On behalf of my husband, sincerely we would like to “THANK” our friends and families who have contributed their funds to the USO and ARC.  We would like to share some STATS since we started “Friends of Santos Family” campaign on 21 March 2013:

- Reached 130 Fam/Friends FB accounts through personal messages; 17 responded with a pledge & seven donated (two were outsiders).  The rest did not read the message or chose not to respond.

Collected $600 for United Service Organizations (USO) and $245 for the American Red Cross as of 28 April 2013

We do not have visibility on the Philippine National Red Cross data; all we know is one person donated to PNRC so far.  Thank you CORA!

According to Khris, “patience is a virtue”.  He remembered his stint as the 352D SOG CFC Coordinator where he spearheaded the Combined Federal Campaign for the Special Operations Group (SOG)—it was a record year for the SOG donations by a mile.  He worked hard and was very patient.  He too believed that his “Friends of Santos Family” campaign would catch up some steam.

$5000.00 is Khris’ goal for both charitable organizations; please help us make this a reality for Khris—let us help our Armed Forces personnel by donating to the USO and ARC.  BTW, my PMs are not spam they are my personal message to each Fam/Friends.  Thank you ALL for the donations and support for Khris!  Godspeed--Liza

Zero Day (14 April 2013, Sunday) 00.0 Mi_158.4 Mi/Daytona Beach, FL

She is happy to see Pinoy Airman.  EJ's 19th Birthday at Chilis...
The food poisoning killed Pinoy Airman's completion of the Smokies for this week.  However, he was grateful that he had the opportunity to see Liza and attended EJ's birthday--everything happens for the best.  He was exhausted and lost 26 lbs in a span of less than four weeks.  He weighed 176 lbs today and 202 lbs when he left on 20 March 2013.  His feet were swollen and painful...time for recovery and rest.  However, he insisted continuing on his quest as early as possible.  We advised him to take a rest until his feet have recovered and the swelling subsided...we will see.

Day 24 (13 April 2013, Saturday) 5.3 Mi_158.4 Mi/Yellow Creek Mtn Road, NC

Can you find the snake?
Jelleboo "Scorpion King" Ntje:  22 yr old Dutch hiking the AT
Harrison was a blessing...he is a local from Robbinsville, NC 
The plan was to spend the night at Fontana Village and press on to the Smokies on Sunday.  Unfortunately, Pinoy Airman suffered food poisoning last night; all his energy sapped from his body--vomiting all night.   Liza drove 9-hours to fetch Pinoy Airman.  He still managed to walk 5.3 miles but it took him more than six hours; he was literally resting every 10 steps.  Harrison provided Pinoy Airman a ride to Robbinsville, NC--about 20 miles from the AT road access.  If not for this ride, Liza would have a hard time looking for him at the Yellow Creek Rd.  Pinoy Airman decided to take R&R days in addition to zero-day tomorrow to get some healing.  His feet were keep acting up and blisters forming all over.  

Day 23 (12 April 2013, Friday) 9.1 Mi_153.1 Mi/Brown Fork Gap Shelter

Bill ("L Dog") is all smile...about what?
...that's Jeff Schneider getting ready for the morning hike.
US Geological Survey marker at Campsite at top of Cheoah Bald (5062 ft ASL)
...foggy in the morning; Sun always comes out will be a nice day.
Brown Fork Gap Shelter--sleeps 6
Another punishing day because of Jacob's ladder they should have renamed it "Jacob's Hell' for its steepness and long climb in a .6 mile stretch.  Met Bill ("L dog"), US Navy Retiree with 23 years of service; he completed High School in Subic Bay and was stationed there as an Active Duty sailor.  Pinoy Airman keeps bumping into Jeff was a nice reunion of sort (re: Terry/Waldo).

Day 22 (11 April 2013, Thursday) 12.6 Mi_144.0 Mi/Sassafras Gap Shelter

Another Sunrise at the Appalachian Trail...early morning walk. is MAGNIFICENT!
...from Wesser Bald Shelter to Sassafras Gap Shelter
...slowly but surely coming out.
...just want to put this out there.  This is from the same Sunrise sequence
You will see these signs along NC trail...I'm heading "N"...
The first railroad track North-bounders meet in the Appalachian Trail (AT)
...railroad track is in the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) campground in North Carolina
Forest Ranger Wade Sutton marker:  He gave his life fighting fires in this neck of the wood.   THANK YOU for your service Ranger Sutton!
NOC below--view from 133.0 mile marker...
Another view from 4000 ft ASL--mile marker 133.0
After a nice descent from 4945 ft above sea level (ASL) and reaching Nantahala Outdoor Center in record time--my record time LOL--, the hike was punishing.  It was more than three hours of ever winding climbing--the hike would make you feel it will never end.  This time Pinoy Airman can surely tell the forest, the birds, the mountains were whispering and telling him all sorts of things, like, how his sleep was last night and does he like the trail.  NAH!  Probably, these were the effects of hiking solo a three hour never ending climb...for whatever it is worth PINOY AIRMAN is sane.

Day 21 (10 April 2013, Wednesday) 10.6 Mi_131.4 Mi/Wesser Bald Shelter

The Sun sneaking at the Wayah Bald Shelter... 
...slowly but surely his coming out... 
Wake up the sun is's gorgeous--
it turned out to be a beautiful day.

Trail Magic at Cold Spring Shelter perpetrated by TLB and Bootscoot...
Pinoy Airman second day honoring Mike and Lewkas walking 10.6 miles from the Wayah Bald Shelter to Wesser Bald Shelter; It was hot but a nice hike.  TLB and Bootscoot provided some beef jerky, medicine, food, snacks, and other stuff at the Cold Spring Shelter.  Hiking 21.6 miles for two days was the least Pinoy Airman could do for Mike and Lewkas...may your souls rest in peace.

Day 20 (9 April 2013, Tuesday) 11.0 Mi_120.8 Mi/Wayah Bald Shelter

We found this bamboo cane in one of the "Outfitters" you know how much it cost?  Please take a guess...
What is this thing?  Is it a mushroom?
Wayah Bald National Forest
Observation Tower at Wayah Bald National Forest (5342 ft Above Sea Level)
View from the Observation Tower at Wayah Bald National Forest
Another view from the Observation Tower at Wayah Bald National Forest
This was the first of two days hike dedicated in honor of SPC Mike Lowery and Lewkas.  This was an 11-mile hike from Winding Stair Gap (109.8) to Wayah Bald Shelter (120.8).  Pinoy Airman kept thinking and praying for the two souls during his hike.  Assuming if they have lived, they would have accomplished much in life.  Pinoy Airman's left foot needs some TLC; heels were acting up.  Views from the Observation Tower at Wayah Bald National Forest were breathtaking--considered one of the "must see" locations in the AT and accessible from a vehicle.

SPC Michael Lowery Day

April 9 and 10 walk were dedicated to SPC Michael Lowery, born 30 May 1990, died 07 April 2013 and "Lewkas" (Richard's Grandson).

SPC Lowery was in the Wolverine Battalion (4-1 BSTB, brigade special troops battalion) 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division at Ft. Riley, KS.  Mike was an Army Combat Engineer (12B) in Iraq/Afghanistan and his job was to clear the roads of IED's (route clearances).

"Lewkas" was the grandson of our dear friend, Richard Virata, who joined his creator yesterday morning. He was only four years old and he died of brain tumor.

Both were young and full of life...Rest in Peace.  No problems no more...GODSPEED!  Please pray for their souls....

SPC Lowery's pics were provided by Chris.

Zero Day (8 April 2013, Monday) 00.0 Mi_109.8 Mi/Franklin, NC

Pinoy Airman was dedicating the next two days of hiking for SPC Mike Lowery (US Army credited with a tour in Iraq and Afghanistan), who passed away in Manhattan, KS last week.  He was Chris friend in the Army and they were both in Iraq at the same time.  Chris will provide Pinoy Airman with some details later.

Pinoy Airman also dedicating the next two days for Lewkas, Richard Virata's grandson.  Richard is our friend way back when they were stationed in Naples, IT and we were at Ramstein, GE.  Lewkas died of brain steam tumor and he was only four years old.

Mike and Lewkas will be in Pinoy Airman’s thoughts and prayers in the next two days during his hike.  Please include them in your prayers.

Day 18 (7 April 2013, Monday) 7.3 Mi_109.8 Mi/Winding Stair Gap

Back of the Long Branch Shelter in the morning...
AT sign at the Winding Stair Gap
Franklin, NC Town Hall
An old John Deere Farm Tractor...
Franklin Town time capsule--that's my shadow...
Seven days straight of hiking the AT was exhausting.  It was time for a much needed zero day, re-supply and shakedown. Pinoy Airman was planning to buy new hiking equipment to lessen the load once more.  The pics were taken at Franklin, NC where Pinoy Airman spent his zero-day with Liza.

Day 17 (6 April 2013, Saturday) 8.6 Mi_102.5 Mi/Long Branch Shelter

Beautiful morning...
You will see trail of bushes after Albert Mountain
The First Rock of Albert Mountain
View from the top of Albert Mountain
Another View from the top of Albert Mountain
Seal of the Department of Agriculture--embossed  on top of Albert Mountain
Observation Tower at Albert Mountain
Brand New Long Branch Shelter built in 2012
Another beautiful morning...
Please do not climb Albert Mountain from the Southern side because it is dangerous; if Pinoy Airman had known there was a blue blazed trail from the Northern side he would have not climb it from the Southern side.  Aside from being steep, it was also dangerous and one mistake can cause your life--literally.  Long Branch shelter was gorgeous and it sleeps at least 14 hikers.  BTW, it was all worth it because Pinoy Airman accomplished his first 100 mile-hike.