200 Miles! This is for you Jim Hester.

Well, here I am at Twin Brooks Tenting site on a beautiful autumn day. I’ve walked 200 miles, thinking about people with Parkinson’s every step of the way.

In 2010, I hiked this stretch with Jim (“Rolling Thunder”) Hester, who passed away last year. I’ve dedicated this hike to him.

As I travelled over the rugged terrain up and over Bolton Mountain, I kept saying (out loud), “wow...,” thinking back 10 years to when Jim walked this trail with me. Then, he was about a decade older than I am now. And, he had PD. I was struggling to get myself up this hill.

I had to carefully navigate the loose rocks and gnarly roots, making sure not to slip or loose my balance. (Yes, this is the trail. See the tip of the ladder beyond the roots?)

I passed a spot near a beaver pond meadow where Jim did lose his balance and rolled partly down the bank. I helped him up. He shook it off. We carried on.

We landed where I am tonight, setting ourselves up for Mount Mansfield in the morning.

Above is the platform where Jim set up his tent. I have a photo of him there, smiling and holding up a little nip of something he carried in saying, “Cheers!” Tonight, I hold my tiny wine up in memory and honor of this person who I shared unforgettable moments with on the Long Trail.

It’s onward over Mansfield in the morning. I will be in the good company of family and friends so expect it to be another rewarding day.

I’ll be thinking of you Jim. And you Sarah. And all of Jim’s kids and family as I stand on top of Vermont. I hope some of you can get out this weekend and #walkwithzunibear in spirit.

Never Give Up. Never Give In.

To see photos of Jim in 2010, go to PFP 2010 Photos tab on the menu bar.