The purpose of the Warrior Expedition is to help people coming out of military service to “walk off the war.” That’s one of the things Martin Strange, who was making a stop on his hike of the Buckeye Trail, is doing.
“It’s kind of hard to put in words,” Strange said as he sat at a table in the American Legion Post 471 bar Saturday afternoon. “Anyone who has taken a walk at 6:30 in the morning in the woods and seen the sun coming up, it kind of gives you a release of some sort. It’s the beauty of nature and being able to push yourself to the mental and physical limits like that. That has benefits to it. It’s kind of hard to explain. It really is.”
Strange is one of two hikers who was picked up on his hike by Post 471 and brought in for some meals and an overnight stay at a hotel before being back on his way to finish the trek on Sunday. The other hiker, Sterling Beck chose to run a marathon Saturday.
Strange was born and reared in Bowling Green, Ohio and has been living in the Hocking Hills area for the last four years.
“This is an outdoor therapy type program. It is directly for our benefit,” Strange said. “Its a walk in the woods. It’s a chance to kind of get out and walk through the woods.”
The Buckeye Trail is officially 1,444 miles, and the version Strange is hiking should come out at around 1,200 miles. Going into Saturday, Strange had already hiked 1,100 miles and he has 136 trail miles to go.
He said the Buckeye Trail is not as well-established as the Appalachian Trail, and does not have shelters every 12 miles. Instead, Hikers rely on trail angels, people who take them in for the night, but mainly it utilizes stealth camping, throwing up a tent some nights.
Strange was a Marine Corps Infantry Machine Gunner. He enlisted in 2005 and performed that job until 2009. He was deployed twice to Iraq and continued serving as a contractor at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan for a year.
Warrior Expeditions created the Warrior Hike, Warrior Bike, and Warrior Paddle programs which are designed to help combat veterans transition from their military service.
“This walk gives you the chance to process that,” Strange said. “I am pretty thankful for it.”
Tom Davis is the adjutant for Post 471.
“It not only gets our name out there as far as what the American Legion is supposed to be about,” Davis said. “Hosting these young veterans, hopefully it will let him and other veterans know that the American Legion will always try to be there for them.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.