The Times photo by Betsy ReasonJim Dashiell on Saturday will autograph his new book about hiking the Appalachian Trail.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason

Jim Dashiell on Saturday will autograph his new book about hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Hikers on the Appalachian Trail know him only as "Funny Bone."

That's the nickname Dr. Jim Dashiell, a retired "bone doctor," or orthopedic surgeon, from Atlanta, Ind., acquired when he spent more than six months hiking the trail.

The 1964 Noblesville High School graduate - who was born and raised in Noblesville, played Miller football for coach Bill Nevitt, worked as a 'summer" fireman each year between attending Wabash College and was a surgeon for many years at Riverview Health - has written a book about his experience hiking the nearly 2,200-mile Appalachian National Scenic Trail, from Georgia to Maine.

Dashiell, 71, will sign copies of his new book, "One Trail, Many Paths," from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at The Wild Bookstore, 884 Logan St., Noblesville.

While he didn't think that he could outshine other authors, he wrote about his experience, plus 13 stand-alone compelling chapters written by fellow Appalachian Trail hikers, seven of whom he hiked with on his trek.

He is thankful for random acts of kindness from strangers, or "trail angels," who fed him in their homes or gave them rides into nearby towns. Plus, he is thankful for his family, particularly stepsons, Derek and Brian Arrowood and their families, who visited him on the trail, and family who kept his utility bills paid; and friends back home, including his former typist, who transcribed his daily audio blog and posted it online and sent it to the local newspapers, plus those who mowed his yard. The list goes on, and he is thankful for his "team."

Growing up with four siblings, he learned that "if you wanted something, you had to work for it." The philosophy helped him adjust to life on the trail.

But what made him even want to hike the trail? "I thought it would be kind of a fun thing to do. It would be impressive to my grandchildren. I have 10 grandkids, and they might think that's pretty cool that Grandpa did that," said Dashiell, who in retirement had extra time on his hands. He was motivated after reading and a locally written book by Jean Deeds, who he met and who made the trek sound hard but "worth it."

To prepare, he did Zumba and step-aerobics. But he said, the best way to get in shape was "to go do it (hike the trail).

Dashiell, at age 66, and single at the time, started the trail on March 26, 2012. A rookie, "the first night I slept in my tent was the first night on the trail," he said.

He shared about going into town to get more food, finding water along the trail, avoiding snakes, bears, mice, ticks and mosquitoes while hiking through storms, lightning, snow and mountains.

And there were also "remarkable beautiful moments, awesome vistas, lifelong friendships made and peaceful 'alone' times in the woods," he said.

Dashiell carried everything he needed in his backpack. "If I didn't have it with me, then I did without," he said.

Hiking the trail was life changing, said Dashiell, who has since married his present wife, Sue Ann.

Through it all, he has learned not only how to survive and to have a greater appreciation for friends and family," but he also learned, "You can do without a lot."

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