Former Marines hiking Appalachian Trail for fallen comrade - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Former Marines hiking Appalachian Trail for fallen comrade

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Jeff Fowler hikes down Clingmans Dome Road toward Newfound Gap while detouring from the Appalachian Trail due to heavy rains. Photo by Adam Lau/News Sentinel Jeff Fowler hikes down Clingmans Dome Road toward Newfound Gap while detouring from the Appalachian Trail due to heavy rains. Photo by Adam Lau/News Sentinel
GATLINBURG, TN (News Sentinel) - The skies over Gatlinburg were cloudy. A light rain fell throughout the day, but the streets and sidewalks were packed with families on spring break. A digital thermometer outside a downtown bank registered 50 degrees.

Meanwhile, at Newfound Gap, about a dozen Appalachian Trail thru-hikers shivered in the parking lot as they waited to hitch rides down the mountain to hot showers and warm motels. At an elevation of 5,046 feet, Newfound Gap was in the clouds. The temperature was 35 degrees and it was raining much harder than down below.

Among the thru-hikers that reached Newfound Gap that afternoon were two former Marines named Jeff Fowler and Don Nguyen. This was their third week on the trail, and they had seen the sun only once.

“The clouds didn't break till our second day in the Smokies when we got to Rocky Top,” Fowler said. “This has been tougher than I expected.”

Read more from our news partners at the Knoxville News Sentinel.
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