Heroes Among Us

When we are out on the trail, we meet many sorts of people. They come from all corners of the country and from the world. And if we have learned anything over the 800+ miles we have completed of the Pacific Crest Trail, it is that everyone has a story. We didn’t approach our segment-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with a story of our own. But soon enough we had one: Patti’s diagnosis of invasive breast cancer, her resolve to continue hiking through treatment, and fighting against cancer becoming her only world.

We got to thinking the other day of people we know who achieved amazing feats. Just like the hikers we meet on the trail, they, too all have interesting stories.

John Casterline
John reached out to Patti about a year ago when he picked up our book, “Hiking Cancer“. He recognized similarities of his story with Patti’s. Despite John’s 2006 lung cancer diagnosis, and a string of other cancers that took him through treatments lasting until 2011, John began working on hiking the Pacific Crest Trail once he was done with radiation. His inspiring story is told in his book, “Peaks & Valleys: A Hike of Hope,” available on Amazon or from the author at  www.johnbcasterline.com . Other sites of interest are lungcancerhike.org and postholer.com/tnx4asking . We made plans to meet up with John on our last hike in the Kings Canyon area. We were excited to learn that coincidentally we would be hiking the same section of the PCT about the same time. John was going south and we were going north. Unfortunately John had to get off the trail early due to his health, and ironically, because of the Rough Fire, we did, too. Hopefully, our paths will cross this year.

Eileen Comeaux
Eileen, Patti’s aunt who lives in Hawaii, is a farmer by trade. She provides fresh produce to the local Maui restaurants and sends beautiful, natural Hawaiian flowers throughout the country. We’re all from Iowa originally, home of The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). I’m not sure why or when Eileen decided that she wanted to attempt the 450+mile bike ride. But three years ago, at age 60, she went out and bought herself a bicycle, trained for months on end and made her arrangements to participate. However, in the December before RAGBRAI, Eileen was diagnosed with lung cancer and would require a portion of her lung removed. Somehow, undaunted, in the six months between her surgery and the start of RAGBRAI, she managed to recover and received blessing from her doctor to do the ride. She finished it healthy and happy, a real fighter for what she wanted. Eileen is too modest to have written much about her experience, but you can find out more about Eileen and her business, Hana Herbs, by visiting www.hanaherbs.com .

Evy Schnee
I knew Evy as a kid as the trusted secretary of a family friend’s grocery distribution company in Sioux  City, Iowa. We most recently were re-introduced, sadly, at that very employer’s funeral about 13 months ago. At that time, Evy, at age 67, was planning a hike of a large segment of the Appalachian Trail (AT). The AT is a trail similar to the PCT in that it is a North/South trail, and goes from (nearly) border to border. But it’s otherwise quite a different trail. And for sure not any easier. There is always a certain understated yet strong camaraderie among hikers and when the subject came up between us, the conversation flowed. We since followed Evy best we could (as she didn’t publicly write a lot about her experience), but her story was, nonetheless, picked up by a few media outlets including her local paper and gym. You can read a bit about Evy’s hike by clicking here. She started the A.T. in Harpers Ferry, WV on May 10, 2015 and summitted Katahdin, ME on October 5, 2015. She did this mostly alone.

There are a slew of other inspiring people we have met or who have reached out to us, too many to list here. But the list includes, Alyssa Pension and Sara FryWe wish them all well.



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