Thursday, April 7, 2011


The sky lifted and a sliver of blue finally shown ahead.  The sun peeked out of a blanket of dark, storm clouds and illuminated the snow on the branches and ground.  It was my second day in the Smokies and I had been crunching in a couple inches of snow for hours - my glasses fogging up and my breath visible all around me.  24 hours earlier I was in shorts and a t-shirt, heading out of Fontana Dam in 75 degree weather.  I had planned to hike 15 miles but stopped 3 miles shy at the first shelter to grab safety from the storm. The last 1.5 miles were a sprint up the mountain as I saw thunder and lightning flying towards me.  I fell asleep to torrential rains and heavy winds beating down on the shelter roof, only a foot away from my head.  I kept thinking - please don't collapse on me.  I awoke to below freezing temperatures and two inches of snow on the ground.  The vast weather changes chilled me to the bone, but man was it beautiful!

On my third day in the Smokies I reached Clingman's Dome, and the hike up was surreal - hiking along a thin ridge, higher than any other peak around.  I kept going up and up to the top of the world it seemed like.  The trees became evergreens and the fresh smell in the air was incredible.  A couple tenths from the top, the trail turned to a paved road and the serenity completely vanished.  Hundreds of overweight tourists were plodding up to the walkway at the top.  The views were amazing up there - complete 360 views for hundreds of miles, but it was all out of context. It felt artificial being up there like I was looking from a skyscrapper - amazing nonetheless, but something was definitely missing.  I ended up doing 18 miles in the slush and ice and made it to Gatlinburg, TN in the afternoon - happy to have a warm shower and a cozy bed. 

I know the last post was a bit of a downer and I appologize, but I wanted to keep everyone as in-tune with my trip as possible.  I have been doing a lot better since I left Fontana - my knees are feeling better, though still sore, and my spirits have been higher.  This is what I want to accomplish and as long as I keep moving forward I know good things will come.  Thank you so much for the kind words of encouragement from everyone.  I hit the 200 mile mark yesterday, with 204.7 officially hiked.  I've got about two more days in the Smokies and then probably five days to Hot Springs.  I'm feeling energized and excited to get back out there.  Here a video and me and my buddy from England, Mayo.  I wanted to upload some more videos, but the computer's not cooperating.


  1. Good to see your face, buddy! It's good that you feel free to write all that you are feeling. I certainly don't expect that everything's going to be great and exhilarating all the time. but 200 miles - Awesome!And you've hit the highest part, though not necessarily the hardest part, as I understand. Keep the faith...We're behind you! L, Jill

  2. Congratulations on the 2 hundo! watch out for mayo... he might try to sneak in and steal that packet i gave you :) love you. miss you tons.

    binky says hi and wants to know if you have any other hats for her.

  3. Well done! How awesome to see your smiling face. I do keep you in prayer: that this journey will be awe inspiring, courage provoking, and serene for all the years to come that you will remember it with pride and joy.

  4. no apologies needed... we love you, and we're here to listen, and to cheer you on! :)

  5. I'm feeling the urge to play "Fire and Rain" on the guitar this morning. Keep it up buddy boy!