I have less than a week before I head off on my first big hike. Next Thursday I’ll be hiking from 600 N Paca St in Baltimore, the Mother Seton House, up Maryland Rte 140 all the way out to Emmitsburg. That is where Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton went to start her school in the early 19th century. The White House there is the house she lived in, which was moved nearer to her Basilica in modern times.
The route is just under 50 miles, and it takes me northwest out of Baltimore, through Pikesville, Reisterstown, across the Liberty Reservoir, into Carroll County, and then down the home stretch in Frederick County. About 2/3 of the way through the hike is my church, St John’s RC Church in Westminster. I hope to meet up with Karlos there. He has the guts and stamina to make the whole hike, but I just don’t think it will be safe for him until that point; the first leg is through the city (broken glass and traffic), and until Westminster there is very little shoulder in spots. Besides, I’ll need some inspiration by the time I’ve gone the 30 miles to meet him. He’ll be just the partner to spur my stride for the last 20 miles.
Here’s the map. I think the distance is measurable from space, if only barely.
I drove the route last week and the tough parts are at the 695 Beltway and down the big hill to the Liberty Reservoir and into Finksburg. I plan on starting at 3 AM. That way, if I can average 3 MPH, I’ll pull into Emmitsburg while there’s still light. The Shrine knows I’m coming and I think they plan on taking pictures. If you’re Catholic, please pray for Mother Seton’s intervention to give me the strength to make it. If you’re not, send me whatever spiritual or secular well-wishes you can as this will be a real challenge.
One last note. A friend of mine looked at this blog and said she liked it, but that there was no immediate sense of an urgent mission; she had to read on to find it. I think part of me has been conflicted and didn’t want to bash visitors over the head with what I’m trying to do. Thanks Dierdre for pointing that out.
So, let me be perfectly clear: I am doing this because someone a lot like I was 20 years ago, some kid, swore an oath, shouldered their pack, and went to war. They did their job, saw their friends get maimed and killed, saw things no human should have to see. And then, before they could make it safely back to the arms of their loved ones, they got their legs blown off, or caught a face full of shrapnel, or lost some other vital physical ability that they put on the line for their country. (I didn’t suffer like they did. Desert Storm was a training exercise compared to what they face.)
And their country can only afford to patch them up and medically retire them. They go home to a family that hardly recognizes them and can NEVER truly understand how they changed. Out of the tens of thousands of post 9/11 wounded, The Sentinels of Freedom has been able to accept 66 vets as Sentinels to get the training and support they need to become community leaders.
If I can make this hike, and the one after, all the way to November 10th and the end of the Towpath in Georgetown, and I can convince people and businesses to donate to the Ed Mahoney Scholarship Foundation, maybe I can raise enough to take one more physically shattered vet and fund the community that they need to support them for four years, to be reborn with new skills and know-how. Every $60,000 I raise is another life changed; another soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who will reach their full potential.
So I am pushing myself to make the Mother Seton March in the hopes that if you care about her, you will care about what I’m doing. Later on, I’ll be pushing myself in other ways, always with an affinity, always in the hope that if you care about whatever I am hiking from or to, you will care about the end result.
On Veterans Day, 11-11-11, I want you to wake up knowing you’ve already thanked a vet, and in such a profound way that you have nearly made up for the sacrifice they made. So check out the Support tab above and give money. Or if you can’t afford it now, follow my RSS Feed, Like us on Facebook, and tell your friends.
Thank you, or as we Marines say it …