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!
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- Fred Alton
- 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.