Summerside man takes break from Appalachian Trail walkJIM BROWN
The Journal Pioneer
SUMMERSIDE — Alan MacKenzie hasn’t had to worry about poisonous snakes or black bears these past couple of weeks.
But he’ll be encountering these risks again soon.
MacKenzie, 60, has taken a break from walking the world-famous Appalachian Trail — resting his feet in Summerside while visiting friends and family.
But he’s driving back to resume a remarkable odyssey that will take him through 14 American States by the time he’s done.
“It’s hard to put into words the reason why I’m doing it. The trail is a powerful force that goes to work on you.”
So far, so good.
MacKenzie has seen just one bear during the first third of his journey. He also nearly trod upon a venomous copperhead snake, but managed to move it off the trail with a stick.
MacKenzie is about 300 miles behind his travelling companion and friend, Linus Gillis, 59, who also lives in Summerside.
But he’ll catch up in a hurry when he returns. MacKenzie is driving down to join his friend on the trail.
Doing that will allow him to finish weeks earlier in Maine before cold weather, heavy rains and snow strike in the mountains.
“In October the streams rise so high it’s almost impossible to wade across them.”
It’s a grueling six-month journey and MacKenzie plans to complete every last foot of 2,175 mile odyssey, even if he has to double back and complete the southern stretch he bypassed at a later date.
While in Summerside, he hasn’t stopped walking altogether. Every Saturday morning he and members of a Summerside walking club take 10- to 15-kilometre walks in picturesque locales throughout the Island.
Two Summerside men embrace the challenge of the Appalachian Trail