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Warrior Hikers stop at Dover Inn
DOVER PLAINS — On Sunday, July 12, nine combat veterans stopped at The Inn at Dover Furnace to take a break from hiking the Appalachian Trail. They have completed more than 1,400 miles of their 2,186-mile hike of the “Walk off the War” program.
The hikers started their trek on March 14 and will finish on Sept. 11.
The Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail Community (HVATC) hosted a barbecue dinner for the warriors in partnership with Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) Post 5444 and American Legion Posts 1949 and 215.
“Part of trail town support is having the local veteran organizations here,” said Co-Chair of HVATC Board Stancy DuHamel. “Dover Plain’s VFW, Pawling American Legion and Wingdale American Legion are all here.”
Part of the “Walk off the War” program is to socialize the veterans and reacquaint them with civilian life. HVATC signed up to offer trail town support in 2013, according to DuHamel. The warriors decamped in Pawling at Native Landscape and were invited to attend dinner and sleep over at The Inn at Dover Furnace.
“Like any trail town support, we give them dinner,” said DuHamel. “Dover Furnace is putting them up for free and it allows them to meet and talk with people. Part of the “Walk off the War” program is meeting people in the communities.”
It all started when Founder and Executive Director Sean Gobin left the Marines and hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2012.
“Most of the trail town support have been VFWs. Sean stopped at VFWs along the way when he hiked. They put him up and fed him dinner,” said DuHamel. “When he started Warrior Hike, he contacted all those VFWs and American Legions.”
While Gobin tackled the Appalachian Trail, he realized it would be a great program for veterans to come home to — a time for veterans to think and clear their minds.
This is Warrior Hike’s fourth year in action. Gobin was recently recognized by CNN as a CNN Hero for helping combat veterans heal.
“For me, I’m glad to get the recognition because it validates the program,” said Gobin. “Hopefully it will bring in more resources for the following years and more veterans on the trails.”
Warrior Hike will be expanding its availability to more veterans with its addition of Warrior Paddle, which will be starting next week.
“It’ll be a paddling trip down the entire length of the Mississippi River,” said Gobin. “The reason we came up with it is for veterans who have injuries that don’t allow them to hike; they can paddle instead.”
Warrior Hike documents the journey of the veterans on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“If people want to follow the journey of the hikers, we chronicle the hikes on our social media accounts,” said Gobin. “It’s for people who want to see who is on the trails and what they’re doing.”
Hiker Michelle Revoir, who was a part of the United States Air Force from 2003 to 2014, called the hike an adventure.
“I’ve made lots of friends in the trail towns doing events like this one,” said Revoir. “I’ve also made some new Facebook friends. Today, I met a couple that’s going south bound that I’m pretty sure we will be friends with after the hike.”
Hiker Nathan Buchholz, who was a part of the United States Army from 2009-2015, said the hike has provided him a chance to think. Revoir agreed.
“It’s given me clarity on what I’m going to do after the military as a career,” she said.
Revoir is unsure as to where she wants live, but is leaning toward moving to Germany or Connecticut.
“I don’t know exactly where, I just know what I want to do,” said Revoir. “I either want to stick with photography, do adventure photography or be a wilderness instructor and educator.”
Buchholz and Revoir also agreed that they are both looking forward to cooler temperatures as part of the rest of their journey. Revoir said she has something even more exciting than cooler weather to look forward to after the hike.
“Picking up my daughter,” said Revoir when asked what her first plans are when done with the hike. “I’m really, really excited to pick up my daughter.”