Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Appalachian Trail - Only 2180.7 More Miles To Go!

In Africa I learned that I can eat an elephant - if I eat it one bite at a time!  The Appalachian Trail is like an elephant.  It is 2,184 miles of footpath, leading from Georgia to Maine.  I began this most exciting and chilling, awesome and aweful, wonderful and full of wonder walk on Wednesday, September 5, 2012.  The section we walked was the "100 mile wilderness" section.  There were 4 of us who entered the trailhead at 1:00pm that day with intentions to walk to the Hurd Shelter where we were camping for the first night of ten anticipated nights on this trail.

Just a month before (on August 2) I had a CT-Scan showing that there were no more signs of colon cancer.  Jesus had kept his promise which he spoke to me last fall before my surgery.  In that dream He said, "I'm healing you."   My great friend Jack L. Darnell and his dear wife Sherry invited me at some point to go with him for a hike of the "100 mile wilderness" section of the trail beginning at the base of Katahdin and walking south to Manson; something I have always wanted to do.

My grandparents on my Mother's side were an outdoors family.  They hunted in central Florida out of Yankeetown - mostly in a place called Gulf Hammock.  I always loved the time I spent with them: mostly Christmas and Spring, just at the time when school was out.  Sometimes I was also allowed to stay the whole summer with them until it was time for school to begin in the fall.  I have always been healthy and never was in the hospital except for a bout with malaria, sufferred after a mission trip to the Pomeroon district of Guyana, South America.  That was 1985.  I recovered quickly and went on to serve in Africa for 20 years without ever suffering with malaria symptons again.

For over 20 years I had been a pastor in the Southern USA.  My first church was at Tellico Plains, Tennessee.  There I learned many things about hunting and fishing in a mountain environment.  I was a scoutmaster for the Tellico Plains Kiwanis club.  I've hiked short distances in Alaska, carrying skis on my shoulder, never having skiied before.  It was "breath-taking" adventure to say the least.  That is all to say that I have had some experience in the outdoors before0 the beginning of this venture.   (Reflection:  I was younger then - and I had not had cancer surgery nor had my body been bombarded with chemical cocktails for a solid 6 months.  Haha.)

However - after all of my experiences with the few pieces of the trail I've been on, I had no way to anticipate the difficulties I encountered on this trail.  It was absolutely "R&R" as my good friend Jack Darnell said.  "Roots and Rocks"!  That's o.k.  Cause I'll be back, friends. 

So today I went out and bought a map of Springer Mountain to Bly Gap (the southernmost leg of the AT) and started my plans for another big adventure on the trail!


jack69 said...

Ah, you will love the walk in the southern mountains. I smile when I think of your pack up here. I smile because when we started I carried every thing. I even had a solar shower that a outfitter sales man had sold me. I had an extra heavy folding gallon jug, heavy candles for insects, etc. Yeah I packed much more than I needed, BUT the difference was, We started at the top of Springer mountain, it was a walk in the woods. I started flinging things as time went on. I learned that some of the outfitters were salesmen not hikers. hahaha

You will know more on the next start, just like everyone else that hikes with a back pack.

One outfitter told me, "50 pounds of weight saving stuff is still FIFTY POUNDS."

Love you my brother, It was all a thrill to me. I plan to attack the trail one more time when I am 77.

Sheila Y said...

I look forward to hearing about your next adventure on the trail. Take care, Sheila

Dar said...

Fred, now, you, my friend, are an inspiration. Get bucked off the horse, get right back on the horse~~~like Jack said, even he over-packed. Now, I, this ol' girl would definitely be in trouble cause I have been known to over-pack on more than one occasion. I gotta admit tho, I'm getting better at down-sizing.
As for that sleeping bag, mercy, those tangled webs would make anyone loose sleep. Glad Mark hear you. Keep the adventure going but be careful out there.
BlessYaFred and HugsForFrancesTooAndYou

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shirl72 said...

I have faith in you I know you will
try hiking again. You guys did
have a good time and a good
experience. Jack enjoyed being
with you and Gordon. That was
worth all of you getting together.


Anonymous said...

A very impressive article. Well prepared. Very motivating!! Go off on to facilitate way

Joyful said...

Hi Fred, I was wondering where you were. Thanks for visiting my post on "Come Back Africa". No one else has mentioned having a similar problem with lack of sound so I think it is a problem on your end. I hope you can fix it so you can hear a young Miriam Makeba. I am always moved by Africans when they sing in harmony. I hope you are enjoying the Fall where you are.

My thoughts and prayers with the people on the West Coast of Canada (earthquake) and the East Coast of Canada and USA (Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy). I think you are too far away from it so I'm glad you will be fine. God bless.

Dar said...

Fred, I was just thinking about you and Frances and wondering if you were getting chilly weather and if you were deer hunting with the bow. Bill has gone out the past few nights, holding down one of the boys ground box stands. He's after the big one while our son is in Boston on business.
Thanks for thinking of us needing rest. Hunting is Bill's rest but me, well, I take what I can get when I can get it. My back is still a serious problem, I'm afraid. But, on the brighter side, the concussion is finally letting up on me after 7 weeks.
You stay healthy. I think of the two of you often. Frances is a trooper to help with the election. My Mom used to do that also. It's long, hard work. Bless her. and

Crystal Mary said...

Whooo Hooo so glad you are healed!!! what a mighty Goad we serve.
I watched a movie recently called "The Way" it was a mans pilgrimage after the death of his son, and what he learned along the way...
Glad you got to walk, "Your Way" with the Lord...I am sure He was there with you. My hubby is American, I am an Ozzie. I lived in Rogersville TN and attended Crossroads Church there for three years... It was nice to read you are from that lovely state. I miss many of the friends I made, although I do still keep in contact. Blessings sent to you. Crystal Mary Lindsey

Dar said...

I pray you're doing well Fred. I think of you and Frances so often.
Stay warm. The guys go to the cabin tomorrow. It's gun deer season again so there is a lot of testosterone flying around the house getting ready. While they are gone, I'm resting.

About Me

My photo
Cleveland, TN, United States
I am Fred Alton Brannen, the son of Louis A. Brannen (deceased) and Bonnie Jones Brannen, Louis was an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God. Bonnie is an Ordained Licensed Minister and at 89 years of age is still actively engaged in speaking and singing engagements. I am married to the former Frances Hildreth. We celebrated 53 years of marriage this past June and we are the parents of 3, grand-parents of 10, and great-grandparents of 10. I pastored in Tennessee for 24 years and served the Church in some capacity in missions for over 23 years. I retired from full-time ministry in August of 2008 but remain active, speaking and singing and teaching whenever opportunity affords itself. In January of 2010 I received a letter of commendation for having been credentialed as a minister in the Church of God for 50 years! My family is very important to me. Our get togethers are always noisy affairs and most times will include family sing-alongs. The children love their Mom's cooking so we have the privilege of seeing them regularly! WE LOVE having them over.

TheCabin on Day One

TheCabin on Day One
Fred Alton