Mark's Long Walk Home
My name is Mark Yaeger, and I'd like to ask for your help.
I’m a 36 year old professional ski patrolman at Aspen Highlands in Colorado. In 2005, I developed Type 1 diabetes. Along with the known physical complications and constant difficulty in properly managing the disease, it had another effect on me that proved to be even tougher: It diminished, on a fundamental level, my self-confidence and the belief I once had in my ability to persevere and overcome obstacles and challenges. Having grown into young-adulthood healthy and active, I felt as though I was resigned to living within parameters, as I was faced with the reality of daily medication and inconsistent health.
I've worked hard to improve my health in a demanding lifestyle, and have been slowly rebuilding the confidence to really challenge myself.
For years, I've had the dream of "thru-hiking" the Appalachian Trail. Having grown up in northern Maine, I wanted to complete the entire trail and finish, literally, at my front door. After 2005, I had all but given up on the idea, but have finally reached a point at which, I feel, I can make it a reality. The trail, stretching from Georgia to Maine, is a lengthy undertaking - one which I cannot complete on my own.
I would like to ask for your help in reaching my financial goal and setting out to fulfill a dream. Five to six months of food and equipment are only a portion of the total cost, which must include transportation and, most importantly, continued health insurance coverage and medical supply costs.
In addition, I have connected with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Any funding that I am able to raise beyond my goal will be donated to JDRF to help in its goal of finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes.
I would be humbled and grateful for your contribution to my goal, may it be financial assistance or simply an encouraging word. Please feel free to pass this along to anyone who might be interested, or contact me for further details.
I thank you for your time, and hope that you're enjoying a happy and healthy new year!
As I write this, I am watching the sun come up from a shelter at Sassafras Gap near Bryson City, NC. Yesterday marked two weeks into my hike, and things are going well. There are certainly tricks to learn to save weight and time out on the trail, and it takes a little time for your feet and legs to get used to the miles you've begun piling on to them. But the hiking has been beautiful and, despite a few chilly nights, things are great.
If you would like to follow along on my journey, you can find me at Mark Yaeger on Facebook or markyaeger78 on Instagram and Tumblr. I post or text when service allows, so if you have questions about the trail, or just want to say hello, I'd love to hear from you.
With the help of this site, and other private donations, I have been able to get most of the way to my goal, which I find just incredible. Again, anything exceeding my goal will go to JDRF for diabetes research.
Have a wonderful spring, thank you again, so much, for all of the help in setting out to fulfill a dream, and I'll try to keep the updates coming. Take care. -Mark
My departure draws nearer! Just over a month until I head for Georgia and the beginning of the AT. There's a lot to get done between now and then, but I know it'll work out.
Thanks to some generous private donations, I am just past the $8500 mark in my fundraising effort! On top of that, the amount of positive encouragement I've received has been overwhelming. It feels good to have so many people in your corner.
A particular thank you to my friend and fellow patroller Pork Chop, who has handed down a great deal of trail wisdom from his own thru-hike some years ago. Also, many thanks to my friend Kate Howe, who has given of her time to help me with gear requests and to prod me into becoming more familiar with social media. Stay tuned, as I plan to bring you a couple of ways to follow my progress north!
I recently had the chance to speak with Pat McFeeley and Robert Garelick, two men devoting a great deal of time to helping JDRF research a cure for Type 1 diabetes. With their help, and the support of all of you, we hope to far exceed the fundraising goal to benefit JDRF and some of the promising breakthroughs in the field.
Thank you again! I hope this finds everyone healthy and happy. Until next time... take care.
I very much appreciate all the encouragement, tips, and contacts that people have sent along. Making this walk happen would be impossible without the kindness and support so many have shown. Thank you so much. Take care.
I want to say thank you so very much for the unbelievable support. I'm fortunate to know so many great people.
I'm pleased to announce that I've connected with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and all funds raised beyond my expenses will be donated to JDRF. Feel free to look into the great work they're doing, and please continue to pass the site along to anyone you feel might be interested.
Thank you again, and take care.
Hi! You dont know me but my parents know your parents and actually visited them a couple years ago in Maine. I am a hiker as well and would love to do a long thru hike someday. I have type 2 diabetes which is much much easier to manage than type one. I just wanted to drop a line and tell you best of luck, be safe and most importantly... enjoy your hike and the solitude. Life gets so busy and crazy that sometimes the very best therapy is time alone with the trees.
Hello- My husband Mike and I completed the trail in 2012. It was amazing truly the best exsperiance. You will love it. I pray for good weather for you and minimal rain. We wrote a blog along our way 2maine.blogspot.com feel free to look through we always looked forward to updating when we got to towns. If you ever have questions of anything I'd love to give you our input. It's totally achievable. Get your backpack weight down to bare minimal to start with!! Good luck. Will you be blogging or posting any updates along the way? Autumn