The AT and Trail Magic – Still Teaching Me It’s Wonders

It is amazing how many things that happened on the Appalachian Trail that still affect me. Today is the first day I have woken up not completely worn out. But the main thing that stayed with me was “Trail Magic”. Trail Magic is when random acts of kindness (God) are done by people when you least expect it. The day I was out of water and I came to the bottom of the mountain and there are 5 jugs of water by a tree. Four jugs were empty but one just had enough for me to get a few sips. It would be all I needed till another person and another gave me some water till I got to a stream. God doesn’t always promise an abundance but He does promise enough!!


The time I came off the mountain with another migraine almost stepping on a 7 foot thick black snake. I got to the road and missed the shuttle into town. Then I heard free water and Energy Drinks. I got a drink and they asked if I needed a ride into town!!!! Yes double trail magic or I choose to believe a double portion from God.


The time yet another migraine and I had a signal on top on top of a mountain. I called Julie to see if she could find me a hotel as my head hurt so bad I couldn’t think. She didn’t even have a clue how to find Helen, GA or Dahlonega? I could tell she was upset feeling my pain with the little information I gave her. Then I thought of the man who originally gave me a ride. I called him and in the thousand square miles he takes hikers he was at the EXACT crossing where I would come out in an hour. Another hiker had called him to MY SPOT but then canceled.


So it is no wonder that I got in our green van with close to 200,000 miles on it the other day, the cloth roof caving in and started driving around our town looking for people to take to the grocery store. The van is actually good as it is comfortable. People don’t have to watch themselves if they are dirty. It was raining and I felt the Lord call me to go out. I took Chase with me so the people didn’t think I was some stalker in a raincoatJ Chase asked who we were picking up and I just told Him that God would bring the people Chase. Well it’s easy to drive a car with temperature controls (Yes another AT thought, I can get warm now when I want or stay dry when I want or wash my clothes and they actually get dry with a thing called a dryer.) Then I saw a couple in the rain. They were an Hispanic couple with two kids that had a sign, The last word of the sign I could only read because it said, God. All I had was a twenty and we have a hard time paying rent LAST month. So as I went in to get change I saw that I had two one dollar bills plus the $ 20. The Holy Spirit spoke so loudly not in a mean ways but almost as “Are you kidding”.


No matter who you are the poor need our help. Jesus talked so much about the poor. He hung out with the poor and tried to make sure that the disciples got it. Take care of those with less and they will have an easier time entering the Kingdom of heaven than the rich. Money doesn’t keep us from God but the love of money and the desire NOT TO LOSE IT can cloud our entire way we do life. The entire way we approach God. The ways we ask for help from God. A poor person has nowhere else to go but God. When you and I want to hold on to that which we cannot keep to gain what we cannot lose (Elliott) then the Lord will always be a secondary fixture in our true desire.


The AT stripped so much away from me. But in retrospect the AT helped saved my life. Satan had beaten me down with years of depression and pain to the point of not being able to go on. God led me into the wilderness to be with Him, to Trust Him and to see His miracles, not miracle. In the end He rescued me but not after I saw miracle after miracle after miracle by His hand. He called; I obeyed and went. The Holy Spirit showed me to give the entire 20 dollars all that I had except for the 2 one dollar bills. How many times does someone throw money out the window to a poor person and feel good about it? “Oh they will eventually find it. Plus they should be looking for a job.” How many times do we actually treat those less fortunate so much less fortunate with respect.




In the book Interrupted, Jen Hatmaker says “If we were not too beneath Christ, who died for us while we were still sinners, then how dare we take a superior position over any other human being”.


I stopped the car and spoke to this couple. I asked them where they were from and if they had a ride home. I gave them the 20 dollars but more importantly I spoke to them husband, wife and kids huddled under their mothers arms with dignity as though “That could be me”. If you think that poverty is far from you then you are on a slippery slope. A few wrong decisions and we can all be homeless. You could have all the money in the word then be texting at the wrong tie and BAM. You are done. This man was trying to find a job in construction. I asked him NOT to see if he was looking for a job but to see if I knew of anything that I could help him with.


As I drove away I felt really good not just giving my money (God’s money) but by not condemning. Then Satan wandered into my mind. “Well they have a car. Did they drive this far so their friends could not see what they were doing. Does he have a great job and does this for extra money?” Then God spoke




Matthew 9:10-13 “While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”


What if you and I showed mercy to EVERYONE we met. How would not only our lives be different but the world. It starts with one. So today STOP CONDEMING others and GIVE, give then give some more. You can’t keep it. It is all God’s anyway even all your talents. Are you willing to be poured out as an offering for the Lord? Until you do then be very careful as if you are holding on too tight and not GIVING; a great perspective is “That too could be me”.


Seek the lost and poor and then help.



Family of 3 Day 12IMG_5038Trail Magic cooking Day 12AT Will Day 1IMG_4892

“What’s Your Why?”

Most people who hike The Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail (Movie Wild) or any long distance effort usually have planned long and hard about what they are attempting. I talked to a lot of folks at REI who hiked the trail and were experts. I watched a lot of You Tube videos of the trail and what to take and what not to take. Not sure why my pack weighed 50 lbs.? I must have missed that video on what not to take.


Then there are the psychological experts who tell you to write down all the reasons you are doing the trail. The reason being is that some time you will feel like stopping and you can look at YOUR list to keep plodding away. I think a list can be good but I don’t think THE LIST should be the defining factor in going on or stopping. No one else is YOU. No one else in your body has climbed the 600 plus stairs up Amaicola Falls and the approach trail to Springer Mountain. Many people stop even before they even get to the Trail itself.


That is why some good advice is to “Hike your own Hike”. Don’t try to do the mileage that some others are or are not doing. Don’t follow a certain crowd as most want to get away to just think. It still bothers me the suicide of the young hiker in his hotel room. Whatever he thought the trail was going to be or what he thought he was going to find “Out There” did not come as quickly as he thought. Maybe he had a list in his mind that said “I will do this or they will have to carry me off”. Sorry to say many people are carried off. One more day and I would have been one of them.


This morning I received an e mail from a hiker who has subscribed to “Trial Of The Trail”. I have not met him but I have. We have hiked the same trail and can relate to one another. He was taken off by ambulance because of a stomach bleed. He e mailed me this morning to see if I had my blood checked since I got back. I told him that I did not have his issues of internal bleeding but last night I went to bed at 6 pm and woke up this morning at 5:30am. I am still tired and it has been a week since I left the trail.


I was reading a blog yesterday of a young woman doing the trail. To say the conditions have been miserable is an understatement. Now picture this; every time it rains the rain pools up in parts of the trail so you either take your chances tying to climb on the wet leaves at a 45 degree angle on top of the trail or get extremely close to the edge of the trail without going over just so you are not shin deep in mud. One day could be miserable but when you go a month in the mud from walking to sleeping it can take its toll. Apparently it has with her as almost every other word was %$^#$ and %$%^^$$ mud and %$^#^ climb. She is till sticking with it but you have to ask yourself “Why”.


We do many things in life to try to impress others. At this point in my life I don’t need to impress anyone. I don’t need to tell people I hiked the AT to make me feel better. But if I feel better because I hiked the AT then that is worthwhile. The real question all hikers have to ask themselves is “If I was the only person on earth, would I still do this”. Because if it is yes then you are doing it for the right reasons.


I am not advocating anyone to stop short of their goal UNLESS their goal was to impress others. Because after awhile no one will care. Then you are left with either the disappointment or having to do another BIG hike. Or you can rest in the fact that you had an awesome experience.


The wilderness is awesome. But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. I applaud you whether you hiked 1 step or the entire trail. Because you tried. There are no failures for those who start. There are only those who failed to start_______. Today you may be contemplating starting _______ but are afraid you will either fail or afraid if you do what people will think. This life is YOURS, not someone else’s. Go out and have fun. But when you feel you can’t go on regroup and live to fight another day.

Have an awesome time planning your next adventure. Because if there isn’t one then you could just end up existing in this life instead of truly living.




IMG_5026IMG_5035AT Waterfall Day 1

Grandma Emma Gatewood – “Overcoming hardship and finding yourself and finding peace”

In our stories of Trial Of The Trail, todays story is very unique and inspiring. There are many reasons why someone does a long distance hike. Grandma Emma Gatewood was the first woman to hike The Appalachian Trail. Her story is one of perseverance and triumph. You can also purchase her book – “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk”

Grandma Gatewood survived domestic violence to walk the Appalachian Trail alone at 67

Emma Gatewood escaped an abusive marriage and became the first woman to hike the Appalachian Trail. Emma Gatewood escaped an abusive marriage and became the first woman to hike the Appalachian Trail solo.

Even now, six decades later, Emma Gatewood’s story still resonates

Grandma Gatewood, as she became known, was the first woman to hike the entire 2,050 miles of the Appalachian Trail by herself in 1955. She was 67 years old at the time, a mother of 11 and grandmother of 23. She’d survived more than 30 years of marriage to a brutal husband who beat her repeatedly.

Gatewood hiked the trail carrying a homemade knapsack and wearing ordinary sneakers — she wore out six pairs of them in 146 days from May to September. She brought a blanket and a plastic shower curtain to protect her from the elements, but she didn’t bother with a sleeping bag, a tent, a compass or even a map, instead relying on the hospitality of strangers along the way and her own independent resourcefulness. She’d sleep in a front porch swing, under a picnic table or on a bed of leaves when necessary, and she ate canned Vienna sausages, raisins and peanuts plus greens she found on the trail and meals offered by strangers.

Her story, as author Ben Montgomery describes it, is one of “overcoming hardship and finding yourself and finding peace.”

Montgomery, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, wrote “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail.” Published in April 2014, the book made the New York Times bestsellers list last August.

“Everyone who hikes the trail sooner or later becomes aware of the grandma who hiked,” said Peter Huston, the director of “Trail Magic.” Her story, though, “is a lot more complex and interesting” than people realize.

“Emma Gatewood is a person who deserves not to be forgotten,” Montgomery told me.

Her story doesn’t stop with that first hike. Gatewood returned to thru-hike (hiking straight through in less than 12 months) again in 1957, making her the first person, male or female, to successfully tackle the Appalachian Trail twice. Gatewood said the second time was so she could enjoy it. She completed the trail again in 1964, doing it in sections, becoming the first to hike it three times.

In 1959 she headed west, walking from Independence, Mo. to Portland, Ore. as part of the Oregon Centennial celebration. She left two weeks after a wagon train, but passed it in Idaho. The trip covered nearly 2,000 miles and took 95 days.

She was instrumental in establishing the Buckeye Trail in her home state of Ohio. It began with a 20-mile stretch in 1959 and has since grown to more than 1,444 miles; one section is named after her. She died in 1973 at the age of 85.

Why, though, is the question everyone has asked, starting with the first reporters who interviewed Gatewood as she hiked the Appalachian Trail.

Why did this 67-year-old woman decide to take a 2,000 mile walk through 14 states, risking exposure to rattlesnakes, bears, flooded creeks and slippery mountain slopes?

Montgomery offers his theories in his book. Gatewood was his mother’s great-aunt, and he said he grew up falling asleep “to tales about this adventurous grandma.” During his research, he met with Gatewood’s three surviving children, who handed over boxes of their mother’s diaries, trail journals, letters and other memorabilia.

The book he wrote is really two stories: the tale of Gatewood’s first hike, which reads like a page-turning adventure, and the biography of her life, one of struggle and hardship and perseverance.

“It’s not an Appalachian Trail book,” he said. “It’s the story of a remarkable woman.”

Emma Rowena Caldwell was born in 1887 on an Ohio farm, one of 15 children, the daughter of a disabled Civil War veteran. She traded the hard life of the farm for marriage at age 19 to Percy Gatewood, but life didn’t get any easier.

For more than 30 years, “she put up with being married to a stubborn, ignorant, hard-fisted man who beat her over and over again,” Montgomery said.

Then one night he broke her teeth and cracked a rib, nearly killing her. A sheriff’s deputy arrived at the house, and arrested Emma, not Percy. She spent a night in jail until the mayor of the small West Virginia town where they lived intervened when he saw her blackened eyes and bloodied face.

She managed to get a divorce — unheard of in those days — and raised her last three children alone.

Sometime in the 1950s she saw a “National Geographic” magazine article about the Appalachian Trail. Her daughter, Lucy Gatewood Seeds, has said in interviews she believes the fact that no woman had yet hiked the trail presented a challenge to her mother. An obituary quoted daughter Rowena saying her mother stated, “If those men can do it, I can do it.”

Gatewood attempted the trail in 1954, starting in Maine, but broke her glasses and gave up, determined to try again. She did the following spring.

The article had painted a much rosier picture than the reality of the trail. “I would never have started this trip if I had known how tough it was, but I couldn’t and I wouldn’t quit,” Gatewood told a reporter from “Sports Illustrated” magazine. Media coverage of her hike led to repairs and restoration of the trail and may, indeed, have saved the trail from falling into ruin. It also inspired a new crop of hikers.

She gave different reporters different answers when asked why she was hiking the trail. But those reporters believed they were talking to a widow; that’s how Gatewood described herself. They didn’t know the awful story of her marriage. They didn’t realize she was what we’d now call a survivor of domestic violence.

“She was alone, she was free,” said Higgins. “She didn’t have to answer to anyone.”

Montgomery puts it this way: “I’m not sure she was walking toward something so much as she was walking away.”

I think he captures Gatewood’s mood when he quotes what she said to one reporter about why she did it. “Because I wanted to.”  Washington Post


Trial Of The Trail – Send In Your Stories

So many of you wanted to keep getting Trial Of The Trail. There are a number of you getting this blog that have Thru Hiked or sectioned hiked the AT, PCT or any Trail for that matter. If you have a story on the trail please share it with me and I will post it. There are so many that would like to be out in the wilderness but just can’t at this time. Please send in your own stories and we will post them as a way to see the strength of the human spirit when faced with adversity.


One Section hiker wrote in when I had written about all the pain medication I was taking to get through the day. They wrote


“”Glad you are safe. I cringed when I read the amount of pain pills you were taking. The combination of 1 aspirin and one Aleve a day for over 40 days ended my thru-hike last year. I bled in my stomach and left the trail in an ambulance. At our age we don’t need to cause damage to our bodies while doing something that we don’t have to do. That said, I’m going back to the trail for the month of May. I’ve become a section hiker. Rest, be well, be proud and enjoy your life. hoba””


And he is going back out!!!!! So write in as we would love to hear your stories.


Have an awesome day on the trail.






Day 18 – A Detour

Today I was going to write about all the miracles on the trail that happened to me. But todays “Trial Of The Trail” is truly deeper than you could imagine. Most people, like myself, hike the AT for a reason. I told a lot of people what I said I had planned to do. I had planned to hike from Amicalola Falls , GA to Katahdin, ME. Let’s take a step back. In the Daily Devotion I write at I had asked each of our “Warriors” to set a goal. The only prerequisite was that it had to be scary.


Little did I know that God would put me on a path that scared me from day 1. Looking back what did God say to me. When I say spoke I mean the voice that we get when we know in our spirit it is God. You could get an audible voice but I never have. At least not yet. But I don’t need an audible voice as His Spirit is loud and soft enough at the same time. So when God told me to hike the Appalachian Trail that is what I did. God did not tell me to hike the entire length , that was MY IDEA. Herein lies the pain of life. What is it that God has called us to do and what are we doing in our own strength? ANY THING in our own strength will ultimately fail. At mile 85.4 was where God had me stop. Tired and worn out but fulfilled. Fulfilled not with the promises of the world but with the promises and peace of God.


Now the tough part to all who read this. Two weeks ago in a hotel I was staying a hiker committed suicide. I can see why. When you tell so many people your plans you can feel like a failure when what you tried to do did not work out. Many of us don’t even try for fear of failure. Fear of what others will think of us.


John 12:43 “for they loved human praise more than praise from God”.


So you have to ask yourself “If I set up a goal; if no one else was on this world would I still do it”? If the answer is yes then you are doing it for the right reasons. If it is no then you could fall into the trap of trying to impress others. Each day so many more people started following my journey on the trail. I was excited to see a new group of people that could be touched by God. Then it occurred to me FINALLY of why I was on the trail to begin with.


I have written 3 Christian Books, over 3,000 devotionals that through all our social media reaches over 500,000 people all over the world. You would think I would be close to God. No – I felt distant because I had allowed the world to come into my mind. That is why God had me go out on the Trail. Miracles happened even before day 1 as I will write tomorrow but My Journey was MY JOURNEY. When YOUR journey or Trail is shared with others make sure you know why you are doing what God has called you to do. It was supposed to be me and God. But if it was myself, God and you then I would be disappointed in stopping. I found solace at the end of myself. It took close to 100 miles of brutal climbs, descents, cold, hot wet and damp conditions to allow myself to finally be all poured out on the trail. Even at mile 84 I still had some of ME left. The ME that relied upon all my past accolades and accomplishments to get to Maine. It wasn’t until I could go no farther that I found what I went in the wilderness to find.




Now please listen very carefully to this. A lot of you are afraid to set awesome goals because you are afraid to fail. If no one else was in the world you would not be afraid to fail. So the fear is of thinking about what others think. You are more disappointed in the gossip of people who have never tried than in allowing God to catch you. This year over 800 hikers have already left the trail. Some stopped on day 1. I say to those who stopped on day one. Good for you. You at least TRIED. I am so sorry for the pain of this hiker who took his own life. Maybe the expectations of others were so big he couldn’t face coming home. If you view God like the Prodigal Father then you will always come home to outstretched arms with NO QUESTIONS of why? Only love.


I went and God literally caught me when I couldn’t go on. I was one day away from medical intervention. I received this from a fellow hiker yesterday.


“Glad you are safe. I cringed when I read the amount of pain pills you were taking. The combination of 1 aspirin and one Aleve a day for over 40 days ended my thru-hike last year. I bled in my stomach and left the trail in an ambulance. At our age we don’t need to cause damage to our bodies while doing something that we don’t have to do. That said, I’m going back to the trail for the month of May. I’ve become a section hiker. Rest, be well, be proud and enjoy your life. hoba”


A section hiker does the AT or any other trail in smaller segments over one year or many years. His sign off we could all take to heart. “REST – BE WELL – BE PROUD – ENJOY YOUR LIFE”


One thing God has finally pulled from the deepest part of my soul is this. I pray that I will never be proud again in what I do. Only in what God does in and through me. Boast on God.


Today you have a chance to go out and do something truly amazing. If you don’t believe in God as I did for 38 years of my life then don’t worry. God still loves you more than you could imagine. When the time is right He will always be there for you – WAITNG. But stop the madness of worrying what other people think and just do what you want to do. We don’t get to do this life again. If you are waiting for the perfect time to start ______ it will never happen. So go and do in the name of the Lord. Again if you are not a believer, I have a strange feeling that if you put yourself out there you will not only find what you are looking for but so much more.


Remember this – The Trial of the Trail never stops. It may take a detour at times but if you think of God more than what people think you will find glorious treasures.


Day 18 – From Home For Now



AT View from Blood Mtn Day 7FullSizeRenderWide rocky trail Day 12IMG_5037

Day 15 – 17 – God ALWAYS Comes Through


Day 15

It is day 15 and I looked at the weather for the next 10 days – Rain, Rain and more Rain. To stay in a hotel I would run out of money so I might as well go. You can see the picture in the shuttle riding up the mountain that I will be in the clouds the entire time. At 9:30 am I am dropped off at Dicks Creek Gap. Mile 69.6 . I can almost taste North Carolina but it has been so elusive. The weather and conditions of the trail have made each mile a unique challenge.


After climbing over 1,000 feet up a steep Bull Gap Mountain I could tell that I would only be able to make it to the next shelter which was at mile marker 74.1 Still 3 miles short of North Carolina. I got into camp and for a brief hour the rain stopped long enough for me to put up my tent and then it started raining hard again. Now here is the problem. Most hikers will never carry more than 2 – 3 pairs of socks for weight. You can always wash them in a stream and hang them out to dry EXCEPT when it is cold and raining 24/7. The climb and descent to Plumorchard Gap Shelter was in the rain and subsequent mud on the trail. One set of socks down and two pairs left. But I have to last 5 days to the next place I can get dry if it keeps raining. It is mile marker 109.8 or 35 miles with one peak that has an ascent of over 5 miles.


I meet Turtle, Bam Bam and Pebbles at the shelter and we talk about how hard it has been since Amicalola Falls. But the key topic now is how to stay dry, warm and have enough clothes to make it to Winding Stair Gap at 109.8. I feel good enough to eat some Ramen Noodles and then go to be at 5:30 pmJ


Rain all night and temps drop into the 40’s.


Day 16


I am awakened by a horrible migraine and RAIN AGAIN as the elevation and barometric changes have been brutal. Plus carrying wet clothes has added another 10 lbs. to my pack. I start out in the rain and fog and try to get down a Energy Gel. As I start up the 5 mile ascent to the top of Courthouse Bald Mountain it is all I can do to not fall down. Even with my two trekking poles the trail is so muddy that you try to plant your foot but it just slips. Where there is a good 500 foot drop off on one side of the trail then you can only use the upper side to try to walk on.


All of a sudden in the clouds I make out another hiker and she tells me it is the NC/ GA border. Yes, I made it but I am too tired and nauseous to celebrate. I was planning on getting in 12 miles today but I will only get as far as the next shelter – Muskrat Creek Shelter at 81.4 miles. As I enter the shelter there is a steep downhill and with all my effort to stay vertical down I go. Now I know how a turtle feels. I tried to get up but because of my heavy pack and the rain and mud I had to roll over and grab onto a tree to get up.


I finally get under the shelter and set my tent up inside because of the rain. Then when it is finished I can take it out and it should be dry inside. I don’t like to sleep in the shelter for a couple reasons. First I have been going to bed at 5:30 pm and some of the younger kids like to stay up late – like 9:30!! Then there are some who snore so loud that I can hear them in my tent from outside the shelter. People say they wear ear plugs but they would have to be some good ear plugs. Then there are the mice on speed. There are all kinds of rope and string hanging down to put up wet clothes but then there is a can in the middle of the rope to prevent the mice from getting to your clothes. Well the jumping ability of a hungry mouse is pretty staggering. They should have an Olympic Event for that.


I eat Ramen again and still have my migraine. It is cold 49 degrees and raining so I cinch up my sleeping bad and try to stay warm. I usually wake up 8 – 10 times a night and each time I wake up I can hear it raining. At this rate it will take me 5 more days to get to the highway –




Day 17


I have been close to 5,000 feet in altitude and it is taking its toll on my migraine. I wake up at 4 am to take another 4 Advil and some pain medication and force my fingers into my eyes to try to alleviate the pressure. I can’t imagine climbing and descending another 5 days with this headache. When I left home Julie and I had a long talk about what we should or should not say to one another. She would have a difficult time taking care of the home front if I gripe and moan about how hard it is and she can’t do anything about it than that just adds extra stress. Also at the end of the day I am so tired that to try to solve the problems at home would be tough. But what I have not told anyone is this. Because of my bad neck, back and shoulders from all the operations I have been taking 16 Advil and 4 prescription pain meds each day since day 3.


Yesterday the pain was so bad that I literally had to drop my pack off my shoulder as my arms would not work. My right arm was completely numb. It is about 8 am and I know I have to get up in the rain , pack my gear and head out. I need to make it to that road. But I also know with the condition of my body which is deteriorating rapidly that I can only get to the next shelter, Standing Indian Shelter at mile 86.3. Again another day of fog and rain. Plus to put on a pair of wet, cold boots is not the best way to start the day. Actually after about 20 minutes if wasn’t that bad when my feet warmed up. The only problem is that I have one pair of dry socks left with 4 more days of hiking to go. This plus no forecast of dry and warm to get the socks dry. I will have to put on wet sock and wet boots.


About 1 miles into the 5 mile climb I start to feel really nauseous from the migraine. I have lost 20 lbs. in 16 days and have not had an appetite. Then on this precarious ledge it hits me. I am going to throw up. So I grab a hold of a tree so I don’t go down the mountain and just throw up for about 5 minutes. Fortunately no hikers came by. When you have a migraine all you want to do is find a dark room with a bed and climb in and try to go to sleep. This was not an option. At this altitude I could not afford to stay up here. I need to try to keep pressing on but I also could not keep any food down. Then God spoke. I had realized that even though I came to get close to God I still had most of the time done this trail in my own strength. I had times of great revelation from the Lord but most of the time I just focused on my pain instead of Him. As I was holding onto that tree I said “Lord I am all poured out on this trail. If I am to go on it has to be You. If I am to stop you need to make it clear to me. Please Lord help me AS I NOW KNOW THAT I CAN DO NOTHING EVER AGAIN WITHOUT YOU. I SURRENDER ALL THAT I AM TO NEVR PICK IT BACK UP.”


I took my hand off the tree and less than 200 yards around a winding trail there it was. I don’t know why I did not see it on the map but there were two parked cars and a gravel road. On the top of the mountain in the middle of now where. There wasn’t supposed to be any way off this mountain for 30 miles. I just wept and thanked the Lord. It is amazing that I could get a signal and called the hotel. They gave me the name of a driver and he said he would be there in 35 minutes. Thirty five minutes later I knew my hike was over. My body would not allow me to go on. If I had tried to do some macho thing of doing this in the flesh then how many times is God going to give me a lifeboat. As I will recap tomorrow there has been miracle after miracle after miracle from day 1. But it wasn’t until day 17 that my soul poured out the flesh that had been hindering my walk with God. I called Julie and we both wept. Both of sorrow for not finishing but more importantly joy of who God is and how much He loves us.


It was a 9 mile drive down the gravel mountain road to a real road. Then another 17 miles into Franklin , NC. I rented a car and got home this morning. It was an emotional reunion. Turtle, Bam Bam and Pebbles I will miss you. Thank you for always giving a helping hand and encouraging smile.


Prayer WARRIORS – It was your prayers that kept me going and your prayers that kept me safe. I could not have survived another day on the mountain without intervention by medical authorities. I have learned so much about who God is and who I WAS. Who I was I left on that trail at mile marker 85.4. With the 10 miles up the Springer Approach Trail it was close to 100 miles for me to finally get it. I am not disappointed or discouraged.




But I am sorry for all the new people that have signed up for trial of the trail. I may continue to do the blog as a way of relating our life to the trail. If you would like to still get this type of blog please let me know. Also I will be back to writing The Daily Devotional at each day plus prayer requests. It is great to be home. I have learned that it is better to try and supposedly fail than to never experience life at all. Now I know who God really is and I am excited to see what He has ahead for all of us.


From Home in Huntersville, NC




Day 14 – Getting Ready For The Weather

I am down in the town of Hiawassee, GA getting replenished with food and some extra warm gear for the next 40 miles. We are supposed to have an 80 to 100% chance of rain.

I will also be crossing some of the highest peaks yet once I get into North Carolina, only 7 miles away:) I am staying at the Budget Inn (not the national Budget Chain) but they have a great $ 39.00 rate for AT Hikers.

Please pray for me as I need to hike and make miles no matter what the weather is. Now if it gets below freezing I will come off the mountain but for now it is borderline.

So Tuesday morning at 9:00 am I will be dropped off at mile marker 69.6 at Dicks Creek Gap. I cross into North Carolina at mile 78.5 and hope to spend the night at Muskrat Creek Shelter in my tent at mile marker 81.4. Then if I can average 15 miles a day I can get back with you for the 3 days of updates. I wish I could write to you daily but that has been very difficult with cell coverage and typing on an iPhone. I could use the Siri (Voice Function) but you have to have cell coverage to do that.

Hopefully by the end of this week I will have some updates as I get close to entering The Smokey Mountains.

I cannot stress it enough to pray for me for stamina, wisdom and for the Lord to bring about good weather. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. Back to doing laundry.

Day 14 – Hiawaissee, GA  Zero Day


Day 13 – Getting My Legs

I woke up to a chilly 41 degrees and wind at Tray Mountain Shelter.  Each morning I follow the same routine: get changed, stuff my sleeping bag into my backpack, take the tent down and get it stowed in my backpack and make sure I have enough water for the first segment.

I left camp at 8:00 am and was going to try to bypass the shelter at Deep Gap Shelter as the weather was starting to get bad.  As I started out of camp the sun was just coming up over the mountains and I started singing, “Glory to God.”  I got a few words out and surrounded by his presence and creation I wept again.  This is a powerful place, the AT.

Before I knew it I was at Dicks Creek Gap.  It was only 1:00pm, I couldn’t believe how much ground I had covered.  During the 11 miles through the mountains I was able to average a little over 2 mph which is better than the 1 mph I had managed the first few days.

I reached the final descent after many false hopes of ever seeing it.  You think you are at the top but NOOOO  –up we go again and again.  I finally came out to the road at Dicks Creek Gap and thought I was going to have to wait three hours for a ride into town. Most of the hikers were also coming off the trail because of the bad weather coming in.  All of a sudden I heard someone calling, “Free Powerade, water and soft drinks…”  Trail Magic again!   As I was speaking with them they asked if I would like a ride into town. It was a couple with their daughter who is a freshman in high school. They had just hiked part of the trail and were driving back home – Double Trail Magic.

You can fight the trail or embrace it. Either way the AT wins.  After two weeks I am starting to embrace it.  God has always shown himself faithful.  He is with me every step I take.

Dicks Creek Gap –  69.6 miles ONLY 7 MILES TO North Carolina  2,110.4 to go.

From Hiawassee, GA


Trail Magic cooking Day 12

Trail Magic

Family of 3 Day 12

Family who drove me into town

White blaze on ground rock Day 12

If you look carefully you can see a White Blaze on a rock

Brad hiking Big smile Day 12View Day 12

Day 12 – Back At it

Thank you for praying for my migraine and bad neck. When I have a migraine I can end up in bed for anywhere from one to three days.  I was so thankful that this turned out to be a one- day headache.  Friday morning I woke up early and got a ride back to the trailhead at Unicoi Gap.  My goal is to get to Dick’s Creek Gap (18 miles) in two days.

It is amazing when you get a ride from the trailhead into a town. First of all you have to hike down the mountain but that only gets you as far as a road can go. Then it is usually 15 winding miles down the mountain into town. In the town the trees are full of leaves but where we have been hiking at high elevations there are not even buds on the trees.  It is pretty cool to see the greenery coming up at you.

Climbing out of Unicoi Gap is a steep ascent to Trey Mountain. That is the picture on the top of this blog. It was a beautiful day and you could see for miles. I had a short day to get to Trey Mountain Shelter. It was situated at an elevation of 4,199 feet and we had incredible views.

I spoke to “Slow and Steady” who got bit by the recluse spider.  She is taking lots of antibiotics and is doing well.  A few days ago I mentioned in the blog that someone had a bear sniffing around their tent.  I didn’t know it but that was her.  Only the bear didn’t sniff around the tent, the bear was sniffing her as she lay in her sleeping bag and instead of being in a tent she only had a tarp for shelter.  She said the bear sniffed her up and down…. and left.  And this lady is still hiking the trail!

Before I got to the trail, I wondered what would happen if I or someone else had some sort of emergency.  Would help be able to reach me?  When we heard the story about Slow and Steady’s spider bite we were all very encouraged and impressed by the care she received.  When she got bit her arm started to swell and she knew she needed help quickly.  When she called 911 a helicopter was dispatched immediately.  It flew above her giving all response people the GPS coordinates. Since a logging road was nearby they drove her down to the hospital.  If a road had not been easily accessible they would have lowered a basket from the helicopter to transport her.  When she arrived at the hospital there were three other ambulances on standby.  So if something happens to an AT Hiker all the towns along the trail have a plan to get you off the mountain.

As I went to sleep around 7:30 when it was just getting dark a young man with a small guitar started to sing. First he played some rock and roll songs, but then he sang “Glory To God.”  I wept in my tent.

Day 12     58.6 miles – 2,121.4 to go

From The Trail


Snake Day 12

I screamed like a little girl when I saw this snake on the path where I was about to step. Turned out he was harmless.

Shady path, trees overhead Day 12 Woods 2 Day 12


Day 11 – Not Good

Woke up at 5 am and there it was, a massive migraine. I took as much Advil as I could (called Vitamin C on the trail) and tried to go back to bed. I was just waiting for the sun to come up at 6:45. Being in a tent with heavy wind and with rain expected at any time is not a good feeling. Luckily I was on top of a mountain so I could get a signal. I pulled up the weather app and it looked like I had another 45 minutes after daybreak before it got here.

I got packed and put my rain gear on. With a throbbing migraine each step felt like torture. Before the two mile descent I need to climb one small peak. As I was going down the peak I heard the thunder.  About 15 minutes later it started pouring.

This trail down to the road was laden with rocks so instead of a pretty quick descent it was a slick, slow descent. When I heard the traffic and then saw the road I just thanked the Lord.

Because of 100% chance of showers today many hikers were waiting for a shuttle into town. With my migraine it was all I could do just to wait.

After a 45 minute drive off the mountain and I arrived in Hiawassee, Georgia — 27 miles short of North Carolina.  It was frustrating to have to stop again when I was starting to get some good miles in, but the good news is that I can catch up with all of you.

Please pray that the Lord can get my neck under control quickly. Thank you all for your prayers and e-mails. They have helped sustain me.

Unicoi Gap Mile 52.9    2,127 miles to go

Thank you all


AT Sun shining Day 10

AT Dog in car

Look who gave me a ride to my hotel. This guy and his owner.