Here is an update from AT hiker Joe O’Donnell. He set a goal to raise $3 a mile on his hike, and he is well on his way. Thanks, Joe, for the update on your hike!
I’m writing this email from the Standing Bear Farm hostel, just past the exit of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I summited the highest point on the AT (Clingman’s Dome, which is over 6,600 ft), and hiked 27.5 miles (the longest I’ve ever traveled by foot in my life) that same day. My 19 year old German hiking partner Flaily–so nicknamed because he doesn’t use trekking poles and looks like he’s flailing down the mountain when he hikes–and I helped keep each other motivated that day and enjoyed possibly the best pizza and real beds when we made it to Gatlingburg, TN around 10pm that night.
The day after, I took a much-needed full rest day in Gatlinburg, enjoyed some real food (ie something other than ramen noodles and instant mashed potatoes), and reconnected with some other thru-hiker friends.
Yesterday and today were relatively easy–15 and 19 miles, respectively–and the weather was absolutely gorgeous, which was so welcome after the previous week of non-stop rain.
I’m absolutely loving it out here. The mountains, the trees and flowers, birds and other wildlife, the people, and the general serenity of being outdoors and keeping moving. I wish you all could be out here to experience this with me, but know that I’m carrying you all in my heart, and your words of encouragement and support help keep me going!
Onward and upward,
P.S.: This update was written two days ago, but I could not send it until now because of very limited internet access. I am currently in Hot Springs, NC, staying at an incredible place called Laughing Heart Lodge. Here are some pictures from this weekend:
Just a few more miles to go!
A quick honey bun refuel!
On the top of Max Patch! Amazing 360 degree views on all sides. Felt like I was in the Sound of Music!
Me and Tom Kennedy, co-founder of HIKE for Mental Health. A real pleasure meeting him and he and everyone else at the Laughing Heart Hostel in Hot Springs, NC are so hospitable!
Joe “Psych” O’Donnell
Thru-Hiking, Fundraising, and Advocating for Mental Health
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” -Sir Edmund Hillary