A Peak Performance to Give Urban Youth Options

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Grinding Halt

Posted by bruce on July 24th, 2012 at 4:05 pm

We’re still in Andover, ME at the Pine Ellis Hostel. Yesterday, we decided to slackpack ten miles (carry only the necessities of the day because a shuttle would pick us up at the end of the day and we would return to the hostel.) Six miles into our hike, I started getting diareaha. We descended into Sawyer’s Notch and I took by backpack off to splash water on my face. At this point I was fighting off throwing up and the cool water offered some relief, but as I stood up I tweaked my back and could not stand upright. So here we are at the lowest point of the trail staring a steep climb out of the notch and I can’t straighten my back and I’m drooling ready to throw-up. Paula asked whether we should press the button on our emergency beacon for a helicopter pick-up but said I wanted to try to make it out. We had four miles to go including that monstrous climb. I prayed for God’s strength and was finally able to stand upright in pain. We started climbing and every step was painful and my energy was so drained that I literally would take one step and stop, another stop and drool, another step and wince. Well we made it out and back to the hostel where I collapsed in bed and proceeded to throw-up repeatedly. I have never felt so weak. Later in the evening, Paula got the bug and started throwing up in bed. Apparentely, there is a bug that hikers are getting somewhere between Gorham, NH and Andover, ME. Many have been sick and we were no exception. Today, I’m starting to feel better. I still have the sweats, but I’m eating. Paula has started to eat dry toast but isn’t moving much from bed. We’ll take tomorrow off as well and try to hit the trail again on Thursday. My back is still tender and I’m concerned about carrying a full pack on Thursday. We only have about 230 miles to go so we’re close but we need strength. Paula lost so much weight during this hike that she is quite frail and she just lost another five pounds going through the Whites. I had hoped that by slackpacking we could have a light day of hiking and then eat well to put on some weight, but instead we’re doing the opposite. Please pray for strength and perseverence. We’re determined to make it.

Note: While Paula and I are out on the trail, several volunteers are helping me post content here. We thank you for the support you're expressing in the comments, although our sporadic Internet access doesn't allow us to reply immediately to everyone.

18 Responses to Grinding Halt



  2. Keith and shelly |

    I just read this to Keith over the phone and we are both praying…
    The verse that comes to mind is Deuteronomy 31:8, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
    The Lord your God (and ours) is with you. He will provide the strength and good health that you both need to finish this journey.
    “Be strong and courageous” and we’ll continue to pray you thru. All of our love is with you.

  3. Oh dear! Yes, you are most definitely in our prayers. There’s all kind of platitudes to fit this situation such as “it’s always darkest before the dawn”, but I prefer to believe that He who began a good work in you… etc. You are so far ahead of expectations, you can take the time to rest. Special prayers for your back and Paula’s appetite.


  4. You have done impressively well and really “taxed” yourselves. Now it’s time to absorb some serious “income” because without it you can’t pay those taxes. (Those of the more prosaic leaning may argue that point but don’t listen to them). We are praying for you that God will heal your bodies and guard your minds and souls. Wait on Him!


  5. I am so sorry you guys are having such a rough time, but I know you will get through this and come out stronger for the remainder of your hike. You have so many wonderful supporters and everyone is praying for you. Rest, recuperate, replenish and you will be rewarded. Looking forward to hearing how wonderful you feel once you are back on track!

  6. Laurie & Roger |

    Praying for both of you . . . may God renew your bodies and your spirits. Hoping that He will give you the strength you need to finish your journey. Trusting that He works all things together for good for those who love Him. Knowing that a little time and rest are often what He uses to work miracles.

    Love you both,

    Laurie & Roger

  7. What a bummer! After storming through the Whites and the Mahoosics you seemed like indestructible machines. I pray for patience … you have to be way ahead of original schedules and some time for recouping health and strength will be well rewarded. Hope your back holds up, Bruce. Will be thinking of you both on Thursday (tomorrow – my 72nd birthday) if you head back out onto the trail.

  8. Please make sure you are as close to 100% as possible before heading out. Don’t risk it. Your long term health means much more.

  9. Gail Trimbath |

    Bruce & Paula,

    Leroy & I are lifting you both up in prayer for recovery of your stomach bug!May God heal you & give you strength to finish your hike. We are so impressed & proud of you Paula & Bruce!

    Gail Trimbath

  10. The UIF staff will be praying for you. We really appreciate your perseverance and determination to tough it out for God’s plans!

  11. Len and Elizabeth vanHeest |

    So sorry a bug and sore back has taken you down. We are praying for your recovery. Your progress is amazing, take time to heal. Hugs from the van Heest family,
    Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand

  12. Maxine Palombia |

    I am sorry to hear of the trials that you have been going through. I am praying that the Lord will give you strength to continue on. I know He is there with you as you make this trek. I hope that Paula is not getting too thin. It is nice to be thin but I wouldn’t want to see her health suffer. I am sure you both have lost some weight. You are in my prayers every day. God bless you and keep you safe.


  13. Ron & Shirley Kummer |

    Bruce & Paula: We continue to keep you in daily prayer. With the hike almost over, we will double our prayers for your strength! Also we will pray for healing of your back & (of all things, weight gain for Paula) You two are a blessing and a powerfull sign of how God can move, true Christians to do for a wonderful cause! May Jesus continue to bless every step of this journey!
    Your brother & sister in Christ

    Ron & Shirley

  14. Praying for you Pastor Bruce and Paula. May God give you the strength and health that you need to finish this incredible journey of faith!! Love you, Cathy

  15. Julie Emanuel |

    Dear Bruce & Paula…

    you guys have been in my prayers nearly every day…and with this update which Rob alerted us to on the CCGF Facebook Page I will know specfically how to pray at this time.

    So sorry to hear that you’ve both been ill, and that weight loss has been an issue for Paula. Are there some different high-caloric foods that maybe you could both turn to (especially Paula) after you’re back on the trail?

    Praying for continued strength, and for God to continue to put people out there to support you, and to whom you can share the love of Jesus! Also praying that your financial goals for UIF will be met & exceeded!

    God’s Love to you both,


  16. Nicole Hartung |

    Dear Pastor Bruce and Paula: The CCGF children are still praying for you both. They are amazed at your progress thus far – especially your experiences with wild animals! They read your postcards with delight and study the map every Sunday. We are grateful for you both and that you are on this journey together. We praise God that you’ve made it to Maine and we will pray for strength, good health and endurance.

  17. I have been praying for your complete recovery. Yikes, I can’t imagine, there is a bug starting to go around Pittburgh too. You are so close!