May 2 2012
The email I received from Michael this past Saturday was the last update I sent out. He called me Sunday morning with the same report you read in the email. Bad weather (snow, ice freezing in his beard, 50 mph winds, etc., etc.). Of course he is still enjoying himself. lol
You read that they started out at 3AM to hike 27 miles. Michael said he realized his headlamp was not very good when he almost ran into a cow. Needless to say he has purchased a new headlamp.
He called again Monday night. He was upset because he and Branden had gotten separated. They had walked all day with four other guys.
Michael, Wiffle and Hawk were ahead of Branden, Jaybird and Polaris.
Jaybird has binoculars and the three of them were bird watching.
Michael and his two companions reached a shelter before dark. Branden had not shown up at dark so Michael got worried that something was wrong. He called me to find out if I had heard from Branden. Luckily I had received a SPOT about an hour earlier. After I assured Michael the SPOT message was "Yo, we're alive" instead of "Help" he felt much better. I am not very good at pinpointing the exact location from the SPOT signal but I was able to tell Michael that Branden was near Mt.
Rogers. He was relieved to learn Branden was only a few miles behind him. I called our friend, Kyle, who can pinpoint the exact location of the SPOT signal. I told him Michael's location, Wise Shelter. He knew Branden was .25 mile past Thomas Knob Shelter, which was 5.25 miles behind Michael. I did not know until today why Branden hadn't caught up with Michael since he is a much faster (younger) hiker. As it turns out Michael was very proud of Branden for "doing all the right things".
Branden and the other two guys fell behind and when they started to move on and head up a mountain a lightning storm moved in. Michael always tells Branden to never climb a mountain during a storm so they did the smart thing and pitched camp. Branden was also smart by sending a SPOT signal. They are back together now and I told them they better stay together or I am going to make them both come home and go to their rooms. lol I couldn't send out an update until I knew Branden was okay.
After their 27 mile day they hiked 24 miles the next day and then 20 miles the next day. Michael said he is going to have to slow it down or he is afraid his hips won't make it. His arthritis is acting up a little. A day of rest will help.
Michael said he has swam in a river and sat in a creek the past two days. The weather is great now. It's about time.
They are staying at Partnership Shelter tonight. They will be in Atkins, VA tomorrow evening, which is 542 miles into the trip.
I will keep you posted.
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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.