand:
In shelter food hanging contraptions
Outside food hanging apparatus
Hills, lots of them
White Blaze
Blue Blaze
Green Blaze
Pink Blaze
Trees and more trees
Rocky trail with tree roots
Trail with crunchy leaves
Tops of mountains with limited views

The AT did not disappoint.


Sunrise - Hike Inn
Sunrise – Hike Inn
Green blaze marking side trail
Green blaze marking side trail
Top of Springer Mountain - Southern terminus of the AT
Top of Springer Mountain – Southern terminus of the AT


Top of Springer Mountain - Southern terminus of the AT
Top of Springer Mountain – Southern terminus of the AT




After a great hike, we neglected to plan for dinner, much less Thanksgiving dinner. On the 4  hour drive back to Nashville, pretty much everything was closed. We pulled into town hungry and desperate. Google helped us by finding a grocery store that was open and closing in 10 minutes. The four of us hit the entrance sprinting as a worker informed us we had 10 minutes. Teamwork at it’s very finest. Dinner complete with appetizers, main meal, and dessert.

A Thanksgiving to remember.

Grocery Store Thanksgiving Dinner in 10 Minutes
Grocery Store Thanksgiving Dinner in 10 Minutes
Voila! Thanksgiving Dinner Prepared in 25 Minutes
Voila! Thanksgiving Dinner Prepared in 25 Minutes


  • View all photos from this trip on Flickr


  1. Christy – I just found your blog and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve been backpacking for about 6 years now. I started with my Boy Scout son who has now grown into an awesome man. We will be taking a week to hike thru a section of the AT Virginia Highlands this June and I love to read up about the places I’m going, so I’ll be buying this book for sure. Other great AT books are A Walk in the Woods and Becoming Odyssa.

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Hello Jenny,
      Have a wonderful time with your son. I just love hearing stories like this. Becoming Odyssa is on my list to read. Thank you for the suggestions.

  2. I’ve followed your blog for years (found it through Wired’s blog) and when I read this post I immediately massaged a friend of mine that works at Vanderbilt as a Peds nurse. Turns out she knows Silly Chili. I am constantly amazed at the connections that can be drawn in this great big world of ours!

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Well, isn’t that very cool? That is so fun that you contacted your friend. We visited Vanderbilt at Thanksgiving. It is one amazing hospital, that felt almost like Disneyland. So great to meet you online. Thank you for sharing.

  3. CHRISTY! Or maybe I should say ROCKIN’! Loved your coverage of my humble novel and our glorious Hike Inn. The AT Museum is now selling Captain Stupid T-shirts, so THRU: An Appalachian Trail Story gets a new life. I am so pleased to have met you, and I am very jealous that your blog is so much better looking than mine. Please let me know if you ever return to hike on the AT. I recently spent a week on the Benton MacKaye and am planning a week this winter on the Florida Trail. Maybe a trip to Iceland later this year — we’ll see!

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Ah they picked Captain Stupid for the T-shirt. I can just picture the AT Museum’s meeting to decide who gets their name on the shirt.

      You know I love those week long trips! Awesome that you have cool hikes coming up.

  4. Great post and great photos. Love the end photo of the Thanksgiving meal. Especially the chips! I love salty treats.

    Pretty cool to see the family together on the other side of the country.

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      I missed you Warren! Both Drop n’ Roll and I updated and changed our blogs to I thought we had lost you. Glad to hear from you.

      That dinner was definitely a keeper. We were so hungry, we snarfed almost all of it gone.

      • Yep, I’m here. All on board. Snarfed! -That’s Rockin’!

        • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

          I am caught! I make up words frequently. After I come up with the words, my kids always Google it and let me know it is in fact not a word in the dictionary. I have a storehouse in my vocabulary. Most likely not very teachery. Hmmmmmm…caught yet again.

  5. Great blog post Rockin’! I just ordered the book on Smile.Amazon (benefiting Arizona Consortium for the Arts) so that even more oganizations can benefit – my two loves, hiking and art! 🙂

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Hello Nancy! I just added a photo at the top of my homepage that you just might like. I thought of you when I saw it. In fact, if you don’t mind I would love to send you the uncropped version. It has some marvelous white light just before sunset. Hope you enjoy the book as much as I. Hiking and art are the best. Right?

  6. Great photos that brought back great memories for me:) So glad you were all able to go there!

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      So glad you liked them! You know it is my favorite part of blogging…sharing beautiful places. Those blazes painted right on trees still disturb me a bit. It felt they are kind of like…should I say it??? Graffiti

      • I live in NY and have hiked the AT in PA, NJ, NY, CT, and MA. It’s fun to hear your excitement on seeing different things on the east coast. For me it is normal. But hiking out west is so exciting for me!

  7. What a great book review, trip report, and recommendation for the Len Foote Hike Inn all in one! I was also excited to hear about the AT Ambassadors to the School program. I look forward to following its progress as well as updates to your tHInK OutsidE curriculum. Fresh motivation and ideas are always a good thing to help us all get outside more and to encourage the next generation to do so as well. Thanks for your continued inspiration!

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      It was a great trip and fun hiking in combination with a hot shower, warm room, and good food. The Inn is a great place to unplug with no TVs or constant noise bombarding you. This year I have quite a few 4th graders enrolled in tHInK outsidE. That is a younger group than I usually have. They are going to love it. Thank you for commenting and for your words of encouragement.

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