Veteran is finishing hiking the Appalachian Trail

Published: Jul. 23, 2022 at 9:57 PM EDT
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Maine (WABI) - A veteran who has returned home from a deployment in Africa is finishing up quite the adventure in Maine.

She’s had a lot of help from a veterans program and the community.

Photojournalist Mark Rediker caught up with her as she finishes the last section of the Appalachian trail.

“So, she said me today, this is where we started, and the way it appears right here, this is all I have left,” said Casey Bergschneider, veteran hiker.

“Basically I was notified that I was going to be deploying to Djibouti, Africa with the Navy’s reservist, and I knew that when I came home that I would have some time off before returning to work, and I wanted to do something constructive.”

“So, I basically came out to the Appalachian Trail just to kind of see if it’s something that I thought I could do.”

“When I was coming out to scout the area, I saw a van parked on the side of the road, and it was white van, and it had almost like a symbol on the side of it.”

“When I googled the image, I found out about this group called Warrior Expeditions which specializes in veterans returning from combat zones.”

“It’s basically this group of supporters, whether it be VFW, or just normal people that either have family or friends that served or served themselves or had taken part in Warrior Expeditions in previous years, or just people who heard about the program and said that they wanted to help.”

“So, I started off at in Georgia at Springer Mountain. I did the Approach Trail. I found amazing, amazing people, and that’s both on and off the trail.”

“There are individuals that you meet on the trail, they come tramlines, like your trail family, and it’s basically people that you guys all have the same common goal to reach one point, and then you help each other out along the trail.”

“Like if somebody needs something, random stranger will be like, oh, I have that, and we’ll pull it out of their bag and share.”

“And probably the most, like iconic moment is it’s very hard to get fresh fruits and vegetables along the trail. And, this girl just pulled out a bag of carrots, and it was like Christmas.”

“There are parts on the trail where water has been a problem because it’s been a very hot dry summer, and just random individuals, we call them trail angels, will leave things like big gallons of water for no reason other than the kindness out of their hearts.”

“A trail angel is one who provides trail match,” said Suzanne Buchanan, a trail angel.

“It’s a trail community, and the support is all the way up, and the Warrior Expedition, we’ve supported them for 12 years now, and we’ve had a lot of wonderful people doing it,” said Buck Buchanan, a trail angel.

“Each picture tells a story of the different hikers that came by from the founder Sean Goben, to the group that came through, a married couple that came through,” said Suzanne Buchanan.

“For me that was huge. I don’t think without the community supporters I would have gone as far as I have already,” said Bergschneider.

“And, they just they really made the difference for me and made my mom feel a lot better back at home.”

“When they get to us, we’re the last step. Before the 100 mile wilderness, we are their last supporters, and it’s really a time for them to reflect,” said Suzanne Buchanan.

“I don’t even believe it that they’ve done 2075 miles. They have 100 more to go and to take time on their accomplishments and to reflect on what they have accomplished.”

“Because next week, it’s so some of them want to just turn around and head south, but reality it’s is a whole big world waiting for them.”

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