23rd Annual Chuck Wilson Memorial Backpack for BENCHMARK 
October 5-8, 2017 (9 participants maximum)

This hike may kick your butt with big miles over multiple days creating even bigger memories. This is BENCHMARK’s most difficult open enrollment signature event of the year. It demands training and conditioning before the trip and determination on the trip. It’s a massive challenge with time to think, dream and pray in the beauty of creation. And great food, of course. You will make memories that you won’t soon forget.

BENCHMARK provides pre-trip planning, logistics, physical conditioning plan of action, food, group gear and even some personal gear for people who need it.

For those who choose to hike and raise funds for BENCHMARK, we ask participants to set a personal minimum fund-raising goal of $1000 each which will include your food, equipment, transportation and instruction. In the last two years, our hikers raised an average of $1750 each. Before and after the trip, it’s about fund raising. During the trip it’s about sharing life together, caring for each other, and having the trip of a life time.

This monumental Appalachian Trail trip makes a monumental impact by raising funds for BENCHMARK’s Chaplains Partnership Initiative, which encourages Chaplains and serves Soldiers.

In Her Own Words

Crystal Grove, 1st Time Backpacker, October 2016

“Thanks so much for letting me be a part of this amazing experience. It was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but I enjoyed every minute of it…well maybe not EVERY minute, but most of them.

It was a well planned and executed adventure and I appreciate all of the hard work that you put into it before, during, and after we were on the trail. You’ve got it down to a science that makes everything run so smoothly. I completely understand why Chuck was a fan. This type of thing was right up his alley!

I learned a lot about the difference between camping and backpacking (big difference!!!) and enjoyed meeting everyone who participated in the hike. I felt like we all worked like a well oiled machine and it was nice to be in such a friendly and welcoming group that didn’t get their feathers ruffled by a few bumps in the road.

I’ll be praying for your ministry and look forward to keeping up with BENCHMARK as the years go by. Who knows, I might even come back for another Chuck Wilson. We’ll see. I’m interested in seeing everyone’s pictures. I’ve attached a few of mine. Most weren’t very clear. I think my lens was fogged up. I wonder why?”

Click here to see why Crystal’s pictures were foggy.

2016 Trip Plan

43.6 Miles Appalachian Trail: Dickey Gap to Straight Branch
Note: The mileage in ( ) is the mileage for that day. The mileage in [ ] corresponds to the mileage from Springer Mountain, GA. BENCHMARK do not utilize AT shelters in this section.

Thursday, October 20, 2016
leave BENCHMARK HQ in Nashville by 2pm
camp at Hurricane Campground, Trousdale, VA

Friday, October 21, 2016 (16.1 miles)
(backpack from Dickey Gap to meadow near Wise Shelter [516.6 to 500.5]
Hurricane Mountain Shelter
Chestnut Flats
Fox Creek
Old Orchard Shelter
The Scales
Stone Mountain

Saturday, October 22, 2016 (15.9 miles)
backpack campsite near Whitetop Mtn Road [500.5 to 488.7]
Wise Shelter
Massie Gap
Fatman Squeeze
Thomas Knob Shelter
Elk Garden

Sunday, October 23, 2016 (15.7 miles)
backpack Whitetop Mtn Road to US58 / Straight Branch [488.7 to 473.0]
Buzzard Rock
US58
Lost Mountain Shelter
Virginia Creeper Trail
Straight Branch
Supper on the road
back to Nashville around midnight
Total Miles: 43.6

Step away from normal and toward adventure to think, pray, dream and create some memories too.