We have encountered so many great people along the way. And they have been fantastic to meet, all with independent spirits with a passion for the outdoors and unique personalities with trail names such as Geronimo, Pancho, Zen, Stickman, Firefly, Hyking Vyking, Squeak, Fern, Tomato, Vagabond, Missing Link, etc. ! That was just one part of the adventure we really enjoyed. Here are few of those people.
This is Patrick and he is one of the most experienced hikers on the Smokie Mountain trails. We ran across many people that "talked big" about their experiences (such as killing monster snakes bigger than themselves or confronting dozens of bears...in a single day) but this guy seemed to be the real deal. He is actually quite well known in the Smokie Mountain hiking community. So much so that some of the equipment manufacturers have hired him to test out their equipment. And he hikes every single weekend. And his specialty is off trail hiking...where he makes his own trail.
Okay, this is the back story on these 2 photos. "Bamahiker", a devote hiker and also devoted to his home state, had hiked 165 miles of the AT and was planning to section hike the rest when he retired. But a year before his 2016 retirement, pancreatic cancer ended his life. So his hiking boots would never reach the end of the AT trail....however.....his wife Brenda would/could not sit still for that. So she filled Bamahiker's boots with pebbles and took them and his hiking sticks to the last place he made it to, the Fontana Dam entrance. And she posted a sign asking hikers to take a pebble on their own journey...for Bamahiker (James). Since March of 2016, Brenda has filled his boots several times. And so MacGyver and I took pebbles and will continue to carry them as we hike the AT.....now and in the future.
Wanted to give a special shout out to a couple of people. First of all Squeak (Joe) hiked with us for about 8 days. We met him on the first day when he was hiking with Fern. Squeak is 67 and a retired Army Colonel with 27 years in the service. First of all, we are most certainly proud of his service and it was enjoyable to hike with him. Never at a loss for conversation and his signature Tennessee Vols orange color shirt and his ear flap hat could be spotted from a distance! Thanks Squeak, for being part of our adventure!!
And now a very special shout out to Fern (Keri), a young lady from Indiana by way of Kansas. As mentioned before, Fern had been hiking with Squeak when we met her on June 21. They had already been on the AT for 4 days since Springer Mountain. Fern was such a joy to be around during the 19 days we three hiked together with her great personality and such a refreshing prospective on life. Aways a smile and never a complaint. Ahh to be young again. Fern shared with MacGyver and I a song that really defines her. The song "See the Love" by the band Brillance. Check it out on the internet to really understand the essence of who Fern (Keri) is. Thanks Keri for being part of MacGyver and my adventure and making it that much more enjoyable.
A thank you also to Angela, Ricky, Parker, Riley Bowser and Kim and Bob Mitchell. Although they were not physically on the trail with us, they certainly were there in spirit and in thought when they all participated in the "Relay For Life" event (in Germany and in Michigan) during my hike with their theme of "No One Fights Alone". This cause is so important and vital in helping to discover the cure and so much appreciated by those facing the health challenges of cancer as Jacque Locascio, my brother Andy and I are/have as are so many others. And I also know that so many family and friends are also dedicated to this cause so to you all, we sincerely thank you for your support.
You met a lot of interesting people dad! How cool! Hope you shared your blog site so they can see their shout out
27.09 | 17:20
Hi Possum! MacGyver and I finished up on Sept.7th with 351 miles in this year. False alarm on MacGyver taking ill. He was dehydrated but recovered in about 2 days. Was great to meet you this year!
27.09 | 17:16
Hey Pinnacle! Great to meet and hike with you also! And great advice on the next section we did. Thanks!
06.09 | 16:10
Great meeting you and your Brother at Eagles nest.
06.09 | 16:07
It was great meeting you and brother at Eagles nest