My hike would not exist without sponsors. I simply did not have the financial resources, as a 17-year-old, to hike the trail, with or without my Internet-based resources. My sponsors have all sponsored me out of a love for the trail and the kindness of their hearts, very little more has motivated them.
Comet.Net, the Charlottesville On-Line Metropolitan Network, was my main sponsor. James Arnette, President of Comet.Net, employed me when I began my hike. He paid for most of my computer hardware, all of my phone calls, for 99.9% of my food, lodging and travel expenses. He got me out of every jam I managed to get myself into, by talking slowly and using short words, by harassing people until they helped me out, or sending people save me. Make no mistake, my hike would not exist without Jim Arnette and Comet.Net. Comet.Net is no longer in business.
The Outdoor Store, an outdoor recreation store in Charlottesville, paid for or helped me acquire most of my equipment. I had some equipment for my hike, but it consisted of hand-me-downs and low quality gear. Paul Marx, owner of The Outdoor Store, gave me a $700 shopping spree at The Outdoor Store, knowing very little about my hike. He advised me on what to get, what to skip, and his employees saved me from myself a few times. He promoted my hike in his store and enthusiastically supported me every step of the way. If it weren't for Paul, I would have frozen in the Whites and fried in Pennsylvania, chafed my shoulders all the way up the trail and broken my feet even more times. The Outdoor Store is no longer in business.
Mountain Hardwear sponsored me at the prodding of The Outdoor Store. I had never considered asking them to sponsor me, and I'm awfully glad that they did. They provided my Ethereal Gore-Tex jacket and rainpants, an all-season protective layer that sells for over $600. I carried it in Spring and Fall. I stayed dry and happy. And, thanks to Mountain Hardwear, I didn't die in The Whites. And I honestly believe that I would have run a high risk of hypothermia in New Hampshire and Maine if Mountain Hardwear hadn't provided this for me. Mountain Hardwear is a classy, top-notch company providing first quality equipment.
360° Communication provided my cellular phone and my service. All that they wanted, like the others, was a link to their website. I spent all of 10 minute speaking to the Charlottesville representative, and he told me I could pick up the phone in a couple of days. That was it. They provided much of my voice and data communications, permitting me to engage in this unusual Internet-entangled hike. The Motorola flip-phone always worked. I had equipment that was intended just for backpacking, claiming to have undergone years of test, that did not perform as well as this phone. While the cellphone carriers in the south (unconnected to 360°) were sketchy, at best, when I was in Sprint/360 regions, it always worked. An on-line hike like this would have been impossible without 360°. 360° Communications has been purchased by Alltel Communications.
Mike Nemeyer, Patrice Keyger, Dan "Wingfoot" Bruce and Nan Leninger all donated money to my hike, in varying amounts. Their combined efforts enabled me to buy over $500 of equipment and food for my hike. (This thru-hiking stuff gets expensive.) And they didn't do it for anything except to be nice. (I'd never even met, talked to or e-mailed Nan! She just liked my site.) People like this make the world a better place.
There were a lot of people who contributed to my hike in other ways, some with intent to help and some without knowledge that they did anything. All the money and gear in the world aren't worth a damn if your heart isn't in it. These people helped keep me facing north and putting one foot in front of the other.
Troop 601 of Columbia, Maryland, Troop 7 of Free Union, Viginia, Dave Slezak, Fred Williamson, Gio McMurray, Ryan Williamson, Noah McMurray, Jim Arnette(s), Pvt. Sarah Connell, Dan Bruce, Andy Hiltz, Kathy Bilton, the ATML, my family, every last employee of Comet.Net, Tim Carroll, Chaos New Media, Peter Griesar, Amber Capron, The Traveling Garveys, everybody I hiked with, from Snail to Mud to Wiggly to Seeker, George Szbad, Gene Barretta, ALDHA and Mallfellows Local 151. This hike is for you.