April 7, 2011 - I am very excited about the next section of my AT adventure since I get to share it with my younger cousin, +Grayson Deal. Grayson is actually going to complete the entire AT as a "thru-hiker" (the term "thru-hiker" means that you complete the entire trail all at one time) over the next 5 to 6 months as he raises money for the Children's Heart Foundation (CHF). Grayson has started an organization called +Hike 4 Heart (http://www.hike4heart.org/#!) and he has a goal of raising $50,000 for CHF before his journey on the AT is complete. Its one thing to commit to being a thru-hiker but to couple your efforts with raising money for a worthy charity is indeed a monumental and honorable endeavor. I have no doubt Grayson will succeed.
Although I did enjoy my "alone time" on my first hike, I am grateful that I will have some company for this next section (my wife is grateful too). Grayson and I have timed it up perfectly so that we will be able to hike my next section together as he arrives in the area that I need to complete. This next section will be a total hike of about 31 miles that will take us over multiple mountains that range in elevation of 3,000 feet at the lowest point up to 4,461 feet at the highest point. We will start at Woody Gap (where my last trip ended) and hike all the way back to my car at Unicoi Gap. I will leave the trail at that point and Grayson will continue on with his thru-hike. Its Thursday, April 7th, and I have arranged for a shuttle from the
+Hiker Hostel (http://www.hikerhostel.com/) to pick me up at Unicoi Gap around 4:00 p.m. (that is where I am leaving my car). The shuttle will then swing down to Woody Gap and pick up Grayson (and other hikers) around 5:00 p.m. We will then head back to the Hiker Hostel where we will get a good night sleep, a hot shower and a big breakfast before hitting the trail early Friday morning. The plan is for Grayson and I to hike 11.7 miles on Friday and camp at Bull Gap. We will then hike 14.7 miles on Saturday and make camp at Chattahoochee Gap. That will leave only 4.5 miles to hike on Sunday thus getting me back to my car at a reasonable time and giving me plenty of time for the 5 hour drive back home. Now that is a perfect plan... what could possibly go wrong? I think those of you in the literary world call this part "foreshadowing".