On the Trail to Damascus

Sorry for not updating sooner, but it’s been a busy few days with very little time to sit down, much less blog. So, here’s my latest from Jeff: After I left Jeff at Hot Springs, he spent the afternoon doing laundry (praise be!!) and resting (as I requested) so that he could give the antibiotics a chance to do their work and he would be ready for the trail on Monday.  Bobby or Tommy, from the Smoky Mountain Diner took him to the trail on Monday around 10:00 a.m. and he’s been hiking ever since. He did come off the trail in Erwin, TN on Thursday the 14th. (As a reference, Erwin, TN is about a 40-minute drive from Hot Springs, NC. It took Jeff 3 and a half days…trail sure does meander!!) He stayed overnight there and re-provisioned, and made sure he ate some real food while he was there (KFC, Huddle House)! From Erwin he hiked again, and called me around 10:30 a.m. to let me know that he was halfway through his 1st leg of his hike! He was standing on the trail near Unicoa, TN at Iron Mountain Gap @ TN 107 and NC 226. It was an emotional moment for both of us as we realized just what he is accomplishing – 360 miles since March 4…overwhelming as a whole, but with steadfast, little steps attainable…much like fighting cancer… Jeff stayed at the Greasy Creek Friendly, which is a hostel operated by a delightful lady who provides wonderful meals and was kind enough to provide transportation to the trail. The weather there was horrendous…the storms that came through Raleigh over the past week-end, were beginning to arrive in Tennessee then. Since it would be dangerous for him to hike with a full pack continuing on the trail northward, Jeff decided to take a slack pack (water and snacks) and have his hostess take him up the road where he picked up the trail and hiked back so that he got in some miles, covered the trail, kept his rhythm and didn’t lose anymore time. It was a decision not made lightly, but when you think about it, he adapted, just like Rebecca did to situations she didn’t like…just like other cancer patients do…you make it work and you deal with the setbacks, whatever they may be.

From Greasy Creek Friendly, on Sunday 4/17, Jeff hiked to Hughes Gap – a 19.6 mile trek – which is at Highway 19E. If you turn right at 19E you go into Elk Park, NC which is where he ended his hike 3 years ago. If you turn left and go .3 miles west, you’re at the Mountain Harbor Hostel and Roan Mountain:

He hiked up Roan Mountain yesterday, covered 18.7 miles and sheltered at Moreland Gap last night. He was hiking with “Turtle” and they hiked 6.5 miles to the Elizabethton, TN area where Turtle had left a car. He hitched a ride with Turtle into Elizabethton and the Kincora Hostel at Dennis Cove Rd where he was able to do some more laundry (:o) and get some “real” food. Just got a call from him saying he was on his way again. He plans to be in Damascus, VA Friday afternoon or Saturday (4/22-23).

I wish I had pictures to post for you to see what Jeff is seeing. I do have this picture of the AT that you might enjoy seeing:

I think it’s probably one of the smoother trails you’ll encounter on the AT! Some of the steps that access the trail from the road look like they go straight up without any angle to them at all…almost like a ladder!! Anyway, we’re going to figure out a camera system for next year’s hike so you can see the beautiful places he’s walking. In the meantime, I thought you’d be interested in checking out the interactive map that is in the link below. It shows many of the places I’ve mentioned here:


Blessings to you all and thank you for your interest in following Jeff’s journey.



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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4 Responses to On the Trail to Damascus

  1. Dustin S. says:

    I came across this blog while researching a similar venture to benefit St. Baldricks. I too hope to raise money by thru-hiking or section hiking various trails here in Idaho and the West Coast. I look forward to reading these posts and, if possible, picking your brain(s) as I plan my own hike(s).

    As a father of a Lymphoma survivor (Mattias, 8 Years old, Chemo and Cancer free since January 1, 2011!) and a proud supporter of St. Baldricks, I thank you. Much love and light to you and your family.


    • Thanks! This is Emmaline, Jeff’s wife. Your desire to thru-hike to raise money is exactly what Jeff is trying to encourage others to do through Hike for Hope. His intent was that hikers, walkers, etc. could use the Hike for Hope as an umbrella under which others could do the same as he. I will contact our St Baldricks and Leukemia-Lymphoma reps and ask them how to help you.

  2. Carolyn and Bob O'Brien says:

    What a huge undertaking, and for a good cause. Your daughter would be so proud. Emmaline, is your mom still living? We used to live across the street from your parents.

  3. Cody says:

    I met Steadfast at Mtn Harbour Hostel at Roan Mountain. He told my friend and I about Hiking for Hope and I was so touched and honored that he took the time to tell me his story. I thru’d last year and I loved the simplicity of the hike, it sounds as though Steadfast is loving this too. The birds were one of my absolute favorites of each day’s hike. Hike strong Steadfast!

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