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Diagnosed with Terminal Cancer, Smokin’ Bear Heads for the AT

It’s official, our family just completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail this past September. To say this journey has been an adventure would be an understatement; mentally unpacking all that has happened along the way will likely take years.

One of the biggest impacts on our lives has been the trail community. We have met many wonderful people and made a pile of new friends – some for just a day, while others have been a part of our hike for weeks, months, and even the entire length of the trail.

One of the notable people we met on th e Appalachian Trail goes by the name of Smokin’ Bear. We first met Smokin’ Bear in Brown Gap where we and a glut(tony?) of other hikers were hanging-out taking advantage of some fantastic trail magic. What made Smokin’ Bear so memorable to us was his story, his reason for hiking the trail, and his outlook on the short time we have on this earth. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, his wisdom, attitude, and reasons for embarking on a thru-hike of the AT have given us a lot to think about.

We saw Smokin’ Bear many times after this and became friends along the way, but lost track of him somewhere after Pearisburg Virginia. We have no idea if he managed to finish his trek, nor do we know how his health has been holding-up.

Smokin Bear’, if you are still out there somewhere (on the trail or otherwise), know that we still think of you often. You are an inspiration to us, and you left an indelible imprint on our family trail experience.

This post was contributed by Trail Ambassador Damien Tougas

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15 Responses to Diagnosed with Terminal Cancer, Smokin’ Bear Heads for the AT

  1. John Bothof November 21, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    God bless you Smokin’ Bear. Praying for a miracle of healing as you journey as far as God will take you. Thank you for this post.

  2. Mac November 21, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    True courage.

  3. pihiker November 21, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    Found his hiking blog.
    It looks like his last post here was in March 2014……

  4. M November 21, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    Thanks for the video guys. I’ll pray that he recieves that miracle of healing. Attended HS in Ocala and enjoy hiking so I immediately felt a connection there. Hang in there Smokin’!

  5. Ken Downey November 21, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    Wow, some more of a story. Such an inspiration to me and others as well! God Bless Smokin’ Bear on all his future endeavors!!!!

  6. jeannie November 21, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    Dear Smokin’ bear. I believe in healing miracles and the mercy of God. Thank you for putting into words so beautifully what hiking the AT has meant to you. You and God in solitude on the trail traveling every step of this journey together. I pray He provides you with the strength you need. The inspiration in your story is that you have chosen to rise above your circumstances and experience the adventure, joy and love that this life has to offer. Healing thoughts and prayers coming your way.

  7. barefootsage November 21, 2014 at 11:23 pm #

    Wow. You are in my prayers to complete the trail and that in your deep connection to God you cure yourself of the cancer too. Much love to you sir.

  8. Pete McEvoy November 29, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    Good on yer Smokin’ Bear . . . .

  9. Kelly November 29, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    This has touched my soul. I hope to hear more of his story. I’m a cancer survivor and I lost both of my parents to it. His courage humbles me. I am awed.

  10. Deborah Deatherage November 29, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

    I pray you are healed my friend and finish your journey.

  11. ananonymust December 1, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    Take Care!

  12. Deborah Plummer December 2, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    What an inspiration you are for others struggling with cancer, keep strong and keep that wonderful attitude…. God bless your journey!!!

  13. paulluedtkePaul December 11, 2014 at 5:42 am #

    I met him and had lunch just before Trail Days in Damascus. He welcomed my prayers.

  14. Sandra Holland May 4, 2015 at 11:47 pm #

    I am praying for you Clifford. I went to high school with you. Had 1/2 of my graduation at your house in Hammond across from white castle in 1984. My name is Sandy Holland, went out with your brother Charlie’s best friend in High School Tim Brooks. My name is Sandy Holland. I live in Portage where Charlie lives. I rarely see him, but asked him about you on face book. My prayers are with you & your family.

    I remember smoking with you in High School. I hung out with Lila Roger’s & Robbin Gibbs. People remember be because I wore a back brace in High School at Hammond High. If you went there the moto was you went everywhere high! LOL I bet is might still be on the back of one of those buildings across from Hammond High. Lila Rogers went out with Darren Struggs in High School another good friend of ours!

  15. Rose November 18, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

    Came upon this and found that the video of Smokin Bear’s story
    is no longer available. Does anyone know where I can read about Smokin Bear’s AT experience. He sounds like a very inspirational hiker!

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