My Hike of Hope

Don and Brent in the Woods

Don and Brent in the Woods

As I began to think about my upcoming thru hike attempt of the Appalachian Trail, I decided to refer to the journey as my “Hike of Hope.” After all there are many things I hope to accomplish as I travel northward toward Maine. To begin with, I hope that I’m able to make it all the way to the top of Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park. To do that I’ll have to stay healthy, remain injury free, receive the support of those I meet along the way as well as those at home, and stay mentally motivated and inspired throughout the trip. And of course, I hope that all these transpire for as long as I’m hiking.

In addition to thru hiking the entire 2185 mile length of the Appalachian Trail in one continuous venture, I also hope to achieve some other goals. One of those is to raise a significant amount of money for ALS research. People at the ALS Association are working diligently to provide for those afflicted with the disease as well as for family members of the stricken. They also contribute sums to ongoing research projects on a regular basis. The ALS clinic at Emory in Atlanta not only treats patients but also conducts studies in an effort to find a cure for the disease. Therefore, I have asked that all the money I raise be applied toward research in an effort to find a cure for ALS. Above all else, it’s my hope that a cure can be found and soon.

I also hope to raise awareness about ALS as I hike. Many today still do not know or understand the effects of the disease. I hope that we can all come to treat with compassion and respect those individuals who have been diagnosed with ALS. Because of this hike, I hope someone will be better prepared to deal with the illness if a family member, a friend, or that person himself becomes a victim. But foremost, I hope that a cure is found before any more diagnoses have to be made.

And finally, I hope to share my brother’s life, before and after ALS, with many. Just as I have written in the “Don Pages” on this web site, I hope to be able to speak to individuals and groups about his strong faith even in the face of a terminal illness. Don loved life, but he also knew of and expressed his belief in another life after this one. On many occasions Don stated, “I’m not afraid to die.” He knew that we are all transients on this planet. But he also knew where his soul was headed after he breathed his last breath on Earth. I hope that I’ll be able to share with others just how special my brother Don was. I hope all will come to appreciate and admire the way he lived his life.

Hope is a word that we sometimes use without really thinking. We might say, “I hope you have a great day” or “I hope it doesn’t rain this weekend.” Some regularly state, “I hope and pray” that this or that does or does not occur. We hope our careers succeed, we hope our children remain healthy and happy; we hope that our lives are meaningful. So as I embark on my journey north, I will hope daily. I will hope for health and safety; I will hope for cool breezes and sunny days; I will hope for beautiful vistas and wildlife sightings; and I will hope to spend many moments in quiet reflection with the memory of my brother. Yes, there are many things I will hope for as I set out on this long awaited journey along the Appalachian Trail.

10 Comments

10 thoughts on “My Hike of Hope

  1. May you be encouraged, uplifted, and full of God’s hope today, and may God use you to bring hope to those you meet on and off the Appalachian Trail. This blog is a beautiful tribute to your brother and your love for him. “But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.” ~ Psalm 71:14

    • alton

      Just read this one. Outstanding and touching. Now how much am I betting on you finishing???? Money well spent, whatever it is.

  2. Kimm Geise

    God Bless you Mike, will keep you on my Prayer list.

  3. Michael Browne

    Coach,
    A wonderful way to honor your brother. May God bless your efforts! Our family will be lifting up prayers from Portland OR.
    Michael Browne

  4. John Carroll

    Good post, Mike. I hope you make it, too! The church softball team’s first game is Tuesday, March 19. We are dedicating the season to Don.

  5. Chris Register

    Coach,

    What an amazing way to honor the memory and life of your brother! I’ll be praying for you. God bless!!!

  6. denton

    Look forward to your daily posting. Hope the weather is kind to you

  7. Denis Powers

    Mike,
    I’ve enjoyed reading your posts ever since we had a brief encounter just north of Bland, Va. Your stories and pix have brought back the memories of all my travels from Damascus to Delaware Water Gap. I put your pic and web address on Whiteblaze.net to help spread the word. Keep it up, stay safe, and God bless!
    Stinkbug

  8. Tonya Biondi

    Hi Don’s Brother, I just came across your blog thru a friend I hike w/. He sent me your info. on mosquitos in NJ b/c we are hiking the pochuck boardwalk and stairway to heaven tomorrow (6/29/13). We are debating b/c of your info. I looked at your blog site & wanted to share a group of friend of mine that climbed all peaks in the Whites to raise $ and awareness for ALS. I lead hikes for an outfitter company and am connected to this group. My friend, Donna Dourney, started Hark on the Horizon b/c her father, Charlie, had ALS. I only section hike a week at a time b/c I have little boys but hope to one day embark on the adventure you are on now. I know you have passed the Wawayanda area in NJ but I have a cooler set out w/ cold drinks for hikers. Pass the word. A little sugar goes a long way!
    He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything. ~ Arabian Proverb
    It is difficulties that show what men are. ~ Epictetus Discourses
    Wherever you go, go with all your heart! ~ Confucius

    God Speed to you!
    Tonya (Tutta)

    See video below from Hark on the Horizon’s journey / more videos on you tube also.

  9. Yesterday I made a decision to hike the Appalachian Trail and set my date for March of 2015. I was doing my homework, as I call it, and found your journal. I have been riveted to my laptop screen for the past few hours and I was not about to be interrupted by dinner (which I ate in front of the computer), it was BBQ chicken and something or other. See how much attention I paid to my plate? Bless your heart, you are on a wonderful, life changing journey and I commend you for carrying Don with you. As they say, he’s not heavy, he’s your brother. My father has Parkinson’s and I have Crohn’s. I guess, now that I’m 50, that there’s no time like the present. I want to do this journey and share the photos I take along the way with my father and family as I go and while I still can. I grew up in Galax, Roanoke, and Augusta County, VA there in the heart of the Appalachians and Blue Ridge Mountains and I can tell you, there’s a magic in them thar woods. I wish you the best and you just never know who you touch along the way. I’ll be keeping up with your posts, Don’s Brother. After all, I’m only on April’s posts at this juncture.

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