Where have we been?

Me, in my mask at my newspaper’s office in May 2020.

Hello? Anyone home in camp? Hello?

I imagine that a fair number of people asked that when visiting AOJ’s site or Facebook page over the past couple months. And if you were wondering where we were, the answer is: dealing with the coronavirus pandemic as best we could, just like everyone else. 

Since January, I’ve been serious about building AOJ into a legitimate outdoors webzine. But when COVID-19 surged in the U.S., I was torn away from this endeavor to devote more energy to my full-time job as a reporter for the Perry County Times in New Bloomfield, Pa. I felt that it was imperative for me to make sure those communities had as much accurate information as humanly possible to keep them safe. It’s a small newspaper, where I’m the only reporter for a county of 46,000 people, about the same size as Pennsylvania’s nearby capital city of Harrisburg, yet spread out over a geographic area 50 times bigger. So covering that community is a challenge even in normal weeks.

This year is not a normal year. I could rattle off the list of challenges we all face this year, but you’re already plugged into the news of disease, death, racism and more death.

And so, I did the best I could to balance my schedule with the needs of my family (me to my sons: You most certainly will get on that zoom meeting with your teacher, and do your homework, and when you’re done with that, I’ve got a tree we need to cut down!) and so on and so on. Same as you.

But we’re back. And we’re looking forward to bringing you news, culture, gear and experience from the world of outdoor sports in the greater Appalachian Region. We hope you’ll stay with us as we navigate an ever complicated trail, full of thorns and ankle-breaking rock jumbles, and because it’s 2020, let’s get a flash-flood river combined with a tornado and a freak blizzard, all in June. (I’m joking… but keep your eyes peeled.)

Travel safe, look out for your loved ones and trail mates. Stay healthy, wash your hands, wear your mask. Protect the natural world we love, and fight alongside those who yearn for the fresh air of equality and justice.

To happier trails,

Jim T. Ryan, editor and publisher


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