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We are thrilled to share our first update from Rex and Gerry Leonard who are hiking the Appalachian Trail to raise funds and awareness of PHWFF and the disabled veterans we serve.  Read about them and the inspiration for this adventure here:  Gerry and Rex Leonard Hike to Heal Veterans

Let’s show our support and wish Team Leonard our best as they continue with this courageous feat in support of the many disabled veterans whose lives will be changed as a result of their sacrifice.

We’ll be sharing much more from Team Leonard in the coming weeks and months!

Hey Folks…Team Leonard checking in with our first update of our hike down the Appalachian Trail. It is 26 June and we are taking a zero day (i.e., AT speak for a no hiking day. Time to rest the bones and muscles and get a decent meal). We started our trek on Father’s Day, 16 June by climbing up and down Mt.Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine and the official start point for southern bound AT hikers (aka SOBO hikers). For those tracking our miles…the five-thousand foot climb from the base to the top of Katahdin didn’t count towards our mileage goal! We simply had to climb to the top to officially start our journey.
We learned a few things on our four-hour climb to the top of Katahdin: (1) both of us were out of shape!; (2) never assume you’ve reached the summit until you see the sign that says you’re at the top!; (3) the reward (Katahdin’s summit) was worth the back-breaking effort.  Despite a grueling climb, the views from Katahdin’s summit were breath-taking and inspiring. And to see snow on 16 June…unbelievable!  The day after climbing Katahdin, Team Leonard headed south through Maine’s 100-Mile Wilderness. The 100-Mile Wilderness starts at Baxter State Park in the north and ends at Monson, ME in the south. It is the longest, uninhabited stretch of the AT…100-hundred miles with no sign of civilization; nothing but you and Mother Nature. The ruggedness and the natural beauty of the 100-Mile Wilderness needs to be seen to be believed…our words (and pictures to follow) will not do it justice.
For your next family vacation…recommend hiking the 100-Mile Wilderness!  Here’s our top observations of our first ten-days and 115-miles of hiking:
– Lack of Preparation. Physically, we were not prepared for climbing Mt Katahdin and the other peaks along the 100-Mile Wilderness. Truth be told, this observation was more applicable to me than Rex as I spent my days chasing him up and down the mountains. Logistically, we were way unprepared food-wise. We planned for about a third of the food we needed and had to request a resupply half-way through our trek down the 100-Mile Wilderness. Shout out to Ole Man and Easy Rock from the Appalachian Hikers Lodge for the resupply! By the time we reached Monson…I dropped 9 lbs; Rex dropped 8 lbs.
– People. The people we’ve met on the AT are amazing. They are the most eclectic group I’ve seen…all different ages, races and sexes. Some are traveling in teams, some are traveling solo, but all are charitable, generous, and supportive. The camaraderie among AT hikers is awesome and their spirit of adventure is inspiring.
–  The Reward is Worth the Effort.  Carrying 35-40 pounds up and down 3-4 mountains everyday is back-breaking when you’re not in hiking shape. But the sore muscles, bruised ankles and swollen feet were worth the reward. The views we saw from Katahdin, the Chairback Mountains, Barren Mountain and the Barren Ledges took our breath away. Postcard views. Memories for a lifetime. Peace and tranquility. Will post pictures when we have the bandwidth.
– Zero Day. We needed a day off. We averaged 11-12 miles a day on our trek through the 100-Mile Wilderness. On our longest day, we hiked nearly 20 miles. On our shortest day, we hiked slightly over 7 miles, We’re staying at Shaw’s Hiker Hostel (made famous in Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods”) in Monson with 30-40 other hikers and eating lunch/dinner at the Lakeshore House. The proprietors of both establishments (Poet and Hippy Chick at Shaw’s and Rebekah at Lakeshore) are fantastic, welcoming, and genuine. Love my Maine Yankees!
Until our next post, happy trails!  Team Leonard

As they so eloquently stated, “Our disabled veterans selflessly served our nation; they left a part of themselves on a faraway battlefield to defend our way of life and protect our freedom.  Though they never asked or expected anything in return, we owe them a debt of gratitude which we can never fully repay. We hope to raise as much money as possible to enable PHWFF to continue serving disabled veterans across the country and to increase the number of fishing and outdoor experiences they can provide. We want our disabled veterans to have as many outlets as possible that will allow them to overcome personal hardships and to find peace of mind.  We are firm believers (and scientific evidence seems to support) that recreating outdoors in our natural environment heals the mind and the body. “ 

You can support Gerry and Rex on their journey by making a donation below.