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Connecting the Cumberland

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Thru-hiking is the act of walking a long-distance trail end-to-end. These trails can vary anywhere in length from a few dozen miles to a few thousand.

If you'd like to support the thru-hiking community and have $5 or $5,000 to give or are able to click the "share" button, this is a great cause. The current funding will go to support the development of the Cumberland Trail and eventually, this 300ish-mile-long trail will be just one segment of the Great East trail, our country's next long distance adventure trek!

Chris Pickering earned his trail name "Tarzan" on the 2,172 mile Appalachian Trail (AT) in 2012 that stretches from Georia to Maine. His next opportunity to get back on a long trail came over the summer of 2015 on the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) that extends from Mexico to Canada. The hike had been calling his name ever since summiting Mt. Katahdin at the northern terminus of the AT. Unfortunately, a strict timeline due to university starting cut his hike about 1,000 miles shy of reaching Canada.

Ethan Alexander has been a long time hiker and had the chance to attempt a thru-hike of the PCT in 2015 as well. He was dubbed "Garbelly" and hasn't looked back since reaching Canada.

The pair met while hiking in Northern California over that summer and knew they would have much more hiking together. Coincidentally, both lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee but had never run into one another. 

For both of them, hiking is more than an activity, it's a lifestyle. Some call them escapists, but they see it as walking towards an examined life. Both have found that slowing themselves down to the speed of their step allows them to truly get to know oneself, the amazing world around surrounding them, and all the interesting people that inhabit it. They simply wish to share this lifestyle with as many people as possible and truly believe that the more long trails there are, the better. 

The Cumberland Trail (CT) runs north to south across Middle Tennessee over and around the Cumberland Plateau. This trail has been a local sanctuary for both Tarzan and Garbelly as the transition back into modern life is never easy.

It is their goal to raise as much awareness and funds as possible over the next month to donate towards the future of the Cumberland Trail. To do this, they will hike the entire length of the CT in the last weeks of July, 2016. There will be road walks and navigating the backcountry at times to connect the 12 sections of completed trail.

Tarzan is going to be working on a short documentary film over the course of the hike to further spread the word about this beautiful walk that needs the help of everyone willing to contribute. 

In a broader sense, the Cumberland Trail is going to be the south's capstone section of the Great Eastern Trail that will one day extend from Alabama to New York providing an alternative to the relatively crowded Appalachian Trail. Massive vistas, extremely varied wildlife and fauna, cascading waterfalls, impressively engineered swinging bridges, and the future trail town of Chatttanooga will offer hikers a unique and authentic experience of Tennessee.

Both Tarzan and Garbelly agree that these long trails have given them more than they could have ever imagined. All they seek is for the opportunity to give back to them in a small way. They wish to help future generations of thru-hikers get to their terminus and experience the power of walking in a way they never would have expected.

If you are willing to contribute anything the CT Conference, Tarzan, Garbelly, and thru-hikers all over the world will be forever grateful to you for taking the time and resources to help preserve these beautiful forests and trails. Each dollar will make a positive impact not only on the environment, but on whomever steps foot on the Cumberland Trail. Thank you,

-Tarzan and Garbelly

Organizer and beneficiary

Chris Pickering
Chattanooga, TN
Cumberland Trail

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