Any given Saturday you will find my wife and I hiking in the North Georgia Mountains. Rarely do I hike alone. So after a wonderful Thanksgiving I decided to hike a trail I had done several times before. I left the house around 9AM headed for Blood Mountain in the North Georgia Mountains.
I arrived at the trail head around 10:30 AM, ready for the hike. After securing my backpack I started up the mountain in the cold morning air. After 20 minutes I reached the Freeman Trail and started the 1,300' ascent to the summit.
Whenever I hike wear compression sleeves on my arms and calves to help with warmth and circulation. After about ¾ of a mile I noticed a weird faint pain at the top of my elbows on each arm. After walking about 1.4 miles I decided to stop and remove one of my shirts as I was starting to sweat in the 45 degree air. I found a comfortable log off the trail where I removed one of my shirts. I also drank a little water and had a small power snack. I remember thinking how this normally busy trail was void of people once I started the ascent. After 10 minutes I stood up and resumed the hiked. 15 to 20 steps I crossed over to the other side of a small hill. The wind was back and I had a chill come over me. About 15 more steps and I began to feel very nauseous and searched for a rock off the trail to sit down…nothing. I quickly realized I would need to go back down the mountain. So I turned around and just sat in the middle of the trail and soon found my head on my backpack as I laid down on the trail. Very quickly my arms felt like they went to sleep, getting air in my lungs was almost impossible. Soon the real pain kicked in across the top of my chest from armpit to armpit and all the way down my arms. I realized I was alone and in trouble.
Within 5 minutes God sent help. I could see a couple turning the corner from the switchback below. As they approached they asked if I was okay. I told them I thought I was in trouble and explained what I was feeling. Turns out God sent me a nurse and EMT both in training. They called 911 and gave them our coordinates to help 911 find us. 911 told us it would take about an hour and half for them to reach our location. After making the call they quickly opened their first aid kit as well as mine looking for an aspirin. Turns out First Aid Kits do not have aspirin. As people passed they asked everyone if they had aspirin. No luck. Someone in the group called the store at Neels Gap and asked if they had aspirin and if they could help us. (More on this soon)
As I laid there on the ground in the worst pain I have ever felt, I realized how far away I was from help. I got scared, very scared. The question popped into my head, if I die today will I go to heaven?
With this question bouncing around in my head my chest pain increased, I could not speak more than a few words due to shortness of breath. Panic was starting to set in. The pain was increasing to a level that was almost unbearable. Before long a Sam Rush arrived from the Mountain Crossing store with aspirin. Which saved my life! They quickly gave me one to chew up and the pain did ease up a little.
We had heard the sirens at the base of the mountain about an hour and half earlier. Just as I was asking for more pressure to be placed on my chest to help with the pain the EMT’s arrived. They quickly did an EKG, took pictures of the results and sent them to the hospital. The hospital radioed back and indicated Life Flight would be in route once I was down the mountain.
However, one big problem. The EMTs did not know how they would get me down 1.6 miles to the trail-head. As the EMTs were working to arrange additional help, other hikers took off their jackets to help keep me warm. The original couple who first stopped were still with me, giving me water, holding my knees up and making sure I was kept alert. At this point in time it was around 3pm I heard the EMTs tell others that 14 Wildland Response Team Members were called to assist with getting me down the mountain. However, like the EMTs they were over an hour from me. The panic returned…
I found myself scared of dying and asked if someone would pray over me and for me. I desperately needed to rededicate my life to the Lord. Tears were pouring from my eyes. I needed God to forgive me of my sins. I know now that God was in control the whole time. Not only were the original couple very strong Christians but one of the EMTs was a Chaplin. As the praying began. I asked God for forgiveness and rededicated my life to him. Even though the pain was still present a calm came over me. I looked up to the blue sky and felt the presence of the Lord. If this was my time to go, I was ready.
Well, wait a minute…God was not done with me.
Soon the Wildland Response Team arrived to carry me down to the mountain to the ambulance which was waiting at the Neel's Gap store. The trip down was incredibly rough due the rocks and narrow trail. Some of the team carry the gurney I was strapped to while others held back limb to help clear the way.
Once they reached the ambulance I was quickly taken 2 miles down the road to Vogel State Park where Life Flight was waiting to carry me the rest of the way to the hospital in Gainesville. The 15 minute flight I barely remember. After landing the next thing I remember was the cath lab.
Flash forward to the miracle. I have been away from a church home for many years. God sent angels to watch over me and protect me while on the mountain. God ensured every detail was covered as He still had plans for me.
This past Sunday I returned to Church to rebuild my relationship with the Lord. I have also returned to praying daily and reading His word. I do not know what tomorrow holds but I do know when my time comes to leave this world I will go to heaven. I am a Christian. God's army stormed Blood Mountain to save my lost soul.
P.S. The date I returned to church was December 4th. This date is also my sobriety date. 14 years ago God saved me a horrible addiction. Everything happens for a reason and that reason is to glorify God.
God is good,
Blood Mountain Trail - http://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/georgia/blood-mountain-trail
Contact Us- firstname.lastname@example.org
Very Special Thanks to God, Victoria, Sam Rush, Mountain Crossings, Lumpkin County EMS - Shane Seabolt, Life Flight, Vogel State Park and Northeast Georgia Medical Center
We also want to invite you all to visit our new church home in Buford - Hamilton Mill Christian Church
This is NOBO Sam! He started January 1st and is famous around here for snowboarding down Blood Mountain, and recently running up the mountain to deliver Aspirin to a man having a heart attack! He saved his life! Sam is only 18 but has a full spirit. We have no doubt he'll make it to Maine! Good luck Sam! #mountaincrossings #at2017 #thruhike #bloodmountain
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The return hike helped face the events listed above. As I climbed Blood Mountain I realized I was now in the best shape of my life. I pasted the spot where it all happened and just kept on moving to the summit. God set up a perfect day and allowed me to have time with him to focus on the miracle which happened back in November 2016. I found myself standing at the highest point on the AT in Georgia. Since the original return hike I have completed 3 more hikes up the mountain. This also includes a complete hike of the 10 mile loop.
The time has arrived to hike from the start of AT. My goal is to hike the all of the AT, in Georgia, during 2018. Stay tuned and to God be the glory!
Before we headed into the fray of another brutal winter storm, an Ex Delta Force Operator said to me, "Violence Of Action". To this day I replay that very moment in my head. A moment that would define this whole challenging adventure, this dream! #appalachiantrail #atthruhike #winterthruhike #at2017 #appalachiantrails #rangerup #dreams #wandernorthga #atthruhike2017 #thetrek #trektheat
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