Jeff left this morning at 8:30 to drive with his friends Lincoln and Lincoln, Jr. to Georgia to begin his hike. Got a call from him around 7:30 p.m. to tell me that he had arrived safely. He and the two Lincolns and his friend Stanley, whom he met on the trail two years ago, are leaving bright and early tomorrow morning to start the hike from Springer Mountain, GA. The guys will hike with him until Monday and then he’ll be on his own except for whatever hikers he encounters on the trail. I can’t begin to tell you how uplifting and encouraging it has been to him to have Lincoln and Lincoln, Jr. commit to going with him to start his hike and then to have Stanley say, “Come on down and start from my house…”

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were a whirlwind of activity! Jeff had business matters to handle on Monday and then Tuesday was packed full. He met with the Q crew of Curtis Media’s country music station 94.7 WQDR to talk with them about his hike. They were so much fun and kind enough to air some of the conversation and lend their support to the hike. They’ll be following Jeff through this blog and keeping folks abreast of what’s going on with him. The guys at Curtis Media and WQDR, especially, fell in love with Rebecca at the UNC Children’s Promise Radiothon and pretty much adopted her. The times she spent with Mike and J-J were very special to her and highlights in her life – she loved them a lot.

After the Q-crew, before Jeff finished packing up his pack, we went to REI for one last visit (so we thought). Can I tell you that as wonderful as the store is and as knowledgeable and helpful and encouraging as the staff are, REI is the LAST place I want to spend three or four hours!?! (Nothing against the store or staff; I’m just not the outdoor type at all and as Jeff will tell you, my idea of camping and hiking is a Holiday Inn! and my favorite place to shop for clothes is Talbot’s…need I say more?) Well, in the process of talking with Jason, the Outreach Specialist there, we found out that Jeff had bought the wrong jacket and waterproofing “stuff,” so we had to come back home, get the jacket and “stuff” and go back to REI (in Cary of all places) to return them to purchase the proper jacket and “stuff.” So, the “quick” jaunt to Cary from Wake Forest and back became two not so quick jaunts…but it was actually fun because we had nothing else on our schedule except getting all the last minute stuff taken care of. The guys there were awesome and so very helpful with regard to tips on packing his pack and what systems to use for every aspect of the hike. All in all, the indication from Jason and Tim was that for a first-time through-hiker especially, Jeff has prepared very well and what he has planned to use equipment wise, etc., should work out well. I’m so proud of him!

Jeff’s goal was to have his pack, tent and all, weigh no more than 35 pounds. When he stepped on the scale Wednesday morning after packing everything, he was carrying 33 pounds! Not too shabby and, as he said, as the food dwindles, the weight dwindles too! I’ll be so jealous of his weight loss when he gets back!!! :o) Of course, I won’t be living off nuts, raisins, Snickers (not so bad there!!), Ramen noodles, oatmeal, cereal and water, either!!

I’ll be attempting to communicate Jeff’s thoughts with you as he shares them with me. I hope he’ll mail me his journaling periodically so I can share that with you too. Please bear with me as I strive to keep you abreast of all that is going on with him and please be tolerant of my writings if I decide I need to let you know my feelings from the home front! I’m not too sure how I really feel about all of this now that he’s gone. It’s one thing to laugh and tease him and say, “Can’t wait ‘til I have two whole months to do what I want and go where I want!” The house is VERY empty feeling and the empty chair in the room is a silent testament to what I’ll be facing over the next few weeks. Quite frankly, I’m not very excited about crawling into a cold, empty bed either…although, he won’t be here to steal the covers…hmm, maybe it won’t be so bad after all!

Seriously, thanks for following Jeff on his hike. Thank you for your interest, encouragement and support. This project, raising money to help find ways to help children with cancer, is near and dear to our hearts. If we can help, in any way, speed up the process of finding better treatments and eventual cures for children like our Rebecca, then every night spent alone and lonely, every mile hiked, every blister worn and every tear shed will be worth it.

God bless, Emmaline


About jeffsimpsonhiker

Through-hiking the Appalachian Trail to raise money for Leukemia-Lymphoma Society, St Baldrick's and Make-A-Wish Foundation.
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