Sunday, April 1, 2012


This has been a week of some big victories! Let me start of by saying we have just given a community in Zambia hope and a new lease on life because we have raised enough to build a well!!! I was overwhelmed when I got a text from Wendy the other day saying I was almost at my goal. So being only 200 miles in (another major victory) I am going to raise my goal to try to build another well. We have time and together we are going to spread some hope! Here is the highlights of this last week.

Day 15 (3/25)- ZERO day
Me and Herman the German spent the day with my mom and grandma hanging out, eating lots of home cooked food, and relaxing.

Day 16 (3/26)- NOC to Locust Cove Gap (10.3 mi)
The theme of today was UP. It was a long never ending climb out of the Nantahala gap...a 3200 ft climb to be exact.

Day 17 (3/27)- Locust Cove Gap to Cable Gap Shelter (11.6 mi)
Grandbob had some tape that actually stuck to my feet for more than a day. I have been struggling to get the back of my feet to heal because nothing would stay on there, but that changed today. Also traded some vitamin I for some body glide (antiperspirant for your crotch) with Roadside.

Day 18 (3/28)- Cable Gap Shelter to Birch Spring Gap (12.6 mi)
What did the fish say when he swam into a wall? Dam! Today we crossed the Fontana Dam and entered the Smokies. I was pretty excited because I love the smokies and it put me even closer to seeing my beautiful wife. This day did a number on my legs though because we went from extreme downhill to extreme uphill in 1 day. Definitely feeling my leg muscles growing. Got to campsite which is the only campsite in the Smokies along the trail. I slept very good this night.

Day 19(3/29)- Birch Spring Gap to Spence Field Shelter (10.8 mi)
Today was a good hike. I felt good the whole way and there weren't too many big climbs or declines. This was also the first night I spent in a shelter and not in my tent. In the Smokies you have to sleep in a shelter unless it is full, then you can set up your tent outside of it. We had an ATC ridge runner staying with us. He was a cool old guy whose job is to oversee about a 30 mile stretch of trail (making sure the trail is clear, shelters are clean, checking permits, etc.). I slept between him and Herman and experienced snoring in surround sound. Other than that I didn't feel any mice or rats run across me so that was good.

Day 20 (3/30)- Spence Field Shelter to Double Spring Gap Shelter (13.5 mi)
Climbed up Rocky Top to have one of the most incredible views in the Smokies I have ever experienced. I must have stayed up there for about 30 minutes it was just so amazing. But then the thunderstorms came. I had to walk about 7 miles through constant thunder and rain. Luckily there were no lightning strikes too close. I made it to one shelter when I was ready to just turn in but I knew if I could go just another 2 miles it would make the next day better so I pressed on. That was a mistake. I was cold and wet and when I finally made it to the shelter it was overcrowded. I was too tired and cold to set up my tent so I squeezed in in the shelter. There must have been 20 people in there. 3 other people came after me and decided they were going to cook their dinner inside, ignoring the sign that says don't do that because it will attract bears. So on top of worrying about hypothermia, I had to add bear mauling to my list of fears for the night. Needless to say I didn't sleep good since 19 out of 20 people snored all night.

Day 21 (3/31)- Double Spring Gap Shelter to Newfound Gap Road Gatlinburg (10.8 mi)
I set out this morning with everything wet. All the clothes that I would have worn could not dry no matter how hard I tried so I ended up going commando with wet shorts and wore sock liners instead of socks. The climb up Clingmans Dome (the highest point of the AT) was pretty easy but there was absolutely no view. It was like walking around in Cloud City but Lando was nowhere to be found. We were craving a Gatorade or Coke and decided to walk half a mile down to the visitor center only to find they only sold bottled water. Fail. I decided to practice my Yogi-ing skills. A guy asked if I was thru hiking and I told him about my experience up to this point and how I was looking for some Gatorade and he opened up his pack and pulled one out to give to me. Score! It gave me enough juice to get back up that trail and back on the AT. Another mountain later we descended down to Indian Gap to find Trail Magic! Crop Duster and Jacky-O (both thru hiked last year) had of all things Gatorade an Coke along with a bunch of snacks. It was perfect! And in the 30 minutes we hung out I learned how Crop Duster got his name. Haha. While we were there a big group of college students came down the trail and saw all of us with our gear and one of them said "look- real backpackers!" They were amazed which was funny and fed our egos a little. We finished out last 2 miles to Newfound Gap and hitched a ride down to Gatlinburg. Hit up the brewery with Herman, Father Man, Allie, 2%Tim, Jaybird, and Caveman to celebrate hitting the 200 mile mark and had just a fun relaxing night!

Day 22 (4/1)- ZERO day
This brings me to right now where I am laying in a real bed with my beautiful wife laying next to me. It is perfect. Relaxing and getting a little swelling down and will be back on the trail tomorrow.

I want to thank everyone for their love, support, and prayers up to this point. This has been one of the most challenging things I have ever done. Fat guys were not made to do all this walking...but I have lost 14 pounds already so I guess that part will change. I am also part of the 40%, meaning that about 60% drop out by the Smokies. There is no quitting, even when I am cold, wet, tired, and the only way is up, I have to press on. I think of those who have given to build a well and I think of all the people we are giving hope and life to and it pushes me a little further. Please keep praying for me and my feet.


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