Every year, a number of hikers set their sights on trudging the woodland highway from one end to the other; some do it for the experience, while others set out to raise awareness for a cause. A Connecticut man began the journey on March 19th with the hope of inspiring others to find strength as they navigate the trail of addiction recovery, VPR reports.
Phil Valentine is no stranger to the journey of recovery; it's a path that he has been on since he put down cocaine and alcohol 27 years ago. Valentine is the executive director of the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR). Those in recovery are no strangers to ups and downs even when living a life free from mind altering substances; obstacles can arise at any moment that can test your recovery, requiring strength and perseverance. Valentine began the AT 5 years to the day after he was first diagnosed with stage four tongue cancer, according to the article.
As of August 18th, Valentine has hiked 1747.1 miles and has lost 50 pounds and no longer requires blood pressure or cholesterol medications, with 444 miles between him and Mount Katahdin. The idea of walking the entire trail came to Valentine while he was still being treated for cancer.
“It was really a calling, as I was healing from the treatment from cancer, to walk the Appalachian Trail, and my first response was, ‘The whole thing?’ And it was. 'Yes,’” recalls Valentine.
His journey is just as much about living healthy as it about being strong in recovery; two ways of being that are not mutually exclusive.