Making friends on the Appalachian Trail


APPALACHIAN TRAIL, New Jersey – An interesting thing can happen to you if you decide to walk the Appalachian Trail.

If you’re lucky, you can make some hiking friends.

Then you might begin to count the steps you’ve taken. Or the miles you’ve traveled with someone like Kyl.

Mikey Brenkus began his trek along the trail in May, after he made the vow to walk for Craig Roberts, who has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Roberts is retired from the Jefferson Township Bellville Fire Department.

Kyl, a hiker friend from Vermont, has hiked with Brenkus for over a month.

Mitchell has hiked with him for 800 miles.

And Cameron has become another stalwart. The four, including Brenkus, made a new friend when they stopped in Slatington, Pa. This is outside Bethlehem.

A man named Joe Hedash offered to house them, and then he fed them.

On Thursday, the foursome stopped near the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania. On Friday they made it into New Jersey.

In their Thursday night stop, they were at a church operating as a hostel.

The church had bunk beds, a “hang out” room, and people could get showers. People could make a donation of $3 to use the facilities.

Brenkus said by rough figuring, he has taken 45,000 steps a day.

This is without benefit of a fit bit, one of those clever devices that allow people to keep track of their activities.

Brenkus said he has an app on his phone, which allows him to monitor things.

Because Brenkus and his companions are now in the north, the going is a little bit easier, he said.

The land is a bit flatter than the terrain where he started in Georgia.

He has had help from his sister and brother, Lindsey and ???

His sister joined him for three days, and his brother, a week.

Communications with his parents, Bellville mayor Teri Brenkus and her husband have been regular, Brenkus said.

Brenkus goal is to complete the 2,180 hike by mid-October, when Katahdin, in Maine, closes.

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By By Louise Swartzwalder

Bellville Star