We have encountered so many great people along the way. And they have been fantastic to meet, all with independent spirits with a passion for the outdoors and unique personalities with trail names such as Geronimo, Pancho, Zen, Stickman, Firefly, Hyking Vyking, Squeak, Fern, Tomato, Vagabond, Missing Link, etc. !  That was just one part of the adventure we really enjoyed. Here are few of those people.

Here we are with Bob the owner of Top of Georgia Hostel ( a previous thru hiker) and "Vagabond". Vagabond is a double thru hiker with her last one completed when she was 71 (she is now 75). One of the best Hostels on the trail in our opinion.

Here we are with Squeak and Fern at the Top of Georgia Hostel. More to follow on these 2 hikers.

Stickman. He was quite vague on where he was from or where he was going but certainly a friendly sort.

The family from Croatia.

Steve the Hiker on the right. He didnt have a trail name and had been on the trail for a couple of months. He was also southbound. We met quite a few people southbound headed to Springer Mountain.

He didnt seem too interested in me taking a picture of him.

Our Ohio State contact on the trail.

Dont remember her name but certainly helpful on pointing us to the direction of the best water source.

Busy at the top of Clingmans Dome.

This is Patrick and he is one of the most experienced hikers on the Smokie Mountain trails. We ran across many people that "talked big" about their experiences (such as killing monster snakes bigger than themselves or confronting dozens of bears...in a single day) but this guy seemed to be the real deal. He is actually quite well known in the Smokie Mountain hiking community. So much so that some of the equipment manufacturers have hired him to test out their equipment. And he hikes every single weekend. And his specialty is off trail hiking...where he makes his own trail.

Federal Ranger Matt from Maine stayed in our shelter one night. Good thing he was packing heat to fend off the bears....and mice...and Ginseng poachers! One surprising thing he told us was that one of the biggest problems they have in the Smokie Mountains is Ginseng poachers! Go figure.

I dont have a picture of him but we met "Pancho" briefly on the trail. He was southbound and apparently left his mark along the way!

Okay, this is the back story on these 2 photos.  "Bamahiker", a devote hiker and also devoted to his home state, had hiked 165 miles of the AT and was planning to section hike the rest when he retired. But a year before his 2016 retirement, pancreatic cancer ended his life. So his hiking boots would never reach the end of the AT trail....however.....his wife Brenda would/could not sit still for that. So she filled Bamahiker's boots with pebbles and took them and his hiking sticks to the last place he made it to, the Fontana Dam entrance. And she posted a sign asking hikers to take a pebble on their own journey...for Bamahiker (James). Since March of 2016, Brenda has filled his boots several times. And so MacGyver and I took pebbles and will continue to carry them as we hike the AT.....now and in the future.

Wanted to give a special shout out to a couple of people. First of all Squeak (Joe) hiked with us for about 8 days. We met him on the first day when he was hiking with Fern. Squeak is 67 and a retired Army Colonel with 27 years in the service. First of all, we are most certainly proud of his service and it was enjoyable to hike with him. Never at a loss for conversation and  his signature Tennessee Vols orange color shirt and his ear flap hat could be spotted from a distance! Thanks Squeak, for being part of our adventure!!

And now a very special shout out to Fern (Keri), a young lady from Indiana by way of Kansas. As mentioned before, Fern had been hiking with Squeak when we met her on June 21. They had already been on the AT for 4 days since Springer Mountain. Fern was such a joy to be around during the 19 days we three hiked together with her great personality and such a refreshing prospective on life. Aways a smile and never a complaint. Ahh to be young again. Fern shared with MacGyver and I a song that really defines her. The song "See the Love" by the band Brillance. Check it out on the internet to really understand the essence of who Fern (Keri) is. Thanks Keri for being part  of MacGyver and my adventure and making it that much more enjoyable.

A thank you also to Angela, Ricky, Parker, Riley Bowser and  Kim and Bob Mitchell. Although they were not physically on the trail with us, they certainly were there in spirit and in thought when they all participated in the "Relay For Life" event (in Germany and in Michigan) during my hike with their theme of "No One Fights Alone". This cause is so important and vital in helping to discover the cure and so much appreciated by those facing the health challenges of cancer as Jacque Locascio, my brother Andy and I are/have as are so many others.  And I also know that so many family and friends are also dedicated to this cause so to you all, we sincerely thank you for your support.