He wore size 13 boots. Despite a job as draftsman in the big city, he was happiest out on the trail. When Paul was 42, doctors diagnosed his mom with Parkinson’s. He nursed her for four years until her death. By that time, his father developed Alzheimer’s. The gaps between hiking trips grew longer and longer. By the time his father passed in 2011, Paul had two heart attacks. His love for the outdoors never diminished.
Even as his body failed him, Paul started to pack for the trip he’d dreamed of completing—all 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail. At night, he’d recount to his wife, M’Lynn, all he’d learned in his research. His heart no longer allowed him to walk much further than the end of his block, but his soul was ready to go. Next to a full backpack, he left his three polished sets of hiking boots. Last July, Paul passed away. He was 53.
As M’Lynn moved through the stages of grief, it came time to tidy up Paul’s gear for a trip he wouldn’t take. She had an idea—one last gift to the man she loved. She needed help. Could we and our greater outdoor community get these boots out on the trail?
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(via Hiking in Finland)