Rebirth of the Appalachian Voyage

Knowing that everything is interrelated, from environmental degradation to racism to capitalism I’m resuming my Appalachian Voyage against the destruction of the earth we live upon and the communities we live within. With that in mind check out my latest article in Balancing the Scales, the publication of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC): The abridgment of the right to vote in 21st Century America, Part I beginning on page 3 at:

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Rangeley Sun Journal

We found an article mentioning Christian and his voyage published in September.  What a fun find!


Have a great weekend!

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Appalachian Voyage Homecoming

You did it and we cannot thank you enough!  With our Razoo account and a few local donations, the total we raised for people living in horrible conditions due to Mountain Top Removal Coal Mining is $1,100.  We would also like to take this opportunity to remind people that we fully support Coal Miners…just not the deplorable practices of the coal companies working unchecked as they destroy our land and our people.  Coal Miners have a long, proud tradition of being the ones that bring energy into our homes.  Sadly, the communities they live and work in are being ravaged by MTR but, we love and support the Miners in their fight for a better life, many of whom stand with us privately because to do so publicly would mean that they would lose their jobs and their only means of supporting their families.  In many coal mining communities job opportunities are scarce and poverty abounds. In our household, every time we turn on a light switch, we think about the sacrifices made by men and women Coal Miners,  their families, and their ancestors who did the same for all of us.

We want to take this opportunity to thank you all.  Not only did you give to the cause, but you gave to the expenses for the journey itself.  Along the way, we received cards with words of encouragement, headlamps, food, and financial contributions.  You prayed for us.  You told your friends to post and re-post our blogs and to “like”our Facebook Page, you laughed with us, cheered us on, and encouraged us along the way.  Some of you opened your home to a weary traveler who just needed a bit of TLC and a hot meal to gather strength and continue on. My wife is a self-proclaimed “Air Force Brat” and she is strong and self-sufficient but, I also want to thank those that supported her emotionally over this 7-month separation. It was not easy.

Welcome Home Christian Torp

The Lyric Theatre has a rich history in the city of Lexington. This was the marquee the day that Christian returned to town and was one of the first things he saw in our neighborhood. He was shocked and delighted to receive such a welcome.

We assure you that this is not the end.  Christian has many stories and tales that have yet to be told regarding this trip.  Eight notebooks of journal entries (front and back) contain thoughtful reflections, white knuckled, nail-biting escapades, and hilarity that we have yet to share.  We will do so in this blog in future entries.

Finally, for local friends, we are planning an “Appalachian Voyage Homecoming” benefit concert celebrating Christian’s accomplishment with all proceeds going to Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.  If you know any local bands or artists willing to lend their talents for free, fell free to message us on our Facebook Page:

We were shocked when our names were called at the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth Annual Meeting. Christian was recognized for his work raising awareness as he hiked the trail. Great moment!

“When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry, National Humanities Medal Winner, Author, Farmer, Activist, Christian, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth Member

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Today’s the last day…

Today is the last day that you’ll be able to donate as part of the Appalachian Voyage to help lift our friends and their families from the mud and mire surrounding mountaintop removal coal mining. Remember that all donations are tax deductible and we thank you in advance for your generosity.

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Going soft…

This morning at the gym I realized that my feet are going soft already and the Appalachian Voyage seems like it’s a dream, it wasn’t long ago but it seems like a lifetime. With that said the fundraiser for the affected in Appalachia ends tomorrow and they need all the help that they can get. What’s more is that this money isn’t a handout , it goes to empowering the affected people to change the system and making sure that what’s going on can’t ever happen again. So often “helping” hurts, it’s only putting a band-aid on the problem; I can guarantee you that Kentuckians For The Commonwealth/Kentucky Coalition aren’t into band-aids, they’re fighting for a cure!

Please give here:

We also took video of some friends who experience devastating consequences based on Mountain Top Removal in Eastern, KY.  We apologize for the terrible sound quality in advance. But, if you listen closely, you can hear everything that is said.

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9 days

A lot can happen in 9 days.

This past June, two American students from the University of Wisconsin studying abroad in New Zealand were rescued after surviving  9 days trapped in the wilderness by a snow storm.  They survived on trail mix, rice and soaking in a hot spring.

It took 9 days for Marvel’s “The Avengers” film to surpass the total gross dollars earned by “The Dark Night Rises”.

Workers in China even built a high rise structure in just 9 days!

We have 9 days to raise $235 before our Razoo site expires.  Christian hiked nearly 1,800 miles with a purpose.  We have friends who live in the mountains of Kentucky who cannot drink their water.   We have friends who are Coal Miners who cannot breathe the air on their own homesteads. We have friends whose families have owned land for centuries, who’s children are moving away because there are no other employment opportunities.  They are in search of safer living conditions and jobs that will feed their families.

Christian walked to do something about it.  His walk was not in vain.

We are asking that you please visit and donate towards this cause.  If you have followed us on this journey…you have seen Christian’s  dedication.  You have heard the stories.  You have laughed.  You have cried.  Now, we ask that you become a tangible part of this story by partnering with to help our friends.

In just 9 days, we can make a difference.

Christian and Tanya Torp

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There and Back Again

I received  the following voicemail from from my husband on Friday October 12, 2012:

I had not heard from him for several days and his SPOT GPS device continued to register in the same location.  However, I was not worried because the deal we made when this Appalachian Trail Voyage began was that as long as he pressed the button every night, he was okay and I was not to worry.

When I was finally able to speak with him later that evening, I learned it was no longer safe for him to complete the Appalachian Trail with just shy of 400 miles remaining.  My heart broke for him.  I knew how badly he wanted to finish.  I knew how he felt like the Miners and their families in Appalachia were counting on him to get the word out.  I knew he wanted to make his friends, family, and most of all me proud.  He asked me “Would you be disappointed if I stopped?  It is too dangerous and we can barely see where we are going.  I took a nasty fall because I slipped on ice and landed on a rock on my back.  I just lay there thinking how it could have been my head or I could have been severely hurt”.

As I listened to him I wondered how this sweet man, so passionate about this cause that he effectively left behind everything he loved and missed so many things, for the sake of others, could ever imagine that we wouldn’t be proud of him?  Less than 400 miles from the finish line or not, he is the most amazing man I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  I can’t believe I get to be married to someone who lives what he believes so fully. He embodies Micah 6:8.  He is all about standing for Jesus and championing justice. I am truly blessed.

“Come home”, I said through my tears, realizing how hard it was for him to walk away from the journey he had been living. “Just come home”.

Thank you loyal readers, supporters, and friends for accompanying us along this journey. It has been our distinct honor to have you along with us. You are forever in our hearts and our mountains thank you, too.

Tanya Torp AKA iWife, proud wife of  Christian Torp, AKA Muzungu…soon to be an “Appalachian Trail” Widow no more.


Today is October 15th, the last open date to summit Mt. Katahdin and I’m at my parent’s home in rural Upstate, New York. I didn’t expect to be here harvesting Winter squash on this date back  in March when I began, with thoughtful determination, to hike up the 604 stairs of the AT Approach Trail in Georgia.  Some people skipped the arduous 8.1 mile Approach Trail, fearing they would never make it to the official “start” of the trail atop Springer Mountain.

Brown’s Guide to Georgia describes the Approach Trail thusly,  “Because of the Appalachian Trail’s popularity and allure, people with little or no backpacking experience often pick it for their first long hiking trip. Many of the people-with boots that are too new and 
packs that are too heavy-start on the Approach Trail at Amicalola Falls State Park, eager to reach Springer 
Mountain and the AT. Slowed by blisters and aching 
muscles, some of these inexperienced hikers fail to 
make the climb to the top of Springer Mountain the 
first day”.

Steep and strenuous, the Approach Trail is optional.  Maps and AT Trail Guides can navigate hikers to the summit of Springer Mountain without walking up those 604 steps.  I chose to begin there because it was truly the Appalachian Trail experience. So many who have gone before me did not have the option of a different approach.  If I was going to do it, I was going to have the full experience.

I fully expected to complete my Appalachian Voyage but,  as I sit here separating Acorn squash from Butternut, I realize that though my journey along the Appalachian Trail is over, we still have much harvesting to do.  I may not have traversed every step of the AT, but that is not to say that my hike is a failure. My footsteps may not have completely bridged the distance between one point and another, but to have walked 1,726 miles of the Appalachian Mountain Range and spent 214 days in the thick of it, is a victory in and of itself. I have been changed, both literally and figuratively, both mentally and physically…

It’s very difficult for me to walk in bare feet and my left toe sticks up into the air and doesn’t touch the ground as I walk, I’ve discovered. When I looked into my parent’s refrigerator for a snack ,the first thing that caught my eye was a loaf of rye bread and I was about to grab it and just start eating. You can take the man off the AT, but you can’t take the AT out of the man. The way I see myself and my purpose in life has been altered. While I have always wanted to make a positive difference in this world AS I lived my life I now see such change as the reason WHY I live my life.

As I’m sure you would think there are positive aspects of getting off the trail, the coffee is better and I don’t have to dig holes in rocky Pennsylvania soil before relieving myself. Despite all of the changes that have occurred, some things remain the same… as I was composing this entry I checked my email again and had just received an action alert from that just last week an appeal to re-list the Blair Mountain battlefield on the National Register of Historic Places to prevent its destruction by mountaintop removal mining was thrown out by a Federal Judge.

And now for the worst change of all: I need to be re-trained to say Appalachia correctly. Knowing that the more similar and comfortable I made people feel as I spoke to them,  the more powerful my words would be, I worked very hard to get into the habit of saying the name of our region incorrectly, the way outsiders say it. I feel so torn by this but, with all this said, I’m looking forward to the follow-up publicity for the plight of the people in Appalachia, and I’m full of ideas on how we can make this bigger and better.

Over these last months, I was able to touch a great number of people with the stories, the tragedies and travesty that is called “representation” in Appalachia and I have had a far more International scope than I ever would have guessed.  From analogizing our plight to the evils brought up by Canadians about fracking to painting a more accurate portrait of life in America to Germans and English,  this voyage had and has a reach far greater than just the fundraising aspect. Awareness and engagement has become a key focus.

With the walking finished, it’s now time for me to begin writing and reporting, to begin speaking and informing, to begin really influencing public opinion.  I’ve spoken with my wonderful wife and she agrees, it’s time for me to put pen to paper and really start increasing the net that was cast back in March.

Will you help me? I need… we need…Appalachia needs us all to tell all of our friends, our families, the very whole of our social networks about the Appalachian Voyage.  Please send them a link to the fundraising site( and most importantly,to ask them to give. Every dollar counts and remember to tell them that a donation of $60 is only $1 for every 1,000 cases of cancer caused by mountaintop removal mining, that’s only a penny for 10 people who were diagnosed with cancer on behalf of the bottom line.  The deadline to give on Razoo is November 1, 2012.


-Christian “MUZUNGU” Torp

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