August 16

.I did 22 miles today and I’m in my tent about three miles from Herrington, Kansas. And at this very moment, the coyotes are singing for me. I love coyotes. As I was pitching my tent just off a very muddy road running through a ranch property, a gentleman pulled up and said, “I’m glad you’re enjoying my property.” I said, I didn’t know where to go ask for permission and I didn’t see a “No Trespassing” sign and so I figured it would be okay.” “Of course it’s okay, what’s the use a havin’ something if you can’t have the joy of sharing it? I’ll tell you though, the ticks have been bad, pulled one off myself yesterday. Here, take this can of OFF sir and spray yourself good now.”

Only one other person stopped today. A fine young soldier stationed at Ft Riley, Chase Von Tersch. He took our pictures together to post on his site on The Vine blog where he says he has 150,000 followers. So, here is a story from 2000 when I was finishing my hike of the Appalachian Trail hike I think appropriate since I’m in military country right now:

“Somewhere near Wingdale, New York, I had hiked out to the road wanting to get a room and out of the rain. I came upon a gentleman, about my age, sitting in the drizzling rain fishing in a small stream or pond, not sure which, couldn’t see past the trees. Though it seemed quite cold to me, he was wearing but a tee shirt and was barefooted. I greeted him; he smiled and asked was I hiking all the Appalachian Trail. I told him yes, but that I was heading for town to get a motel for the night. He said he was just giving up on fishing and would be delighted to give me a ride to a motel. I accepted and then he immediately asked, “You’re not quitting the trail, right?” I told him I was not quitting and it was just for the night to get out of the rain.

As I was climbing into his old pickup I saw a very small sticker on my side of the windshield that said, “U. S. Navy SEAL Teams” and I immediately said, “You’re a SEAL?” he didn’t answer. As he was starting the truck he looked over at me and asked again, “Now you’re not planning on quitting your hike, right?” “No, I am not quitting.” I said. We rode a little way in silence but my curiosity just wouldn’t let it go, and so I said, “I only live about thirteen miles from the U.S. Navy UDT/SEAL Museum in Ft. Pierce, Florida.” His face lit up immediately and he excitedly said, “Really, I was just there in November!” I had found out what I wanted to know, November is when the SEAL’s have their annual muster at the UDT/SEAL Museum and most former SEAL’s try to attend. He never said another word about being a SEAL, but as soon as we pulled up in front of the motel he said, “You promise you’re not quitting and you’re going all the way, right?” “Oh yes sir, I am going to hike all the way to Mt. Katahdin in Maine!” I assured him. “Good, good! The best of luck to you sir!” the former U. S. Navy SEAL Team member said.

The man, being about my age, and once a member of the SEAL teams, almost assuredly had to have been in serious combat during the Viet Nam war. The man just wanted no part of quitting, fascinating.”