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March 28, 2008
Day 20: The Earth Expedition

Day 20: The Earth Expedition

Wow. The Smokies are fantastic....since I left on the expedition everything has been dead due to the drought that have been going on here for the past couple of years but the Smoky Mountains have been like another world of green plant and trees that I have never seen before.  wierd_Tree.jpgwierd_Tree.jpg

I am doing very well, I am just over 200 miles into The Earth Expedition and I feel I could sit for hours over a cup of coffee and share the experiences that I have had already.  I thumbed a ride down to Cherokee, N.C. where I am sitting in the library catching up on e-mails and updates. I rocked a Hardees breakfast this morning and I  am on my way to the post office , grocery, and then back up to the trail to walk another 3 miles to the shelter where my friends Josh and Trixie are meeting me tonight. I had to drop down into town because my metabolism is ridiculous! I am eating so much food. For example I bought a jar of Chunky Peanut Butter and it only took me 36 hours to finish it off. Forget the crackers... I am eating straight out of the jar! So that is the reason I am in town...because I ran out of food.... I had to bum a meal off of Josh and Trixie last night. I have been living off of Larabars for the past 3 days (I have eaten 18 of them over the past 72 hours..yes I said 18!)

Things are going well... I am hiking fast which means that I am not usually hiking with anyone in particular but I do keep running into the same group of about 10-15 guys and gals every 2-3 days. One of the Ridge-Runners Jim (A Ridgerunner hikes sections of the Appalachian Trail, meets and greets hikers, provides Trail brochures and literature to inform visitors about the A.T. and its intended primitive experience, its location, regulations, and traditions. They take steps to encourage the best behavior on the part of hikers, to facilitate a positive Trail experience (particularly for those who are poorly prepared), and to elicit the support of Trail neighbors and those who live nearby, but who may not understand or use the Trail properly. RidgeRunners, by their presence, discourage and mitigate misuse of the Appalachian Trail and its environs by performing educational and public relations functions.(Wikipedia) Told me that 150 thru-hikers left Amacalola Falls on March 16th. This means that there is a huge wave of thru-hikers behind me. I am not too worried for the ridge-runner also told me that 2/3 of Thru-hikers quit by the time they reach the Smoky Mountains. The A.T. is not for everyone J

Hike_uphill.jpgI am feeling great and in good spirits. My legs are in good condition....I wish I could say the same for a lot of my hiking friends. My mental and spiritual state are extremely well also.

I wanted to Thank you all who are supporting me financially. It is people like you who help make this possible. You are helping save lives in Africa. I also want to thank you who are supporting me with e-mails of encouragement. They are fuel that helps keep me going. Thank you!

Sorry so short but I have got to get going so I have time to hit the Post Office, Grocery, and thumb my way 20 miles back up the mountain where I will stay the night in the mice infested shelters...Hey.. I am not complaining...I will take all of the extra warmth I can get! 

 "Life to the Fullest" Daren

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Mar-29 3:59pm

I think Amie threatened me to leave a comment, so I figured I better not mess around. However, it appears that no comments have ever been made on the blogs- I feel tricked! But nevertheless, I'm glad you finally found some greenery along the trail. Good luck with that peanut butter thing- I hear it can really mess you up. I'm drinking tea- no salt.

March 20, 2008
The Earth Expedition:Day 12
20 Miles today!

Misty_Daren.jpgI can't believe it but I am up to between 18-20 miles a day now! I feel like I got my trail legs under me. Things are going really well for me on the trail. There are so many funny stories out here....all of the A.T. hikers are like a whole other subculture of people. Everyone is in some type of transition in life and a lot of them come out on the trail to find themselves. The conversations around the fire are quite interesting at times! The pot smoking around the fire is also quite interesting.

Trail Name: Everyone one who is thru-hiking (GA - Maine) is usually given a trail name. You don't get to pick your trail name for it is usually given to you when you do something stupid or telling some type of story or even from things you have done before you got on the trail. I have a friend that received his trail name "Applicator"  because he was walking down the trail one day and picked up what he thought to be chap stick and threw it at is friend and his friend said.. "dude..thats a tampon"  other trail names I heard are  "free hugs" ..."Bag Lady"   "Mary Poppins"   "Walgreens"  "357" (I heard it is because he carries a 357 magnum in his backpack) ..nice   "Brushstrokes"    "Last Minute"  and  "Fish" are just to name a few. 


My trail name is  "Vagabond"   I looked up the definition and here is what I got:

  1. 1: A person without a permanent home who moves from place to place.
  2. 2: A vagrant; a tramp.
  3. 3: A wanderer; a rover.

I think I will pick number 1 and 3.  I don't feel homeless but I guess if you get technical I don't own a house or rent an apartment. I am homeless!...I just happen to have a website

A friend sent this to me.... I really resonated with me.... Maybe it is something that rocks your world too:




The Way We Grow
In God's word we're told to consider it "pure joy" when we're faced with challenges, trials, and obstacles, because they test our faith and make us stronger. The God who created you cares about your growth. And the way He has designed you to grow is through challenges.observation_tower.jpg

When you work-out, your muscles grow stronger. When you challenge yourself mentally your brain grows new neurons. When you do hard things, you grow, both in character and in practical areas of competence.

This sounds like a radical argument. We're not just saying that hard things happen and that you can benefit from them. We're not just saying that you have the ability to do hard things. We're telling you that you should do hard things because it's the best and only way to experience true growth in your life.

But this isn't a new idea. We're not here to reinvent truth. But we do want to help you rediscover what has always been true - and one thing that has always been true is that in order to grow we must do hard things. We must challenge and stretch ourselves, step outside our comfort zones and do something difficult. It's how we've grown before, and it's the only way we'll grow for the rest of our lives.  

No sacrifice..no Victory!

Shelter_bags.jpgThe last few days with the exception of today has been raining. Everyone yesterday came down into the town of Franklin, N.C. and got a room at the local hotels. By the end of the night there was a room to be found.  They were all filled with hikers.  I actually met a hiker and he offered his room that night so I didn't have to go back up on the trail again last night. Thanks "IBM"

Tonight I was picked up by a host friend I made through Facebook. He is the director of missions in the area and offered the Missions House for me to stay in. He took me out to eat at a local Italian Restaurant called "Gondola's" he said  you never know when it is going to be open..he opens and closes whenever he wants...lol But thank you Jeff...you are the man!




TRAIL MAGIC! If you haven't heard of this before then keep reading: The term "trail magic" was coined by thru-hikers to describe small, unexpected, remarkable events that lifted a hiker's spirits and inspired awe or gratitude. "Trail magic" came in two forms: The magic created by nature, and the magic created by the kindness of strangers. Nature might offer magic in the glimpse of a black bear and her cubs or a hail storm that held off until the safety of a shelter was reached. Acts of kindness by strangers might include a family in a state park offering to share its picnic with a passing hiker, or a trail neighbor handing out cookies to hikers on a road walk. I have been on the receiving end of trail magic about 5 times so far from free hamburgers and hot dogs to host families to free hot chocolate. Here is a picture of one of the "Trail Angels"



There are a lot of injuries out here on the trail. Many hikers have gnarly blisters and sprained ankles/knees. It is so wierd to look at the picture of all of the hikers on the bus and think that out of all of the hikers on the bus maybe 4 will make it all of the way to Katadin. Hard figures seem to be hard to come by, but recently it seems upwards of 3000 people may attempt a thru-hike in a given year, and perhaps 15% make it.

Well I am hopping back up on the trail tomorrow morning. I am hiking to Bryson City where I will be meeting some family that I have there. Then I am headed to the Smokies where I hear it will be cold, icy, and snowy. I can't wait!  "Life to the Fullest" Daren

Things are going well with the Expedition. Here are some articles that have been done over the past week:

The Expedition News:

 The Dahlonega Nugget

Hungry For Adventure





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March 14, 2008
A Week on the Mountain...

A Week on the Mountain...

Wow…. I now know why there is only a 20 percent success rate for finishing the A.T. (Appalachian Trail). This thing is no joke!  Here is an update of the past week

There are a lot of Thru-Hikers (GA to Maine) out here! I walk with different people every day from computer programmers to loan officers…. even college groups out on spring break.  It is quite the adventure. I have to admit that even though I have been conditioning my mind mentally for this expedition for the past year and a half I have found that when you add 8 hours of walking with nothing but you, God’s creation, and 15 miles of rocky trails you get a battle in your mind. You start thinking about all of the things and relationships that you sacrificed in order to make your dream become a reality.  With all of that being said…..the thing that keeps me getting up every morning is the fact that this is going to create a platform to save lives through Blood:Water MIssion. week_1.jpg

Every time that I filter water I think of those in Africa who are faced with the decision to either drink water that is contaminated or die of dehydration…..every time I hit 6 miles I think of those who walk 6 miles a day to haul that contaminated water back to their village. That is what keeps me going…the idea that my life and this walk will create a place where I can be “a voice for the voiceless”   That is life to the fullest!

There is so much to share but such little time to share it all. I journal every night so hopefully in time there will be a book full of ridiculous stories and experiences. I think I could publish one from the first week!

Today I hitchhiked for the first time in my life…  I was praying a mile out from the road that when I get there that there that I wouldn’t have to wait for hours for a ride. So when I arrived it took no more than 60 seconds for me to catch a ride into Helen, GA. Thanks LEO!  It doesn’t surprise me one bit!

When I got here I ate at a Huddle House!  I think that was the highlight of the day! Ok… not really because when I checked my e-mail there were a ton of encouraging e-mails from all of you. Thank you so much for the encouragement. It is fuel that helps me keep walking!

week_1_guys.jpgRight now my body and I are not getting along. The trail is wild…. To give you an idea of what it feels like imagine this “strap a 40 lb kid to your back and climb mountains on rocks for 7 hours a day”   That is how I explain it right now. I wouldn’t have it any other way though!  I hit my longest click on the trail yesterday at 17 miles. My body told me last night not to do that again for a while.... but I never listen….no sacrifice….no victory!

There are shelters all along the trail…but I have opted for my tent.  The reason is that there are mice infesting the shelters and on Blood Mountain there was a rat the size of a watermelon  walking around the shelter like he owned the place. At least I know there aren’t any critters running around my tent!

I haven’t looked in the mirror for a week…. I did today at huddle house …..I am going to have an awesome beard at Mt. Katadin!

I wish that I had more time to write..But the library is closing at 5:00 and I am still need to thumb the 9 miles back up to the trail where I got picked up and then night hike it 8 miles to the shelter. It is also raining and supposed to severely thunderstorm tomorrow… This is going to be awesome!…and when I say awesome I really mean suck! Lol…. Just kidding its all part of the adventure of a lifetime…bring it on!

  “Life to the Fullest”   Daren





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March 7, 2008
The Earth Expedition Starts Tomorrow.......

Overview of this past week: 

March 5th 2008 

Right now it is Wednesday the 5th. I am writing you from The Akron/Canton Airport... I am pretty excited because I just scored a free round trip ticket to anywhere in the US for taking a flight that was 25 minutes later. Before he even finished the announcement I was in line. That is the second time this year!  Ok.. I was excited...  my next flight was supposed to leave in 25 minutes... I thought I had stuck it to the man....but right as the plane is leaving those scurvy dogs just  made an announcement that the flight that was supposed to  leave in 25 minutes won't be leaving for 3 more hours. It looks like the man stuck it to me again.

I am writing now because I am sure that the night before the Expedition I will not want to be crafting a newsletter so I figured I would let you in on all of the details now.

I only got 3 ½ hours of sleep last night... But I am all packed up... Everything that I own is on the bottom of a plane as we speak. It is freeing knowing that everything that you own can be carried on your back. It is also little disturbing because if someone wants to take it....well..... it is everything you own. I am not worried too much...I have a present for anyone who tries to take it.

Here is a picture of all of the Expedition gear: Daren_Sign.jpg

Total dry weight: 38 lbs.

Sky Shield: New to the Website http://www.theearthexpedition.com/ is a feature that allows you to view where I am via Satellite. Using Google Earth you will be able to zoom in and see where I am. I am not going to lie... it is kind of freaky and extremely awesome at the same time.  I am pretty sure that this will be the future of expeditions to come. What can be cooler than actually zooming in and seeing the restaurant, mountain, or camping spot I will be in. Check it out by following this link SKY SHIELD  The Username: earthexpedition Password: earthexpedition

T-shirts:  I am also excited to announce that we are almost sold out when it comes to the men's shirts. I think we only have 5 left. If you would like to support the expedition and purchase an Expedition t-shirt then you can order through The Earth Expedition's Store

March 7th 2008 Base_of_Operations.jpg

I am sitting here in Dallas, Ga right now as my friends and I are packing up the food that we will need over the next 4 days. Sue (The Earth Expedition's Sponsorship Director) is driving the 8 hours from Indianapolis to see me me off tomorrow so she should be her in about 2 hours. Then we are off to an Italian restaurant tonight. There are so many things that are going through my head right now. Everything that I do: eat, shower, beds, and car rides are all taking on a new meaning to me. It is a little surreal to be honest with you. The first step is hours away.Tomorrow morning I will  wake up and travel to Dahlonega, GA. Where I will take my first step from the local college.  It is soo wild... I have been waiting for this moment for over 1 ½ years...now it is here.... Let the adventure begin

Special thanks to all of my Sponsors who are supporting The Earth Expedition. You all have been too kind.

Contact The Earth Expedition team at Sue@theearthexpedition.com

"Life to the Fullest" Daren


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March 1, 2008
Packing Packing Packing!
 I have a bit of a problem on my hands!  I find it quite the task to condense everything that I own and have to live off of for the next seven years to under 40 pounds :{ It has been a couple days now and I still don't have it all figured out. I am afraid to weigh the pack but I know it is inevitable. Let's just hope it is under 40 because I am not sure what I can leave behind!

ST_Marys.jpgThe past couple weeks at home have been good. I have done 4 presentations to churches and schools but for now I am just focused on leaving Canton on Wednesday morning from Akron/Canton Airport to fly down to Atlanta to meet up with Chris and Marissa Dove. They are going to walk the first few days which I am extremely excited about.

Seeing family is good but I am sure that the emotions are going to get a bit more intense over the next week...I am sure that you will hear more about it.

I am still on target for March 8th from Dahlegona, GA. where I will take my first step at 10:30am. This is so wild... I remember when the countdown started and when it said "365 days until The Earth Expedition begins"... now it is 7!  People ask me all of the time "Are you nervous?" My answer is "no" I have learned a long time ago not to worry about the things that you have no control over. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Just wasted energy in my mind.

My sponsors are great. I have been receiving all of the gear that I need to make this expedition successful.  Check them out: SPONSORS 

I am getting close to selling out of my t-shirts... Mens small and mediums are gone and the rest are about ready to go. If you want one then you can order them through this site: E2 STORE 

My plan is to write on the night of the 7th before I take off... Thanks for following. If you would like to reach me you can contact me at Daren(at)theearthexpedition(dot)com.

A special thanks to Steve and Peg Stamen for making this sign for the expedition!  Thank you!


"Life to the Fullest"   Daren

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