We Got a Call From Australia
December 11, 2016 12:01 PM   Subscribe

"M’Lynn needed help. Her husband, Paul, was a big guy with a quick wit, a kind heart and a deep passion for the outdoors. Last July, Paul passed away. Next to a full backpack, he left his three polished sets of hiking boots. We took those boots for a long walk. Together, the boots and those that carried them, covered the length of the Appalachian Trail." Paul's Boots. (YT)

"When Paul was 42, doctors diagnosed his mother with Parkinson’s. He nursed her for four years until her death. His father developed Alzheimer's. The gaps between hiking trips grew longer and longer.

Paul’s own health began to deteriorate. By 2014, he’d suffered a series of debilitating heart attacks. Even as his body failed him, Paul started to pack for the trip he’d dreamed of completing but hadn’t gotten around to — all 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail. He organized his food and gear. At night, he’d recount to 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.

In his final year, The Dirtbag Diaries was Paul’s gateway into the world of dirtbags and thru-hikers. M’Lynn’s hope was that we could gather as a community to get Paul’s boots out on the trail. "
posted by bondcliff (7 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
The Real Hiking Viking in the video is also know as Tom Gathman, he's a bit of a character. He's turned hiking into his full-time vocation, including a wintertime hike of the Appalachian Trail.
posted by peeedro at 12:43 PM on December 11, 2016

This is one of my very favorite kinds of things, bondcliff. Great post.
posted by mochapickle at 12:57 PM on December 11, 2016

I think, "The Real Hiking Viking" is really trying to downplay the whole extreme nature of what's been reported about him. The GQ article is just sorta silly.
posted by alex_skazat at 2:37 PM on December 11, 2016

Did the Viking complete the winter AT thru-hike?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:59 PM on December 11, 2016

As I inexorably approach the middle of my 6th decade, stories like Paul's hit home hard.

It's the suck when life gets in the way of your life.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:59 PM on December 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

Thanks, OP. I loved that.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:05 PM on December 11, 2016

Did the Viking complete the winter AT thru-hike?

Looks that way, here he is 78 miles from his finish line and he did an AMA on reddit afterwards. The section of the trail he carried Paul's boots on was part of his SOBO trip.

This Backpacker article about Paul's Boots also says the first hiker in the film, Daddy Long Legs / Alex, completed his hike. He writes about some of his about his trail experiences, including suffering a seizure on-trail. So it's good news he completed his journey.
posted by peeedro at 5:31 AM on December 12, 2016

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