Cherokee man to walk Appalachian Trail in 13 states

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
02/25/2014 08:20 AM
CHEROKEE, N.C. – Gilliam Jackson is physically and mentally preparing to begin a nearly 2,200-mile journey along the Appalachian Trail, which begins in Georgia and ends in Maine.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen has already hiked approximately 325 miles of the trail in North Carolina, his home state.

“Because I have done many sections of this area many different times, I plan to skip this section,” he said. “I have also completed approximately 100 miles of the 240 miles in Pennsylvania, and I will skip that part also.”

Jackson said he completed much of the Pennsylvania section in the winter because of the rocks and its scarcity of water.

“Winter hiking presented a different challenge. The rocks were icy and very difficult and dangerous, but no snakes,” he said.

Around March 15 he plans to leave from Springer Mountain, Ga., and enter Tennessee five days later. From Tennessee he wants to hike northeast through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and finally to Maine where the trail ends at Mount Katahdin.

It’s estimated 2,300 hikers begin the 2,180-mile journey in Georgia every spring, with only 500 to 600 hikers finishing the journey in Maine.

“Once I start, I plan to finish within 100 days, although I plan to get off the trail on occasions to reload provisions and rest,” Jackson said. “I have many friends along the way who have committed to pick me up off the trail and provide a bed, food and showers. There will be days when I will be off the trail for a couple of days. I really do not have a cutoff day when I want to be finished. I just know I want to enjoy being on the trail.”

He said hiking friends who have completed the Appalachian Trail and stories he has read about the trail inspired him to tackle the feat. He added that he’s been consulting with hikers who have years of hiking experience and have completed the trail.

“I truly enjoy being in the woods and that is my greatest motivator,” Jackson said. “I have been hiking all my life, and physically, I think I am in good condition. Most...hikers say its more a mental challenge to be self-sustaining for that many miles and that length of time.”

He said he’s bought the most-up-to-date hiking equipment available and plans to keep his pack as light as possible at 35 to 38 pounds, which includes his tent, stove, food, water, backpack, sleeping bag and other essentials.

“I have hiked and been in the woods all my life, and it’s been great therapy for me. I don’t ever remember not being in the woods, and I truly enjoy being surrounded and in the midst of God’s beautiful creations. And I enjoy meeting and talking to other hikers,” Jackson said. “In the last few years I have concentrated a whole lot on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park has over 800 miles (of trails), and I have hiked most of those trails. The trails are also some of the most challenging in this country.”

He said he understands the challenges he’ll face along the Appalachian Trail such as elevations ranging from 1,750 feet to 6,650 feet in North Carolina. He added that hikers know Pennsylvania as Rocksvannia because of the many rocks, “big ones, little ones, sharp ones, flat ones.”

In New Hampshire, the White Mountains pose a different challenge. Mount Washington has the highest recorded wind speed on Earth and subject to snow year round.

“I was hiking the Whites back in early August of 2012, and I had to wear a heavy three season jacket. There are many challenges, but there are also many incredible gorgeous views, and the people I have met on the trail are outstanding,” Jackson said.

He said the biggest challenge he’ll face is being away from his two grandchildren and two children.

“I spend a lot of time with them daily, and I know they will be cheering me on. We will be missing each other at the same time.”

will-chavez@cherokee.org


918-207-3961

ᏣᎳᎩ

Cherokee, N. C. – Gilliam Jackson ᎤᏟᏂᎩᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏧᏭᎪᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᏛᏅᎢᏍᏗ ᎤᎴᏅᏗ ᎤᏂᎩᏍᏗ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏔᎵᏧᏈ ᎢᏳᏟᎶᏓ ᎾᎿ Appalachian ᎦᏅᏅ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᏣᎴᏂ ᏣᏥ ᎠᎴ ᏣᏍᏆᏗᎠ ᎺᏂ.

ᎤᏕᎵᎬ ᎢᏗᏢ ᎠᏁᎯ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎦᏳᎳ ᎤᎾᏂᎩᏌ ᏯᏛᎾ ᏦᎢᏧᏈ ᎯᏍᎩᏦᏁ ᎢᏳᏟᎶᏓ ᎦᏅᏅ ᎾᎿ ᎦᏯᎴᏂ, ᎤᏤᎵ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ.

“ᎦᏳᎳᏃ ᎤᎪᏓ ᏂᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᏗᏇᏙᎸ ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏩᎪᏗ, ᏓᏊᎪᏛ ᏗᎩᏅᏗᏍᏗ ᎦᏳᎳ ᏗᏇᏙᎸ ᎨᏒᎢ.”

Jackson ᎤᏛᏅ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎨᏒ ᎤᏍᏆᏛ ᎾᎿ ᎤᎩᏓᎵᏱ ᎡᏙᎲ ᎪᎵ ᎨᏐ ᎡᏙᎰ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏅᏲᎯ ᏕᎨᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎹ ᏍᏓᏱ ᎦᏁᏩᏛᏗᎢ.

“ᎪᎳ ᎠᏂᎩᏍᏗ ᏄᏓᎴ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᏧᏓᏠᏏᏓᏍᏗ ᎨᏐᎢ. ᏅᏲ ᎨᏒ ᏚᏁᏍᏓᎶ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏦᏎᏗ ᎨᏐ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎦᎾᏱᎦ, ᎠᏎᏃ Ꮭ ᎢᎾᏓ,” ᎤᏛᏅ ᏯᏛᎾ ᎠᏟᎢᎵᏒ ᎠᏅᏱ ᏍᎩᎦᏚᏏᏁ ᎤᏛᏅᏫᏍᏗ ᎤᏂᎩᏍᏗ ᎠᏓᎴᏂᏍᎩ Springer ᏦᏓᎸᎢ, Ga., ᎠᎴ ᏭᏴᏍᏗ ᏔᎾᏏ ᎯᏍᎩᏁ ᎢᎪᎯ.

ᏂᏓᏳᏂᎩᏓ ᏔᎾᏏ ᎤᏚᎵᎭ ᎤᏂᏂᎩᏍᏗ ᎤᏴᏢᎧᎸᎬ ᎤᎦᏛᎴᎯᏍᏗ ᏩᏥᏂ, ᏭᏕᎵᎬ ᏩᏥᏂ, ᎺᎵᏂ, ᎤᎩᏓᎵᏱ, ᎠᏤ ᏨᏏ, ᏄᏯᎩ, ᎧᏁᏓᎦᏗ, ᎺᏌᏧᏎᏗ, ᏣᏩᎦ, ᎢᏤ ᎭᎻᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎣᏂ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎺᏂ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎵᏍᏆᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏂᎩᏍᏗᎢ Mount Katahdin.

ᎠᏎᎸᎢ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏦᎢᏧᏈ ᏯᏂ ᎠᎾᏂᎩᏍᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᏁᎵᏍᎪ ᎢᏳᏟᎶᏗ ᎠᎾᏂᎩᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ ᏣᏥᎢ ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᎪᎨᏯ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏅᏌ ᎯᏍᎩᏧᏈ ᎠᎴ ᏑᏓᎵᏧᏈ ᎠᎾᏂᎩᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᏍᏆᏗᏍᎪ ᎯᎠ ᎠᎾᏂᎩᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ ᎺᏂ.

“ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎦᎴᏅᎥ ᎦᏂᎩᏒ ᎠᏆᏛᏅᎢᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᎢᎦ ᎠᎴ ᎭᏫᏓᏗᏝ ᎠᎦᏍᏆᏗᏍᏗ, ᏃᎴᏍᏊ ᎠᏆᏛᏅᎢᏍᏗ ᎠᏆᎴᏫᏍᏙᏗ ᎦᎢᏒ ᎢᏳᏓᎵᎭ ᎠᎩᎧᎵᏏᏐᏗ ᎦᏓᏅᏖᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏆᏣᏪᏐᎸᏍᏙᏗᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Jackson. “ᎤᏂᎪᏓ ᏗᏆᎵ ᎠᏁᎭ ᏩᎩᎶᎯᏍᏗ ᎦᏳᎳ ᎤᏂᏚᎢᏍᏔᏅ ᎬᏊᏖᏍᏗ ᎦᎢᏒ ᏅᏃ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎦᏒᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏛᏅᎢᏍᏙᏗ, ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏆᏓᏬᏍᏗᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏙᏛᏙᏓᏊ Ꮭ ᏱᎦᎢᏎᏍᏗ ᏓᎦᏠᏏ ᎦᎢᏒ ᏔᎵᎭ ᎢᎦ. ᏝᏃ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎠᏆᏎᎸ ᏱᎩ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎢᎪᎯᏓ ᎠᏆᏂᎩᏍᏗᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎩᏍᏆᏗᏍᏗᎢ. ᎠᏆᏅᏔᏍᎩᏂ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏖᏍᏗ ᎦᎢᏒᎢ ᎦᏅᏅᎢ.”

ᎠᏗᏍᎬᏃ ᎠᎾᏂᎩᏍᎩ ᏧᎵᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᏍᏆᏛᎢ Appalachian ᎦᏅᏅ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎧᏃᎮᏓ ᏧᎪᎵᏰᏓ ᎨᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎤᎾᏂᎩᏓ ᎤᎦᎵᏍᏗ ᎤᏓᏅᏓᏗᏍᏔᏅ ᎤᏂᎩᏍᏗᎢ. ᎤᏃᎮᎸ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏓᏟᏃᎮᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᎾᏂᎩᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ ᎪᎯᎦ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎰ ᎤᎾᏅᏘ ᏒᏍᏛ ᎠᎴ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎤᏂᏍᏆᏛᏃ ᎦᏅᏅᎢ.

“ᎠᎩᎸᏉᏓ ᎢᎾᎨ ᎠᏇᏓᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᎴ ᎤᎪᏓ ᎦᎵᎡᎵᎪ ᏓᏊᎪᏔᏅᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Jackson. “ᏯᏆᏓᏅᏖᎸ ᏂᏓᎬᏆᏕᎶᎰᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᎦᏛᏁᎭ ᎦᏕᏏᏰᏍᎪ ᎢᎾᎨ, ᎠᎴ ᏥᏰᎸ ᎡᎵᏊ, ᎦᏓᏅᏖᏍᎬ ᎡᎵ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏥᏰᎸᎢ. ᎤᏂᎪᏛ….. ᎠᎾᏂᎩᏍᎩ ᎠᎾᏗᏍᎪ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎾᎿ ᏣᏓᏁᏄᎵᏍᎪ ᏅᏫᏍᏙ ᎠᏂᎩᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎦ ᎢᏳᏟᎶᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ ᎢᎪᎯᏓ.”

ᎤᏃᎮᏢ ᎤᏩᏒ ᎾᎿ ᏩᏤᎢᏴ ᎬᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᎤᏂᎲ ᎠᎴ ᏚᏭᎪᏗ ᎦᏌᎧ ᎢᏳᏩᏅᏗ ᎠᎵᏎᎲ ᏯᏛᎾ ᏦᏍᎪ ᎯᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᏦᏍᎪ ᏧᏁᎳ ᎢᏳᏓᎩᏓ, ᎤᏠᏯᏍᏗ ᎤᎵᏦᏙᏗ, ᎤᏓᏍᏓᏴᏗ, ᎤᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ, ᎠᎹ, ᎠᎵᏎᎲ, ᎤᏒᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᎤᏂᎬᎬᎢ.

“ᎠᏆᏂᎩᏌ ᎠᎴ ᎢᎾᎨ ᎠᏊᏙᎵ ᎦᏉᏂᏙᎲ ᎢᎪᎯᏓ, ᎠᎴ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎾᏋᏁᎭᎢ. ᏝᏃ ᏱᎦᏅᏓᏗᏍᎪ ᎢᎾᎨ ᏂᎨᏙᎲᎾ ᎨᏒ ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᎾᎿ ᎨᏙᎰᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᎢᎦ ᎦᎵᎡᎵᎪ ᎠᏆᏓᏕᏯᏍᏛ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎨᏙᎲ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏁᎳᏅᎯ ᎤᏬᏚᎯ ᎤᏬᏢᏅᏅᎢ ᎨᏒᎢ.

ᎠᎴ ᎦᎵᎡᎵᎪ ᏙᏣᏙᎵᎬ ᎠᎴ ᏕᎦᎵᏃᎮᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏁᏙᎯ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Jackson. “ᎢᎸᏍᎦ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᎦᏓᏅᏖᏍᎬ ᎤᎪᏓ Great Smoky Mountains National Park. ᎯᎠ ᏴᏫ ᎤᏁᏓᏍᏗ ᏕᎦᏅᏅ ᏯᏛᎾ ᏁᎳᏧᏈ ᎢᏳᏟᎶᏓ , ᎠᎴ ᏂᎦᏓᏊ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏗᏇᏙᎸᎢ. ᎯᎠ ᏕᎦᏅᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏭᎪᏛ ᎠᏓᏁᏄᎵᏍᎪ ᎤᏲᏍᏛᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎡᏓᏍᏗᎢ.”

ᎤᏛᏅ ᎤᏬᎵᏨ ᎾᎿ ᏗᎦᎾᏰᎦ ᏧᏠᏏᏓᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎾᎿ Appalachian ᎦᏅᏅ ᏯᏛᎾ ᏂᎦᏛᎢ ᎠᏓᎴᏂᏍᎩ 1,750 ᎢᎳᏏᏓ ᏩᏍᏘ 6,650 ᎢᎳᏏᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏴᏢ ᎦᏯᎴᏂᎢ. ᎤᏁᏉᎥ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎾᏂᎩᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏅᏙ ᎾᎿ ᎤᎩᏓᎵᏱ ᎾᎿ ᏅᏲᎯ ᎨᏒ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏅᏲᎯ ᎨᏒᎢ, “ ᏧᎾᏔᎾ, ᏧᎾᏍᏗ, ᏗᎪᏍᏓᏱ, ᎤᏅᎾᏕᎾ.”

ᎾᎿ ᎠᏤ ᎭᎻᏒ, ᎤᏁᎦ ᎣᏓᎸ ᏙᎢ ᏂᏚᏍᏛ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᏗᎫᎪᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ. Mount ᏩᏒᏓᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏩᎦᎸᎳᏗᏴ ᏗᎦᏃᏣᎳᏅ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏃᎴ ᏄᏟᏂᎬᎬ ᎦᏃᎸᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎡᎶᎯ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᎫᏘᎰᎢ.

“ᎾᎿ ᎨᏙᎲ ᎦᎢᏒ ᎤᏁᎬᏍᏛ ᎾᎿ ᎢᎬᏱᏊ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎦᎶᏂ ᏥᎧᎸ ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏔᎳᏚ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ, ᎠᎴ ᏦᎢ ᎢᏧᏓᎴ ᏧᎭᎨᏓ ᏗᎦᏌᎴᏂ ᏓᏆᏄᏮ.

ᎤᎪᏓ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᏗᎫᎪᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᎾᎿᎢ, ᎠᏎᏅ ᎤᎪᏓ ᎢᎦ ᏧᏬᏚᎯ ᏗᎦᏖᎾᏍᏗᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎠᏁᏙ ᏙᏣᏟᏃᎮᏍᎬ ᎠᎾᎢᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎦᏅᏅ ᎢᎦ ᎤᎾᏓᏅᏔ ᎨᏐ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Jackson.

ᏭᎪᏛ ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏖᏙᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎾᎿ ᏯᏆᏂᎩᏌ ᎾᎿ ᏂᎦᏥᎪᏘᏍᎬᎾ ᎨᏐ ᎠᏂᏔᎵ ᏧᎵᏏ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏔᎵ ᏧᏪᏥ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ.

“ᏂᎪᎯᎸᏊ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎣᎦᎵᎪᏩᏕᎪ, ᎠᎴ ᎠᏆᏅᏙ ᎾᎿ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏚᎾᏓᏅᏙ ᎾᎿ ᎦᎢᏒᎢ. ᏙᏣᏓᏠᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏂᏙᏣᏓᎪᏩᏘᏍᎬ ᎨᏒᎢ.”

About the Author
Will Chavez is a Cherokee/San Felipe Pueblo Indian who has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 25 years. During that time he has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a writer, reporter and photographer for the Cherokee Advocate and Cherokee Phoenix newspapers. 

For many years h ...
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will Chavez is a Cherokee/San Felipe Pueblo Indian who has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 25 years. During that time he has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a writer, reporter and photographer for the Cherokee Advocate and Cherokee Phoenix newspapers. For many years h ...

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