I've covered over 400 miles in a month. I've seen more wildflowers so far than I've seen in a lifetime. I've reflected, laughed, and cried. I've gone over mountains, crossed streams, been hot, cold, wet and tired. I've loved every minute of it. If I had known that I would have this attitude, this peace, this total devotion to walking 15 or more miles per day over very rugged terrain, I would have done this years ago.
The last couple of days have been challenging. Without boring everyone with names of gaps and such just let me say that I climbed higher and farther and harder than ever before. The rain didn't stop and the wind constantly blew. I was in pine forests and rocks and walked around the edge of mountains and could see nothing but the white clouds I was standing in.
Ice began to form on trees as we climbed. We topped Roan High Knob (6000 +) and I started to prepare for the higher winds that were starting to come up the gap. It was snowing. A Baptist church group was trying to do some trail magic for hikers but it was so cold and the wind gusts so strong they had to take their fold up shelter down before it blew out of Carver's Gap. I was told Carver's was a safe place to buckle down in bad weather, not to head out into or onto the Roan Highlands in bad weather.
Carver's was a sh%&t storm and if it was the safe place nothing was going to survive up on Roan so we started looking for a place to bed down. Then we ran into Tag Along and Gung Ho and they gave us a lift down into the town of Roan Mt. TN and we stayed with Ann at a sort of B&B (sans Breakfast because they had to go to work). Felt good and got up and did a 24+ mile day the next day in snow and wind. Back at Ann's the next night ( last night) and then up to Carver's Gap to see the Roan Highlands.
I've been in weather before, this was weather. Wind gust had to go over 50 mph, it was pushing me sideways and the open exposed balds we covered with ice and snow. Happiness comes in strange packages for me. I was in a state of epic bliss. Everyone should go there and experience that scene. I don't know what it is about weather but the more powerful the force the greater respect I have for all living things in those kinds of environments.
I'm at a Black Bear hostel tonight and thinking of everyone. I believe the trail gives me the space to actually examine my relationships and really appreciate my people. I'm wondering if Sarah ever got the fund raising thing off the ground. If so, great. I was walking late in the evening the other night and ran across some old friends who were having a gather on April 20th. Ate well and had a good evening. I'm healthy. I'm happy and I am growing. I love everyone and hope that this little update is of some interest to those of you who take the time to read it. If I could write better I'm sure I would be able to describe some of the wonderful people I have met out here but just trust me on this, folks out here act different...for the most part I'd say society would be better off if it was located on the Appalachian Trail.
Many of these posts are by Shelia Campbell, Michael's wife <3
Bath County, Kentucky resident, Michael Campbell, is hiking the entire Appalachian Trail to raise funds for the not-for-profit group dedicated to protecting Kentucky’s native forests, Kentucky Heartwood. Michael, a long-time member of Kentucky Heartwood, began his hike on March 22 at Springer Mountain, Georgia. By the first of September, after covering 2,181 miles of trail by foot, Michael will reach Katadhin Mountain in Maine and complete the entire trail.