James Hoher is better known as “Jupiter” or if you follow him online look for the name “JupiterHikes”. This young man is an artist and an extreme hiker from south Florida. “There is no substitute for experiencing travel by foot,” Jupiter said. He recently passed through Jackson County on his quest to hike the entirety of the Sheltowee Trace Trail. Rick and Teresa Powell, owners/operators of the City Gone Country Inn, extended characteristic southern hospitality and picked him up at the McKee City Park along Hwy 89 as he walked 323 miles from northern Rowan County, KY (Morehead) to the Burnt Mill Bridge Trail Head in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in Tennessee. All but the southernmost 45 miles (72.42 km) are in Kentucky.
For Jupiter this was just a stroll in the park. He has walked more than 8,000 miles over the last 5 years. In 2018 he walked the Pacific Crest Trail YoYo (named such because the motion of the hike mimics the toy). First up, then back down again, or two continuous thru hikes of the Pacific Crest Trail back to back. Starting at the Mexico border, traveling up through California, Oregon, and Washington to Canada, then back the same way I came finishing my long walk just outside of Mexico again where I started 6 months prior. A total of 5,300 miles for the round trip.
He is the current Florida State Record Holder for completing the 1,100 mile Florida Trail in only 28 days straight. This required him walking for 16 hours each day covering around 40 miles per day. “There were times I found myself walking in my sleep,” Jupiter recalled.
Regarding why he chose to walk the Sheltowee Trace through Kentucky he wrote: “So why the Sheltowee Trace Trail? I know, Kentucky may not be the first choice of many when they’re booking a vacation, but from what I’ve seen in photos and video it looks absolutely beautiful and exactly what I’m looking for. From an aesthetic standpoint it may not be the Sierra Nevada but neither is the Florida Trail and yet I found a greatly understated beauty that I wanted to share. I feel Kentucky will offer that same experience. And let’s be real, I really love hiking alone. My least favorite aspects of the bigger trails has been the sheer amount of people. Does the wonder of the trail make up for it? Yes certainly, and I know most love the community and I do to, but from a short distance. The solitude is something I look forward to. Ever since starting this hiking journey on my home trails nobody wanted to hike with me, mostly because of the prospect they would have to walk through some form of swamp land. Which was true. But it led to my ever growing appreciation for being alone. It seems to bring out feelings that aren’t often found in modern hustle and bustle of living in a city, and dealing with people. To escape for a little while and to have that is something special. Given the Sheltowee is relatively unknown at this point I see it as a huge upside. To meet the locals, travel through their land, and come away to tell the rest of the world about their splendor.”
Jupiter initially wanted to attempt to set the record for walking the Sheltowee but decided instead to take his time and enjoy the beauty of the Daniel Boone National Forest and the hospitality of folks like Rick and Teresa along the way. Rick and Teresa drove him to Wal-Mart in Berea to stock up on supplies and treated him to a meal at Cracker Barrel.
Jupiter started his trek on the Sheltowee on April 16th, 2019 and posted online that he had finished the trail on April 27th, 2019.
Jupiter posted, “Well I finished the trace! The trail is beautiful and from what I’ve heard maybe I’ll have to come back in another few years to see how it’ll change over time! I came here with Kentucky’s geology in mind and was not even sort of disappointed! The rock walls are really something special and it’s so cool the trail seems to never stray far from them. Sorry I didn’t get to see more of you but it’s true I just like walking and am horrible with coordinating anything. I’ll do a much larger post, and videos on my experience later. My favorite part was the rugged final 100 miles, and for those who don’t know already I gave up the record and decided to just do it however I wanted.” Jupiter is an art teacher and sells his work in his spare time. Many of his paintings are inspired by the things he sees and his experiences while walking the trail. Jupiter shares his experiences on the trail via a written blog accompanied by extraordinary photographs taken along the way. One may read his blog, view his photos, and buy his paintings by visiting his website: http://jupiterhikes.com or follow him on Facebook. Just find a good pair of walking shoes and search for Jupiter Hikes.