Meet Mama Goose. Also known as Hikergurl, also known as Sharon. Call her what you will, this woman is a pretty cool chick.
My mom and I were hiking southbound between Tesnatee Gap and Neels Gap last week, a part of the AT that most day hikers don’t explore. It was a beautiful day that couldn’t be wasted in the house, and by the looks of the parking lot at Blood Mountain other people had the same thoughts. Fortunately we chose a less crowded section, traveled mostly by ambitious thru-hikers.
We were mid-hike, about the time where you start thinking that you should just hike forever and never go back to society (just me?), when we stumbled upon a spring. We stopped to fill up on water and as we were getting back on the trail, we bumped into another thru-hiker.
We decided to stop and talk, and that’s how we met Mama Goose. Soon we learned that she was hiking for a cause; M. Goose had been in the United States Air Force and served as a medic in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War, and she was “walking off the war.”
Warrior Hike is a group inspired by Earl Shaffer. Shaffer decided to walk off the war in 1948, and consequently became the first person to hike the entire AT, from Georgia to Maine. According to Warrior Hike, “The Walk Off The War Program is designed to support wounded veterans transitioning from military service by hiking the Appalachian Trail.” It is completely sponsored, and VFWs from all along the trail meet up with them to provide physical, emotional, and moral support. A late start meant Mama Goose was hiking to catch up with the rest of her group, all of whom had received Purple Hearts.
After speaking with Mama Goose and letting her get on her way, my mom and I hiked on for a little while in silence. We were shocked and inspired, but most of all we were grateful that we were able to meet Mama Goose that day. The Warrior Hike is such an amazing testament to the power of the trail. I’ve always felt like hiking has done something for me, rejuvenated me, but the Warrior Hike is proof that the mountains, and the trail, give the room to heal.