As most of you know by now, I’m thru-hiking the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. And I’m attempting to set a new fastest time.
Not the Feet!
Back during mid summer, I ended up getting Planters Fasciitis in my left foot. I wanted it to heal up before my hike so I got everyone on board. I was being treated by my doctor Dr. Mike Rothwell at Well-Key Urgent Care, Dr. Alan Lensgraf at West Knox Chiropractic Group, Ryan at Tennessee Sports Medicine Group and my massage therapist Laura McClain. All out of the Knoxville, Tennessee area. Even with all of the professionals on board, it still didn’t heal in time for the start date of my hike. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
Leading up to my thru-hike I only did 2 hikes that were no more than about 10 miles each. So I wasn’t sure how my foot was going to do once I started doing 20s each day. I simply just trusted in God that His will would be done out of this hike.
Mission Partners & The Mission..
When doing a hike like this, it requires financial support along with support from friends and family. You need support for shuttles, possibly lodging if you’re not staying in the park and gear. For me I was able to save up enough money throughout this spring and summer to financially take care of my bills at home, but I needed the extra financial support for my hike.
That’s where the sponsorships came into play. But I prefer to call them “Mission Partners”. Because not every company gave the same support. They were made up of companies and private donations. But they all contributed to help me complete my mission and I am forever grateful to them.
So what is the Mission?……. My mission is simple. Thru-Hike the Smokies in the fastest time that I can, be a positive roll model and share the beauty of God’s creation and let His love shine through me.
Here is a list of the Mission Partners for my hike;
▪ Tennessee Beard Co.
▪ Vargo Outdoors
▪ Salazon Chocolate Co.
▪ Black Rock Gear
▪ Goosefeet Gear
▪ Well-Key Urgent Care
▪ West Knox Chiropractic Group
▪ Tristar Adventures
▪ Bradford Beans
▪ The Hike Inn
▪ Laurel Park Inn, Maggie Valley, NC
Friends & Family
I also want to thank all of my family and friends who are helping me with shuttles, trail magic, lodging, support, and prayer. I appreciate it more than you know. It’s impossible to do what I’m doing without support. And to have that from the people that most to me is beyond awesome.
I’ve also gotten some support from my church family at Ridge Church in Oak Ridge, TN as well.
I began my #fastestgsmnp900miler2 thru-hike on October 14th of this year around 3:am. The first hike was up Alan Cave Trail to Mt LeConte to catch a sunrise. What an awesome way to start this hike.
The first week I decided to do lower miles between 13 and 18. I felt like doing lower miles would give my feet a chance to get use to the work load, seeing that I basically went from the couch to the trail.
While hiking down upper Deep Creek Trail during the first week I rolled my right ankle. It would continue to give me problems for the next week or two. Overall everything is going as expected and planned. On day #6 I passed the 100 mile mark, day #12 I passed 200, day #16 I passed 300 and on day #21 I passed the 400 mile marker. So I’m well on my way to finishing Thanksgiving weekend, the 25th to be exact. I’ll be finishing at the same location as last time, Old Sugerlands Trailhead at Newfound Gap Rd.
It’s the beginning of week number 4 now and the leaves are in their prime. The Smokies are laced with their reds, oranges, and yellow colors. It’s an incredibly beautiful time to be hiking the park. Some colors are so bright that they nearly look neon. And even though the upper elevations got their first snow last week, it didn’t effect the colors on most of the hardwood trees.
The Real Reason I’m Out Here
But being out here is more about reconnecting with God, myself and nature. It’s very peaceful out here. It allows me to think clearly and put everything in its rightful place in my brain.
It’s almost like my brain has a huge desk in it which was covered up with images from the past. Just piled up in a chaotic fashion that need to be filed away properly. Images from my over a decade of service as an volunteer member of a Rescue Squad and Fire Department where I fulfilled roles as EMT, Vehicle Extrication, Rescue Diver, Swiftwater Rescue and more.. It’s kind of funny. I was always calm under high stress situations when I was doing rescue. And now I can’t handle high stress situations. I have to get out of it as quickly as possible. It’s almost like a panic attack, but more extreme. Some say it’s PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from my time in the emergency field. I’m not sure, but I do know that high stress triggers it. And it’s not good when it does.
So….. What do I do when I’m out on the trail? Well I pray a lot, hum tunes of worship music (cause I can’t sing my way out of a bucket), talk to God a lot and simply plan the next few days ahead on my hike. I also take in the beauty around me. I’m surrounded by His creation that He made for me to see and enjoy. I also take a few photos and shoot a little video to preserve those moments and memories.
A few people have asked me why I’m up posting so many black and white photoson my #fastestgsmnp900miler2 thru-hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. No I’m not doing the black and white photo challenge. No I wasn’t inspired by the black and white challenge. I decided to post most of the pictures on this hike in black and white back in the spring when I made up my mind I was going to do this hike again. Black and white photos to me takes me back in time. They simplify what’s in the photo. I’m not distracted by the color so I can pay attention to the details of the image.
I decided to do black and white because it takes me back to the day that Horace Kephart roamed these Smoky Mountains and called them home. It takes me back to do what I would think it would look like if I was there at the time and someone took a picture of captures the true essence of the Smokies. It also reminds me of the gander that Ansel Adams captured Yosemite.
So far I’ve completed the following areas of the park;
☑ Deep Creek
☑ Hazel Creek
☑ Balsam Mt
◻ Cases Cove
◻ Big Creek