Semper Hike: A Former Marine Takes On The Appalachian Trail


My friend, Bill Laliberte left today for his solo thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. For those of you who don’t know, this is a 2200 mile hike from Georgia to Maine.

AT Map

It’s a wicked big deal. Normally I wouldn’t write a post about something as personal in nature as my friend’s adventures, but there was something very poignant about his departure that I’d like to share with you.

As we were discussing his preparations for the past few months, I wondered exactly what was compelling him to do this. Aside from the obvious awesomeness of the hike, I felt there was something underneath it all that I wasn’t fully understanding. We had a great time over the Winter, chatting up gear, awful trail food and the various landmarks he’ll encounter along the trail. It seemed it was always on his mind. I suppose it should have been. After all, he was planning to live in the woods, alone, for half a year.

But still I wondered, what would compel him to walk away from his career in the tech industry to go for a long hike by himself.

Bill on a training hike last month.

Bill on a training hike last month.

This morning when I picked him up, his mood seemed tempered. I expected a bouncing Bill, full of excitement and nerves. Instead, he was quiet and a little slow to pick up his 24lb base-weight trekking pack.

“What’s up, Bill? How are you feeling about all this?” I asked him, while he was going through his final check list and saying goodbye to his family.

“A little nervous,” he replied. “It sorta reminds me too much of prepping for my deployment to Kuwait. I was shot at there, and nearly blown up. I hope this trip is better.”

Bill- This trip will be WAY better. Back in the late nineties, you hiked hundreds and hundreds of miles, with a 75 pound assault weapon strapped to your chest, for your country and to help free thousands of tortured souls. Now, in 2013, you have the chance to do it all for yourself, carrying nothing but a pack on your back, the support from your friends and the pride you have for serving all those years ago.

No matter if you make it one day or all 2200 miles, you will be successful, for you have gone for it and that’s a lot more than most people ever do. Go Bill!

I’ll be updating Bill’s progress here on the blog but if you’d like to follow his adventure yourself, please like his Facebook page at

Justin Chase

Justin "Cracky" Chase is the author of the online journal, Outdoors, By Cracky! Want to get outdoors in New England? Follow him!