Day 1 of the 2016 Boone Trace Hike

Day 1
We left Fort Boonesborough at about 9:30 a.m. with a clear, blue sky and cool temps.

In the group were Mike, Gin, Sharon and Laura. The five of us kept a good pace and nobody walked too slow or too fast. The paved portion was what could be expected with the occasional car and narrow shoulders.

We made it to the historic Red House where the Bucher family fed us an amazing spread of BBQ and fixins. You could just tell in the short time we were with them that there is a lot of love in that family.

We headed out satiated and soon got to the overland portion of today’s hike.   Dirt paths, cattle fields and farmland that follow Otter Creek. Many of the land owners met us along the way and wished us well. Kentucky seems to be full of very positive people.

By the time we made it to Richmond, the winds had become a full on bluster which sapped our energy. After we crossed Lake Reba Park and Pumpkin Run Rd., we were all drained. Since Hwy 25 is not true Boone Trace we decided to hop in some vehicles and be shuttled the last couple miles to the Fort Twetty site where I am camped.

The DAR ladies, and others, put on a nice dinner for us. It was too windy to dine in the open so the Director of Tourism, Lori Murphy-Tatum, pulled some strings and we went to a nursing home across the road to eat in their dining room. State Rep. Rita Smart was with us and we talked about the excitement surrounding Boone Trace.

The temp is dropping fast and will dip below freezing by morning so I’m hunkering down.

Walk On,
Hop over to the Richmond Kentucky Tourism Facebook Page for more photos.


Attention: Kingsport, TN Area

Attention all who live in the Kingsport, TN area:

May 2nd is the season opener of the Netherland Inn Museum. WALK ON over (or drive) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and take a tour of the museum and grounds to learn about our pioneer history.
Photo Credit: Amber Penix

Photo Credit: Amber Penix

Netherland InnPhoto Credit: Amber Penix

Netherland Inn
Photo Credit: Amber Penix

On the grounds of the Netherland InnPhoto Credit: Amber Penix

On the grounds of the Netherland Inn
Photo Credit: Amber Penix

Dr. John Fox and I will be hanging out in the Daniel Boone cabin to talk with all who are interested in the progress that is being made toward Boone Trace becoming a hike-able/drive-able historic experience.

History is being made everyday, come be a part of it.

Walk on,



The Adventure Isn’t Over

What has happened in the past 16 days has been much more than I had planned. But that’s what adventure is about. You allow yourself to wander out of your comfort zone, to go someplace you have never been and handle whatever the situation throws at you.

Givan and I have climbed mountains and walked through mud. Our legs ached from too much blacktop and we’ve had times where the miles were just about breaking us. Briars pulled at us and we learned to read which dogs were just making noise and which ones might be more than just noise. We smelled bad and we forgot what it felt like to not wear a 40 pound pack. The scenery was splendid and prehistoric and suburban and mean and welcoming and scary and too steep and just right as a backdrop for doing something that wasn’t just everyday.

The pioneer spirit does not need to be just history and Boone Trace does not need to be a road that “use to be” traveled. Both need to be preserved. Join the Friends of Boone Trace facebook page to learn how to travel this road again.

As for the pioneering spirit, that would be up to you to step out and redefine your life. Walk up to that barrier where your comfort zone ends. Study it for a moment, then bend over and with both hands lift it up, walk forward and put it in a new place. Then be sure to tell others how it was much more than you planned, cause that’s what we call an adventure.

Walk on!


Day 16 – Restoring A Classic

Just six miles from the steel mill I work at is The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. It is rivaled only by the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. in it’s collection of artifacts representing American culture and ingenuity. The steel mill where I am employed , at one time, was the largest single manufacturing complex in the world. In southeast Michigan we have a world class hospital system with research and teaching in the latest advancements in medicine. All of which were started by the auto tycoon Henry Ford.

To look at the one item that started it all, that spark that ignited this multi-billion dollar, 119 year old empire, we need to go back to the museum. Now the Henry Ford Museum is much more than automotive history but the car collection is naturally a central display. The machines are arranged so the viewer can walk along and view the evolution of the automobile, and the very first in line is Ford’s quadricycle. After two years of tinkering, Henry built this first combustion engine horseless carriage in his garage in 1896. He went on to build two more and sell them for $200 each. Eventually he bought one back for $65.

When Ford bought it back I imagine it had some wear and rust and maybe some missing parts. Maybe the paint was chipping and the engine needed tuned up, but he new it had to be restored. The only remaining Ford Quadricycle today sits polished and protected. People wearing clean gloves tend to it and keep it looking like it did in 1896.

A single item like a 19th century car may have gone through a few owners. From Ford to his customer, back to Ford and finally to the museum. An 18th century road can not so easily be contained.

Boone Trace started with no owner but was traveled by thousands. Today its remnants have many owners and is traveled by no one. But it can still be restored.

In the last 16 days we have connected the forgotten portions to the already known paths. We walked in the shadows of the mountains and waded many of the cold streams that Grandpa Joshua and the other pioneers waded. Givan, myself and you cyber hikers have had a grand adventure on the road that gave us the “west” and the “American Dream” and we should not be the only ones.

Just as the Natchez Trace, Lewis and Clark Trail, Overmountain National Historic Trail and other historic routes are travel-able paths today, it seems only fitting that Boone Trace should be included. Boone Trace needs to have many footprints on it again. Footprints from the estimated 47 million descendants whose ancestors first saw the beautiful land of “Kantucke” looking west from the saddle of Cumberland Gap. Footprints of school children who need to learn the history, victorious and tragic, of how their country grew. Footprints of a lone traveler looking for inspiration and to echo the words of Daniel Boone:

“One day I undertook a tour through the country, and the diversity and beauties of nature I met with in this charming season, expelled every gloomy and vexatious thought.”

Walk on,


Q & A Time

We are only one and a half days away from wrapping this expedition up. We’ve seen some beautiful country and some historic sites. Sometimes the walking was hard and dangerous and sometimes it was hard and not so dangerous.
Givan and I have not had much time or battery power to address many of the questions our cyber hikers have been posting. So if you have any question at all, send it to and Givan and I will do our best to answer them all.
Walk on,

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

Day 15 – Twetty’s Fort

Felix Walker (one of the axe men) March 23rd 1775

“Began to discover the rapturous appearance of the plains of Kentucky….So rich a soil we have never seen before; covered with clover in full bloom, the woods were abounding in wild game – turkeys so numerous that it might be said they appeared but one flock, universally scattered in the woods.”

Walker’s thrill of this new land was greatly challenged two days later when, just before dawn, Indians attacked the sleeping men just 15 miles south of their destination. Walker and William Twetty were both severely wounded and another man, Sam, was shot dead, landing in the burning fire pit. The rest of the party fled into the trees but had no chance of returning shots with their rifles. When they gathered back at camp the Indians had fled with a few horses but nothing else.

A small fortification was quickly built over the 2 wounded men for protection in case of a second attack and to better care for them. Other Indian activity was found in the area and Boone decided to stay put till Walker and Twetty could be moved the last 15 miles. A couple days latter Twetty died and was buried. On April 1st, Walker was carried by a ladder suspended between 2 horses and Daniel Boone and his axe men finished their journey to the banks of the Kentucky River.

Today, the location of Twetty’s fort is owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution. It is a one acre parcel just south of the city of Richmond. This land is surrounded by a housing development, farmland and is not far from a U.S. Army chemical storage depot.

Thanks to the DAR, Givan and I will be spending the night on the very spot Twitty and Sam died in that attack. A small stone monument stands on a stone base and the grass is groomed low like a suburban yard. A good spot to rest and commit ourselves to finish the journey as did Boone and his men 240 years ago.

Our journey is almost over and the last 15 or so miles will be easy walking. We plan on dividing that distance over 2 days.

Walk on,


Day 14 – Goodnight all!

Berea is a unique town for the reasons I wrote of earlier and many more.  It is poised to become a major trail town because two major paths cross here. Boone Trace passes from south to north and the National Bike Trail crosses east to west. The town is making great progress in establishing trails in town as well as the surrounding area.

John, Givan and I had the privilege of addressing Berea’s Trail Town committee and a class of entrepreneur students from Berea College who are working to make it happen. John spoke of the history and importance of Boone Trace, Givan spoke of the lessons he and I have learned on our expedition, and I spoke about what it means to let yourself get lost in the wander. After the formal speaking, we milled around and spoke to the students and trail committee members, fielding questions on all aspects of our expedition.

No doubt this little walk of ours can be a catalyst to move forward what is already happening in the towns along the trace.

14 days and approximately 200 miles behind us. 3 days and 30 some miles to go and this one’s a wrap.

Walk on,

P.S.  This is not a chalk outline of a turtle murder. Sheltowee Trace hiking path shares part of Boone Trace’s path and the turtle marks the Shaltowee. That was the name given to Daniel Boone by the Shawnee Indian chief, Blackfish, when Boone was captured in 1778. The word means “big turtle”.

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

Day 14 – Berea

Walking began at 8:05 a.m.

We continue north on the actual route of Daniel Boone. There are just a handful of places where we can say 100% it is the ground Boone traveled on and this is one of them. We left the town of Wildie this morning and have been walking in a long valley along the Roundstone Creek and between the mountains. At the north end of this lowland, the mountains close in, the Roundstone ends and we find ourselves at a natural funnel leading out of the furrow. Today it is known as Boone Gap.

A roadside park is in the planning stages to give travelers driving up Hwy 25 a rest stop and view of this historic pioneer pathway. A stone wall built many decades ago overlooks the gully that Boone walked up and a plaque commemorating the spot has been newly mounted. I, like Boone and his men, have fought approximately 170 miles to get to this spot and the end is not far.

Just north of Boone Gap is the town of Berea. In 1850 the area was called the Glades and consisted of scattered farms with citizens sympathetic to emancipation. Cassius Marcellus Clay, a wealthy abolitionist, gave Reverend John Gregg Fee a tract of land for the purpose of establishing 2 churches, a small village and Berea College, which remains the central fixture of the town today. In 1855 it was the only integrated coeducational college in the south and the towns abolitionist reputation was well known and welcomed freed African-Americans to educate and improve their lives.

In 1859 pro-slavery supporters ran John Fee, and other abolitionists, out of Berea as pro and anti-slavery ideals clashed leading up to the Civil War. After the war was over, Fee returned and doubled his efforts to educate and create opportunities for the now free population of blacks in Kentucky.

Berea College continues today as a tuition-free institution offering a 4 year education to all promising students regardless of need. The town and college are an epicenter for interest in the culture and traditions of Appalachia by writers, academics, missionaries and teachers. The community is abounding in traditional Appalachian crafts and music.

Boone, throughout his life was know as a friend to all manner of men. He believed in the teachings of his Quaker upbringing that all men have “the light of God” in them and are loved by the creator. Boone was a friend to Indians and only fought when necessary as his charm and friendly demeanor served him well in most situations. In Boone’s last years in Missouri his good friend, and the man he chose as his hunting partner, was Derry Coburn. Derry was known by Boone’s family to be a “man of the same peculiar disposition which characterized Daniel Boone, non-communicative on subjects of his exploits.” When on the hunt Derry and Boone did not need to talk as talking would spoil the chances of success. They could understand what each was thinking without talking. In the woods together, Boone was not an 80 year old pioneer and Derry was not a 23 year old negro slave, as anyone would assume at sight of them, they were hunting buddies.

This evening Givan, John, and I have the honor to speak to a group in Berea who are working on a plan to draw in people who want to learn more about this trail and historic pioneer life. We’re looking forward to it!

Walk on,


Day 12 Recap

4:07 p.m.

A great view here on top of Windy gap. The cliffs drop approximately 50 feet to the valley floor and are filled with small caves. Boone was known to sleep in many caves on his travels.

Walk on,

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix


6:13 p.m.

Givan and my legs burned as we followed the trail to the top of the bluff. We had crossed the same creek about a dozen times and the path we followed had turned to mashed potatoes from the horses that use the same route. But the mud and climb and creek have made this the most interesting section of the hike. Atop the bluff is an old road bed with low berms on each side. No doubt this is the original Boone Trace. We are camping on top of the cliff and will be waking in the morning to see what view the morning sun gives us in the valley below.

Walk on,

Day 12 – Quilt Patterns and Windy Gap

Walking began at 8:03 a.m.

I had always wondered about the meaning of these quilt patterns on barns. Just decoration or was there a deeper meaning? I had the chance to ask the farmer who owns this barn.

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

When the tobacco industry started to go down and the barns were no longer needed, the state of Kentucky encouraged the farmers to decorate them with these quilt patterns. Furniture companies buy up the old barns to use the wood for new furniture which could be very profitable but also looses a part of rural history.

This particular pattern was a sign to traveling escaped slaves that freedom was ahead. This is signified by the square in the middle along with the color red. Along the underground railroad, emancipationists would help the slaves by leaving quilts with hidden messages in the patterns. People like the folks here at Freedom Farms still remember all God’s people were created to be free.

Walk on,


Windy Gap

If you want to walk in the footsteps of Daniel Boone you can go to one of two places, Cumberland Gap National Park or Levi-Jackson State Park. Both Parks have preserved small sections of the original Boone Trace with parking lots, bathrooms and concession/gift shops. These have been popular tourist spots for decades and draw many vacationing historyophiles.

The actual Boone Trace was over a hundred miles long from the gap to the fort so why isn’t there more sections preserved? That’s actually a product of why the trace was established in the first place. The “American Dream” of owning your own home on a piece of land and building a life of your own choosing is what drove people to Kentucky in the first place.

The new wilderness got smaller as the private land got bigger. And the original Boone Trace was absorbed into farms, factories, blacktop and backyards. Thanks to the work of John Fox and his organization, the Friends of Boone Trace, today we know of many more sections that have been hiding in inconspicuous places and in plain view. One of those hidden sections is where Givan and I will be camping tonight.

Windy Gap (not to be confused with a wind gap) is in the center of Daniel Boone National Forest. A hefty walk off the dirt road, up a gully and atop a tree shrouded cliff is a level piece of ground. If you look closely at the contour of the ground you will see a long, dished out trail that follows the curve of the cliff. It is wide enough to have carried wagons and with the size of the trees growing between the “curbs” it is obvious the wagons have been long gone. The view from the top of the cliff is beautiful and I hope to have some photos on the site soon.

This is just one of many sections John has found as he studied the research of Neal O. Hammon from the late 60’s. (Today Neal and John are good buddies) As the list of authentic portions grows and the dots on the map are connected through this expedition, a continuous trail can be established along the creeks, through the valleys and atop the cliffs to give others the chance to walk on this path that gave birth to the American Dream.