Man with A Story and A Message Deep in the Woods

You just never know who you might run into, even when you are walking deep in the woods. Last Saturday, we decided to go on a fairly long trek in the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. It was a clear brisk morning and a great day to be outside. About half way into our hike, Morgan, Ellie, Pam, Jerry and I stopped at the end of a trailhead on a dike to refresh ourselves with water, fruit and snacks. Just as we stopped, I looked up and a guy walked up with carrying a small backpack. Thinking he was walking one of the local trails, I asked him where he was hiking. He replied, “I just walked from Key West”.  Yikes!

He said he left 66 days ago on December 18th and was traveling to Pensacola to pick up his bike. At this point he said he was 944 miles into his journey.

The story he shared (and it is on his website at is : “Some years ago I had a dream I’ll never forget. In this dream I died and went to heaven. I was standing in a line of the recently dead, waiting my turn to check in with St. Peter. I could see him up the line with his white beard and long robe, standing at a podium right in front of the pearly gates. On the podium was a large book which he would refer to now and then. When it was my turn I stepped up to him meekly. The old man looked at me, looked down at the book, and looked at me again. Then he said to me very clearly, “Why didn’t you take advantage of what they had to offer down there?” End of dream”.

He goes on to say, “that dream had a powerful effect on me. It turned out to be the single event that started me on a brighter and more fulfilling way to look at life. No more would I work at a job I didn’t like. No more would I blindly follow the path that others had laid out for me. No more would I waste my time in idleness. There were so many things I’d never done, places I’d never been, people I’d never met. Within a month I had quit my job and was preparing for my next adventure”.

According to his website first he completed the Appalachian Trail starting in Georgia and finishing in Maine. He then biked from Maine to Key West.

As for the Florida Trail, he told us it was 1/3 roads, 1/3 water; (wet; partially as a result of all the recent rains) and 1/3 beautiful. He did not carry a tent and apparently filtered a bit of his water from streams and lakes.

He has a very interesting story and very good message about getting the most out of life. While you don’t necessarily have to quit your job and walk across the country but, you can make changes in your life to make it more fulfilling.

Maybe we could all use a bit of his advice. Don’t wait until it is too late.

No excuses, grab a friend or family member, or go solo, take a stroll, slow down your moving too fast. Take a walk up to it and through it. This is your life, make a choice to start living it! It starts with the first step.