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,



Day two comes to a close with an unexpected treat

1:07 p.m.

Here we are at Moccasin Gap and Clinch River that runs through it. When I stood on the bank of the river in October it was low and docile.  Today it’s well beyond it’s banks.

Walk on,

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix


7:47 p.m.

What an unexpected treat

I had said I wouldn’t sleep under roofs, but I never imagined this roof would be offered to me. Tonight I’ll be sleeping inside the Blockhouse at Natural Tunnel State Park. The Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Association built and maintains it, here in the park, to educate visitors. On occasion, they allow re-enactors to bunk here. I am very grateful to Joan Boyd Short for her offer to sleep here and get a touch closer to the experiences of Grandpa Joshua.

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

As for the day I just finished, it was a grueling 11 miles (not positive on mileage) which seemed to be up hill most of the day. Seems like Virginia is being a little selfish with their mountains. Why not let Iowa or Nebraska have a few?

Got several honks from passers-by with a, “Hey dude, I saw you in the paper. Rock on bro.” Followed by a logging truck dousing me with road spray. A good analogy for life I guess. Ya start thinking you’re on fire and someone will be there to put you out.

Well tonight I’ll fall asleep with the sweet smells of hand hewn lumber and hardwood smoke. The crackle of the fire blends well with the sound of rain high above me on the roof. Good night Grandpa.

Walk on,

Checking In – Day 2 Along Moccasin Creek

March 11th

10:57 a.m.

Yesterday’s constant drone of traffic is gone and today i have been accompanied by the sounds of little Moccasin Creek which flows parallel to the road I’m on. That road being Daniel Boone Rd. I’m walking the valley on the north side of Clinch Mtn. which has scattered country homes and large tracts of woods. I’ll be by the town of Duffield later and I think I’ll stop in at Natural Tunnel State Park.

Walk on,


Day one comes to a close

Had a good first day. A tad over 15 miles but needed to get to a good camping spot. Two lovely ladies tracked me down (for those who know me, your probably thinking that happens all the time, but honestly it doesnt). It was Joan, the president of the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Assoc., and Megan, a ranger from the Natural Tunnel State Park. They gave me some good pointers to avoid all the traffic and I’m glad they did. They also scouted ahead and found this spot for me, next to the Hob Nob Restaurant.

Well, time for some Boone Hoosh and sleep. You cyber hikers get some sleep to. It’s another big day tomorrow!
Walk on,

Checking In – Day 1

The rain, that was so prominently reported as coming, has not. Clouds but nary a drop. I have been in the constant company of traffic which makes it hard to hear the spring time noises that TN and VA are producing. A distant crow or blue jay, spring peepers, trickles of the many streams and the shuffling of my feet. And of course the hum of tires and whooshing of semi’s.
Although the sun has not been out it is unseasonably warm for a Michigan boy.
Rest time over. Walking.

Walk on,
Curtis (2:25 p.m.)

Photos from this morning’s send off.

Photo Credit: Amber Penix

Netherland Inn ~ Photo Credit: Amber Penix

Photo Credit: Amber Penix

Netherland Inn ~ Photo Credit: Amber Penix

Photo Credit: Amber Penix

Photo Credit: Amber Penix

Photo Credit : Amber Penix

Photo Credit : Amber Penix

Photo Credit: Amber Penix

Photo Credit: Amber Penix

Boone Cabin ~ Photo Credit: Amber Penix

Boone Cabin ~ Photo Credit: Amber Penix

Anderson Blockhouse

If Kentucky is to the west, why did I start out by traveling east? Boone needed more men to cut the road than what he gathered at Long Island of the Holston and he would find them at Anderson Blockhouse.



A blockhouse is a small, 2 story fortification where the second floor is larger and protrudes out from the first floor. It was built this way so the pioneers inside could fire their weapons straight down at attackers who approached the walls of the building.

Many blockhouses were built along the roads into the wilderness to serve as resting points for the travelers,and Anderson’s Blockhouse was the most well known. It was so famous that many simply referred to it as “The Blockhouse”. It was the last stopping point for pioneers before leaving civilization behind and entering the true wilderness. Roads from all points, north, east and south, converged to make this location a sort of “central station”. Small groups would wait there until others arrived, forming larger groups, which could travel in greater safety.

The Anderson family would supply, entertain and protect the travelers as best they could but being on the edge of the untamed west was fraught with danger. More than a few times, the Anderson’s had to retreat east to safer fortresses to avoid attacking Indians. But they always returned to the blockhouse. No doubt Joshua passed by the blockhouse, as a marching soldier or adventuresome pioneer, on his way to Fort Boonesborough.  So that’s where I’m headed.

The blockhouse, which was made of heavy timbers, is long gone, Unnecessary in a more peaceful time and decayed as most lumber is from two and a half centuries past. The above replica can be seen at Natural Tunnel State Park. Today, on the spot just east of Wadlow Gap Rd. on E. Carter’s Valley Rd. is a simple monument as a reminder of what it took to survive a life we no longer have to live.

Long Island of the Holston

I am in Kingsport, Tennessee. Better known in 1775 as Long Island of the Holston. It was a sacred counsel and treaty location for the Native Americans in this area and served as a trading post. It is possible the state got its name from the Yuchi Indian word “Tana-see” which means “meeting place” and may have referred to this island.

In those days, however, this area was under the North Carolina Colony rule and the rule of the English Crown. Remember the Revolutionary War was in its infancy and Americans were still subjects of England.

Daniel Boone, Joshua Penix, and most of the pioneers were first generation Americans. They were the first to be born on American soil and they were feeling distant from the rulers over the Atlantic. A desire to move west, and make a life on their own terms, was building in their hearts.

This growing feeling of independence is what Richard Henderson was banking on to make his fortune selling plots in the “promised land” over the Alleghenies. But how would they get the pioneers past the foreboding wall of rock that ran hundreds of miles and blocked this bluegrass paradise? That’s precisely why Boone was the man for the job. He was one of just a few white men who knew the way and was already known far and wide for his navigation and woodsman skills.

I can’t find a primary source to tell me what day Boone left Long Island of the Holston. We know the purchase was signed on March 17th by the Indian Chiefs in Sycamore Sholes. But it is suggested Boone left prior to the signing, confident the deal was as good as done. A few internet sources ( and as well as the December 1985 issue of National Geographic give the date of March 10th as the day Boone began blazing the trail.

Photo Credit: dmott9 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: dmott9 via Compfight cc

Also, we don’t know the exact location from which Boone left. Long Island is 4 miles long and averages 1/2 mile wide. Today most of the island is privately owned industrial property. Therefore, I will be starting my trek tomorrow, across the river from the north end of the island, at the Netherland Inn, which is a museum of local history. On its grounds is a cabin, relocated from Duffield, Va., that was owned and occupied by Boone and his family in the 1770’s. This is the beginning of the auto route laid out by the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Assoc.

If you’re gonna follow, you’re gonna need a map

This past Sunday I activated my Delorme InReach SE Satellite Communicator. I am now connected to the Iridium Satellite Network with 100% global coverage.

The SC performs 3 main functions.

1) It locates me anywhere on the Earth within +/- 5 yards. I have chosen to have the signal send a coordinate every 20 minutes which will appear on an internet map that you can access from the map in the right sidebar.  I tested this function last fall on a trip to Beaver Island, MI., and it worked perfectly. Even in the deepest swamp, the signal made it through every time and filled the map with blue dots along my path.

2) It allows me to send 160 character messages to a cell phone, Facebook, Twitter or email. To make this function more user-friendly, the SC can be paired with a smartphone through bluetooth. During my expedition of Boone Trace I will be sending all my posts to my wife, Kimberly, who will be distributing them to my cyber hikers on the aforementioned outlets. This function will only be necessary in places where a cell signal is not available, which is only the deep wilderness.

3) The last function is the pièce de résistance. It has a dedicated SOS button which, when pressed, will contact a 24/7 rescue monitoring center. It is a global network with resources to extract me from the deepest jungle, storm-tossed sea or Kentucky roadside ditch if I fall into trouble. With the 2-way messaging, a rescue responder can communicate with me until I’m reached.

An additional plus to this mighty device is that when it is paired with my smartphone, and the proper topo maps are loaded, it can serve as a GPS navigation tool. No chance on me getting lost for long.

So let’s look at the map you cyber hikers will be using to follow.

This first map is what you will see when you first access the map from my website.  The red arrow shows where you can change the type of map to view from topographical, to satellite (aerial), or road map. The blue arrow is the zoom in/out slider

Untitled design (2)

At 9 a.m. on March 10th, you will find a string of blue dots in the Kingsport, TN, area.  That will be your’s truly heading out. Click on any one of those dots and a window of information will pop up. If you are so inclined to know the latitude and longitude, time, direction of travel, feet above sea level and other nerdy trip tidbits, then maybe you have the same mental problems I do.

You may find a couple of icons in the info panes that indicate you can send me a message or “ping” my location. DON’T DO IT!  Those are extra services I’m not paying for. After all, my website is LOSTinthewander not FOUNDinthewander.

This second pic is an actual shot (in aerial mode) from the map created on my Beaver Island trek. If you’ll notice the blue dots have a line drawn between them. This line seems to indicate that Austin, my son, and I cut through the vegetation and skipped the bend in the road. Not so. The SC was set to “mark” every 10 minutes and that is how long it took us to walk that curve.


On my Boone Trace Expedition you will need to interpret the dots to understand where I walked. I plan to wade some rivers and only use the bridges over the nasty flows. A dot may appear on both sides of the bridge but it could be that I left the road, got a foot soaking, and re-entered the road in the 20 minutes  between markings. Likewise, a line connecting 2 dots that bisects a building means I walked around the building not over it, unless I’m wearing my cape, which I did pack just in case.




What my hike means to The Friends of Boone Trace

No person alive today knows more about the physical make-up of Boone Trace than Dr. John Fox M.D.. A recently retired surgen from Lexington, John has spent much of his spare time in the past 6 years researching this route. His dedication to preserving “that little road” has led him to create The Friends of Boone Trace organization for the sole purpose of identifiying and preserving as much of the Trace as possible. When I contacted John last spring and told him my intentions to walk in the footsteps of my 5X great grandfather, he began sharing his knowledge without reservation.
I asked John to share with you, my cyber hikers, his thoughts on the upcoming hike.



To really appreciate the importance of the Curtis Penix hike, it is necessary to understand what Boone Trace is all about. So, let’s go over it one more time. In 1775, Daniel Boone was literally hired by Richard Henderson, the owner of the Transylvania Land Company, to open a road for the purpose of bringing in settlers. Henderson had acquired a large tract of land from the Cherokee indians and wanted to sell it off and make a lot of money (which didn’t happen.) Prior to that time, there were no roads, and the white population, in this territory at the end of 1774, was practically zero except for the activity near what was to become Fort Harrod.

During the months of March and April 1775, he and his band of road cutters “marked” the trail. History literally “turned” at this point, because settlers realized that they could survive passage through the dreaded, dangerous and mysterious wilderness, claim their land and succeed. So, the “american dream” to have a vision, seek it, acquire it and triumph were born, in part, due to “that little road” (our battle cry for Boone Trace.)

Settlers then began to pour into the land that was to become Kentucky, which became a state in 1792 (only seventeen years later). Therefore, the historical importance of “that little road” was HUGE!! It was only a dirt trail, essentially a bridle path, large enough for horses only, not even wagons; but its impact was monumental. On a plaque at the Daniel Boone Park in Flat Lick, Ky., the inscription reads, “No other trail is of greater historical significance to the founding of Kentucky and the opening of the west (than Boone Trace.)”

Unfortunately, Boone Trace has been overlooked and ignored in recent times. In 1915 the Daughters of the American Revolution recognized its significance and put out 14 markers along the Trace. In 1942, the Laurel County Historical Society placed seven stone markers in their county, specifically marking Boone Trace. It was mapped by Neal O. Hammon in 1970, and since then, essentially nothing has been done to preserve and recognize the Trace.

Enter Curtis Penix: His desire to walk in the footsteps of his 5X great grandfather, Joshua, who resided at Fort Boonesborough at least as early as 1779, and who undoubtedly entered along Boone Trace, will bring great attention to the Trace and its historical  significance. It will, in turn, impact preservation of its remnants, both of which are the primary missions of FBT, Inc.

As part of that process, we envision a walking trail of the entire Trace and have, after considerable research, identified a route that follows the actual trail as closely as possible, although we continue to uncover previously unrecognized segments. We feel that such a trail could rival the famous Appalachian Trail, but have the profound feature of its historical past. And now, we can say that we have had someone actually hike the trail!

Others have hiked and explored Boone Trace, but usually they have taken existing, paved roads for the most part, and no one has attempted it, carrying their own food, sleeping under the stars and facing the elements as will Curtis. It will be a true “expedition,” and we are not even certain that it can be done. In a way, he will be re-enacting Daniel Boone’s original expedition. Boone knew roughly where he wanted to go, but had to open and mark the trail for the first time as he went. Similarly, Curtis knows where he wants to go, and now, the challenge is to do it.

So by March’s end, Curtis and his hiking partner, Givan Fox, will serve as the initial trailblazers for all those that follow; and  he will have honored the memory of his grandfather, Joshua- a truly noble accomplishment.

John M. Fox MD

President, Friends of Boone Trace, Inc.

February 20, 2015

The Cold Facts

The current weather report in Michigan is ridiculously cold with unnecessary amounts of snow.  Unfortunately Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky have a similar outlook at present. With only 20 days till the expedition starts I’m adjusting my gear and my plans accordingly. Why didn’t Daniel Boone choose June or July to do this? I’ll need to have a word with him when I get to heaven.

Photo Credit: Cathy Del Marnie via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Cathy Del Marnie via Compfight cc

Being from the great white north of Michigan, and not familiar with the southern Appalachians in the winter, I used and to find what the averages would be for Middlesboro in March. The data says 33 for a low and 59 for a high with 5.24 inches precipitation. That would be a very good range for hiking, but it seems this winter is well outside the bell curve.

As for snow fall, the Lexington area has a yearly average of 13 inches. Just this past week Lexington received 13 inches of snow in one fell swoop. I scrolled through several live weather web cams in the middle south and it appears “the great white” moniker applies to more than the north.

So what does this mean to a dirt bagger on a 200 mile stroll? Staying warm while walking is usually not a problem as long as you don’t overheat and sweat. Being moist from perspiration can create problems when you stop and the cold sets in. An extra layer of clothing is added, and venting when necessary, and everything should be peachy.  The snow isn’t a major dillema as long as it isn’t too deep, which it doesn’t appear to be, and i’m sure the next few weeks will bring some melt off.

But what about sleeping in this refrigerator? Snow can actually be an insulating element when it’s built up around the edges of my tarp. My sleeping bag is rated to be comfortable at 30 degrees. Adding my bivvy sack can add another 5 degrees of comfort and being under the tarp another 5. I’ll be carrying a Thermo-lite 2 Bivvy which can ward off another 10 degree drop. So all in all, I should be cozy down to the low teens or single digits. Just call me Princess Elsa, cause the cold doesn’t bother me anyway.

But here is my one fear. Warmer temps are inevitable sometime between when I start on the 10th and when I finish on the 26th. All that snow covering the slopes of the mountains will melt and head to the rivers and creeks. Trickles will become babbles and babbles will become rushes which will turn into torrents which will grow into ragings.

My Idea of experiencing this trail with all the hardships of crossing rivers with no bridges may be getting washed away. The Clinch, the Cumberland and the Rockcastle rivers looked like cold, but doable, swims in June and October. However, March’s melt off could carry this Walter Mittyian adventurer away from his goal. Each ford will need to be a decision between taking the plunge or living to walk another day.