__Michael called this morning. Of course he is still worrying about me
and Mom. He asked me to mail his heavy duty hiking boots to Port
Clinton, PA. which is 60 miles from where he started today. I will need
to overnight them. The rocks of Pennsylvania are hurting his feet and
ankles. His boots are a lot heavier than his trail shoes but he needs
the extra feet protection.
Michael has called twice today. He is in Duncannon, PA., mile marker
1141. He is with Wiffle Ball, Blues Clues, Gumpy and Peeper. Today is
Peeper's birthday. She wants to see a movie so that's where they are
headed. They are going to stay in a campground tonight. He said
Duncannon looks like Hazard, KY. In case you haven't been to Hazard
that was not a compliment. He is feeling good but worrying terribly
about me and my family situations. I don't want him to leave the trail.
On that note, Mom is still the same as far as we can tell. Although all
the nurses assure us she is improving. Hopefully tomorrow the Dr. will
try to wean her off the ventilator and all will go well. My brother,
Tony, is scheduled for a heart cath in the morning. Hopefully that will
have good results. Thanks for all your messages, thoughts and prayers.
Michael told me an interesting story. He and Wiffle and Blues grilled
out in Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Michael caught a ride into town
and brought back hamburger and knockwursts. This was the first time he
has grilled out since he left. It was getting dark when they finished
their meal so they started down the trail using their headlamps. I
guess they were looking for a place to set up camp. They had barely
starting hiking when they heard a young girl screaming. They followed
her voice and found a 17 year old girl (although she appeared to be
quite younger) who was lost in the woods. She had been hiking with her
sister and a friend and had gotten separated from them. Michael assured
her they would find her sister and promised her she would be safe until
her sister arrived. Luckily there was cell service. They contacted the
police and "Audrey" called her sister. Shortly thereafter the police
arrived with Audrey's sister. The sister said she worked at the city
park and told the guys they could use the showers at the city pool and
go swimming when they made it into town. The guys appreciated the offer
but didn't intend to accept it. They were walking through town and the
sister came running up to them and told them they had to come back.
Audrey's Mother had bought them a fruit basket as a Thank You for
rescuing her daughter. I guess they are heroes, at least to that
family. Maybe they will name a street after them..Smiley Wiffle Blues
Branden and Polaris passed the 1200 mile marker last night. Looks like
they are moving fast.
Sorry I haven't sent an update for a week or so. It all started last
Friday when I had to have all four of my wisdom teeth removed. I was
resting Friday and Saturday before I had to return to work Sunday. As
it turns out the lower ones have somehow gotten infected. I have only
eaten soft, mushy foods since last Friday so I am not sure how the
infection started. I have worked every day but they tend to hurt in the
evenings after I irrigate them. I had to go to Lexington for check ups
Monday and Wednesday.
Way worst than my teeth, we had to call an ambulance for my Mother
Tuesday night about 8:30. She was having trouble breathing. She has
severe COPD. My sisters and I were at the hospital until 2:30AM when
they admitted her. She was still having breathing issues Wednesday
during the day. That evening and through the night the condition
worsened. Thursday morning she was so bad that both Dr. King and Dr.
Supa made the call to put Mom on a ventilator and a feeding tube,
temporarily. Mom has a living will and does not want to be on life
support. However she was smothering and agreed to temporary life
support. Dr. Supa will try to wean her from the ventilator probably
Monday. According to the doctors and nurses this treatment may be just
what Mom needs to allow her lungs to rest so they can function on their
own. She is in an induced coma to help her rest. We visit often. She
may be able to hear but of course she is unresponsive. At times she
seems to try to open her eyes. We are trying to just let her rest so
hopefully she can recover.
On top of that, my brother, Tony, was taken to the ER last night with
heart problems. He has a history of heart disease. They admitted him.
I just got word from my sisters the Dr. is sending Tony on to Lexington.
He actually had another heart attack. They will do an assessment and
determine what treatment is needed.
I will keep you posted.
Please keep us in your thoughts.
I have talked to Michael a few times and made him aware of the
situation. He was ready to come home. I don't want him to have to
leave the trail. Mom would not want him to leave the trail. She is so
proud of him. She looks forward to each update and reads them as if she
is reading a good book.
He was in Boiling Springs, PA yesterday, mile marker 1115. He is
walking with Wiffle. Branden and Polaris have moved on. Branden wants
to hike up Katahdin on his birthday, August 8. Michael can not walk
that fast and he is fine with Branden "hiking his own hike". Branden
plans to wait on Michael in Maine and hike up the mountain with him. I
think it always bothered Michael that he slowed Branden down. Michael
and Wiffle are averaging 20 plus miles a day but Branden and Polaris can
hike faster and farther. Branden is still keeping in touch with me and
Amy. He sends out SPOT messages often. He calls and texts. Last night
he was at mile marker 1165 so they are 50 miles ahead. Hawk hiked 42
miles in 24 hours other day because he had to meet a ride in Duncannon
that was taking him into Boston. He did not sleep, he only walked and
ate. He will join back up with Wiffle and Michael when they get to
Duncannon at mile marker 1141. Hawk texted Wiffle when he finished his
42 miles and before he went to sleep on the ride to Boston; he told him
his body was hurting, even his blood. lol Gumpy and Peeper are still
behind Michael a few miles. Michael thinks they may join them in
I have to run to the hospitals now so I am having difficulty remembering
trail conversations Michael and I have had lately. I will try to do
better on the next update.
Thanks for everything.
These were all taken prior to Waynesboro, VA which is less than halfway.
I exchanged memory cards with him. Unfortunately he hasn't been able to get his camera to work since then.Hopefully he will get that issue resolved.
Let me know what you think of the pics.
Michael called today as he was crossing the Mason-Dixon line. It was
1PM. At that time he had hiked 1058 miles, 32 miles from halfway. I
predict he will hit the halfway point Wednesday. He has finished 6
states; Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virgina (the
longest) and Maryland. He has 8 more to go; Pennsylvania, New Jersey,
New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
He was walking alone today and walked alone yesterday. Branden and
Polaris are ahead of Michael. I know Michael is about 10 miles ahead of
Gumpy because I had a voice mail from Gumpy today. Wiffle is from this
area so he, Blues Clues and Hawk are staying at his place most nights.
Michael said he is enjoying himself though. The weather has cooled off
so that helps. The terrain is getting rockier. It will get a lot worse
the farther north he hikes. Pennsylvania has lots and lots of rocks.
He said he was walking along this morning and his back started burning.
He thought he had a sunburn on his back and then realized he is carrying
a large backpack so that is not possible. When he removed his backpack
and shirt to check out the situation his shirt had been eaten all the
way through by the friction of the backpack. He turned the shirt around
but thinks he better get another one asap. He has only worn it every day
since he started on March 22. I bet it smells good. Even though they
do their laundry every chance they get the clothes retain the hiker
odor. Not very pleasant. lol
Thanks for your support,
Today (6-2) Wiffle, his friend Jamie and I walked up out of Harper's Ferry. Beautiful day!. We got a nice high view point above the Patomic and could look back up river to see where the Shennendoah and Patomic join.
I was asked today about what I did in the real world by a tourist. I told them I was a lawyer and he started walking away real fast like kidding sort of. I love being a lawyer. I am proud to say that being a lawyer is part of what inspires me to want to finish this trail. I think it will strengthen me as an attorney. What is interesting is at the end of a 10 mile hike uphill into Maryland I was asked by a weekend biker dude where I had walked from..(reason being that by now I don't look like a day hiker, weekender or even a person with a home)...I told him I'd hiked from northern GA. He scoffed. He was wearing his leather chaps (sexy) and jacket and doo rag and had that superior look on his face and then commented that I had a lot of time on my hands. I wanted to say so many things, some not so nice, but I just took my time and remarked that "yes, I do have five months on my hands thanks to the sacrifices I have made earlier in life and sacrifices others are making so I can have this experience. I wanted to say that I used to have a lot of time on my hands when I rode around on a bike on weekends but Short Fuse stayed down and All Smiles answered his question.
I saw Indian Pipe stem today. Mushrooms are popping up. I'm loving my pains and aches. I'm loving the trail. Each mile is a wide open new experience. I often smile and laugh alone. I also sometimes walk and break into tears thinking about how good we could all be and how good some of us are. Then I hear that some fellow was eating another guy's face while on bath salts. But that was in the real world...not out here thank goodness. We eat noodles and hug each other and encourage one another. We don't attack or harm one another. The real world, I'll have to continue to re-evaluate that concept and definition as this hike goes on.
I want to mention that Sheila says some of you are commenting to her or on the website about this trip. Do so, and do so often. I want to answer questions and get comments. Like someone wanted to know what kind of gear I had and so I'll break it down.. I am carrying a ULA pack with a waterproof pack liner and a 35 degree down bag. I sleep in a hammock. I eat a mixture of dehydrated foods we made up at home and stuff you get from any grocery store. I stay away from straight sugar items like Litttle Debbie's and Snickers because they drop my energy rather than sustain it. I like tuna for lean protein but I supplement with a protein powder. I am wearing tennis shoes made by Salomon, they are called the Synapse and I love them. I haven't had a blister the whole trail.
I wear the same shirt and pants everyday, rain or shine. I stink. My clothes are torn and worn. I haven't used deodorant since March. I brush teeth, clean things and powder my feet with baking soda. I try to keep my first aid kit down to a couple of gauze pads, band aids, and betadine. I use alchol Chris made with walnut oil to rub my toes and prevent fungus.
I eat well and often. I am one of the few hikers not getting super thin because I want my energy reserves and I'm having to turn to food I don't usually eat. I ate a big mac the other day. I'd probably eat anything but just straight sugar. I love Mary Jane's Organics bulk cheesy herby buttery noodles, I also love Bee's Knee's peanut butter (we don't have it back home...its got honey in the peanut butter) and Don Poncho tortillas. I eat the granola we made with Edgar Williams' sorghum and chew on Ky beef jerky.
I have no problem walking in direct hard rain as long as its not lightning and I'm on an exposed ridge. It seems that my climbs to exposed ridges create thunderstorm contditions and I always get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. If it were all good level ground and great weather I don't think there would be anything to remember.
I was given Hawk's sword and thor mask which was stolen by another hiker yesterday. Gumpy put a 1 lb. jaw breaker in my pack to carry around. I snuck it back into his. And we are all getting to know each other better. As I said in another post, the pack is thinning and I'm seeing some real confidence in the eyes of some of these kids. I love passing my confidence on. I love getting confidence from others. I love smiling when I don't feel like it and I love giving food and water to those who need it.
I love walking. Iove this trail. I love all of you. Thank you for hiking this with me. Please get out and push yourselves to do a mile or two more than you want and take a guide book to lear at least one or two trees, flowers, or birds. It makes it so much more vibrant to walk and know what you are walking past. I gotta go. I hike tomorrow and am on the trail for a few days. Will be in Pennsylvania in a couple of days. Keep the Sunny Side up!
Subject: Another letter from MIchael
This is a good letter but Michael is on his soapbox for forest
protection. Beware. Seriously, KY Heartwood is a great organization
dedicated to protecting Kentucky native forests. Without these types of
organizations our children and grandchildren may never get to enjoy a
"walk in the woods". KY Heartwood is dear and near to our hearts. If
you can spare a penny a mile for a total of $21.81, please visit the
Kentucky Heartwood website and make a pledge. All pledges are greatly
----Date: Sat, 2 Jun 2012 08:46:41 -0400
Its a little after 8 am and I'm in Sheperdstown WVA. We finished the Shennendoah three day canoe trip parallel to the AT. The river of course runs the valley and the trail runs the ridge. This is called "aqua blazing" and I agreed to do it with five other guys but only if Sheila and I can pick up the 53 miles of trail I missed by canoeing. It was very fun and extremely full of bird wildlife. Great blue herons, green herons, kingfishers, bald eagles, orioles, canada geese, every kind of duck, on and on. There was, of course, great danger as we passed through roaring class I rapids. I even got splashed a couple of times. All in all it was a good rest for the legs and feet and the travel by river is always a favorite of mine. I like my company also. I bought a kilt at good will to wear on the trip down the river and it was nice. The last section just before the take out was bad for the river because some cattle farmer doesn't fence his livestock off from the river and there were black beef cows standing in the water on the bank. But that was about a1/2 mile before the take out so the whole rest of the trip was great. There were really no places to officially camp along the river for us so we had to find our own. Made for good improvising skills. I'm going into Harper's Ferry today to the ATC headquarters and have my picture taken. 1015 miles from Springer Mt. Georgia now and the tradition is to the go to the AT headquarters at the "half-way" point and get your photo taken outside the historic bldg. there. I'm pretty ugly by now, not that I was a whole lot to look at before. But the miles are pretty brutal on an older fellow. The days off the feet in the canoe I think is going to help. I'll be heading into Maryland and Pennsylvania now. Its getting hotter and the water becomes an issue. The trail isn't a bushwack through the wilderness exactly but it also is not a walk through city park. With the heat comes the need for more water but unfortunately water becomes harder to find in this area. Around 20 % of those who start this trek make it. A good number have already dropped. This is reported to be the section where many of the rest of the people have a hard time. I wish all my fellow hikers the best through here and hope everyone stays safe. I am hoping to hook back up with Gumpy. I really like walking with him. I'm back walking with Swiss again. He weighs nothing and is a stick person with a big bushy black beard and afro looking hair. He is a real sweet guy but fearless. I don't think I've seen him eat anything but peanuts. Polaris and Skeeter, well they'll have to tell their own sordid tales about their hike thru the Shennendoah National Park. It sounds like a cross between Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and a prison escape story. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks and I hope everyone is doing well. Please spread the word about the fund raiser. We need to keep as much of this country free from development, logging, and mining as possible. Every where I look is a town with a by-pass, a dead town and a thriving Food Lion and Comfort Inn, with a MacDonald's next door. Rivers, mountains and valleys need our help...rather we need them. I've never see so much beauty so close to so much development. Its weird. The AT is literally a path of green right up the mountains of the east and seems to be guarded closely by the clubs and groups which support and maintain it along the way. We have something similar in KY. The Sheltowee Trace. It runs through the Daniel Boone National Forest from nearly the Ohio River to the Tenn state line. The main difference is that the trace seems to be an annoyance to the District Rangers and protecting and promoting it is not on their agenda. I remeber walking it and seeing the damage done by clear cuts and rampant illegal ATV use. Our USFS officials need constant pressure to keep them on the task of preserving and protecting our own National Recreation Trail. Neglecting the Sheltowee Trace seems to have been the management plan for so many years. Too many years.
I have walked 108 miles thru the SNP in less than 5 days. We averaged
around 23 miles per day. Saw 5 bears. One was right above me in a tree
as I walked along. I looked up and there he was eating something in the
tree, it was a cherry tree, they grow wild here. The group I'm walking
with, Skeeter, Hawk, Wiffle Ball, Polaris, and Swiss (from Switzerland)
and I are getting ready to "aqua blaze" which is starting in Front
Royal, Va. and canoeing Shenandoah River to near Harper's Ferry. I will
be missing about 45 miles of AT that way but it will be a welcome change
from backpacking (now 950 miles). Also, Sheila and I have planned to
cover this section on our way back from Maine after I summit Katahdin
and we are driving home. This section is on the way back so it will
actually be fun to "finish" the trail with my wonderful wife. By the
way, when I get a chance to speak with her, she tells me that some of
you are showing a great deal of interest in this hike and are following
the progress on Ky. Heartwood's site. I encourage you to do that and I
hope that you each consider pledging a penny for each mile I walk. That
would make me very proud if you did. Also, some of my friends are
really pitching in and helping Sheila at home. Thanks a bunch. I'm
going to try to get some pictures out. I also caught up with my good
hiking friends, Peeper and Gumpy. Unfortunately, in moving ahead
faster, I left behind some good trail friends also. Missing Watermelon,
Hungus, Pace and the rest. The trail is getting hotter and drier now.
I carry more water and less food now. I have sent home my cold weather
gear and pretty much am carrying only a tarp, poncho, the clothes I
wear, water and food. I have many many stories to tell you. I will say
this...I brag on my law firm quite a bit. People eventually ask me what
I "did" before coming on the trail. I tell them I'm still doing it,
just taking a break and re-charging my batteries. Folks are amazed that
I have an office that supports me in this trip. I can't express to them
fully the absolute love I have for my law office staff and partners. I
have been given time out here to think about what they mean to me and I
am now clear in my understanding of just how unique our firm is. I look
forward to getting back at it in October. I look forward to putting
into practice some of what I am learning out here. If you are wondering
what that means...its simple. Out here, you hurt. You can complain
about hurting but you have two choices, quit or go on. If you decide to
go on, then shut up about hurting. If it rains, you welcome it. If a
snake coils beside the trail you respect it. If someone you've never
met before needs water, food or encouragement, you give it...freely and
without condition. You don't bitch, you move forward. I think that may
prove to be an important tool for a lawyer. I look forward to seeing my
colleagues ( and that means my Judges too) and I hope to be a better
lawyer when I get back. This trail is amazing in every way. I give
and take energy from the other hikers. I talk to the tourists. I am
blessed nearly every day with some kind of "coincidence" which is
happening so often that I am beginning to believe that these
coincidences are staring us in the face in real life every day but we
are too blinded by all the noise of day to day life that we pass them
up. We miss them. We miss life. Gotta go now, getting in a canoe
and heading along north. Love Michael
Michael called. They passed the 900 mile mark today. He said the
weather is hot but tonight should bring rain and cool it down a little.
They are hiking 20-23 miles each day now. The Shenandoah National
Forest is easier walking. Hawk's toe nail surgery was successful. He
is not in pain anymore and truckin' on. His call was short and
sweet...a big cheeseburger was waiting on him and then they were headed
back to the trail. I used to be more important than a cheeseburger. lol
Seriously, I am so proud of all these thru hikers. Amazing!!
Well, since I last wrote that Tyler and I were going hiking in the
Shenandoah things changed. We did drive 7 hours (in pouring rain to and
from) to Polaris' uncle's house on top of a mountain in Virginia.
Polaris' parents were taking very good care of the crew of thru hikers:
All Smiles, Skeeter, Wiffle Ball, Hawk, Blues Clues and Polaris. Food,
drink, beds, laundry and shuttles for slackpacking. Very nice people
from New Jersey.
Since the crew still had 40 miles to hike before reaching Waynesboro,
the consensus was Tyler nor I would be up to the 20 miles each day. The
mountains were steep and there were lots of them. We would have to
match the speed of these seasoned hikers. Bruce would drop them off
around 8am and pick them up around 6pm. We couldn't take a chance on
holding everyone up. Michael was disappointed. I was disappointed.
I'm not so sure Tyler was. lol
Tyler went back to Memphis yesterday. He had a lot of obligations he
needed to take care of at home. I miss him already. We did stop to eat
lunch in Lewisburg, West Virginia, passed a salon on the street and
Tyler had a foot of his hair cut off. It is still longer than mine. It
had not been cut in 2 years. He donates it to Locks of Love. It will
be a lot cooler. Memphis summers are unbearable.
I talked to Michael last night and this morning. He and Hawk were in
Waynesboro. They packed on in to town yesterday. Wiffle Ball went home
for a few days for his cousin's wedding. Branden and the others
slackpacked and spent the night at the house. Bruce was taking them to
Waynesboro this morning to meet up with Michael and Hawk. They all
headed north together today.
Gumpy had returned to Waynesboro to buy a new camera. I was happy to
hear Michael and Hawk met him for breakfast. Dr. Gumpy had to do a
little "surgery" on Hawk's toenail. It was infected under the nail. I
think he was going to remove his toenail. Ouch! These guys are tuff!
They all have aches and pains but they just keep on moving.
Michael was laughing and happy to see Gumpy. Peeper calls them kindred
spirits. I agree. I would love to see the two groups get back together
on the trail, which may happen soon. Gumpy and Peeper are about 30
miles ahead of them but they are taking off a day in Front Royal to
visit his brother. Michael and the guys plan to do 20 miles days
through the Shenandoah. The section to Front Royal, VA is 107 miles.
I need to close by saying this week taught us a lesson. It is nearly
impossible to make a plan to meet Michael on the trail. I may not even
try again. It is too hard to predict his location on a certain day. He
is so far north that the trip really should be made by plane, which has
to be planned. It is unrealistic to think I can hike with him and the
others. They are in their groove and they have to keep on moving. He
said to tell everyone he is sorry if he made plans with you but he won't
be able to fulfill his promises. As you can see, well made plans in
March can't actually happen months later on the AT.
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.