Backpacker Radio #40: Jim Kern and Pox Holiday

Jim Kern is a name you ought to know. He’s the founder of the Florida Trail Association, co-founder of the American Hiking Society, founder of Big City Mountaineers, founder of Hiking Trails for America, author, and passionate outdoorsman. He gives us his best pitch on why someone should hike the Florida Trail, how his organization has been getting at risk youth into the backcountry for three decades, how he’s fighting to guarantee a continuous footpath on our national scenic trails for posterity- and how you can help. We also catch up with Pox Holiday of the Pox and Puss Podcast to talk about the future of their show, emergency brown in the whites, and Baltimore Jack stories.

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Subjects discussed in the episode include:

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Comments 3

  • Ryan : Jun 19th

    Good to hear from Pox! I was worried about those two. Good to know that they’re both doin good, just busy. Pox and Puss is the GREATEST podcast I’ve ever found.

    Reply
  • Pony : Jun 21st

    I had never heard of the American Hiking Society until going to a meetup this week in Denver. Glad to know about the organization and will make a donation.

    Since Pox was talking Baltimore Jack….

    In April 2016, I blasted out of Long Branch Shelter and hustled down to Winding Stair Gap to catch the 9 a.m. shuttle operated by Ron Haven in Franklin. Fortunately, I made it in time, along with a handful of other hikers.

    Haven was driving, and right behind him was a big, gorilla-shaped guy with silver hair wearing about eight pieces of AT bling. This guy started talking as soon as we got moving (had to drive up to Wallace Gap to pick up hikers who might be waiting there), giving a brief history of the AT and, I would say, almost preaching about it. He sure as hell didn’t look like a hiker to me, so I sort of assumed he was a blowhard. He had introduced himself as Baltimore Jack, but I had never heard of him (though I guessed the name’s provenance: “Got a wife and kid in Baltimore, Jack, I went out for a drive and I never went back.” — Springsteen, “The River”)

    Once we got to Haven’s motel, Have explained that those of us cheapskates who wanted to stay at his $20 hostel across the street should head over there and wait for Baltimore Jack, who would come over and sign us in. So we did, and about 10 minutes later, Jack, red-faced and smelling distinctly of whiskey, came in, took our money and gave us the lowdown on the hostel. I tossed my stuff on a bunk and switched to long underwear and raincoat for a trip to the laundromat, and when I went by, Jack was still at the front counter. I still can’t remember why I stopped to talk to him — some question or other — but we ended up chatting for about 10 minutes. He seemed gruff and personable, and despite my earlier impressions, it was clear he knew a lot about the trail.

    At some point, the issue of snoring came up — as it did in the podcast segment with Pox. Jack told me, unequivocally, that once he realized he was a snorer, and a loud one at that, he never, ever imposed himself on other hikers in a shelter unless it was a serious weather situation. He tented, and he said — he was a very opinionated guy — that anyone who knows they snore and still sleeps in shelters is, frankly, an asshole. He was right, of course. Just about everybody snores on trail at some point, after a long, hard day, even the most petite female hiker (what I call “Disney princess” snoring… it’s actually kind of charming), but loud, perennial snorers have, in my opinion and Baltimore Jack’s, an ethical obligation not to inflict their condition on other hikers.

    I left Franklin after a nearo without ever knowing that Baltimore Jack was a major trail legend. Two and a half weeks later, another 500 miles up the trail at Lickskillet Hollow on May 4, 2016, I heard that he’d died — it was only then that I learned who he really was and what he’d meant to the trail community.

    I consider myself fortunate to have met him, even though I was so clueless about who I was talking to. And I will always appreciate his sound reasoning about snoring and courtesy!

    Reply
  • Pony : Jun 21st

    P.S. Beulah does sound exactly like Miss Janet. Hadn’t noticed that when I watched but … wow.

    Reply

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