A.T. Update: Thru-hike interrupted by tragedy

14 Aug 13
A.T. Update: Thru-hike interrupted by tragedy

Editor’s Note: Blue Ridge Outdoors contributor Chris Gallaway was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail and contributing a blog to BRO when tragedy struck his family. This is his final dispatch. Read his other dispatches from the trail: A Cold StartTrail MagicDifficult WinterMonumentsSpring!Family, and Virginia is for Limpers.

The news from my hike is rather difficult. On my third day into Maine my parents called to tell me that my little brother Zach had died in a motorcycle accident. I traveled home from Rangeley, Maine and have been with my family since the 4th. We are stretched between grief, the unreality of this situation, and the simple business of all that must be done in this time. We are holding a memorial service for Zach this Saturday in Birmingham, and at the moment we’re trying to plan and prepare for that.

I do plan to resume and finish my hike. It will be challenging to figure out how this life change fits with the journey I was on, but I hope that the trail will provide time and space for me to process this grief and to remember Zach. I’ll be flying back to Maine next Monday with about 200 miles left on the trail. My fiance, Sunshine, will join me in the town of Caratunk and we will finish the final week of walking together.


  • Chris, I am so very sorry for the loss of your little brother. I can’t even fathom the grief you and your family are feeling. My heart and prayers go out to you. May God wrap you in his everlasting love and gift you with the peace He promises will surpass all understanding.
    I am so very sorry,

    Jewel Clavette   15 Aug 13, 3:04 pm

  • Chris,
    I met you and Sunshine in Damascus when you were staying at Brandon Dale’s place across my yard. I am so sorry to hear this news. We are feeling very sad that you and your family are going through this. Our family sends you love and healing thoughts for you and your family as you mourn this loss.
    Love to you from Damascus, VA,
    Aliese and Jim Harrison and family

    Aliese Harrison   15 Aug 13, 1:42 pm

  • Chris,
    The trail helped me cope with my grief when my mother died. Maine will be even more purposeful/meaningful now.

    Warren Doyle   15 Aug 13, 12:55 pm

  • Chris, I’ve been following your posts through the weeks, and this news is heartbreaking. I’m terribly sorry for what you’re going through. Know your family will remain in my prayers in the coming weeks and months. I look forward to seeing you finish the AT.

    victoria   15 Aug 13, 12:11 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.