March 31 2012
We got down to Winding Stair Gap a little after noon yesterday, 3/30, and called Karen down at the Budget Inn to come get us. Great high speed ride screaming down the hill into Franklin. Was walking over the past three days in very rugged north Georgia country and into North Carolina. Everything is blooming...trillium, blood root, bluets, dutchman's britches, and some kind of tree I don't know but one person said it was a cottonwood.
So this is like God's backyard garden and evidently God likes his backyard steep. We are walking ridges and gaps and getting great views. Generally, the terrain is the same type, the vegetation (with the exception of the above 5,000 ft.), and soil. But there is a different type of feel because of the overall height and distance of the hills and the sheer steepness of the slopes.
I found out how steep one of the slopes was yesterday when I stopped to eat and let my cooking pot (which is shaped like a wheel) start rolling down the hill. I didn't do it on purpose of course. But down I went and got it and started back up. My legs never burned so much.
Branden is healing and is a monster. Uphill is not a problem for him so I just let him go and it gives me time to think....and when I think out here my thoughts go everywhere. I am thankful for everything I have, not possession wise, but people wise. I have had many conversations with many different types of people. Everyone is more Fox brainwashed than I had previously thought. I have not initiated politics but others do, so I'm practicing keeping my mouth shut, practicing saying something that veers the topic away, practicing giving.
Speaking of giving, there are some takers out here. People totally unprepared, people who just got fired, kicked out of their apt, something like that and they just need everything you've got. We give but we draw a line too. I will never be selfish with anything I've got but I won't be conned by a skunk either. I have helped several people up steep long hills by stopping and walking behind them and getting them to tell me about themselves. It motivates a person to talk about their families, jobs, etc. One fellow was trying hard to get up a hill and wanted to let me by. I said no way "you're just as strong as me, and younger, let's go together." He had lost his father in December and wanted to walk in his Dad's memory. He was a genius of some sort, a computer statistics guy, really nice, but it made me cry after I got to the top of the hill and had to say goodbye and walk past him. I've got my father...I have so many people. I am blessed. I will make the most of the blessing.
March 30 2012
Hey, all! I did receive the "SPOT" signal today "Yo! We're alive!"
They have crossed into North Carolina. Moving right along. I had not
received a "SPOT" since Sunday even though Branden said he had been
sending them. I need to remember that technology doesn't always work,
especially in the wilderness. Maybe then I won't worry if I don't hear
from them every day.
March 28 2012
I'm leaving the Budget Inn in Hiawassee this morning after we pick up some stuff. We got a good night's sleep and plenty to eat at a very good AYCE called Daniel's. It was a good walk from where we are staying but we're walking anyway. I'm older than most but not as old as some. I'm probably in a 30% range right now.
Some tough folks out here, some have experience, some don't know which end is up. The good thing about it is that everyone helps everyone else and goes out of their way to be friendly.
Branden is a hiking beast. He has bruised his achillies tendon so he has to go slow downhill. When it heals, I'll hurt it again to sort of hobble him.
I've been thinking of everyone who is so supportive, my parents, my friends, and my lovely energetic giving and pure of heart wife. I've also been thinking about people that aren't with us anymore and hoping that some of what I'm doing is in respect and memory to them. Hopefully this email will go out to everyone and you will iknow that I'm thinking of you and walking with you up this path. Love to everyone.
Oh, before the hike Branden told me that I was going to be called Short Fuse I guess because I'm sort of wound up sometimes and I thought "I'm going to work on thiat and not be a Short Fuse"....guess what...now I'm being called All Smiles by people because when I meet them I'm ususally smiling and feeling good. But I'm also Short Fuse. All Smiles and Short Fuse, the duality of man, Hesse's Steppenwolf, Jekyl/Hyde, all that....we are all Short Fuse and All Smiles. Let's just be it and deal with it that way. Like Branden says, sometimes you need Short Fuse around, just keep him in the basement most of the time.
March 27 2012
Michael called tonight. They are in Hiawassee, Georgia. They have
hiked 68.4 miles on the AT and they are one day ahead of their pacing
schedule. They are going to rest in a hotel room tonight and take a
half day off tomorrow. He thinks they are making good time but feels
they can do even better farther down the trail. They have had good
weather. No rain. He said they are having fun.
March 26 2012
Hi, everyone! Sorry this update is a little late. After I dropped
Michael and Branden off on the trail I drove to Memphis, TN to visit my
son. I just returned home today.
Not really much news yet. They started their hike Thursday, March 22,
on the "cusp of the new moon". They started their journey that
afternoon in a drizzly rain. The temperature was close to 70 so it was
not really uncomfortable. John and Chandra Dreyer, our friends who live
in north Georgia, and I walked with them to the top of Springer
Mountain. We took some pictures and Michael and Branden signed the
trail register. There were 6 or 7 other hikers on the mountain but no
other thru hikers. It was a very touching and exciting moment for all
I have received 4 "Spot" notifications from Branden since they left.
All of them had the same message, "Yo! We're alive!", which is the same
message I hope to receive each time. He is also able to post "Help!".
Of course I don't ever want to receive that message.
I will continue sending out these updates whenever I have news to
I am very proud of Michael and Branden.
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.