A veteran completes his hike on the Appalachian Trail

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Maine (WABI) – A veteran who returned home from a deployment in Africa completes quite an adventure in Maine.

She received a lot of help from a veterans program and from the community.

Photojournalist Mark Rediker caught up with her as she completed the final section of the Appalachian Trail.

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

“Basically, I was informed that I was going to be deployed to Djibouti, Africa, with the Navy reservist, and I knew that when I got home I would have some free time before returning to the work, and I wanted to do something constructive.”

“So I basically came on the Appalachian Trail just to see if this is something I thought I could do.”

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

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

“It’s basically that group of supporters, whether it’s VFW, or just normal people who have family or friends who have served or have served or been on Warrior Expeditions in previous years, or just people who heard about the program and said they wanted to help.

“So I started in Georgia at Springer Mountain. I did the approach trail. I found some amazing, amazing people, and it’s both on and off trail.

“There are individuals that you meet on the trail, they come from the streetcar lines, like your trail family, and they’re basically people that you all have the same common goal to get to a point and then you help each other the along the path.”

“Like if anyone needs something, a random stranger will be like, oh, I’ve got this, and we’ll pull it out of their bag and share it.”

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

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

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

“It’s a trail community, and the support is at its peak, and the Warrior Expedition, we’ve been supporting them for 12 years now, and we’ve had a lot of great people doing it,” said Buck Buchanan, a angel trail.

“Each image tells a story of the different hikers who passed from founder Sean Goben to the group that passed, a married couple that passed,” Suzanne Buchanan said.

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

“And they really made a difference for me and made my mum feel a lot better at home.”

“When they join us, we are the last stop. Before the 100 miles in the wilderness, we are their last supporters, and it’s really time for them to reflect,” said Suzanne Buchanan.

“I don’t believe they even covered 2075 miles. They have another 100 to go through and take time on their accomplishments and reflect on what they have accomplished.

“Because next week some of them just want to turn around and head south, but really there’s a whole world waiting for them.”

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