An Emotional Hike of the Heart

04-01-12 – Sheep Corral Canyon Hike


A meadow we found along Trail 876.


Approximately one year ago, Tom Buckley headed off for the adventure of a hiker’s dreams. He started hiking the Appalachian Trail in March 2011, challenging himself to complete the 2180 mile hike of legends in a thru (continuous) hike.  Sadly, his challenge was never completed because on April 11, 2011 Tom never woke up from his tent, apparently the victim of a heart attack. On that day, another challenge started….. for his wife, Mary Ann.

Mary Ann and I are neighbors, but I didn’t really know her. When I heard about Tom’s passing, I brought over a meal, to show support and give a little comfort. Since that day, Mary Ann and I have been hiking together and getting to know each other. It’s strange to start a friendship because of a death. But this is how it started for us. During our hikes, we talked about everything including politics, recipes, work, money, religion, and naturally, loss of a spouse.

Here we are a year later; today we venture out and look for the perfect spot to release Tom’s ashes into the wilderness. This is just a reconnaissance mission; the release day will be shared with a group of Tom’s loved ones in mid-April. We explore several beautiful spots, analyzing the attributes like the two project managers we are.  At the end of the ride, Mary Ann has a short list of stunning locations she likes and she’ll decide which one she’ll use in the coming days. We end our hunt with a hike on a trail up Sheep’s Corral Canyon Rd., walking through pine forests and hills with a light breeze and the deep blue sky of New Mexico.

I suggest that you never avoid the opportunity to reach out to someone in need; you’ll receive more than you give.


For more information about the Appalachian Trail Hikers, check out:


3.47 miles / 2.0 hours

51 down / 49 to go


About Gila Hiker

First I hiked 100 different trails in a year, now I write a monthly article in Desert Exposure about a local hike. Come on out to Silver City..... and bring your hiking gear!

Posted on April 2, 2012, in Challenge, Gila National Forest, Hiking, New Mexico, Outdoor Activities, Southwest and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. word. thank you. great post.

  2. A very moving story. Thanks for sharing!

    • This blog entry only skims the pond of this story. I don’t feel it’s my place to tell someone else’s excrutiating circumstance. But I did want Mary Ann to know that people care and we can all help each other through life’s bumpy ride. I’ve learned a lot while getting to know her during this time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: