On sunny Day 163 of our Appalachian Trail hike, we are staying at Vanessa’s Salisbury, Connecticut home. Beautifully restored, this 300-year old house is a respite for hikers and Vanessa is a gracious hostess who opens her home to total strangers. We relished a hot shower and look forward to sinking into a real bed with pillows.
Chief and I are enjoying our hike through New England and in the past week have walked over one hundred miles. We climbed Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts and several smaller mountains on our way to Connecticut. We have now completed 1,886 miles and ten states of the A.T. (Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts). There are 303 miles remaining that, Lord willing, we can finish by mid-October.
There are many heroes along the A.T. and some we met recently. Hendo and Hendo’s Mom passed us in Massachusetts. Hendo serves in the military and is an Iraq veteran. Her mother is 66 years old and the pair have been thru-hiking the trail for the past 16 months. Hendo’s mission is to raise awareness for the issues of post-traumatic stress disorder and veteran suicide.
Another hiker wears prostheses after losing an arm and a foot, plus sight in one eye, while serving in our military. This wounded warrior is attempting a thru-hike of the A.T. and is unquestionably a true hero!
Two section hikers we met over the weekend shared that they had undergone a total of five hip replacements between them. Even with multiple surgeries the pair was out on the trail hiking and enjoying the Massachusetts scenery.
Two women with the combined trail name, “The Meandering Moms” said that this is their 19th year section hiking the Appalachian Trail. The Moms, clothed in rain gear, were hiking on a chilly wet day determined to achieve this year’s mileage goal so that they are poised to finish the northern most portion of the trail next year. An older hiker named Beepo is still heading north even though he knows he won’t have enough time to finish before Maine’s bad weather moves in. He says he will come back next year to finish. Their tenacity is admirable.
Meeting these heroes makes us realize that many brave men and women undertake challenging adventures, including hiking 2,189 miles on the Appalachian Trail. They are an inspiration to us.
Others we have recently met on the trail include Hat Man, who hikes sections of the A.T. each year wearing a different hat for each section, and a group of six from New York who each year hike different sections of the trail in Massachusetts.
This hike has given to us countless moments to reach out to others, sharing our story, and listening to the stories of others. It reiterates the fact that relationships are more important than miles.
Celebrating Heroes on Life’s Path, Chief and Toad