Four vets scout out the PNT
OROVILLE – Four hikers who traveled the Pacific Northwest Trail were doing so as part of the Warrior Expeditions program, which helps veterans through hiking, rather than reaching for a bottle or pills.
“We started with five hikers and ended with four making it this far after one had to drop out after pulling a muscle,” said Sterling Deck, who retired as a Sgt. First Class after serving 20 years in the U.S. Army from 1993-2013.
The group started on July 7 in Montana, making it to Oroville, the mid-point in the PNT on Aug. 10 where they were put up at the Camaray Motel.
Deck’s service included deployment in Iraq. He said he joined the Army “right out of high school and never looked back.”
He was laying over in Oroville with Diana Brown, a 27 year U.S. Air Force veteran; Dylan Tearle, who spent four years in the U.S. Marines and John Maxwell, a 12-year U.S. Army Veteran from Pasco, Wash.
Deck said Warrior Expeditions was founded by Sean Gobin who hiked the 2,185 mile Appalachian Trail in 2012 after returning home from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“He found it very therapeutic and Sean founded Warrior Expeditions to support combat veterans transitioning from their military service by participating in long distance outdoor expeditions,” said Deck.
In addition to hiking, Warrior Expeditions also offers long distance biking and paddling expeditions.
“When we get to towns we need places to sleep, showers and laundry facilities and especially something to eat. We can burn from 3300 to 4,000 calories a day on the trail. We have had a lot of support from people, like the people who put us up at the local motel.”
He said that the Tonasket American Legion, through their contact Jeff Bergh, was providing a lot of support at Oroville. The group went to the Oroville American Legion Post and talked about Warrior Expeditions then later that day they went to the Tonasket American Legion Post where the post had a fish fry for them.
“It is a really good program. We do all the major trail systems, with most of the trips taking about three months, although some are longer. We try to make them about three months so we get that camaraderie of blood, sweat and tears.”
This was Warrior Expeditions first hike of the PNT and Deck said his group was scouting it out to report back to the organization. Although they hadn’t gotten very close to any fires along the trail, they were concerned about fire activity in the Cascades, according to Deck.
He said that veterans on the expeditions get a lot of help from American Legions and VFWs along the way.
“We get a lot of support from anyone who has a soft spot for veterans,” he said.
People that would like to find out more or would like to offer their support to Warrior Expeditions, or veterans who would like to participate in the program, should visit their website at warriorexpeditions.org.