Appalachian Trail Happiness: The Book

Appalachian Trail Happiness: The Book

unaka quote

So as readers of this blog are aware I completed 1000 miles on the AT last year before a knee injury ended my adventure.  One of my primary goals in attempting to do a thru-hike was to get enough material for the book.  I’m happy to say that as of this week I’ve finished the first rough draft of the book.  The work is far from over as I start the editing and re-editing process and then work through the publication process.  But, as a thank you for the support I have received while I’ve been working on the book, I wanted to put this out plus a couple little snippets that I hope you’ll enjoy.

Four Trolls on a Bridge

So today on the trail at a point where the trail crossed a little stream over a footbridge, a tall, pretty younger, blonde woman came down the hill. There she found four older sweaty hikers taking a break by the stream. She smiled and said in the sweetest little southern drawl you’ve ever heard, “look, four trolls on a bridge.”

It was said in good humor and we laughed. She stopped and chatted for a few minutes, she lived nearby and was out for a day hike. Of course after a month on the trail, almost anything she said would have been charming.

As she walked by I found myself slightly enchanted. I began to think about the river scene from Brother Where Art Though. I wondered if she was a land siren and if I followed her up the trail, would she perhaps turn me into a toad? Such is life on a hot sunny day on the Appalachian Trail.


The Three Questions

What are the three questions? What was the most beautiful thing I saw (encountered) today? What did I learn today? What made me happy today?
These questions were created for a couple of purposes. First, I have always been frustrated by the fact that when I travel I fall behind in my journaling then end up trying to catch up and often end up missing days during the trip. I wanted a way to capture each day in a way that I would even be willing to complete at the end of long days when I was tired and a method that would be to easily catch up if I missed a day. The three questions fit that criteria but also served an additional purpose, by recording these positive thoughts at the end of the day they act as a reminder, even on the really hard days, that good things were happening every day. And because I knew I would be answering these questions at the end of the day, it made me think more about and focus on the beautiful, happy things that I encountered throughout the day. I changed the first question from the original beautiful thing I saw each day, to the most beautiful thing I encountered. Sometimes the most beautiful thing was a sound, a smell or an act of kindness.

March 4th – My first day on the Appalachian Trail, pre-Springer non-counting miles. The most beautiful thing that I saw was an absolutely Tolkeinesque spot on the trail. I came around a corner and over a small rise to encounter a set of stone steps that were surrounded by bright green moss and ferns. Like a small piece of Middle Earth in the fog. I learned that day that five miles on the Appalachian Trail with a forty plus pound pack is possible. What made me happy was just finally being on the trail, after months of preparation and thinking about it, after quitting my job, traveling across the country and making my way to Georgia I was finally doing it. That and the presence of my good friend Jim Cooper who met me at the Len Foote, Hike Inn and hiked me in on my first day. All in all a fantastic day!

Rev Kane on his first day on the Appalachian Trail

Rev Kane on his first day on the Appalachian Trail

March 5th – Springer Mountain, first actual countable miles on the trail. The most beautiful thing I saw was the summit of Springer Mountain, mile zero. The view was foggy and cold, I met my first thru-hikers on the summit and two trail angels I’d met at the Hike Inn. The day would turn from cold and foggy to cold and rainy, I hung out at Stover Creek Shelter trying to decide whether or not to sleep in the shelter. Every time I started to leave the rain kicked up harder. Finally, knowing I wouldn’t sleep comfortably in the shelter I pushed on and set up my hammock in the forest at a place called three forks. The rain had changed over to sleet as I set up and what I learned was that even under completely terrible conditions I could set up camp and stay warm. Everything made me happy that day, the beauty of the first real day on the trail, the hard walking with too much weight, setting up in lousy weather, crawling into the hammock, even all of the noises I heard at night that I was sure were bears coming to eat me, every bit of it made me happy, I was finally on the trail.

My first night on the trail

My first night on the trail

Some other posts you might enjoy!

My favorite AT photos from 2015

Thru-hike Gear Lists

Thru-hike FAQ’s – Part 1

My Appalachian Trail Resources Page

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Trail Community

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Precious Moments

Appalachian Trail Happiness: My Favorite Little Hiker


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Happiness is Mardi Gras: Mobile

Happiness is Mardi Gras: Mobile

01I was a weird kid, which probably goes a long way to explaining why I’m a weird adult.  I was the only kid I knew who didn’t like parades.  I mean really, go sit on a curb for an hour or so, you know so you don’t lose your good spot.  Watch a bunch of old guys and little kids all bored out of their minds come walking by, marching bands, bad marching bands.  A few fire trucks, some really sad-looking clowns all for what?  Never got the excitement around them.

fix bead treeThen some years ago I checked off a bucket list item and attended my first Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  I wandered up St. Charles and took a spot in the crowd near one of the barriers and waited on the parade to come.  There was a bit of a flashback, there early, by the curb waiting.  People seemed generally happy and were very friendly.  Little kids propped up on ladder seats, people with coolers, who once they found out it was my first parade started sharing all sorts of food and drinks with me.

fix crop sign 2Then the parade came, this was not the lame old parade I was used to in my childhood.  First the floats were huge and really well done.  The marching bands were really talented.  You could hear the crowd screaming with joy as the parade came down St. Charles.  Then the first float arrived and the krewe on the float was throwing beads and stuffed animals and cups and medallions.  People were going nuts for these throws coming off of the floats and honestly it’s almost impossible to not get completely swept up in the madness, I was not immune.  I was instantly in love with Mardi Gras parades.

I often tell people that I love Mardi Gras and I typically get, “not me, all the nudity and drunkenness is a turn off.”  It’s at that point I know they’ve never done a Mardi Gras parade.  What they are relating is the drunken debauchery, the giant frat party that Bourbon Street has turned into during Mardi Gras.  literally the place I spend the least amount of time when I’m in New Orleans for Mardi Gras.  I love attending the parades and I love shooting photos in New Orleans, at the parades and around the city in general and then there is the food, my god the food.  New Orleans is an eaters paradise.  At any level of culinary snobbery there are places to eat.  I’m not a five-star restaurant guy I prefer beignets and the cafeteria magnificence that are places like Mothers and Willie Mae’s Scotch House.  Give me a muffaletta at the Central Grocery and I’m a happy man.  Opportunities for Gumbo and Po’boys abound, eating there is such a pleasure.

fix Mr T floatIn the south I always hear from folks, “well, you’ve never done Mobile, that’s the real Mardi Gras, it was the first Mardi Gras in America.”  That is true by the way, Mobile was having Mardi Gras celebrations before New Orleans was even a city.  Mardi Gras in Mobile is fun, the parades are good, the floats well done.  The parades are a bit smaller than the ones in New Orleans, the throws are a bit different.  They actually throw food in addition to beads and stuffed animals, etc… Little Moon Pies are really popular, but I’ve seen cookies, peanuts, gum and candy.  I caught a bag of peanut M&Ms and the most interesting throw I’ve ever gotten, a pack of chicken flavored Top Ramen!

throws 2What I will say is that there are a lot more premium throws here in Mobile.  More stuffed animals and balls and hoola-hoops.  The parade route isn’t as crowded as in New Orleans and the kids make out really well here.  If I was taking kids on a trip to Marid Gras for the first time this would be the place.  They’ll get a TON of stuff and likely nice big stuffed animals, they’ll have an absolute blast.  They’ll also be in smaller crowds and it’s not quite as insane as the parade route in New Orleans.  In Mobile, the route, non-weekend parades, are a couple of rows deep and at places you are alone at the barriers.  Weeknight, Sunday, I’ve never seen a parade route spot in New Orleans that wasn’t at least four rows deeps.  The exception, the weekend before Fat Tuesday on the day when there are like four parades in a row and by the fourth and smallest parade, people have mostly bailed because the first parade started eight hours earlier.

throws 1If you’re an adult without kids and you’re going to your first Mardi Gras, go to New Orleans.  In Mobile, most of the restaurants are chain fast food and sports bar.  There are a sprinkling of nicer restaurants along Dauphin Street the main social area downtown.  I’m sure there are great restaurants in Mobile but the options on foot and downtown are limited.  I don’t drink very much at all, but there are plenty of bars to visit in Mobile.  Scale is the real difference, there are hundreds of restaurants in the French Quarter alone, innumerable bars and then everything else that makes New Orleans so unique.

I have one more night in Mobile and have gotten lots of great throws to send up north to my nieces and nephews.  I’ve had fun her in Mobile but I head for New Orleans in two days and I’m excited.  Happy Mardi Gras and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

How Travel Makes You Happier

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Our Best Happiness Posts of 2015

My favorite Appalachian Trail Photos of 2015

Why I’m Happy Right Now!


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Happiness is Poetry: Trista Mateer

Happiness is Poetry: Trista Mateer

01Tonight, upon the recommendation of Ashe Vernon, I bring you the poetry of Trista Mateer.  All of the poetry I really like is fairly raw, it’s the way I write and what I like to read.  Cut open your chest let your heart spill out on the table and you have my attention.  Her work is very raw and wonderful, I’ve written parallel’s to her Instead of Writing Our Breakup Poem and I absolutely love hers, it flows through all of the raw emotions you dance through at the end.  I just bought her first book, Honeybee: Poems About Letting Go and her other book The Dogs I Have Kissed.  Giver her a read and check out her blog, it’s wonderful and have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane


You have run off and taken my anger with you.
Zeus drawing lines in the sand
with his lightning bolts
because he cannot find a reason to throw them;
I think you are a coward.
I think other poets have written this poem.
I think other men have run off the same way
but it never really feels the same;
each new absence a fresh burn.
A grazed knee. A paper cut. A plane crash.


Part 1

Instead of writing our breakup poem.
I teach myself to make every kind of peach-themed
baked good possible. I buy four new books of poetry and
black out the poems that remind me of you.
I start feeding my Neopets again. I keep notes
on how long it takes for my succulents to die without water.
I look up the price of plane tickets from BWI
to every major city in the US. I practice packing
and unpacking suitcases.
I stop masturbating because it makes me cry.
I make bad art and keep it to myself. I make bad art and
share it with the internet.

Part 2

Instead of writing our breakup poem
I book tickets to every place in the world
that I have a friend in because I need somebody
to lean on; and so I sleep on a couch in London
a couch in Glasgow, a futon in Minneapolis,
a hotel bed in Edinburgh, a double bed in Atlanta
where I have two big windows that face the woods
and make me want to write the poem I’m trying
not to write.
I live out of a suitcase for a month and a half.
I only cry on a train once, but I cry in an Uber twice.
I tell my mother everything is fine because
everything is mostly fine.
I keep waiting for you to call me.

Part 3

Instead of writing our breakup poem
I compose different emails to you one after another and delete them all without sending anything. They’re all some variation of “I hate this and I miss you.”

S– I won an award for the poems I wrote about coffee and peaches and wanting you. I don’t know how to feel about it. I want to throw up thinking about all the new people running their hands over our love letters.

S– This is going to be the first Christmas since I was eighteen years old that I didn’t make some corny joke about waking up to find you sprawled out naked under my tree. Does it count if I make the joke early? Does it count if you never read this? I keep thinking about that year I undressed and twirled myself up in gold ribbon, put a bow on my head the same color as my lipstick, sent you photos of the unwrapping.

S– I used to have all these dreams about being pregnant in a hospital bed with you slipping your fingers through my hair and kissing the side of my face. For the last week, I’ve had this repeating dream where you’re in the hospital and they won’t let me into the room. And when I wake up, I can’t even tell myself that it’s just a dream. We both know I should be there. I should be there. I should BE there.


Part 4

Instead of writing our breakup poem.
I throw out the things that remind me of you:

my green duvet cover,
that pumpkin t-shirt you used to make fun of,
four sets of lingerie.

I stare a lot at my ceiling thinking about how
I could change cities
and the ghost of your hands would still follow me

I change cities anyway.

Part 5

Instead of writing our breakup poem
I think a lot about absence and the heart. I test the weight of words like “foolishness” and “devotion” on my tongue. I talk too much about The One and the myth of predetermined soulmates. I yell at the stars. I play devil’s advocate with myself. I clip coupons and daydream about decorating an apartment you’ve never set foot in.

I daydream about you setting foot in it. I talk about your voice like it was my last home. Like I moved to Atlanta from YOU and not from Baltimore. Like the last house I lived in was constructed of pet names and euphemisms for sex.

In one version of this story, I think about you all the time. In another version of this story, I am already thinking about the hands of other people. Every day I have one foot in both truths.


Writer’s Relief

Listen, you have to pull it together.
There’s no use agonizing over mouths
that don’t want to open around your
name. Stop mourning the doors you left
locked and bolted. Put on the red dress.
Empty out your purse. Chase the anxiety
meds with gin. Leave your pens at home.

Taxi Cab Confession

It is always just before you close the trunk and reach for the door, that I find the right words—and then swallow them.
We’re all moving around like clock hands and I have no business asking anyone to stand still for me.
I don’t think I will ever have the nerve to ask another person to stay.

To Myself: On the Plane

You kiss boys like you practiced on juice boxes,
always reaching for one last drop.
You kiss girls like you really believe
slow and steady is the way to win a race.
You don’t kiss your family anymore,
not even on the cheek.
The last time someone took your face in their palms,
you wanted to move into their night stand.
You wanted to curl up with your head between your legs.
You wanted to do cartwheels down the street
and never come back.
You went back; but only twice.
He talked too much about Canada in his sleep.
You thought for a while he might just have a thing
for cold weather,
but she wasn’t a country; she was a girl.
When you left, you texted him from the airport
because you’re bad at goodbyes,
and what he said made you cry your way onto the plane.
I know that it’s hard to be hard,
but you’re stronger for this.


Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness is Poetry: Ashe Vernon

Happiness is Poetry: Warsan Shire

Happiness is Poetry: Doug Draime

Happiness is Poetry: Sapphire


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Happiness is Not Safety

Happiness is Not Safety

maslow happiness safetyThe quote above has been flowing around the internet and possibly truer words have never been spoken. If you don’t move forward, take chances, risk yourself in some way, you stagnate. True, you revert to a place that is more predictable that is safer, but is that better, is that someplace you’ll truly be happier?

KODAK Digital Still Camera

I say no, and I give you this example. Remember the first time you fell in love, remember that amazingly terrifying feeling of falling helplessly and loving every second and every breath you took during those moments. You never get there, you never feel that way without making a change, taking a step forward, a risky step at that. Yes, often that feeling was followed by the normal rollercoaster of love, but would you avoid the downside, trade that most amazing feelings, for being safe and never hurt but never knowing love. No matter the pain you’ve felt I don’t think you would.

Rev Kane relaxing in the arctic snow flurries

Rev Kane relaxing in the arctic snow flurries

Too many times in life we opt for safety, security, predictability.  We pass on a wonderful job opportunity because it means moving and uprooting our lives.  We let our doubts work their evil on us and scare us with the idea we might not be good at the new gig.  What we effectively do is let the current box we live in and the script that society has handed us define who and what we will be.  Stop it!  Scare yourself, you can never truly know how amazing you are, what you are capable of or how wonderful life can be until you step out onto the edge and try something new.


This idea is amazingly relevant for me right now.  I just came off of a year of doing just this.  When I told my human resource director at my last job what I was doing, that I was stepping away from work he was actually confused.  “You won’t have health insurance, you know you won’t acrue any time towards your retirement?”  Now these are idiotic statements and although I didn’t like him very much I can’t say he was a truly stupid man.  What had happened was I had stepped out of the box and it was inconceivable to him and so he started quoting the things that our society has scripted for us, things that keep us safe, health care, retirement, blah, blah, blah.  You know what’s not in that script, FUN!  The script doesn’t talk about enjoying life, trying new things, exploring this amazing world and the greatest gift we’ve ever been given, our life.

100_0032By time I start working again sometime in the late spring or summer, I will have been off of work fifteen to eighteen months.  Not only didn’t I die or ruin my life but I had an utterly amazing year.  Now I know what some of you are thinking.  Sure, you’re single, you make good money when you’re working, you don’t have kids, it’s easy for you.  My reply is bullshit!  You know plenty of single people, how many of them have ever left their scripted lives and just traveled for a year after the age of 30.  We all have complications and responsibilities in life.  All of these can be addressed if you are willing to take a chance, to give up the scripted safety for a bit.

land 25There are whole websites, like Families on the Road, that cater to folks who have taken their kids out of school and hit the road for months or years at a time.  What people think is that this sort of thing is half-assed and irresponsible, it’s just the opposite.  In order to do what these people did, what I did, it takes a lot of planning.  I planned for three years before I took this year off.  It took that long to figure out the plan, how to pay for the time off, how to save and create the finances needed to cover the responsibilities and bills we all have whether we are working or not.  Irresponsible, how could creating the coolest year in your kids whole childhood be considered irresponsible?

happinessLife goes by so fast, it seems like a month ago I was at a parade for the US Bicentennial in 1976, college seems like last week, the birth of my fourteen year-old niece hours ago.  Don’t let life slip by my friends.  One of the greatest compliments I have ever given was by a co-worker in Tennessee, she looked at me and said, “my friend you are a sampler of life.” The fact that being that type of person is not normal is one of the saddest things I can think of, we get one shot, why the hell not make it the best ride possible.

happiness, appalachian trailI know it’s hard, I know it’s scary, beyond terrifying even.  It’s as scary as climbing a thirty foot rock wall with a thirty-five pound pack on your back.  I know that fear all too well, but what I’ve learned every time I’ve done something like this, is that it pays more dividends than you can possibly imagine.  I love that so many of you who read my writings do so to come along for the ride.  I’m happy you do, but what I want even more for you, is for you go for your own ride and take me along.  I don’t want you just to virtually experience my happiness, I want you to create your own.  You’re never too old, too fat, too bald, too small, too broke to do this, it just takes the desire to do it with a bit of planning.  So be bold my friends, identify the step and take it, boldly, bravely and take the happiness you deserve and along the way, and always remember to have a good day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

How Travel Makes You Happier

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Our Best Happiness Posts of 2015

My favorite Appalachian Trail Photos of 2015

Why I’m Happy Right Now!

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Happy News – February 1, 2016

Happy News – February 1, 2016

happiness newsOur weekly tour around the web to bring you positive and happy news ~ Rev Kane

01Video of a sweet little 2 year-old boy with Down’s Syndrome reciting the alphabet.


02Baltimore pays teens to shovel sidewalk for elderly and disabled


03Strangers form human chain to save trucker from fall


04Mosque opens it’s doors to stray cats to keep them safe and warm


Other Recent Happy News Posts!

Happy News – January 25, 2016

Happy News – January 18, 2016

Good News – January 11, 2016

Good News – January 4, 2016

Good News – December 28, 2015

Good News – December 21, 2015


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Fun Friday: Drunk History

Fun Friday: Drunk History

01If you have never seen Drunk History on Comedy Central you have been missing out.  The premise is very simple, take comedians, get them drunk, have them tell informative stories about history.  Sounds straight forward and boring, it is so far from straight forward and boring, surprising you’ll probably learn a little but I promise you’ll be laughing too hard to notice.  Enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Harriett Tubman, Civil War Spy (5:34)

Solving the Los Angeles Water Crisis (6:26)

Bobby Fischer, King of the Chess People (7:45)

A Sound in Space (6:33)

Bass Reeves, Full-on Dances with Wolves (6:41)


Here Are Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Snoop Dogg Narrates

Kids explain Santa & Christmas

Fun Internet Memes

The Onion & The Oatmeal

Funny Kid Pictures

Happiness is Laughter: Funny Signs

Happiness is Star Wars

Amazing Festivals for your Bucket List

Funny Baby Images

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Great Hikes & Treks

Great Hikes & Treks

happiness, appalachian trailA vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.                 ~Paul Dudley White

Shorter Hikes (Under 100 miles)

Rim to Rim Grand Canyon (United States)

Western Highland & Great Glenn Way (Scotland)
– I’ve done the Great Glenn portion of this, not challenging and very scenic

Tonquin Valley Trail (Alberta, Canada)


happiness, everestMid-Level Hikes (100+ miles and/or major elevation)

Base Camp Mount Everest (Nepal) – I’ve personally done this trek with Kamzang, the photos are from the trek.

Sierra High Route (United States)

Inca Trail (Peru)

Petra Trail (Jordan)

happiness, everestBig Ones (Long Distance Mileage and/or Elevation)

Appalachian Trail (United States) – I did a thousand miles last summer, absolutely magnificent.

Pacific Coast Trail (United States)

Continental Divide Trail (United States)

Kungsleden, The King’s Trail (Sweden)

Snowman Trek (Bhutan)

happiness, everestOther Posts You Might Enjoy!

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Reader’s Favorite Posts

Himalayan Travelogue, including My Great Glenn Way Hike

Adventure & Happiness

My Polar Bear Adventure


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Happiness Resources: Our Happiness Grab Bag

Happiness Resources:  Our Happiness Grab Bag

Today some random and various pieces from around the web to help you have a happier day ~ Rev Kane

happiness kid
Happiness is the only good.The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so.                                           ~ Robert Green Ingersoll

The Happiness Game – really interesting post/graphic loaded with facts about life and happiness in the United States.

Why game playing makes you happy.

DIY Happiness using daily and weekly tips.

A Pinterest page on happiness.

Be you, live your Dream, a really great blog post on happiness.

What makes us happy? A piece from the Atlantic Magazine

Are extroverts happier than introverts? A piece from Psychology Today

And finally a little Bob Marley to make us all a bit happier


Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Remember the Sweet Things The best story you’ll ever hear!

Our Best Happiness Resource Posts

Adventure & Happiness

Best Happiness Posts for 2015

Fear Is Killing Your Happiness!

Why I’m Happy Right Now!

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Happiness is Art: Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet & Chihuly

Happiness is Art: Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet & Chihuly

01The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live.                       ~ Auguste Rodin

01Tonight we revisit some of my favorite art posts, enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

The Paintings of Van Gogh

The Art of Monet


The Glasswork of Chihuly

The Art of Pablo Picasso


Some Other Posts You May Enjoy!

Happiness is Art: Storytelling

Great Paintings

Street Art

The Art of Burning Man

Sculptures in the Desert

Happiness is Sculptural Weaving





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Happy News – January 25, 2016

Happy NewsJanuary 25, 2016

happiness newsOur weekly tour around the web to bring you positive and happy news stories ~ Rev Kane

01From the Huffington Post, 5 Headlines that will restore your faith in humanity

Woman Drinking Coffee

Woman Drinking Coffee

How to Hack Your Day, So You Can Have the Best Monday Ever


03Cat rescued by 3 Huskies made part of the pack


04Video of Panda at the Washington Zoo Enjoying the Snowstorm


Other Recent Happy News Posts!

Happy News – January 18, 2016

Good News – January 11, 2016

Good News – January 4, 2016

Good News – December 28, 2015

Good News – December 21, 2015


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