The Friday after Thanksgiving started out mild, but we knew a storm with much colder temperatures was heading our way. There were literally hours given to us for hiking the final sixth over 6k mountain peak before the end of the year. The Park Service closes the road to Clingman’s Dome and other summits at the end of November.

Reaching the summit was my goal—though friends braved the weather and climbed with me. I climbed these six mountain peaks for everyone I know, who is facing cancer for the first and hopefully the only time!

This last hike was for Denny, who is also battling this same disease. Denny and his wife Joy often take me on “Denny Day” trips around northern PA near Lake Erie and beyond.

Currently, I’m praying daily for close to 15 people, who have received a diagnosis of cancer and are wondering if life will ever be the same. It won’t, but it can be better than even before your diagnosis. As I have pushed myself to climb and to summit mountains in North Carolina and now in Tennessee, I have discovered a new strength deep inside—a strength that won’t let me give in, especially to fearful thoughts.


I’m stronger now than I was before cancer and others can be, too. As people in Christ, we have no excuse to quit or give up. Period. So, please get up and walk, or hike—even if you are in treatments. Walk each day. Don’t sit and worry. There’s too much in life to enjoy and to share with those you love. Be a light that draws people to hope and restoration through faith. Everyone, cancer or no cancer, is battling something. Be kind and tenderhearted to those you meet along the way. You have no idea what burden they are bearing.

So on this very blustery day, I walked the AT for three miles and then jumped on the half mile trail up Clingman’s Dome’s summit. It was a straight up hike so it’s listed as strenuous, and it is. I had much rather reach a mountain peak via a rocky, woody  trail than walk a hard man-made pathway. But I did it; and now, it can be placed in the record books!

Mt. Collins may have eluded us but that’s okay. It’s on our radar; and after the first of the year, spring will return quickly. In fact, before leaving the area, I whispered to Mt. Collins, “I came through and I shall return!” That’s a General MacArthur promise!

The “space ship” on top of Clingman’s Dome is just weird, but we used it for our summit photos. The winds were so strong (up to 35 miles per hour) at the tower that we were afraid our cameras and iPhones would be literally blown out of our hands! This is our sixth peak in the Southern Sixers Hiking Challenge. It is the highest summit in the Smokies. Now, I can get my commemorative patch! Yahoo!