5 National Parks.
And A LOT of Rad Hikers.
Once in a while, a story pops up in our news feed and we are consumed by it. The story of Paul’s Boots was just that. A simple post on Instagram by REI launched us into listening to the Dirt Bag Diaries Podcast interview with Paul’s widow, M’Lynn. We learned of a generous Australian Man who, after caring for aging parents & struggling with his own health issues, passed away in July 2015 prior to ever being able to fulfill his dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail. Even through his struggles, he continued to prepare for that hike. He listened to fellow hikers stories, made small survival items, and worked diligently on preparing his three pairs of hiking boots.
After processing his death and going through the motions of clearing out his hiking gear, M’Lynn had a request; she wanted to get Paul’s Hiking Boots on the AT in his memory. She reached out to Dirt Bag Diaries who broadcast Paul’s story and requested that anyone hiking the AT in the spring/summer of 2016 contact them to help transport Paul’s Boots. With an outpouring of love from the hiking community the rest is history.
We learned about this mission pretty late on, right as the boots were in their final month of heading towards Katahdin. Nonetheless we checked Instagram daily to check for any new pictures following #PaulWalksOn. There were beautiful photos of the boots posed at waterfalls, looking out over stunning vistas, and everything in between. One common thread I noticed about these hikers carrying Paul’s Boots was their connection to the story and the unifying theme to simply DO IT NOW! A hiker carrying the boots to honor his two brothers lost too soon. A man who hadn’t brought himself to get back on the trail after losing his beloved trail dog. This story was something that everyone could identify with: loss & purpose.
After reading through articles I discovered Paul had died of a heart attack on July 23, 2015. With this new revelation, I knew that I had to be part of this story too. You see most of July 2015 was spent with me visiting Cardiologists and enduring testing which led to me being fitted with a Pacemaker on July 28, 2015. Me and my heart were given a second chance at living our dream a mere five days after Paul passed away. The heart of my business has always involved using my jewelry as a means to bring hope & comfort to others. I knew that the proximity of these dates was not a mere coincidence, but in my opinion, a nod from God. I was strongly led to use my gift to craft a custom keepsake piece for M’Lynn.
After talking with Duct Tape Then Beer, I inquired if they could get me some soil. Not just any soil but that from the very pinnacle of the Appalachian Trail, Mount Katahdin. On the date that Paul’s Boots made their final ascent, a big old handful of dirt was collected and sent my way. I used this dirt & encapsulated it into a special bracelet. It was stamped Paul Walks On and GA —> ME.
The completion of one man’s journey was also a story that renewed hope in so many lives. Wherever you are Paul we are so very grateful for you and for M’Lynn’s vulnerability and willingness to share your story with the world.