Walk Easy, Hike Strong: a Veteran’s Journey of Discovery on the Arizona Trail

American Trails Magazine (November, 2018) by Mike Buckley

Just the briefest moment of fear and concern might best describe the emotion I felt when I opened the January 26th 2018 email from Warrior Expeditions that said “we have an opening in our Warrior Hike Arizona Trail Program and since you were at the top of our alternate list, below is your acceptance notification.” Little did I know how much that email would impact my life.

On August 1st, 2017, I retired from the Army after more than thirty-two years of active duty service, Private to Staff Sergeant to Colonel, six deployments and three combat tours — and I was lost. Retirement was definitely not what I thought it would be. The culture I was attempting to become part of seemed to be diametrically different that the one I had immersed myself in for more than three decades. It was one that I assumed would welcome me, but to me had become more alienating than anything else; and I knew that was my fault and not that of society.

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