A Hike to Reconnect (and to support SWR)


A Hike with God on the Appalachian Trail

By Pat Illingworth

Pat Illingworth

Pat Illingworth

Pat Illingworth has been a very close friend of mine for about nine years now. We met at Gateway Church in Austin. There he followed his passions and volunteered extensively in the youth ministry. Like me, he gave up his engineering career and stepped into full-time ministry about the same time I did. He took a job at Gateway, and served as an outreach coordinator and assistant youth pastor. He also has enjoyed the outdoors, mainly wake boarding and snow boarding. However, he has done numerous long backpacking trips in the past. So now he senses he is being called into the wilderness again to reconnect with his Creator.

Pat on a Backpacking Trip Long Ago

Pat on a Backpacking Trip Long Long Ago

Reasons for Hike

Reconnect with God

Pat really doesn’t like the term “bucket list” and this adventure is not on a list nor will it ever be. This hike is so much more than just completing it and checking the box. It’s about being called out of the chaos that surrounds us to get closer to God by stepping into the wilderness. In the wilderness, the need for a schedule, a list, a plan or anything else will be stripped away. It is a reset, a chance to slow life down and ease back into what is important. He will be stepping away from conformity and stepping towards something unique.

Raise Funds for SWR

Pat also believes in the mission of the Sonshine Wilderness Retreat to the degree he is taking it to the Appalachian Trail. In addition to reconnecting with God, his desire is to raise funds as part of his hike, so the SWR ministry can get a kick-start in its operations. The fundraiser doesn’t have a name yet, but for now you can call it a hike-a-thon. The total length of the hike will be 2,180 miles, so people can give so much per mile or a flat amount. For example, if a person donated $0.10 per mile, the total donation would be $218.00. So if you want to come alongside Pat to help raise funds, you just need to click on – Sonshine Support. The page shows you several different ways you can donate

Starting and Ending Dates

app trail

Appalachian Trail

Pat plans to begin his hike on February 24, 2013 (his 49th birthday) and he should complete the trail sometime in September.

Starting and Ending Points

Pat’s starting point will be at Amicalola Falls State Park, about 90 miles north of Atlanta GA, and his finishing point will be at the summit of Mt. Katahdin in Maine, about 100 miles east of Quebec. The total length will be 2,180 miles and span 14 states. Click Here for an interactive map of the trail.

Plans Along on the Way

Pat has no plans or expectations! He will hike, enjoy God’s creation, take his time, be open to God’s word, take many pictures, meet new people, and make new friends. With a head and heart clear of commotion, he will be having on-going conversations with God, truly hear, and be open to whatever He says.

Type of Terrain to Expect

The terrain varies quite a bit over of Appalachian Trail. In the early stages of the hike, Pat will be traversing through several of the largest national forests in the US along the Southern parts of the trail. He will encounter lots of mud, roots and loose stone. The highest climb on the trail will be in Tennessee called Clingman’s Dome. As he gets out of the southern states, he will encounter more rocky terrain through Pennsylvania and New York. When entering into the New England area, Pat will be covering the most rugged part of the trail with sections that will require climbing with hands and feet.

Plan for Communication

Sadly, Pat will not be totally free of civilization. He will be dropping off the trail into towns every 3 to 5 days for rest, food and supplies. While in these small towns, he will call friends and family and provide updates on his blog (https://onthetrailwithgod.wordpress.com). We will also be keeping you updated on our Facebook page and website.

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