Welcome. You're about to hop on the Appalachian Trail and become part of the 2009 thru-hike of Chris Hennig, whose trail name was "Feed Bag." While Feed Bag took in all the personal benefits of spending hours alone in the woods (getting in better shape, crying, pondering the meaning of life), there is a purpose greater than that for which he hiked: to make the world a better place for children. And you can be a part of this journey starting now...and help make a difference!

Start Date: 3/29/09 End Date: 9/5/09

200 down, 2000 to go.

Filed under: Blog Posts — chrishennig @ 8:29 pm April 17, 2009

Well, well, well. We meet again. Thanks for coming back. Or being here for the first time!

Not sure if you’ve looked at my new gallery. Sorry, I know the pictures are hi-res, so they take a little while to download. I took more pictures on the morning of the 15th than the rest of the hike so far. Before I explain how amazing that morning was, I feel like I should explain what a normal day on the trail is like.

To understand what the average day looks and feels like, try this little exercise. Bring a tv into the bathroom and turn on an episode of Bob Ross. Spray-paint the tv gray so you can barely see the shapes of trees. Then stand in the shower with your rain jacket on and turn on cold water sporadically. Now, how happy are those trees?

I know I’ve missed some great views from the tops of cloud-covered mountains so far, but a morning like the 15th makes many monotonous, foggy days worth the hike. It was tough to get out of my sleeping bag that morning because it was so cold, plus the sky looked like it would remain cloudy though we heard it was supposed to be clearing up. I sang Christmas carols for the first few miles because it seemed fitting. But it became magical soon enough. You hike along for a while then suddenly realize you can make out your shadow on the ground just ahead of you. The sun is finally doing its job and poking through the fog! “Into marvelous light I’m running…”

It was so windy and cold the night before that any moisture in the air turned to frost as the wind came up the east side of the mountain and down the west. Many of the pictures may look blurry, but that’s actually an inch or two of frost that hung from the branches and trees…parallel to the ground! It was the strangest thing.

So after 3 miles of hiking, I reached the highest point on the AT: Clingmans Dome which is at 6,643 feet. Not that it’s all down hill from here, there are still come big climbs ahead! It was so cold on top of the spaceship-of-an-observation tower that I could only stand it for a few seconds. There were some tourists there that saw our packs and started asking all the typical questions: “Where did you come from?” “Where are you going?” “Where’s Maine?”

Then after a few more miles of hiking, I hit the 200 mile mark. The sun started to heat up all those frosted flakes on the branches, which is ironic because when it would warm up for a second it would start to “snow” from the trees (see last picture).

What a morning. Sitting here in Gatlinburg now, packing and finishing some errands, again it’s hard to leave. But there are always things to look forward to on the trail, new people to meet, new challenges ahead. I’ll be out of the Smokeys within a few days and passing through cool hiker-friendly towns like Hot Springs, NC and Erwin, TN. I’m looking forward to warmer weather, hopefully I’ll be able to adjust to hiking in the heat of the day. My stomach issues have mostly subsided :)

This week on the MP3 player I have 34 sermons from pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill – Seattle as well as Jim Gaffigan’s new comedy CD, King Baby. Oh man…I’ll be crying for two weeks straight, more highs and lows ahead!

My goal for the next update will be to update the FAQ section with your questions about the AT and World Vision. I miss being at my World Vision table at concerts and having people ask me sponsorship questions…send them my way! chris@2200miles.com

Thanks again for reading, I’ll be thinking about your comments until next time :) And now, the…

Trail Report

4/9 11 miles, took it easy. 2nd time sleeping in a shelter (as opposed to pitching my tent). Glad to have pump filter back, I had been using chemicals. It’s heavier but easier. Stomach still uneasy.

4/10 16.3 miles, most of the time it was like walking in a rainforest. Thought a lot about Good Friday during the day. Glad to be staying at a hostel as it’s raining/thunderstorms tonight.

4/11 16 miles, 3300 ft climb to start the day. No sun, some rain.

4/12 12.7 miles, hard, fast day. Easter. Listened to entire gospel of Luke, Sara Groves, and Andrew Petersen for my sunrise service. Saw some lizards! New pain when I twisted left foot. “Walked” it off. Largest shelter, sleeps 24, called the Fontana ‘Hilton’

4/13 16.7 miles, farthest distance so far. Entered the Great Smokey Mountain National Park this morning. Cold, windy, foggy day. Listened to music all day. Crowded shelter because of weather.

4/14 13.5 miles, more grass and pine trees than the rest of the entire hike combined. Mostly rain and fog, sun poked out momentarily.

4/15 10.8 miles, most beautiful morning, even though it was FREEZING. Sang Christmas carols. Took more pictures today than rest of the trip combined. Hit the highest point on the trail, Clingmans Dome @ 6,643 feet. Hit the 200 mile mark as well. Hitched a ride to Gatlinburg, saw bears from the road! Staying two nights at the Grand Prix with fellow hiker ‘Poptart’.

4/16 ZERO (actually, 4 miles of in-town walking). Went to outfitters to buy new shoes, no luck. Bought groceries. Blogging now! Miss friends and family.

Back to the trail in the AM! Next towns are Hot Springs, NC (70 miles) and Erwin, TN (140 miles). See you there!


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