Day 7 – Good-bye and Thank You Virginia – Hello Kentucky

A hearty goodbye to Virginia and all the people I met along the way.

  • To Ron and Joan Short for the guidance and hospitality.
  • To Pam Eddy for being my trail angel and saving me from the storage unit.
  • To all the people who pulled over in VA to give me words of encouragement and talk for a moment.  I loved hearing all the stories of local and family history you had to share.
  • To the Hobbs’ for offering me such unique accommodations.
  • To Billy Heck and Scott Bowen at Wilderness Road State Park and Martin Station.
  •  To Marcus for being our Indian guide.
  • To Mona, Deidre and Kelsey for walking with us for a piece of this journey.
  • To Isaac Kramer and his two boys .
  • To the folks at Bell County Historical Society, Tim Cornett, and the great luncheon and reception we had there.
  • And a special thank you to the hundreds of drivers who steered just a little bit left as I managed the narrow shoulders

God bless you Old Dominion, looking forward to seeing you again!

For the remainder of the trip Givan and I will have some blacktops but there will be more back roads and overland experiences.  More along the lines of the hiking we love and sticking directly to the actually route of Boone Trace.

We have quite a few miles to put under foot to make our campsite tonight.  We probably won’t get there until after dark.

Walk on,





Day Five – Midday Check In

1:24 p.m.
Today’s only scenery is blacktop and guardrail. The fog covers the mountains to my right and the rain keeps my head down. Backpacking is not the best way to enjoy a hwy.
Walk on,

Wilderness Road - Hwy. 58 Between Jonesville and Rose Hill, VA Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

Wilderness Road – Hwy. 58
Between Jonesville and Rose Hill, VA
Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

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,


The Devil’s Race Path

Day two begins
Began walking at 8:30 a.m.


Thugs and hooligans have always been a part of the historical landscape.

As the push into Kentucky continued, pioneers became targets for thieves who would rather steal than forge their own way in life. A prime spot to do so was along Purchase Ridge and the steep road that slowed heavily laden wagons.  Today this road is US 23 which enters Duffield, Va., from the southeast.

Photo Credit: waynerd via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: waynerd via Compfight cc

In an attempt to outrun the bandits, pioneers would race their wagons at top speed up this incline. It became known as, and is still called today, “The Devil’s Race Path”. With the roadside bandits gone, making their living as cybercriminals, the area seems to continue the theme of “flying” up the hill with side road names like Dove Dr., Swan Dr, and Partridge Dr.

There was an alternate path, however, that could be taken which was not as steep but a tad longer. Today it is the Natural Tunnel Parkway. I imagine that Joshua, was a hardened, adventurous man and strolled up Purchase Ridge fearing neither bandits nor the devil.

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.

The cyber trail is filling up

A big Howdy and Hey Y’all to a large batch of new followers. In the past week my list of cyber hikers has nearly doubled and more are signing up every day. Newspaper articles are hitting local Virginia and Kentucky towns and my little walk is turning into quite the spectator sport.

I want to address an issue that has come up with my facebook page.  Facebook’s algorithms do not always allow my posts to be seen by everyone who has “liked” my page. A few have told me that they hit “like” on everything I post but facebook does not always notify them when a new post is available. The best solution is to sign up for email. I know not everyone wants to add another email to an already overflowing in-box, so the next best route is to check often, especially starting March 9th.

With that business out of the way…..

I have received numerous messages from people who have ancestors that were pioneers somewhere along Boone Trace and they are having thoughts of walking in those bygone foot steps. I am confident that very soon a time will come where that can be done. Many organizations and towns are working behind the scenes and joining resources.  Boone Trace and the Wilderness Road will become a destination for approximately 47 million Americans to rediscover their family’s role in building our great country.   But we’re not there quite yet.

What will be happening beginning March 10th is a pilot project to rediscover portions of the trace that have been forgotten and see how they can be joined again as one continuous walk-able route. Givan Fox and my self are simply the “crash test dummies” who are taking the research from The Friends of Boone Trace and others to find some answers. Answers that only come with a backpack and many miles under foot.

It’s true that not every descendant of the pioneers have a desire to strap on a pack and get that close to nature, but the vision of preserving Boone Trace is to make opportunities for all levels of explorers. By following along with this journey I sense you folks have that spirit of rediscovery and hope to see you on the trace,  not in March, but when the preservation work is complete.

Many of you, my cyber hikers, don’t have a direct ancestral connection to the Appalachian area and are following for no other reason than a sense of adventure (or to see if I live). I want to encourage you to not just live vicariously through me but do some research yourself and discover where you came from. Begin somewhere like* and finish with your feet on a piece of ground where you have never been, but your DNA has.

In the meantime, keep an eye on your email, Facebook, Twitter and so you can be with me through every rain storm and sunny day, every mountain ascent and river ford, and finally to that time when 200 miles are behind me and only a fort and my family are ahead of me.

Walk On,


*promotional consideration has NOT been paid.

3 Months till we hit the trail

We are 3 months away from our departure at Long Island of the Holston!

This Smithsonian Channel video offers us a good overview of the cutting of our path. It also mentions the battle that was fought 3 years later that Joshua Penix helped to win. I do want to point out an item in the video that is a common mistake made by many publications and productions. The names of Wilderness Road and Boone Trace are used interchangeably when they are actually two separate roads. Boone Trace was cut in 1775 by Boone and his men and it led to Boonesborough. The Wilderness Road was created years later and went to Louisville. The builders of the Wilderness Road used the same path from Cumberland Gap but diverge north of Flat Lick.

We are following the original Boone Trace which was the very first road created for the purpose of bringing pioneers west of the Allegheny Mountains. Various resources quote different numbers to how many pioneers traveled this route. I’ve seen numbers from 80,000 to 300,000. In any case, Boone Trace and Boonesborough were the keys to building Kentucky and opening the western portion of America.

Enjoy the video.