MILLINOCKET, Maine — Since they began their 2,180-mile hike of the Appalachian Trail in March, two former U.S. Marine Corps captains have appeared on the “Today” show, served as grand marshals of a parade and met thousands of people, a relative said Friday.
Now they are coming to Millinocket and the end of the trail on Tuesday, with plans to summit Mount Katahdin the next day, and the mother of one of them, Jo Silvers, said she cannot wait to see how her son Mark Silvers has changed.
“I read this book ‘Wild,’ about a woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail,” Jo Silvers said Friday, “so [based on that] I asked him, ‘Do you feel like your tent is your cave now?’ He said yes.”
“I no longer like air conditioning,” Silvers quoted her son as responding. “I just get so accustomed to being outside. It just chills me now.”
For former Capt. Sean Gobin, the hike is a chance to get to know a friend a lot better. He and Silvers are hiking to raise funds for their nonprofit organization, Warrior Hike, which is dedicated to raising funds to help buy adaptive vehicles for soldiers severely wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq, Silvers said.
American Legion Post 80 and VFW Post 4154 will sponsor a spaghetti dinner at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Post 80’s hall on Central Street to raise money for the Marines’ cause.
Rep. Doug Damon, a Republican representing House District 15 in Bangor, plans on leading a motorcycle ride from Leadbetters on U.S. Route 2 in Bangor to the legion in Millinocket starting at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. At least 50 motorcycles are expected, Damon said in a statement.
As of Friday, the duo had raised more than $31,000 through their efforts and website, warriorhike.com, Jo Silvers said. The receptions they have received in the areas they have passed through since they left Springer Mountain, Ga., the other end of the trail, have grown in size and warmth as word of mouth and media attention have built around their journey, Silvers said.
“The veterans in one town will know where they [the hikers] are heading next and will tell their friends along the way,” said Silvers, who communicates with her son by cellphone or text once every few days. “It was almost like people were expecting them in the hiker and veterans communities.”
“That’s why I think if they had this to do over again they would have taken more time,” Silvers said. “They have met so many great people and been through so many beautiful areas that they would have liked to have taken more time.”