“I retired from being a prison warden back in December. One time, the prison water supply was turned completely off. I called up the biller, and he said, “If you don’t pay, you don’t get water.” I call the person who is suppose to be in charge of this and he tells me, “They’re double charging us, we can’t afford it!” I told him to pay the bill immediately and figure it out. It took a day or two [before they turned the water back on]. These kinds of things happened every single day in prison. A guard would be having a bad day and end up beating the crap out of six inmates — and no one can do anything about it.
“After it was all said and done, I was thinking, ‘You know what, I think I’ll go and hike a little bit.’ I have a sister in Georgia. She said there’s a nice place to hike in Amicalola Falls (State Park) She’d been there once and hiked toward Springer. I thought I’d just hike for a couple days. I just bought the biggest (backpack) I could find because my brother said: ‘If you’re going to go out in the woods you need to be prepared.’ At the Springer shelter, I met a guy named Steve. He said: ‘You know you’re on the Appalachian Trail. You can make it all the way to Maine. There’s no doubt. You’ll find out you need to lighten that (83-pound) load up a little bit.’
“He actually put the idea in my head. I’m thinking: ‘You know what, I probably could. I don’t have anything else up.’ I’m listening to all the other hikers. They’re talking about the Appalachian Trail. That’s when I called my wife and said: I’m going to hike the Appalachian Trail this year. ‘ She said: ‘Well, you be careful and let me know when you’re coming back.’ The next day, she said: ‘You are coming back, right? Honey, that trail is five or six months long.’ I said: ‘Yes, I may not go all the way, but as long as I feel OK, I’ll keep hiking.’ “