Georgia to Maine - - Please join me from start (4/1) to finish (8/10) - 132 days!!!!!

Bethlehem, NH
I have completed my thru-hike of the AT from Georgia to Maine; I started 4/1 and completed 8/10/10. I decided to do this thru-hike in memory of my brother Michael and in turn decided to turn it into a fundraiser. All money raised went to the Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country which gives year-round opportunities in sports and recreation to people with physical or developmental disabilities. My wife Pam and I got involved with this program because it allows us to help people with disabilities enjoy the outdoors like we do and my brother Michael did. Michael was born mentally challenged, and he loved to visit us in the North Country of NH and go hiking. He also loved the outdoors and did many other sports. So, to help others do this and other outdoor activities is a TRIBUTE to him, and an HONOR to us. Many of you have helped me along my journey and donated (follow donation link) directly to a secure website. All donations have gone and WILL CONTINUE to go to ASPNC – nonprofit org to help assist others to hike, ski, kayak, snow shoe..etc… Thank you all in advance for your kindness & generosity, Dave & Pam Smith

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tuesday 5/4

We headed out early in the morning to hike on the AT in the Mount Rogers High Country (highest mountain in VA) area and the Grayson Highlands. I was all excited because many hikers encounter wild Feral Ponies here. How cool will that be to see horses in the wild on the trail.

We started out in the Rhododendron Gap (This would be even more gorgeous if all the rhododendrons were in bloom. They actually line the trail. They are just budding since we are up over 5,000 feet) to Wilburn Ridge(bunches of rock outcroppings and we even went through the "Fatman Squeeze" - a narrow tunnel of rocks - when PTD hikes it tomorrow w/his big pack on he will need to take it off to get through) to Wilson Creek to Massie Gap and some other trails that were in the area but were not part of the AT. We were on the trail about 20 minutes and we saw 4 ponies and a foal. This was amazing. They were just in the field a little bit off of the trail. 1 came close enough to pet. We had never seen wild ponies before. Their hoofs are smaller than a regular horse. We stayed for a bit an admired them from afar (didn’t know how momma would like us near her baby) and moved on.

We were on our way up a ridge when a large hawk flying low flew right over us carrying a snake. Eek! Snake didn’t look too long or too fat. We were just glad the hawk did not drop it on us. We wish we had the camera out and ready, what a shot that would have been.

When we got on top of the ridge we nestled down between some rocks to eat lunch. It was extremely windy. It was also warm maybe around 80 and we had puffy clouds. Amazing views of the country side in many directions. After lunch we headed down off the ridge and good thing Ponytail was using his hiking poles because it startled a small snake on the rocks on the trail. This was a green snake which was maybe a foot or so long and skinny. I walked off the trail and around the rocks where the snake was. Did not want to get close just in case.

We came across several day hikers and they were asking if we had seen any ponies. We told them were we saw one of the herds in the morning. We also came across several Thru-Hikers that Dave had run into before. Eddie from Germany and another later in the day we saw a girl named Clarity. They both told us of a larger herd of ponies that was not so friendly. Guess they were up near one of the shelters last night and got aggressive towards the hikers and ended up kicking one of the dogs that was at the shelter. Yikes! Guess that herd had 2 foals so maybe over protective mothers.

Sad but this is nature. We came across a carcass too. The Ranger had warned us in the morning that it was an extremely hard winter and some of the herds have been dying off and we could encounter several carcasses near the trails. The one we found was lying off the trail just a bit. Bones, well that is how I needed to think of it so I could deal with seeing it.

We also saw several fighter jets and a transport at close range.  They must have been doing training in the mountains.

The day was getting late so we decided to head back to the car so we could enjoy the cottage and Jacuzzi. We were coming down around a corner and the same 4 ponies and the little one were right in the middle of the trail just looking at us. This time all of them came up to us wanting attention. We were a bit leery after hearing of the shelter story from last night. These 5 were very friendly. We must have spent 1/2hr petting the ponies and watching them. The little one came right over too. Momma didn’t seem to mind. The little one loved that we were all salty from hiking and kept licking us. Soon as she was done licking us she would go to her mom for a drink. What a pleasure to see them twice when some of the other hikers there for the day didn’t get to see any at all.

What a great day!


  1. Looks like you had a wonderful visit--I bet you were so happy to see your hubby-great pics--of the ponies--they are so cute!!--I've been following your husband's adventure and so enjoy everything you are writing--tell him to hang in there-what an amazing thing he is doing--oh--I'm Brian's Mom--)he's back in Colorado-and doing just fine-had a nice visit here at home before he went back--Roberta

  2. Anonymous28/5/10

    Wow! Today sounded fun for you! When I read this, I thought, "Wow! How interesting!" Great keeping in touch with you and I hope you're having a great adventure! Hike Safe PTD!

    LHS Student