On Monday, July 22, Dutchess County Tourism and the Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail Community welcomed the 2013 Warrior hikers to Pawling. The Warrior Hike “Walk off the War” Program supports combat war veterans who have served in conflicts around the world transition from military service by hiking the 2,180 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
This program began in 1948 when World War II veteran, Earl Shaffer, told some buddies he was going to “walk off the war” to help him come to grips with his war experiences. For the next four months Earl hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. He became the first thru-hiker to walk from Georgia to Maine.
Seven United States war veterans spent the day in Pawling. The group was greeted at the Metro North Appalachian Trail station by residents, officials, trail conference representatives and volunteers, Boy and Girl Scouts, hikers, and a Color Guard. The group spent some time at Native Landscapes and GardenCenter where the hikers were able to hydrate and grab a snack. A brief press conference followed and State Assemblyman Kieran Lawlor, Pawling Town Supervisor David Kelly, Dover Town Supervisor Ryan Courtien, Dutchess County Tourism Director Mary Kay Varba, Pete Muroski and Stacy Duhamel of the Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail Community, representative of Dutchess County executive Mark Molinaro’s and Congressman Chris Gibson’s office, veterans from American Legion Posts 1949 and 215, and Dover and Pawling Scouts. Everyone spoke about how proud they were of our war heroes and how honored they were to have them stop off in the HarlemValley.
After the ceremony at Native Landscapes and Garden Center, the group hiked their way up Quaker Hill to Wingnut Farm for a barbeque hosted by Steve and Susan Ewing.
The towns of Dover and Pawling were designated as the Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail Community earlier this summer by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. We are now one of 30 designated communities along the Appalachian Trail corridor that supports and helps hikers on their journey. This was the first event sponsored by the Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail Community. If you are interested in joining the Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail community visit our Facebook page, or call 845- 855-7050.
-The Chamber Green Committee