On The Trail
With Walkin' Jim Stoltz
Jim Stoltz undertook his first long-distance trek in 1974 when he spent 6 months walking from Georgia to Maine along the Appalachian Trail. To say that it was a life-changing experience is a vast understatement. In many ways it was a coming-of-age ceremony, a journey that forever altered how he perceived his life and the Earth he walked upon.
Jim finished the Appalachian Trail with one penny in his backpack. That was his total financial worth at the time. He was wealthy in life, but just a little short in the pocketbook! He had dreams, too. Weeks before finishing the AT he had started thinking of another walk, a hike that would lead him from ocean to ocean and out to those big wide open spaces of the West. Montana called to him.
After a winter of working and planning Jim set out in the spring of ’75 from West Quoddy Head in Maine, the most eastern point of the U.S. A year and a half later he reached Cape Alava on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. He had come over 5000 miles through the northern states and part of Canada and through all seasons. His boots were worn thin but his heart was full from experiences of lifetime. He’d gone days at a time without seeing other people, but he’d also met some of the friendliest folks on Earth while in the little towns where he re-supplied. He’d been washed away in a river crossing, had a mounted posse after him, weathered three day blizzards, fallen through the ice of north woods river, found his way through roadless country without a trail, and had faced many obstacles and challenges that would have sent most hikers home in a hurry.
Jim began singing songs about his travels and his friend, Terry “Duke” Dawson, started calling him “Walkin’ Jim”. A couple years of starving as a musician side-tracked him from the long treks, but in ’79 he did his first Mexico to Canada hike along the Continental Divide. It was the first of many long walks carrying a little guitar atop that JanSport frame pack.
Since then Jim has continued to do the long walks almost every year. He charted out his own Mexico to Canada trek through Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Montana in the early ‘80’s, walked from Yellowstone up to the Yukon, thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, and many other hikes over the years. The majority of his hiking experiences have been on routes he has planned himself without the aid of any existing long-distance trails. He links together off-trail routes with the trails that are there, and gets into some fantastic country that many people don’t get to see. His is definitely the “road less traveled”.
Jim invites you to check out these trail pages. He’ll be adding more journals, stories, pictures, and trail-oriented info in the months to come. Feel free to ask him any questions. He loves talking “trail”!